Spicy Szechuan Beef Noodles

Thin slices of tender beef cooked in a spicy sauce flavoured with Sichuan peppercorns, served with fresh noodles ,beansprouts and peanuts.

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I bought some beautiful new bowls and chopsticks this weekend, so I had to make something to serve in them!

Always choose a Szechuan beef when I get a Chinese takeaway, so I thought I would try to recreate something similar at home! I was very pleased with the result, the spicy savoury sauce coated the noodles perfectly, and it made a delicious stir fry!

This recipe is really quick and easy so would make a great mid-week meal!

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Variations: You could use chicken instead of beef, which would be equally delicious, or leave out the meat, and replace it with some big chunks of mushroom, for a veggie version!

Ingredients: Serves Two

  • 200g beef
  • 200g noodles
  • handful of beansprouts
  • fresh coriander
  • 50g peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 carrot
  • 1red pepper
  • 3tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp shaoxing rice wine

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To Make:

First get all the ingredients chopped and ready:

Finely sliced the beef, against the grain into thin slithers, set aside.

Finely mince the garlic ginger and chilli, then crush the Sichuan pepper into a fine powder.

Slice the onion, pepper and carrot into thin strips.

Heat 1tbsp vegetable oil in a large wok, until smoking. Stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes until just cooked through and set aside.

Stir fry the garlic, ginger, chilli, onion and Sichuan pepper for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the peppers and carrot with the shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce and a splash of water.

Stir fry for a few minutes, until the veg is tender, then add the cornflour and a little extra water to form a thick sauce. (taste at this point to see if it needs more soy sauce or sugar!)

Transfer the cooked noodles, beansprouts and peanuts to the pan and mix thoroughly. Spoon the noodles into bowls and top with the beef, coriander and sesame seeds.

Serve while steaming hot, and enjoy!

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A Westerosi Feast

Honeyed chicken, House Tully trout pies and black bread, finished with Sansa’s lemon cakes – a feast fit for the season 5 premier!

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I am a HUGE game of thrones fan, I have read all the books about 10 times and I love the TV series, and I cannot wait for season 5! I couldn’t resist making some Game of thrones themed foods to celebrate the premier on Monday!

As a food lover, one of the great things about reading the books is the detailed descriptions of the food, there is even a page on wiki of ice and fire, that lists all the food mentioned in the books!

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I have made a few different things, inspired by food in the books and TV series. I’ve made honeyed chicken, which is mentioned on the wiki page, I’ve used drumsticks, because I thought eating meat off the bone was probably most accurate!

The House Tully trout pies were inspired by the lamprey pies they eat quite often in the books, but I’ve used trout (google a lamprey, I have no idea why anyone would want to eat one of them!!), and made them House Tully themed, seeing as a trout is their sigil.

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I made a rye bread sourdough, inspired by the ‘black bread’ that is often mentioned in the books, I wish it had turned out a bit blacker though!

And finally I couldn’t do a game of thrones post without making lemon cakes! I have tried to make them look like the lemon cakes Sansa eats on the show. There was a scene in season 4, where Lysa gives Sansa  some lemon cakes, and it looks like they are individual cakes, with a lemon on top. So I have made crystallised lemons to decorate the cakes.

Everything tasted great, and was really fun to eat, so if you are having some friends round to watch the first season 5 episode, I recommend making something Game of Thrones themed to impress them!

P.S….TEAM LANNISTER!

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Variations:

The Honeyed Chicken: You could add some chilli to the marinade to spice your chicken up, or add some cinnamon, for a more Dornish feel!

The Black Bread: You could mix in some dried fruits, nuts or seeds, to make the bread more exciting

The Trout Pies: You could use any fish in the pies, or replace the mushrooms with some ham.

