Saturday, January 11, 2020

Rustic Spinach, Feta and Haloumi Pie, a Scottish vegetarian recipe

This is the most delicious Spinach and Cheese Pie I have ever eaten, and I know that's a big call as I've eaten quite a few. Perhaps it's the grated haloumi that gives it the edge, and the garlic is a must my friends. Presentation can be as rustic as you like, feeds 4-6 easily, and is a cinch to make. It's a big pie.  I'm cleaning out my freezer, it needs to be done, so I used Puff pastry instead of shortcrust  because that's what I had and it didn't make a lot of difference. I always have packets of frozen spinach in my freezer as it is so easy to work with and easier than using fresh I find in this kind of savoury vegetarian pie.

This recipe brings back fond memories of a holiday  we had in Dunbar in Scotland nearly 13 years ago, with friends Alice and Lawrence, whom we met in Mackay when they were out here on a teacher exchange. Lawrence is a vegetarian, does most of the cooking, and I think it's fair to say that this is his signature dish. We lost contact for a while over the years as happens, and then this year I found their address and sent them a Christmas card and asked Lawrence if he still had the recipe. I have been craving the dish since I lost the recipe a few years after we came back from Scotland. Yes they sent me the recipe and a lovely letter and here is the pie, and we were so happy to eat it again. I hope you enjoy it too.

Food is such a form of connection and embedded in so many memories, and now I think of these dear friends every time I make this pie.

 Spinach Pie
Pre-heat oven to 170 C

 500g frozen spinach thawed, and squeeze as much moisture from it as possible
1 onion thinly sliced
2 gloves of garlic chopped
1 packet of haloumi cheese grated (+ 1 packet of feta cheese crumbled - optional)
1 egg beaten with some creme fraiche or double cream, about 100 mls
Short crust pastry, enough to line a baking dish of your choice with 40-50 mm overlap at edges.


Mix spinach, onion, garlic, cheese(s), egg and cream all together in a bowl.

Roll out pastry and oil dish, line with pastry and add spinach filling spreading out to fill dish.

Fold over pastry and make rustic looking.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until set.

Enjoy with a simple and delicious  salad of your choice.

This is a very quick post my friends as more holidays are in the wind and there are a lot of things to do.
We feel very fortunate to be living in our part of the world, as so many people in our beautiful but
fire ravaged country are doing it so very tough.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
I will try to keep up with reading and responding to all of the blogs I love to read, and you know who you
are, and there will be some posts from me as technology and time allows as we are now down to one
 computer for a while.

Best wishes and please stay safe


An original recipe by  Happy Retirees Kitchen (c)2020.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Homely and Healthy Honey and Banana Muffins

Healthy Muffins for Sunday morning tea with a friend, what could be nicer. It's no secret that we have a backyard beehive and with that comes a stock of our own delicious honey, and I am always looking for ways to use it in my cooking. Beehives are in crisis now in the southern states of Australia so we are very fortunate to own a healthy hive. I am often put off from eating muffins because the ones I see  in the coffee shops now are so large and not always that delicious.When Dr. J was calling in to visit before an overseas holiday, we turned the coffee machine on and I quickly made my fail proof and very quick batch of muffins. The basic muffin mixture is very simple and the buttermilk which I easily make myself gives the muffins a nice rise and lightness of crumb. I thought I'd like to share this very simple recipe with you all.

My friends who live in warm climates will know how quickly bananas ripen in the summer, particularly in the Tropics. I can tolerate most foods, however for some reason, bananas which are ripe and soft make me feel nauseous although Mr. HRK has no trouble at all with them. So rather than waste them, all overripe bananas in my kitchen are bagged up and placed in the freezer, skins and all, ready for baking cakes, muffins and whatever else I can use them for. The skins are easily removed before using the bananas.

So here I am using frozen bananas, defrosted at room temperature within 30 minutes, and then baked in muffin tins in 30 minutes. Pretty muffin cases can be used if you have them. Quick and easy preparation and cooking is my new mantra for this Summer.


2 cups (300g) plain wholemeal flour ( or just plain if you prefer)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup (110g) raw sugar (1/2 cup if you like them sweeter)
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup (65g) oatmeal, oat bran or wheat bran
1 egg
1 1/4 cups (310ml) buttermilk (use 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup full cream milk to make your own)
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Let's cook:

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 180 deg. C (350 deg. F).

Place the dry ingredients, i.e. the flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl mix to combine the honey, egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Stir through the banana very gently. Spoon the mixture into 12 x 1/2 cup capacity (125ml) muffin tins lined with paper cases or well greased.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked, by testing with a skewer.

Serve warm or cold. These also freeze well.

Happy New Year to you all reading my blog in 2020, although down here in Australia, particularly in the southern states it hasn't been a happy start to the year because of the bushfires, which the whole world is now reading about. This is unprecedented and everyone is reeling in shock, and besides donating to one of the fundraisers and finding ourselves praying for those affected there seems to be little we in the North can do. Hopefully our politicians will move beyond the politics and deal with this crisis constructively and compassionately. It has far reaching implications for everyone.

Best wishes for the future