Oh! My God! It is hot here – it’s 42°C. There is no way I am going outside. Dinner tonight (like last night) will be something I can find in the fridge or freezer.
I have been saying that a lot lately. Not much cooking has been happening in this household. Luckily for this blog, I made these little pastries before Christmas. Leading up to Christmas, we had guests several days in a row so I made these earlier in the week and froze them. On the day of the dinner party, I whipped them out of the freezer and baked them. They were perfect. The leftovers were last night’s dinner, along with an ubiquitous cucumber salad.
As you would appreciate if you have been following this blog for a while, I have a few cookbooks from the Middle East area and most include a savoury lamb pastry of some sort or another. So, when I decided to make some, I knew I would have plenty of recipes from which to choose. I went to Eat Your Books and typed in ‘lamb‘ and ‘filo pastry‘ and started reading through the hits, putting them into a mental possible or reject pile. That was until I read this one. I didn’t need to look any further. It was exactly what I was looking for. I had visualised, as a minimum, the usual spices, lamb, currants and pinenuts. Here it was.
Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients in the filling. It is ‘all in together’ for most of them.
These taste as good as they sound. I served them as part of a main but they would make an equally good entrée or even hors d’oeuvre (In this case, I would make 20 rather than 10). And, if you don’t like the look of the little parcel, you could easily made these into triangles or cigars. Go for it. I will be making them again.
The recipe is by Melbourne Chef, Adrian Richardson. I found it in Delicious Magazine, July 2010. In the magazine, Adrian writes, “I know that dusting a savoury pie with icing sugar and cinnamon sounds weird, but I think the sweetness is a great counterpoint to the spicy filling.” When I served the pies, I forgot to dust them with the sugar and cinnamon (I always forget things when I have guests) and they tasted fine but they did taste better last night dusted. The sugar and cinnamon give them that extra pizzazz.
- 2 tbs* olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground cumin, lightly toasted
- 2 tsp ground coriander, lightly toasted
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 500g lamb mince
- 200g spinach leaves (or use frozen spinach. Silverbeet or beetroot leaves would also work.)
- 150g Danish feta, crumbled
- ¼ cup currants
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 tbs* mint leaves, chopped
- 10 sheets filo pastry
- 150g butter, melted
- coriander leaves
- 1 tbs* icing sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
*These are 20 mil tablespoons.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and spices and cook gently until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 minutes or so.
- Increase the heat a bit, add the minced lamb and some salt and pepper. Sauté until the lamb is just brown. Remove from the heat, tip into a large bowl and set aside.
- If using fresh spinach, steam until just wilted; if using frozen, defrost. Place cooked spinach in a colander to drain. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then chop finely.
- Add the spinach to the lamb mixture, together with the remaining ingredients, and use your hands to mix everything together well.
- Divide the mixture into 10 even portions. Make each portion into a ball then flatten into a 8cm patty.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Place one sheet of filo on your work surface and halve it width ways. Brush both halves with melted butter and lay one on top of the other.
- Place one lamb patty in the middle and lift the edges of the pastry up, fold the pastry up around the patty then scrunch the pastry together to enclose. Flare the outer pastry edges to look attractive. Place on the lined tray. Brush the top with more butter.
- Repeat with remaining filo, butter and lamb.
[You can prepare the pastries up to this stage and then freeze them. Defrost before baking.]
- When ready to cook the pastries, preheat your oven to 180ºC. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Mix the icing sugar and cinnamon together and sift over the pastries.
Postscript: I had just written this post when Maus came home after doing some hardware shopping. We ended up needing a few things at the shops so, out of the kindness of my heart, I offered to go out into the heat. It seemed really, really mean to make her go out again. Aren’t I a sweetie?
Post postscript: (The next morning) BTW, It is forecast to be 39°C today. Oh, I hate summer.