The Lemon Cakes: The buttercream could be replaced with lemon curd

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Ingredients: 

The Honeyed Chicken; Serves 2

  • 8 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3tbsp Honey
  • 6tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Fresh Oregano

Black Bread; Makes one large loaf:

  • 300g Sourdough Ferment
  • 200g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 350g Rye Flour
  • 15g Salt
  • 300g Water

The Trout Pies:

  • 500g Puff Pastry
  • 2 Trout Fillets
  • 8 Cup Mushrooms
  • 1/2 an Onion
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2-4 tbsp Cream Cheese flavoured with chives

Candied Lemon Slices:

  • 2 Lemons
  • 225g Granulated Sugar
  • 225g Water

The Lemon Cakes:

Sponge:

  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • Juice and Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 3 Eggs
  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 2tbsp Honey
  • 1tbsp Lemon Syrup (reserved from the candied lemons)

Buttercream:

  • 100g Butter
  • 1tbsp Lemon Syrup (reserved from the candied lemons)
  • 250g Icing Sugar
  • 2tbsp Lemon juice

To Make:

The Honeyed Chicken:

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Remove the skin from the chicken legs and make some deep diagonal cuts in the thickest part of the flesh, and place in a baking dish.

Combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic and half the oregano in a bowl, and mix to combine, pour half the mixture over the chicken legs, leave to marinade for a few hours, or overnight.

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Preheat the oven to 200°C

Cook the chicken in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until cooked through and the meat is tender. Once cooked, use a pastry brush to coat the chicken in the remaining marinade.

Scatter over some fresh oregano and serve.

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The Trout Pies:

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Preheat the oven to 180°C

Fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms over a medium heat, for around 5-10 minutes, until they begin to caramelise.

Roll out the pastry to a large rectangle around 1cm thick. mark into quarters length ways, and cut out one fish shape in each quarter. Score two of the fishes, to give them scales and tail markings.

Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly onto two of the fish shapes, then lay the salmon fillets on top, and then spoon over the cream cheese.

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Spread a little bit of water around the edges of the fish, then lay the remaining fish shapes over the top, and press the edges down firmly to seal in the filling. egg wash the pastry.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown, and the centre is piping hot.

Serve!

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The Black Bread:

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Combine all ingredients for the sourdough in a large bowl until well combined and the mixture begins to form a ball of stiff dough.

Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a tight ball, and return to a well floured bowl. Cover and leave to prove for around 8 hours, until bubbles appear at the top of the dough.

Turn out the proved dough knock out the air. Form into a tight ball and return to the well floured bowl, leave to prove for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C

Slash the top of the bread and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until evenly browned, and sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Slice and serve!

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The Candied Lemon:

Cut two lemons into around 8-10 circular slices.

Combine the sugar and water in a saute pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Place the lemon into the sugar syrup and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the syrup has reduced by about 2/3 and the lemon has turned translucent.

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Use a slotted spoon to place the lemons on a greased and lined baking tray. Leave to cool before using.

Reserve the remaining lemony syrup for the lemon cakes!

The Lemon Cakes:

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Sponge:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease are rectangular baking tray.

Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale, light and fluffy – around 5 minutes. Then add in the eggs one at a time and fold in the flour, lemon juice and honey until well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish, and bake in the preheated oven for around 25 minutes, until cooked through.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Heat half the reserved candied lemon syrup in a pan with a few tbsp of lemon juice. Spoon over the sponge until all the syrup has been absorbed.

The Buttercream:

Combine all the ingredients for the buttercream, and whisk until it forms a glossy mixture.

Assembling:

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Cut the sponge into 12 evenly sized squares and then slice each square into two horizontally, to form two layers.

Sandwich the two layers of each square together with the lemon butter cream and pipe a small spot of buttercream onto the top of each cake. Finish with a slice of candied lemon.

Serve!

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Seedy Sourdough Loaf

Crunchy, chewy sourdough loaf, studded with mixed seeds. 

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This is the first variation recipe I have done with my sourdough ferment. Last time I had a ferment, I used the same basic recipe every time I made the bread, which got a bit boring! So this time I’ve decided to experiment with diffferent fillings and shapes, to see how many exciting breads I can make from my ferment.

