Saturday, 29 May 2010

Artichokes with red pepper sauce and spinach pastries

My approach to cooking is very approximate. I generally don't weigh things. I often don't follow recipes. I just bung things in a pan and guess the quantities. This normally works out well, but it also has limitations. In particular, it makes it hard to describe to other people how you made something.

All of which is a long-winded apology for the fact that I forgot to keep notes of how much I was using of all of the ingredients for tonight's dinner, which makes it difficult for me to turn it into a recipe. Sorry. I still need to get into the habit of blogging.

Anyway, I cooked two dishes tonight from ingredients bought mainly from the Turkish Food Centre in Dalston. The first was a dish of artichoke hearts in roasted red pepper and garlic sauce. Second, I baked some spinach and ricotta pastries. The following recipes are obviously based on guesswork, but you should get the general idea.

Artichokes with red pepper sauce - ingredients

400g frozen globe artichoke hearts
600g red peppers (the pointy kind)
1 bulb of garlic
60ml olive oil
30ml white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Put the grill on the highest setting. Arrange the peppers and garlic bulb (unpeeled) on a tray and place under the grill.  Turn the peppers once they have blackened on one side and place back under the grill. Remove once the peppers are blackened all over and allow to cool.

While the peppers are cooking, boil the artichokes for about five minutes in a pan of salted water with the lemon juice. Once the artichokes are cooked, drain and chop into small pieces. 

Once the peppers have cooled, remove the stalks, cut open and scrape out the seeds. Pick off any bits of blackened skin which are flaking off and put the peppers in a food processor. Slice the roasted garlic bulb down the middle and squeeze out the cooked flesh. Add to the peppers with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and then blend until smooth.

Use a spatula to place the red pepper sauce in a pan, and then add the chopped artichokes. Heat gently before serving.
Spinach and ricotta pastries - ingredients

(I really forgot to keep track on this one)
500g frozen chopped spinach
1 pack of ricotta
100g feta
Teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Red chili flakes
1 pack of filo pastry leaves
1 egg
50g melted butter
50ml milk

Thaw the spinach in the microwave and squeeze out any excess liquid. Mix in a bowl with the ricotta and crumbled feta. Season with nutmeg and chili flakes. Beat the egg and milk together in a bowl and then whisk in the melted butter. Remove the pastry leaves from the pack and place between two sheets of cling film to prevent them drying out. Take one leaf of pastry and brush with the egg and butter mix. Place a spoonful of the spinach mix on the pastry sheet and then fold to enclose the mixture. Fold the pastry into whatever shape you like (I am extremely cackhanded so go for a rectangle which is easy and safe). As you go along, brush the pastry with extra egg and butter to ensure the layers remain separated. Bake the pastries at 180C until golden brown.

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