Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Observer Food Monthly Awards

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....just mentioning it ....


Monday, 19 April 2010

Torta di spinaci (Spinach Tart)

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Okay, it's about time I got this show back on the road. Sorry for the prolonged absence. I'm not sure what happened. Usually when things are a little crazy and don't go according to plan I seek refuge in the kitchen. So far this year that has not seemed to happen, despite there being quite a few stones cast that caused ripples of varying magnitude.

But enough of the prose, back to cooking. I've been invited to H's surprise birthday meal tonight and was asked to bring some food along, so what better opportunity to try and get my cooking mojo back. I got some of my cookbooks out for inspiration and decided to make Torta di spinaci from Angela Hartnett's Cucina. Well, I don't want to comment on the book just yet, as it has great reviews and as this the first recipe I tried from it, but it needed a bit of adaptation to make it work. The ingredients are fine, but if I didn't already have a clue what I was doing in the kitchen (well, at least most of the time), I think it would have left me very frustrated. The recipe calls for 1kg of roughly chopped fresh spinach to be mixed with some other ingredients and then placed into a 20cm shallow flan dish. There is no way that would ever fit without wilting the spinach first, so I cooked my spinach and also reduced the amount to 750g and it just about fit.

I also didn't have any '00' flour, so used normal flour, but of course that made the pastry more bread dough like and maybe wasn't the greatest idea I ever had. So next time I'll get on my bike to get the right flour. See, I don't always know what I'm doing in the kitchen, or to put it correctly, I'm aware that I'm doing not quite the right thing and carry on despite my better knowledge. I seem to do that a lot in life. It was good anyways though.

Anyways here's the recipe with my own cooking instructions and adapted measurements, but with the correct flour:


Torta di spinaci (serves 8-10)

400g '00' flour
1/2 tsp salt
4tbsp olive oil
100ml ice-cold water

for the filling:
750g spinach, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
4tbsp olive oil
200 fresh parmegiano reggiano, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl ix the flour with the salt and add the olive oil and water.

Mix lightly until it comes together to form a smooth ball.

Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

In the meantime you can make the filling.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the spinach, stir until wilted quite a bit.

Remove from the pan and set aside to cool, pour off excess liquid.

Add the grated parmesan, the eggs and nutmeg and mix well.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out quite thin on a lightly floured surface. It needs to become big enough to line a 20cm shallow pie dish and fold back over the top of the filling.

Once it's rolled out, carefully line your pie dish, letting the dough hang over the edges.

Spoon the filling into the dish, it should fill it all the way to the top.

Then fold the dough over the top to cover the filling and bake in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.

This can be served hot or cold.