Here, I have used the same basic recipe as in my first sourdough post, but I’ve used a loaf tin to shape the bread, and I’ve added some nuts and seeds, to give some extra flavour.

This made a lovely robust bread with lots and lots of flavour, much more exciting than a normal sandwich loaf! It tasted delicious with a bowl of soup at lunchtime.

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Ingredients: Makes 1 Loaf

  • 200g Sourdough Ferment
  • 400g Strong White Bread flour
  • 75g Wholemeal Flour
  • 10g Salt
  • 300g Water
  • 200g Mixed Nuts and Seeds

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To Make:

Combine all ingredients for the sourdough in a large bowl (except the seeds), until well combined and the mixture begins to form a ball of sticky dough.

Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a tight ball, and return to a well floured bowl. Cover and leave to prove for around 4-6 hours, until bubbles appear at the top of the dough.

Turn out the proved dough and knead in the mixed seeds. Form into a rectangle by flattening the dough and then folding it into the middle. Coat in flour and transfer to a greased loaf tin, leave to rest for 16-18 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C

Slash the top of the bread in a criss-cross pattern and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until evenly browned, and sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Slice and serve! Delicious with a hot bowl of soup.

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Squash and Bean Veggie Fajitas with Fresh Guacamole

Fajita wraps, filled with a spicy butternut squash and black eyed bean mix, served with fresh guacamole and lettuce.

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This is my follow up recipe to my Vegetarian Lasagne, for meat free week. Who doesn’t love a delicious spicy fajita? Well this recipe allows you to get all the flavour of normal fajitas with no meat to be seen!

I got the idea for the lettuce topping when I was eating out in Wahaca, because all the tostadas and taquitas are served with this lettuce and sour cream topping, which adds so much fresh flavour and crunchy texture, so I wanted to recreate it at home.

The guacamole and lettuce are obviously optional, and the fajitas taste great just on their own, but the added extras do make this recipe just a bit more special, and will help to win over any meat-oholics you are feeding!

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Varations: You could use any kind of bean in this recipe; Black beans would be really tasty, and you can add any other veggie of your choice, I think some sweetcorn would go really well.

Ingredients: Serves Two

The Fajitas:

  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 Chilli
  • 2 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 400g Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of Black Eyed Beans
  • 2tbsp Paprika
  • 1tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1tbsp Ground Coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hand-full of fresh coriander
  • Limes, to serve
  • 4 Tortilla Wraps

The Lettuce

  • 1/2 an Iceberg Lettuce
  • 5tbsp Soured Cream
  • 150g Lancashire Cheese, crumbled

The Guacamole

  • 1/2 a Red Onion
  • 1/2 a Clove of Garlic
  • 1 Chilli
  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 handful of Fresh Coriander.

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To make

The fajitas:

Preheat the oven to 200°C

Peel and chop the squash into small 2cm cubes, coat in oil and 1tbsp of paprika, bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until cooked through and caramelised.

Finely spice the onions, garlic and chilli, fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes until they begin to brown. Then stir in the finely sliced red pepper and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the beans, spices, salt and pepper the the pan with a splash of water,cook until the water has all evaporated. Stir in the butternut squash and remove from the heat.

The guacamole:

In a small blender, blitz together half the onion, one avocado, the chilli, garlic, coriander and lime juice. Finely chop the rest of the onion and avocado and stir into the blended mixture in a small bowl. Top with some chilli.

The Lettuce:

Finely chop the lettuce and place in a wide, shallow bowl.

Spoon over the soured cream and scatter over the crumbled Lancashire cheese.

To serve:

Warm the tortilla wraps in the microwave, spoon a good helping of the veggie filling onto the wrap, and top with the guacamole and lettuce. Squeeze over some lime juice and wrap up. Delicious!

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BBQ Beef Short Rib and Hash Browns

Slow cooked, tender beef short rib, smothered in a sweet, tangy BBQ sauce, served with crispy, golden hash browns.

