Spinach, Feta and Ricotta Rolls

Back when I was working at my last job, a colleague, who happened to be my work bestie, introduced me to this treat. We’d take our breaks together whenever we could and hop over to Muffin Break. Our Muffin Break outlet made the best Spinach and Feta Rolls (sidenote – their Bran muffins were to die for). But I’d never noticed these little beauties before this. I was on a first name basis with its Non-vegetarian counterpart – the sausage roll. I’ve had quite a few of those. But on this particular day, when we went over to Muffin Break, she ordered a Spinach and Feta Roll to go with her coffee. Needless, to say, I was intrigued. So I ordered one for myself too. And the rest, as they say, is history.

From that day on, if I ever need to grab a bite and am in the mood for something savory, I pick up one of their Spinach and Feta Rolls. They are seriously good. And, I like to think that I’m getting a little extra Spinach in my diet that day.

So getting back to yesterday. When I found myself with a big basket of Ricotta cheese and a bag of Spinach I needed to use up, I decided to see if I could use the two together and come up with something delicious. After a little looking around, I found just the thing. I’ve based my rolls on a similar recipe I found online and I just switched it up to my liking. This time around, I used store bought Puff pastry. I had a packet in the freezer that I wanted to use up too. This recipe has just 2 basic components – the pastry and the filling. The filling is really easy to put together. You just mix up all the ingredients and your ready to go. The verdict – These rolls are really good. They’re not exactly like the Muffin Break ones. I am now convinced that there is some flour added to their filling, possibly to bulk it up. But these homemade rolls can give them a serious run for their money. And this time, I know for sure that there’s a heap of spinach in there. And everyone knows that Spinach with Ricotta and Feta is a match made in heaven. So let’s have a look at these Spinach Rolls, shall we?
Spinach, Feta and Ricotta Rolls
Makes 18 rolls
3 sheets Pampas all butter Puff pastry
200g Feta Cheese
300g Ricotta Cheese
150g Baby Spinach, finely chopped
Red Chili Flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 egg
Black sesame seeds, to sprinkle over
Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Place the baking tray in the oven.

Thaw 3 sheets of puff pastry. The pastry should be soft enough to work with but still cold. If it warms up too much, it gets sticky and difficult to work with.

Crumble the feta into a bowl.

Now add the Ricotta and crumble that in as well.

Add crushed black pepper to taste.

Taste the mix and add more salt if you want. I didn’t need to add any salt at this stage.

Add the spinach and red chili flakes. Mix well.

Crack the egg into a small bowl. Whisk and keep aside.

Working with one sheet at a time, cut the sheet in half.

Spoon the mix to form a long log in the center of each half of the pastry (lengthwise).

Brush one side (along the length) of each half of the sheet with the whisked egg.

Roll the other side of pastry over the spinach into a tight log. The egg will help seal the pastry.

Place the rolls on greaseproof paper, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the pastry.

Carefully place the paper onto the heated tray.

Brush the tops of the rolls with the whisked egg (egg wash).

Crack some black pepper on the top of each roll and sprinkle some black sesame seeds on the rolls.

Bake for about 30 minutes or till golden brown in color.

Serve hot.

Pumpkin Pie – baked from scratch

Almost everyone around the globe appears to be embracing the approach of fall. Falling leaves, cooler days, soups and sweaters and all things pumpkin. In my part of the world though, we are well on our way to Summer. But, since we’re so blessed with great weather and an abundance of fruit and veg all the year round, we are still getting a fair bit of pumpkin. But I think it is nearing the end of pumpkin season. I realized I had never made or tasted pumpkin pie. I know right! That, I am glad to report, has officially changed.

Over the weekend, I bought some pumpkin, made my own pumpkin puree, the filling and the pastry from scratch. Hang on, don’t run away. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. I roasted the pumpkin late one evening and the next day I made the pie. The pastry and the filling comes together in the food processor. The food processor was used mainly out of necessity. I’d sprained my wrist a few days ago and there was no way I could have knead the dough or mashed the pumpkin by hand. I was amazed at how easy it was. I may never go back to making shortcrust pastry any other way. I do hope you try baking a pumpkin pie from scratch this year, especially if you haven’t done so before. It is so satisfying, you’ll be glad you did.
I left the pie just as it was baked and didn’t even cover the little knife test mark, because I didn’t want to over sweeten it by adding any icing sugar on top. You could dust it with some icing sugar if you’d like. If you want to make it more indulgent, top it with some whipped cream or serve it with some ice cream if you’d like. We tried that, but loved how it tasted by itself. And trust me, it tasted even better the next day. So make it a day or two before you need it (think Thanksgiving dinner), and once it has completely cooled down, refrigerate till you are ready to serve. The pie is beautiful – the pastry is perfectly flaky and the filling spiked with warm spices is silky smooth.

