Friday, July 08, 2005

Paper Chef # 8: Potato shortcrust cases with Cheddar cheese, topped with garlicky spinach and olive filling

This is my first ever blogging event, so I'm quite excited about it. Hosted by Tomatilla!, the ingredients included spinach, olives, cheddar cheese and choice of either potatoes or cream (read more about the requirements here). The judge is Sarah of the delicious life.
I like cheese. I love spinach. Olives are new in my kitchen, but I almost like them a lot already. Potatoes (together with rye bread) are the founding blocks of my native cuisine. How to combine these all?

Good question. I searched my Nami-nami retseptikogu for ideas (sorry, that's in Estonian!). I went through various Mediterranean cookbooks (spinach and olives automatically say 'Greece' to me, can't help it). I glanced at my pile of cookery magazines. Got several ideas, and after some tweaking of recipes came up with two canapes: Potato shortcrust cases with cheese, topped with spinach-olive stuffing and Cheesy shortcrust canapes with spinach and cream filling. My entry to the Paper Chef # 8 Holiday Edition is the first one. I really-really liked this one, though I hope to write about the other - also very tasty - mouthful in the near future.

Canapes with Spinach and Olive Stuffing

This one combines potatoes, spinach, olives and cheese - I've stuffed potato-shortcrust pastry cases with some cheese, and then topped with a garlicky spinach and olive filling.

I started by making a potato-shortcrust pastry - a recipe I've had for ages and which is lovely for making small savoury pastries:


200 g potatoes (about a size of a not-too-large baking potato)
125 g butter
200 g plain flour
pinch of salt

Peel the potato and cut into chunks. Cook in a slightly salted water until soft, then drain and mash with a fork. (You could use cold leftover potatoes, in which case you should grate them).
Mix with flour, salt and butter, until you get a soft and malleable dough.
Put the fridge for half an hour, then roll out to about 3-4 mm thickness between two sheets of cling film.
Cut into small circles of about ø 5-6 cm and press them into small muffin tins (I used a 24-whole mini muffin tin).
Crumble small pieces of greaseproof paper into small balls and put into the muffin tins (this will keep the crusts from rising too much).
Bake in a 200-220˚C oven until the edges are golden brown. Then take out of the oven and remove the paper balls. Put back into the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or so, until the bases of potato shortcrust cases are baked as well.
This can be made up do a day before.

The garlicky spinach and olive filling is inspired by a recipe from Epicurious, which I changed only a little:

250 g fresh spinach
large dash of olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves
1 dl pitted Kalamata olives
0.5 dl toasted pine nuts
a squeeze or two of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Wash the spinach thoroughly (I found a ladybird in my Tesco-bought spinach!), remove stalks and drain. Put into a big wok or frying pan, and heat until spinach has just wilted. Rinse spinach under cold water, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible and chop coarsely.
Heat some olive oil in the pan, add the spinach, garlic (I used 2 bullets of Very Garlicky Company's easy garlic again) and olives (I used so-called Greek style black olives that I pitted beforehand). Fry gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until garlic is soft. Now add the toasted pinenuts, a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Put some grated cheddar cheese into pre-baked cases (you can reheat the cases gently in the oven, if you prefer). I used about 100 grams of Pilgrims Choice's Vintage Extra Mature Cheddar cheese, though any strong cheese would do and blue cheese should be nice as well.
Divide the hot garlicky spinach and olive filling between potato-shortcrust cases (the heat of the spinach filling melts the cheddar cheese nicely).

Voila! Start nibbling.

The Paper Chef entry/entree is on the left - glossy green and black:) The lighter green canape on the right is the cheesy shortcrust case with tapenade, creamy spinach and some more cheddar cheese.

UPDATE: My first ever Paper Chef entry was awarded a Golden Tomatilla for Best Performance by Potatoes in a Supporting Role. Thank you, Sarah!!!


Joycelyn said...

hiya, that looks really delish! will post an entry soon too if i'm not feeling too lazy ;)

Pille said...

Thank you, J. Am humbled by your PC#8 entry thou - very impressed both by the content and the looks!

Anonymous said...

o my - i think i could just plop myself down on the couch in front of the tv with a whole tray of those and pop them all night!

Pille said...

Sarah - thanks! Well, that's exactly what I did (how did you know???) - they were perfect for munching in front of the telly, as well as an accompaniment while reading-cum-sunbathing on a bench in a park.
And thank you so much for the Golden Tomatilla award for a best supporting potato role!!!