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I discovered beef short ribs about a year ago, when I ordered them at an American BBQ restaurant, I remember deliberating about whether or not to order one or two ribs, little did I know how gigantic they are, and I was very glad when the food turned up that I only ordered the one!

I have had them a few times since then when out in restaurants and they have been delicious every time, so when I came across them in the supermarket, I just had to have a go at making them myself at home.

The BBQ sauce recipe is one I made up quite a while ago to make bbq chicken and pulled pork, but I find it works well with pretty much anything and its really easy to make! This recipe doesn’t take much work, but it does need to be in the oven pretty much all day, which is a bit annoying if you want to leave the house, alternatively you could cook them over night, and heat them back up before serving.

Variations: The BBQ sauce could be made into a hot sauce by adding some fresh and dried chilli.

Ingredients: Serves Two

For the Beef:

  • 2 Beef Short Ribs – about 600g
  • 2tbsp Tomato Ketchup
  • 3tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Heaped tsp Wholegrain Mustard
  • 2tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1tbsp Powdered Onion
  • 2tsp Cayene Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Hash Browns:

  • 2 Large Baking Potatoes
  • 1/2 an Onion
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt and Pepper

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To Make:

Preheat the oven to140C

Rub 1tbsp paprika, 1tsp of cayenne pepper and some salt over the beef ribs.

Transfer to a baking dish, pour one mug full of water into the bottom of the dish, and cover with foil.

Bake in the preheated oven for 7-8 hours, keep topping up the water periodically.

The BBQ Sauce;

Combine all the other ingredients for the beef in a small pan, and cook over a low heat for a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the beef is tender and falling off the bone, remove from the oven and coat in BBQ sauce using a pastry brush.

Cover with foil and leave to rest for around 10-15 minutes before serving.

The Hash Browns:

Grate the potato and onion into a large bowl and squeeze out the excess water with your hands.

Add the beaten agg and mix through the potato,then season with salt and pepper.

Form a small handful of the mixture into a ball and then flatten to a disc, fry over a medium heat for about 3 minutes either side, or until crispy and golden brown.

Serve the beef ribs with a big scoop of coleslaw and some hash browns, yummy!

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Chorizo, Squid and Prawn Paella

Sticky paella rice, with chunks of spicy chorizo sausage, squid rings and juicy king prawns, finished with fresh oregano and lemon wedges.

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I finally got round to using my Paella pan from Barcelona, this weekend. I’ve made a chorizo and seafood paella, with prawns and squid. I would have really loved to put some fresh mussels or clams in this recipe, to make it much more like the paella I had in Barcelona, but I don’t live anywhere near a fishmonger, and you can only buy huge bags of them from the supermarket, so I decided to forgo the mussels. But I was still very pleased with the result!

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This paella was really easy to make, as it doesn’t really need that much attention, you just need to check that it hasn’t gone dry every so often. Whenever I make paella, I have to resist the temptation to constantly stir it, as you would with a risotto. If you do stir it too much, it will end up tasting and looking like a seafood risotto (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but a traditional paella, shouldn’t be so creamy, and should have some chewy bits that have been stuck to the bottom of the pan while cooking!

The squid only needs a very small amount of cooking time, and using cooked prawns means the recipe is very easy to put together, but it looks wonderful when served at the table, and it tasted pretty good too! Definitely one to try when you have friends over, or even if you just fancy treating yourself!

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Variations: Virtually anything could go in this paella! Some extra seafood would be great, like some mussels and clams, or crab. If you don’t want seafood, you could do a meaty paella with chorizo, chicken and sausage, or even rabbit.

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Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 1/2 a Red Onion
  • 1/2 a Chorizo Sausage (200g)
  • 3 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 300g Paella Rice
  • 1 heaped tbsp of Smoked Paprika
  • 1tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1litre Fish Stock
  • 4 Baby Squid (200g)
  • 300g King Prawns (cooked)
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Lemon, sliced into small chunks
  • Fresh Oregano
  • Garlic Bread, to serve

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To Make:

Slice the Chorizo into thick chunks, and finely chop the onion. Fry in a large sauté pan, over a low heat, until cooked through and the chorizo has started to colour. Then add the garlic.