How to make Pumpkin Puree at home – 

1 – 1 1/2 kilo pumpkin

You can either use small pumpkins or a wedge of a larger one, whatever you can get your hands on. I used about 1/3 of a Kent Pumpkin.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Cut into equal sized wedges. Leave the skin on. Scoop out the insides – the seeds and the membrane.

Place the pumpkin skin side down on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or till a knife pierced through the flesh of the pumpkin goes through without any resistance. (I did this while we were having dinner)

Let the pumpkin cool. (I left it to cool overnight and made the puree the next day.) Peel the pumpkin or scoop out the flesh, whatever you find easier, and place the pumpkin in a food processor and blitz till done. If it looks too dry, add a couple of spoons of water and blitz again.

What you are left with is a glorious bowl of fresh pumpkin puree.

Once you have your pumpkin puree, you can use it to make anything pumpkin you’d like – Pumpkin pie, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin cake / cookies, pumpkin rolls and the list goes on.

Now, let’s get on to making the Pumpkin Pie.

Pumpkin Pie 
Recipe from: Tabler Party of Two

For the pie crust
250g all purpose flour
125g cold butter, cubed
A couple of tablespoons of cold milk
(If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt. If you’re using salted butter, leave out the salt.)

Place the flour and butter in the food processor.

Pulse a few times till the butter has broken down and you’re left with a mix that looks like this.

Add a couple of spoons of cold milk to help bind the pastry and pulse a couple of times till you are left a mix that looks like this. Start with a spoon or two and add more if needed.

Place some clingfilm on your work surface (lesser clean up this way) and tip this mix on top.

Press together to form a dough. Don’t knead or overwork the dough.

Wrap it up in the same cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the pie filling.

For the pie filling

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk (a 12 ounce can)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till everything is well incorporated and smooth.

 
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a disc large enough to cover a 9 inch pie dish. Line the pie dish with the dough and pour in the filling.

Cover just the edges of the pie crust loosely with foil to keep it from burning.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or till a knife pierced through the center comes out clean. Take the foil off in about the last ten minutes to let it evenly brown.

Cool and cut into wedges and serve.

Enjoy!!!

Pin now and try later.

Cherry Pie (made from scratch)

This is a pie we made a while back and I just had to share it with you. A couple of months ago, when cherries were in season, I bought a couple of kilos from the farmers market. Ofcourse, just the two of us found it hard to eat them all up. I decided to try making some cherry pie filling. I’ve never had cherry pie before, so I figured it was a good time to try it out.

After looking around at a few recipes, I decided to use this one. It looked simple and that is exactly what I was looking for. It turned out that the recipe was so simple, the most time consuming part is pitting the cherries. I did buy a brand new pitter for the occasion, not that I need a reason to add something to my kitchen 😉
I didn’t can this filling. I just put it in a clean, dry, glass jar in the fridge and it is still intact a couple of months later. So if cherries are plentiful in your part of the world, I hope you try this out. 
Homemade Cherry Pie Filling – 

5 cups cherries, pitted
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp corn starch / corn flour
Place the pitted cherries in a large pot with the sugar and lemon juice. 
On medium heat, allow the cherries to warm up and start cooking down. Stir frequently.
Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl till dissolved.
After the cherries have started releasing their juices and have heated up, add the cornstarch solution and bring it to a boil.
Stirring well, cook till the mixture gets nice and thick.
Cool and store.
After I came back home from work the next day, I found this in the kitchen waiting for me – 
I had previously mentioned to my darling husband that I wanted to use this for a galette or a pie, but I didn’t have the time to do it on the day I made the filling. This sweet, sweet man who was home the next day when I was at work, whipped up a beautiful light, buttery and short shortcrust dough and made the pie all by himself. He used our trusty recipe for the crust.
The crust was fantastic. Infact the dough was so short, I couldn’t get a clean slice for a picture, but it was so very delicious. The simple and unassuming pie filling that was so easy to put together simply blew me away. It was tasty and worked so well with the pastry, without being cloyingly sweet. If you’re feeling a little indulgent, serve this up with some vanilla ice cream and sit back and enjoy!