Salads and Vegetables, Snack

Borek or Spanakopita

Ok once I learn to make something new and easy, I get completely obsessed. My latest obsession is with this spinach and cheese in phyllo pastry. It’s simple to make and everyone likes it. Well, most anyone.

I’ve made so many versions of it so I’m just going to post my latest one, and in my opinion the best version simply because using fresh spinach is so much more delicious than the frozen ones I’ve been using.

The concept is simple. A cheese and spinach filling. A custard topping. And phyllo pastry as the base and cover.

For this picture, I’ve moved on to the second layer. Many do it with only one layer but I find if you have the extra ingredients, making two layers makes it thicker and more moorish. So first spread cooked spinach.

And then add cheese. I’ve been using feta all along but for this particular day, my supermarket ran out of feta. So I used dollops of ricotta cheese and sharp cheddar. Season with lots of sea salt and black pepper.

Then the custard. For this custard, I what three whole eggs with one tub (125ml) of Greek yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of milk and that’s it.

Cover the dough. And because I learn from experience, I watched how some people would cut the pastry into squares first before baking. It helps! If you don’t, yes, it will look prettier but the process of cutting crispy phyllo in front of guests is a huge mess!

And then voila! It’s all ready to be served.

For the cheesy part, feel free to experiment. My aunt uses mozzarella, and I think next time I’ll do these pastries in individual portions. With mozzarella and pine nuts!

Enjoy trying! It’s an easy dish to whip up for last minute entertaining. 🙂

Salads and Vegetables

Raw kale salad with orange and olives

I learnt how to make raw kale salad watching some YouTube videos. And I learnt that you need to massage the leaves so they aren’t so hard.

It’s not easy to get kale in this part of the world but last week, I think because maybe it’s in season, the local supermarket was selling them cheap! I bought a packet but there was a lot. One bunch of kale can feed a family of five!

I cut the leaves small and massaged them for a few second. A few minutes is just too much for me! And then since I had mandarin oranges, I cut a few, added a few tablespoons of olives. Oh, and two boiled eggs. For the dressing, because I was pressed for time, I just drizzled store bought Caesar dressing.

First time eating raw kale salad but I think I’ll be making this more often so that I’ll eat healthily this year.

breakfast, Middle Eastern/Turkish, Salads and Vegetables

Shakshouka

Riding on the theme of tomatoes again, I made shakshouka. Such a fun dish to pronounce. But also very easy to make and so delicious.

I tried making it twice. First time in a pyrex dish and baked in the oven. And the second time over the stove. I prefer the second method. It’s easier, and I can control the eggs better.

It seriously is a very simple dish to make. Again, I used tinned tomatoes. And for depth, smoked paprika, cumin (ground), coriander (ground), dried mint. And of course sea salt and a pinch of sugar. Next time, I will use a spoonful of jarred harissa. The trick is to add plenty of other vegetables so it doesn’t just become a tomato soup. I added chopped capsicums and mushrooms to this shakshouka.

And to serve, a huge dollop of Greek yogurt. That really elevated the dish! I copied this from a café I tried shakshouka from. Except that they used sour cream instead of Greek Yogurt. I prefer the yogurt (friendlier to the waist too!). Sprinkle lots of Italian parsley on top to serve.

It’s best eaten with slices of sourdough bread, but I didn’t have any so just regular toasts work just as fine.

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Asian Dishes, Middle Eastern/Turkish, Salads and Vegetables, Sides

Haloumi Tomato Sticks

Such a simple recipe (in fact, not even a recipe!) but so delightful and delicious.

Cut haloumi into squares, fry them till very brown in olive oil, and skewer them with cherry tomatoes. Just before serving, place skewers on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for about only 5 minutes.

I am so going to make this my signature dish to bring for family events! See how pretty it sits together with the other potluck dishes 🙂

Salads and Vegetables, Sides, Snack

Maakouda (Moroccan Potato Patty)

I am convinced that food unites people because there are many similar foods that every culture seems to call their own. I am pretty sure the interaction between communities has resulted in an exchange of wonderful ideas, and then adaptation.

When I first came across this, the first thought that came to my mind immediately was ‘bergedil’! ‘Begedil’ or ‘perkedil’ is a Malay/Indonesian potato patty made by frying and mashing these fried potatoes and then forming patties with the addition of fried minced meat and fried onions, is a favourite in this part of the world. Interestingly, ‘bergedil’ was introduced by the Dutch when they colonised Indonesia. The Dutch has a version of this called ‘frikadeller’. And now, I’m learning that the Moroccans also have their potato version, sans any meat.

I think the Moroccan version is much healthier. Instead of frying the potatoes, they boil them and mash them fine with spices and egg. Patties are larger and flatter. And they serve these maakouda in between bread (or eaten on its own).

 

I did not take a picture of the finished product on a plate because once they were off the pan, very quick hands snatched them and they were gone in seconds!

My version of the maakouda recipe

  1. 5 boiled large Russet potatoes
  2. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  3. 2 tsp ground cumin
  4. 1 tsp garlic
  5. 1 tsp French sea salt (just because)
  6. 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
  7. 1 egg

Form into patties, and then before frying, dust with plain flour and dip in beaten egg. Fry till brown and crispy.

Enjoy!