Pour the rice into the pan, and fry for a few minutes, then add the fish stock, tomato puree and paprika. Simmer for 15 minutes, if all the stock evaporates, add some more water.

After 15 minutes, finely slice the red pepper and stir into the rice. If all the water/stock has evaporated, cover the rice with water again, and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the squid into rings, and fry in a very hot pan for one minute, set aside.

Once the rice is cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper. Then stir through half the squid and prawns, and remove from the heat.

Scatter the rest of the squid over the top of the paella. Place the remaining prawns and lemon wedges in a circular pattern. Sprinkle over some paprika and fresh oregano.

Serve the paella, in the pan at the table. Spoon a generous heap of paella into each bowl and enjoy!

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Gözleme – Turkish Flatbreads stuffed with Spinach and Feta

Crispy, chewy flat beads, stuffed with a creamy filling of spinach, ricotta and feta cheese.

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Variations: These flatbreads could be filled with anything, mozzarella and tomato would work well, or goats cheese and caramelised onions!

I have eaten Gözleme a few times on family holidays in Turkey, and whilst on a short break in Berlin, but had never made them myself, until recently. I found a few different recipes on Pinterest, and realised that they are actually really simple to make, as long as you are reasonably comfortable making your own bread!

The recipes I saw on Pinterest inspired this post, but I have used by own flatbread recipe and I have changed the filling to include Ricotta as well as Feta, because I think it makes them a bit more indulgent.

I have made these a few times now for friends and family and they have always gone down a storm! I would definitely recommend them as an easy way to feed a large group of people, as they are just as easy to make for 2 as they are for 8, and they look really impressive. As well as all that, they taste great and are probably something people wont have tried before!

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Ingredients: Makes four Gözlemes – Serves 4-6

 

For the Dough:

  • 550g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 10g Yeast
  • 10g Salt
  • 25g Olive oil
  • 350g Warm Water

For the Filling:

  • 1 Bag of Baby Spinach
  • 150g Ricotta Cheese
  • 150g Feta Cheese
  • 1 Onion
  • 100g Chorizo or Bacon (optional)

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To Make:

The Dough:

Combine all ingredients for the dough in a large bowl and mix until it forms a rough ball of dough.

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Turn out onto a clean surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until it forms a smooth elastic ball.

Test that the dough is ready by pressing a finger into the surface; the dough should spring back if the gluten has been worked enough.

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Form the dough into a tight ball and return to the mixing bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1-2 hours.

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Turn the rested dough out onto the surface and knock it back.

Divide the dough into 100g pieces and form into tight balls (2 balls = 1 Gözleme), leave to rest for around 30 minutes to1 hour.

 

The Filling:

Blanch the spinach and put into a bowl with the ricotta cheese.

Fry the onion (and chorizo/bacon if using) on a low heat for about 10 minutes until cooked through and a little caramelised. Add to the spinach and ricotta cheese.

Crumble over the feta cheese and mix. Taste the filling to see if it needs any additional seasoning.

Making:

Roll out 2 balls of dough on a flowered surface, then stretch them by hand to create two thin circular disks

Put a pan on a low heat and add a little oil. Place 1 of the rolled out pieces of dough in the bottom of the pan.

Spoon around 3-4 tbsp of the filling onto the dough and spread around the middle.

Place the second dough disk on the top, and press the dough together round the edges to seal in the filling.

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Turn up the heat and fry for 3-4 minutes either side, or until the dough is cooked through and has coloured slightly.

Turn out onto a board, leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.

If you are making lots of Gözleme, you can transfer them to a low oven to keep them warm whilst you make the rest.

Serve in slices with some chilli sauce, delicious!

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