Today I'm talking more than double delicious, I'm talking do-you-think-if-I-had-a-third-helping-anyone-would-notice?
Here's the story.
My neighbour is growing beetroot and some if it has bolted. So I said I'd take some of it because, did you know, you can use the leaves and stalks just like you would spinach. So I made my version (or one of them because I pretty much make it up as I go along every time) of spanakopita. Oooh, I have been dreaming of making spanakopita for ages now. If you haven't heard of it before, it's a Greek pie-of-sorts made with filo pastry, spinach and feta cheese; it either comes in individual triangles (looking a bit like samosas) or as one big pie that is cut into portions. I L.O.V.E. it!!!
Over the years I've pretty much gone off on a tangent regarding the recipe so if you want authentic, go Google it, but as I'm trying to lose weight, I made a special effort today to do a lower fat version, and my god, is it good. Sorry to blow my own trumpet but I really did have a difficult time stopping myself from having a third piece, and it hadn't even cooled down properly.
The only thing I can't help you with is the amount of beetroot leaves I used, and as I'm guessing you're more likely to use spinach, that probably isn't a problem, but here's a bit of preamble just in case.
I used the leaves and leaf stalks of about 20 beetroot plants but not the main central stalk which was tough towards the bottom and woody. I also chopped in the flower buds as well for good measure. Then I cooked them in a lump of butter and a splosh of olive oil with the saucepan lid squashed down as tight as I could. And I think I ended up with about a pint and a half of cooked leaves and stalks, of which I used half in the pie.
You could also use something like chard as well, but for the purposes of simplicity, let's stick to spinach.
Today's version of Spanakopita
4.5 sheets of filo pastry (that's probably half a box if you buy it frozen from the supermarket)
about a kilo of frozen spinach, defrosted (mine comes in 450g bags so two of those do fine)
450g low fat cottage cheese (or thereabouts, mine comes in 225g tubs, so again two does the trick)
1.5 tsp salt
(see note at end for improvising other ingredients)
First the oven. I have a (temperamental) fan oven so I set it to 150C; if you don't have a fan go a bit higher, let's say about 170C. I think that's around the 350/375 mark if you work in Fahrenheit.
Lining the tin with the filo is the fiddly bit because it can tear easily especially if it dries out. Oil a 9"/ 23cm tin (bottom and sides) and layer four of the sheets of filo into it, spraying each one with spray oil as you go. Have the first sheet central in the tin with the excess hanging out to the left and right, then have the next one hanging out top and bottom, then do that all again. You'll probably find you don't get brilliant coverage in the corners and this is what the half sheet is for. Cut it into four triangles or squares, spray them with the oil, and use them to cover any gappage in the corners of the tin.
Mix the eggs, cheeses and salt until well combined, and pour into the tin. Now gather up your overhanging bits of filo and scrunch them gently and artistically back into the tin to create an edge. That's it. Put it in the oven for an hour, and if it has a gentle but firm wobble it's done. If it isn't, I'd say turn the oven off, but leave the pie in for a while.
Try to let it cool to warm of room temperature before you jump in.
- more parmesan (I did wonder if 35g would be enough but it turned out just right for me)
- feta or another salty crumbly cheese
- add olives (delicious!)
- a chopped sauteed onion or fresh spring onions
- cheddar instead of parmesan (but you get a better hit of cheese for less fat if you go down the parmesan route I think)
- use the rest of the filo to make a lid
- you could use standard shortcrust pastry if you felt like it to but filo is much lower in fat
- you could also do individual triangles but you will need a much higher ration of filo to filling (guessing here but perhaps twice the filo to half the filling)
- you can also of course, brush each sheet of filo with oil but this considerably increases the fat content (today was my first time using the spray oil method and it worked a treat)
Oh, and Weight Watchers points info: one sixth costs 4 points, which is pretty damn good if you ask me (and sufficient justification for extra helpings)
The other thing I've been wanting to make for a while is a lemon version of my yoghurt cake. The original idea was to make lemon curd and mix it with fromage frais or curd cheese and a jelly in a kind of cheesecake stylee, but that had to be reduced to a watching-my hips-decrease version. So when I saw our local supermarket selling Onken fat free vanilla yoghurt in big pots, I thought that would be a good place to start. Proper fruit is good and healthy too so I threw in some strawberries for good measure.
Hmm, note to self: Arrange the strawberries a bit better next time.
It's good. Not as good as the spanakopita, but as Mr G would say, definitely edible.
Lemon and strawberry yoghurt cake
a 9"/ 23cm sponge flan case
one lemon, zested and juiced
about 400g vanilla yoghurt (or use plain if that's what you have)
250g strawberries, hulled and sliced or quartered
1 lemon jelly (to set a pint of liquid)
Zap the jelly in the microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water for about 30 seconds then give it a good stir to make sure it's melted properly. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, and the yoghurt so that it makes up to about a pint (a bit over is generally fine).
Here's the slightly tricky bit. You need to let the jelly mixture partiallly set before you put it in the flan case otherwise there'll be filling in a big puddle everywhere. Better to have it a bit too solid than too runny. This might take a while, but keep checking!
When it gets to a thick custard type consistency, spread a couple of tablespoons onto the base of the case to form a sealing layer, then put on the strawberries. Then top with the rest of the jelly (you can whip it up with a hand mixer if you want it a bit airy and mousse-y but that didn't really work for me today). Allow it to chill for about 4 hours in the fridge before you tuck in.
WW Points 6 per 1/8th
By the way, if you want to make the original yoghurt cake with frozen berries, proceed pretty much as above but add the yoghurt to the jelly before you add the frozen berries (you can crush them a bit if you like) otherwise the jelly will go all stringy and not set properly (like last week's effort when I was really not paying attention). And be aware that the filling will start to solidify almost immediately, (which is what makes it such a quick cake to make) so it will be ready to go into the flan case within about 10 minutes of mixing.
So a double whammy of deliciousness today. Here's hoping my neighbour's beetroot continues to bolt ;¬)