People were sunny last Sunday, like the weather. And the Made in Spring/Made in Roath crew did a grand job getting neighbours and friends out of their houses in an intimate gathering. Thank you so much for having Lia’s Kitchen there. It’s wonderful to be part of such a great event in my neighbourhood.
Also the wonderful Helia Phoenix, a wonderful creative force with a name that sounds like sunshine, came to see us and she honoured me with an entry on the We Are Cardiff blog. It had to happen like that!
Thank you all so much for making the second Lia’s Kitchen outing a success.
I look forward to more.
Two pie recipes: leek and spinach, olives and chard fillings
Just a few days after I wrote that I ‘hardly ever shop in town these days’ I found myself on a rare lunch break prowl in Cardiff City centre looking for the basic ingredients of an evening meal for two of my East Side ladies Del Roath, Alice and Emma.
Gathering basic ingredients
I stopped at Pipi’s Greek Café and Deli to get my two basic ingredients: filo pastry and lots of feta cheese. Pipi’s is run by first and second generation Cardiff Corfu-ites and stocks a good range of Greek products in its Deli corner ranging from various types of Feta (Vermio, Dodoni, Kolios), to olives, Greek pasta and even kourampiedes. Filo pastry is sold frozen to retain its moisture and freshness but needs to be thoroughly defrosted in room temperature before cooking, so my timing was perfect: 5 full hours for defrosting at work were allowed but 2 hours in warm room would have been enough.
Feta cheese is one my favourite ingredients and literally translates to slice. Although it is usually just made of ewe’s milk, there are as many varieties of feta as its producers and regions of Greece. It can be creamier or crumblier and sometimes with a strong hint of sweetness depending on the hillsides and pastures the sheep or goats graze on. For my pies Pipi’s offered me feta from Vermio, North West Greece and filo pastry imported from near Thessaloniki where I was born and raised.
On my way back to work I stopped at Cardiff Central Market in haste. I love visiting this beautiful Victorian market building that is home to one of the few remaining fishmongers in Cardiff and where, at its 1st floor balcony, quality LP lovers are at luck. Unfortunately, last week, I only had time to stop for some salad leaves and cherry tomatoes.
Introducing the ladies…
Alice and Emma are my neighbours. I forget how long I have known Alice for and it seems irrelevant. We haven’t always socialised regularly. I have worked, danced, talked and shared food, and most importantly shared moments of my life with Alice, and that I always enjoy doing with this lady. And Emma, who I met through Alice, I have just known for a few months only but I really enjoy getting to know her.
For this first episode of Ladies Del Roath I prepared two different pies, one with leek and cheese and another with olives and rainbow chard. We savoured the pies with lettuce and tomato salad, a bottle of Primitivo red wine from Puglia, Italy and in the musical company of Eartha Kitt and Dinah Washington.
Recipes and preparation
Leek and Spinach filling
Leek and cheese pies had rarely been just that at our home when I was growing up as mom would usually add spinach or other wild greens. But for my version of a leek and cheese pie I used 1 onion and a gigantic organic leek (the equivalent of 4 medium leeks). I sautéed the finely sliced onion in some olive oil , a pinch of salt and a tea spoon of unrefined caster sugar until it almost caramelised. I added the thinly sliced leek and cooked for another 5 minutes or until it was softened. After cooling the mixture I crumbled 250-300gr of feta in and added plenty of freshly ground pepper. I added 2 beaten eggs, as usual, but this time I also added two tablespoons of crème fraiche for a creamier filling. You can also use yoghurt or skip this step.
Olive and chard filling
For the olive and chard pie, I sautéed a finely sliced leek, threw in 5-6 halved cherry tomatoes and about 100-150gr of roughly chopped pitted olives (preferably Kalamata variety but other similar types of brown olives will do), and added 500gr chopped rainbow chard (stalks removed) to cook for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I like using rainbow chard instead of spinach because of its tenderness, mellow flavour and beautiful colours. I find it regularly at Roath farmers’ market at the Blencaemel Farm stall.
To finish off this filling I crumbled 250-300gr of feta cheese, and added a handful of grated cheddar and plenty of freshly grated pepper. No eggs this time! s
Preparation and Baking
Whilst the fillings were cooking I prepared the pie dishes. In my kitchen I use 25cmx 30 or 35cm baking trays for pies. I separate my filo pastry pack leaves in half: for the bottom and the top half of the pie. For 2 pies I used 2 packs of Greek imported filo pastry. I use at least 12 filo pastry leaves for each pie. Most imported pastry packs have 12 or more leaves but the ones you get from supermarkets like Sainsbury might only have six.
