Happy Wednesday guys! I hope your week is peachy? I’m excitedly awaiting our sideboard delivery, which is happening this Friday and cracking on with DIY in between recipe testing – what a dreamy combo… A dash of caulk in your dessert anyone?
I did approximately half of the caulking last weekend, but there are a few tiny gaps that have opened up where the caulk shrunk too much and so I have to fill them again. I also have quite a bit of sanding and tidying up to do as I go along before I can whip my paintbrush out. Things take a long time if you are after a good finish, but we are certainly getting there. Finally! When I look at the photos of what our living room looked like 15 months ago, when we bought this house, it is completely unrecognisable. We stripped the ghastly wallpaper off the walls and ceiling, we knocked down two inbuilt cupboards, removed a picture rail, had a wall knocked down, replastered the walls, had new radiators installed, the floor levelled and restored, painted the walls and ceiling, installed a new ceiling lamp and are now approaching the end of installing the new skirting. It’s been a big job and we are thrilled to be on the finishing stage.
Today I bring you a semi-healthy (it does feature plenty of spinach, right?) snack that hails all the way from Turkey. It’s called gözleme, it’s easy and fairly quick to make and it features fresh spinach, which is now is season, and a simplified version of my homemade vegan feta. It’s a crispy, chewy, salty, creamy and savoury parcel of deliciousness. Trust me, I’ve polished off way more than I care to admit while perfecting this recipe and shooting. They are just so easy to eat, hot off the pan.
Gözleme reminds me of two things. Firstly, in my 20s I lived a stone’s throw from the buzzing Harringay Green Lanes London high street with a plethora of Turkish grocers, baklava shops (my obvious favourite!) and kebab houses which, when quieter during the day, sold steaming hot gozleme from their windows. The cooks were so skilled and I loved watching them work from the window of a bus sometimes. The second thing I’m reminded of when I tuck into one of these is having a spinach gözleme in several of Istanbul’s glorious food markets (how I wish we had something like that here) several years ago when travelling wasn’t something fraught with danger. As it will be a while before we are able to board a plane to visit somewhere like Turkey, I will travel by reviving my old food memories in my own kitchen for now.
- 250 g / 2 cups all purpose wheat flour or GF flour mix (I tested this one)
- 2 tbsp psyllium husk powder* (for GF option only)
- ¾ tsp salt
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 45 g / 2 tbsp vegan natural yoghurt, I used soya (optional)
- approx. 120 ml / ½ cup lukewarm water
- 100 g / 3.5 oz vegan feta, shop-bought** or see below
- 150 g / 5.3 oz fresh spinach, washed and dried
- 3 spring onions, green parts only sliced thinly
- 30 mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
- ½ tsp black pepper, adjust to taste
- ¼ tsp salt, unless feta is very salty
HOMEMADE FETA (needs making a day ahead)
- Place plant milk and lemon juice at the bottom of your blender. Add drained (after soaking) almond flakes and blend until you get a ricotta-like mixture. You may need to scrape the walls of the blender with a spatula a few times.
- Season with nutritional yeast, salt, garlic and blend to distribute the seasoning evenly.
- Transfer the mixture to a small sieve or a tofu press (this is what I did here) lined with a muslin cloth. If using a sieve, place a bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Put in the fridge overnight to allow excess moisture to drain away – it’s worth placing something heavy over the bundle to help with the draining process. The next day you may want to bake the feta in the oven to dry it out and get a texture closer to actual feta (see this recipe), but I do not think that’s necessary for this particular recipe – a creamier texture works well here.
- Chop clean spinach roughly.
- Place it in a mixing bowl with sliced spring onions and chopped mint leaves (if using). Mix well. Season with pepper and salt remembering that your vegan feta will likely add more salt so do not overdo it.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, psyllium husk powder (if making GF version) and salt. Make a well in the centre and add olive oil, vegan yoghurt and water. I found that the gluten-free version needed more water (about 160 ml / 2/3 cup) but please use your judgement as every flour and flour mix has a slightly different absorbency level so the exact water amount may vary. It’s better to start off with less water and add more if needed later. Mix it all with a spoon until it roughly sticks together – add a touch more water if the dough is too dry to gather all of the flour in the bowl, but do it carefully. If you are not using yoghurt, your dough will require extra water for sure.
- Empty the dough on to the counter. Knead gluten dough for at least 5 mins and then set aside for 30 minutes under a damp kitchen towel so that the dough doesn’t dry up. GF version does not need kneading as such but you want to make sure the dough is smooth and homogeneous before you allow it to rest.
- Once the dough has had a chance to rest, divide it into 4 equal size portions. Take a portion of the dough and roll it out into a large rectangle or oval. Roll the dough as thinly as you can (1 mm is ideal) – that’s important as you don’t want the seams that result from making your gozleme parcel to be thick and doughy.
- Designate a space in the middle of your dough and arrange a thin layer of dry spinach mixture there, a few dollops of vegan feta on top and some more spinach to cover the feta – be careful not to overfill the parcel though. Cut the very edges of the dough off to ensure the seams aren’t thick and unpleasant to eat and fold the sides over the spinach rectangle like a parcel (being careful not to trap too much air inside). Seal and roll over the parcel very gently with a rolling pin to seal all of the seams.
- Proceed in the same manner with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.
- Heat up a non-stick or griddle pan over a medium-low heat. Brush the first parcel with a little oil and place it, seam side down, on a pre-heated pan. Allow it to cook undisturbed for a few minutes until the pastry is cooked and nicely blistered. Brush the other side with a small amount of olive oil and turn the parcel over, again cook for a few minutes until the dough is just cooked. Proceed like this with the remaining 3 parcels.
- Allow it to cool just a little and then enjoy straightaway, with a squeeze of lemon of you wish.
**I did test this dish with shop-bought feta (by Violife) and while I do enjoy it occasionally in its raw form, it did not work very well in this dish. When heated up it turns into a bit of an oily mess so please be aware. I do recommend making your own ‘feta’ from almonds or tofu here as it is much nicer in this context, but I’m sure there are other brands of vegan feta (vegan cheese in general) that work well when hot.