I Have Confidence in Autumn


It has been too long since I sat down to write a blog post. With one thing and another I haven't stopped and, to be honest, it's been hard to find inspiration for new recipes. Not because I've not been cooking or because I've been in a creative slump, but because I'm finally taking the bull by the horns and developing my business. Well, isn't this exciting. A while ago, I thought that maybe just baking was't me. I love baking, don't get me wrong. I love the joy I get from the process and from seeing people (including myself) eating the end product. But I also love savoury food. And, let's be honest, I can "wing it" a lot more with savoury food than I can with baking. It's a confidence thing.

So I have plunged myself into the world of supper clubs *dramatic gasp*. For years I have been cooking for people who enjoy good food but they were friends of mine. I always assume friends say nice things about your food so that they don't hurt your feelings. I met some one recently who said to me, "You have confidence in your food and your ingredients, you just need to have the confidence in yourself. Because your food is bloody good." So it's that confidence I'm trying to build.

If you receive my newsletter (if you don't, you can subscribe!) you will know that my first supper club is in aid of a local charity that I'm very fond of. They help refugees who have been placed in York in many ways; social, educative, legal; but they're not altogether well known or widely talked about. So hopefully, as well as raising some funds for them, this supper club will raise a bit of awareness for what they do among people who otherwise wouldn't know.

As the supper club is this week, my fridge and cupboards are stocked up with ingredients and over the next couple of days, my little kitchen is going to get very busy. So all week I'm making dinners that really don't require a lot of effort. Like pastas, salads, little mezze things I can just put in bowls and serve. A cheese board is another great one. But one of the meals I've made this week is big borek. Borek are middle Eastern filo parcels filled with anything you want really and fried. These are mine and they are so good with yoghurt or hummus or mtabbel and a selection of pickles and olives.

Big Borek

  • 500g spinach

  • 2 shallots, finely diced

  • 2 tsp summaq

  • 200g akkawi or feta cheese

  • 4 sheets of filo pastry

  • Vegetable oil for frying

The good thing about akkawi cheese is that you don't need salt in your recipe. That's why feta is a good substitute if you can't get akkawi. This recipe will make 4 big slabs but you can use a whole packet of filo, double the filling recipe and make them smaller for more people if you like. It will make a really nice appetiser or part of a mezze platter.

Wash your spinach and sprinkle over about 2 tsp of salt. Rub it into the spinach so that it starts to wilt and ends up looking like dark green mush and a lot less than you started with. Discard any water that comes out.

Mix in the summaq and finely diced shallot. Then chop up the akkawi really small and mix it in with the spinach. If you're using feta, just crumble it into the mixture.

Lay out you're four sheets of filo. Cut them in half across the width so that you have 8 square sheets. I find it easy now to layer them on top of each other. Take about two tablespoons of the mixture and place it in the middle of the top sheet in a vertical line. Fold the top and bottom of the TOP TWO SHEETS over the top and bottom of the mixture so that the bulk of it is still exposed.

Now roll one side of the filo sheets over the mixture and keep rolling tightly until you run out of pastry. Make sure the loose end of pastry is on a flat side not a short edge. Repeat all this 3 more times.

Meanwhile, heat enough vegetable oil in a frying pan to shallow fry your borek. If you heat your oil just before you start filling your first parcel, the oil should be hot enough by the time you finish your last. To check, break off a small piece of pastry (of scrap, not what you've used for your parcels) and dip it in the oil. If it starts sizzling immediately, it's ready.

Carefully place the borek in the pan two at a time, seam side down at first, and fry until golden on the bottom (about two minutes - the longer the pan is on the heat, the less time it will take). Carefully flip them over, do not splash yourself, and fry on the other side until golden. Repeat for the other two. When you take the borek out of the pan, leave them to drain on some kitchen towel.

Sprinkle with fresh mint or parsley and serve with dips, salads, bread and pickles.

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