Lightly oil the baking tray with a brush before laying the first pastry leaf and then continue by lightly oiling each filo and continuing to layer the first half of the pie (6 or more leaves). I prefer that the filing goes in the middle and then I lay the rest of the pastry leaves as before. You might find other recipes, which require more filling added every couple of leaves.
At the end of the layering process I always fold the edges of the pastry leaves in to secure the filling and create a pie crust. I get rid off excess filo to avoid a dry and flaky pie crust. To finish off the pies for our ladies Del Roath meal, I tried two different toppings. For the leek and cheese pie I melted a knob of butter in 4 tbspns of milk and poured that on the pie starting from the crust edges and topped with sesame seeds. For the olive and chard pie I glazed with some beaten egg and tipped any excess off. Before putting the pies in the oven I pre,cut them into 6 large portion. This allows better cooling down and easier serving after the pie is cooked.
The pies cooked in a preheated oven for about 30-45 minutes, at 170-180 Celsius or Gas Mark 4. If the pie browns too quickly cover with some aluminium foil. And please make sure that the bottom of the pie is cooked before removing.
These ingredients made 12 large portions of pie. There was plenty left over for one hungry man and lunch for two the next day.
Note: I take most recipe cooking times as indicative as ovens differ. My oven is unreliable so I have learnt to adjust cooking time and temperatures. I always set an alarm to go 10 minutes before the indicated cooking time to double check that everything is still going to plan.
What a lazy and leisurely weekend this one is! Yesterday’s weekly pilgrimage to Roath farmers market filled our kitchen with vegetable and meat essentials for the week. We still get surprised at how much cheaper than we thought the local or organic produce at the market is. For example, you can get a dozen of free-range fresh eggs from Nantgwared farm for £2.40 and organic eggs for a similar price. From my experience fresh means fresh at Roath farmers market. Or at the end of each month you can get 3 home cooked ready meals for £10 at Clare’s Plant2Plate stall, which is what I call healthy and economic convenience food. The stallholders have quite a few farmers markets in South Wales to keep them busy and ensure that the produce on sale is regularly renewed. Did you know that you can find out which farmers market is closest to you at the farmers market wales website?
I love living in Roath. It is such a beautiful and friendly neighbourhood, so central yet almost like a little independent market town. I hardly ever find myself shopping in town these days. Roath’s streets are lined with charity shops where we go on outfit treasure hunts. There are so many health shops, coffee shops, household shops, pharmacies and grocery stores as well as your usual supermarket chairs. You can definitely keep busy all weekend particularly as you are guaranteed to stop and talk to someone you know every couple of minutes! Roath allows me to come a step closer to the way I would like to live my life: shop local, support healthy local business activity, walk or ride rather than drive and spend less money on clothes and non-essential goods.
One of my regular destinations during the weekend is Spice of Life, at the very beginning of Inverness Place in Roath. Spice of Life, run by Gareth, is a cornucopia of spices, seeds, nuts as well as various pastas, pulses and basic cooking ingredients. This weekend we stocked up on some Italian coffee, almonds and pearl cous cous, which we used for our Saturday evening meal.
We were ravenous by the time we returned home as we also stopped at the Record Store, one of Cardiff’s independent record stores, which I left elated carrying two LPs , one of Eartha Kit and one of Pink Floyd, and Sho Gallery, where Dan is putting up some work, the kind that makes you giggle!
This is one of the most satisfying omelettes I ‘ve made. Pomlette is new to my kitchen because I had never used potato flour before yesterday but the use of flour in omelette is not. I have added different types of flour to omelette mixtures a few times for a more filling version of the dish and to create an interesting cross between pancake and omelette. I have also read about many vegan omelette recipes using chickpea flour instead of egg, which could mean that if you mix flour and eggs you need less eggs and could be making a healthier version of an omelette . Omelette purists might tell you it is unacceptable to add flour to an omelette. But then again why not ignore them and try this recipe? And if you do tell me how you like it?
- 4 Nantgwared farm eggs
- 4 finely sliced spring onions
- 1 sweet yellow or red pepper
- 1 large garlic clove crashed
- a couple of pinches smoked paprika
- ½ to ¾ cup of milk
- 3 heaped tablespoons of potato flour
- Grated cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
- Use a hand mixer to make a smooth mixture with the eggs, milk and potato flour adding a few pinches of salt and pepper.
- Sautee the onions, the sweet pepper with the sweet paprika and just before adding the mixture throw in the garlic.
- Cook in a 20-25cm wide non-stick frying pan for 4 minutes before adding the grated cheese.
- Either continue cooking for another 4 minutes as is or fold and flip for another 4 minutes on both sides – until firm but not completely dry.
Did you find this recipe interesting? You can follow me on twitter @moutselia or subscribe to this blog by email at the top right of this page.