School dinners. I never had them, but my husband did and they sounded pretty revolting. It also goes some way to explain his odd, in my view, desire to smother a perfectly good ingredient with baked beans and cheese. I don’t care for baked beans and they are a banned item in my our kitchen. I do understand that school dinners are a source of strong food memories and associations and so certain foods will always have a part to play, I suppose. I don’t think I will ever tolerate eating baked beans but I will turn a blind eye to my husband eating them.
I on the other hand I had pies at school. Very thin pastry with fillings of spinach, cheese or sweet custard. These were sold from a hole in the wall in our very dusty school yard. They were cheap, hot and utterly divine. There were no plates just a small square of greaseproof paper to save our fingers from being burnt as the hot filling oozed out and as we devoured them, our school uniforms became covered with flecks of crisp golden pastry. I miss those pies very much and it’s about time my husband experienced school food East Med style. I have done my best to recreate them and if I close my eyes I am sure I can hear a bell go off.
I have already confessed in a previous post my ineptitude when it comes to desserts so I used George Calombaris sweet pie recipe with some minor adaptations to make it simpler. Making filo pastry was hugely satisfying and well worth the effort, the difference in taste is significant. Recipe to follow.
12 sheets of filo
250g of feta
200g of spinach
200g of kale
200g of mixed greens (anything bitter or wild would be good)
1 leek (white part only)
4 spring onions
100g of herbs (parsley, coriander, dill and chives)
2 tablespoons of full fat Greek yogurt
1 white onion
Sunflower oil to grease sheets of filo
- Preheat oven to 200◦C / 400F / Gas 6.
- Wash and drain the greens and herbs, chop roughly.
- Finely chop the leeks, spring onions (including green part) and white onion and then gently fry in olive oil until translucent. Add the chopped greens and herbs stirring occasionally and cook until soft.
- Drain any excess liquid, set aside and allow to cool.
- Crumble the feta.
- Beat the eggs in big bowl and then mix in the yogurt until there is a smooth consistency.
- Add the feta, the eggs and yogurt mixture to the frying pan containing the greens. Add a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill and stir well.
- Grease the bottom of a 20cmx20cm (approximately) oven dish. You are going to make a parcel with the filo so the sheets need to hang over the side of the dish so that they can be folded over to the centre of filling once it has been added. Start by placing the first layer of filo (you may need two or three overlapping sheets). Grease each sheet with using a pastry brush and sunflower oil and continue until there are three layers.
- Place the greens mixture in the middle of the filo layers and spread evenly. Fold the overlapping sheets one at a time into the centre of the pie making sure they are each brushed with sunflower oil before the next layer is folded over. It is essential to grease the sheets very well to ensure that the pastry cooks well.
- Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
- Remove from the oven and place a damp tea cloth on top of the still hot dish stretching it so that it doesn’t touch the top of the pie. This will ensure that the pie sets without drying out. The top remains crisp.
- Remove after 10 minutes and cut.
Preeta Samarasan says
I”m definitely going to make this and predict it will be a hit at my house, but I’ll have to buy the filo pastry, sorry.
About school meals, I think there are two kinds of countries in the world: those whose citizens remember their school dinners with revulsion, horror, and relief that they survived/escaped; and those whose citizens long for those long-ago meals. Malaysia most certainly belongs to the latter category. When I meet childhood friends, the talk almost always drifts at some point to the sublime fare served at our school canteen. Assam laksa, nasi lemak, chee cheong fun, curry mee with all the fixings, wonton mee, mmmmmmmm.
Preeta Samarasan says
I made this with Amrita yesterday! She’s visiting at the moment. We made it for a picnic we went to with lots of other families. I did buy the filo pastry, but it was nevertheless a great success with everyone there. I had to make various other adaptations (kale, for example, is not available in our part of France, so I used spinach, chard, and wild rocket), but I think the end result was true to the spirit of the original.
Nadia Stokes says
So pleased you tried it and more importantly that you enjoyed it. Wish I could been there to eat with you.