The only thing we don’t come short lately is time. I hope you find yourself busy with wonderful things to do and small distractions that bring a smile on your face. For me, it was shortcrust pastry that did it yesterday. Specifically shortcrust cheese pasties with xynomyzíthra.
Head straight to the recipe.
The days are getting longer, warmer and brighter. Such a weird spring, the whole nature is in bloom and we quietly watch it from the safety of our windows. I do get a bit of exercise, my once a day walk and once a week basic groceries. To my delight, on the fifth week of seclusion, you can find flour a bit more easily. Not as lucky with the filo pastry however. I can certainly live with such a small nuisance and it’s a great opportunity to get back to basics. So simple but so easily forgotten: shortcrust pastry.
This shortcrust pastry is a very basic one. It requires the quintessential elements all doughs do: flour, butter and a bit of salt. This is a small batch I only used 250 gr of flour and 125 gr of butter. The proportion of flour to butter is always 2:1 if you want to scale up. You need a pinch of salt and a splash of water to bring the dough together. And around 30 minutes to rest the dough, but other than that it is possibly the fastest dough you can make at home.
By the way, if you are after a tart shell, try this one instead.
My winner is the filling, as it is always the case. I managed to find some Cretan savoury mizithra (or xynomizíthra). Savoury mizíthra is soft and spreadable, much like cream cheese, but with a pleasantly sour note. You can use it as fresh cheese, spread it on a fresh slice of bread or crumble on top a simple tomato salad. I had some for salad and some for my pasties. It’s a great treat to find original Greek produce in good days, let alone on our turbulent times.
If you find yourself with a healthy supply of flour, here are some savoury treats to indulge yourselves in, Greek bakery style.
Cheese pasties with Xynomizíthra
For the dough
- 250 gr plain flour
- 125 gr butter cold and cubed
- A pinch of salt
For the filling
- 150 gr of savoury mizithra
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
- A binch of dried mint
- 1 egg yolk for brushing
- Sesame seeds or poppy seeds for décor optional
- Start with the shortcrust pastry. Use a large mixing bowl to sieve the flour in, add a pinch of salt and throw in the cubes of butter. Roughly mix with the tips of your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. You will need a splash or two of water to bring it together.
- After a few minutes, transfer it on your kitchen worktop and knead gently into a firm dough. Once happy with the consistency, wrap on cling film and rest in the fridge.
- Rest it for 30 minutes, Meanwhile you can make the filling.
- In a small bowl, mix the cheese, yogurt and herbs. Combine the ingredients, add in the egg and mix it a bit more. You can add a bit of pepper but as the mizithra is quite savoury, you won’t need salt much like when you use feta cheese. Once the filling is ready, leave aside to roll out the shortcrust pastry.
- Sprinkle a bit of flour on a clean surface. Cut half the dough, warm it a bit in your hands if too cold and then flatten it with the ball of your hand. Let the rolling pin rotate as you push it and turn it around as well. It shouldn’t be much thinner than 1-2 mm or it will break when folded.
- Cut in 6cm discs (you can use any glass to do this) and add a teaspoon of filling right in the middle. Lift one side to the top to cover the filling and press down with a fork to close the pastry into small halfmoons.
- If you are a bit impatient with rolling, this dose will make four rectangular pieces instead of the smaller bites.
- Transfer on a baking tray, brush with some egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
- Bake on 180C fan assisted oven or gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes.
I hope you enjoy these cheese pasties in very good company.
As for the mini interview series, it is going strong. A huge thanks to everyone who has sent wonderful material so far, I’m working on getting more published. If you wish to participate, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
From London with love,