Yafawi Sfeeha

Feta and spinach, or zucchini and halloumi – two delicious savoury fillings for these little hand pies.

yafawi sfeeha

It’s Daring Bakers time! This month we made Yafawi Sfeeha – little coiled hand pies, filled with all sorts of lovely things. I made 2 different kinds over the course of the month, and have taken notes for lots more, both savoury and sweet. The pastry is a dream to work with, and the possibilities are endless for filling them. They make a fantastic make-ahead dinner, are perfect for a picnic, or just a snack on the go. And what could be cuter than these little coils of goodness?!

Each filling recipe makes enough for one full batch of pastries
Makes: 16 pieces
Dough: 15 minutes active, several hours or overnight resting
Filling: 10 minutes for the feta & spinach, 2 hours for the zucchini & halloumi (incl. cooling)
Assembly: about 45 minutes
Baking: 20 – 25 minutes

For the dough

420g (3 cups scooped and scraped) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
45ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil
240ml (1 cup) warm milk
about 120ml (1/2 cup) additional olive oil for working the dough

Feta & spinach filling

500g (18 oz) feta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
100g (3 1/2 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Tbsp finely minced flat-leaf parsley
pinch nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper

Zucchini & halloumi filling

500g (18 oz) zucchini, grated
1 medium brown onion, finely sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
350g (12 oz) halloumi, grated
freshly ground black pepper

For assembling

2 Tbsp sesame seeds for sprinkling

To make the dough

Mix flour, salt, sugar and vegetable oil then start adding the warm milk until you get a tender and slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or 12 minutes by hand.

Form the dough into 16 balls. Place on a baking sheet that is very well greased with olive oil and liberally spread more oil over dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for a few hours or refrigerate overnight and bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Feta & spinach filling

Crumble the feta into a bowl, mix in the beaten egg, then mix in the spinach, parsley, nutmeg and pepper to taste.

Zucchini & halloumi filling

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and cook the onion until translucent. Add the grated zucchini by handfuls until it is all incorporated. Season well with freshly ground black pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini has cooked down and the liquid has been cooked off. Set aside to cool completely.

Combine zucchini with grated halloumi in a large bowl.

Assembly & Baking

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F / gas mark 6) and oil a large rimmed baking sheet.

Brush a round tray liberally with olive oil (this will be your work surface).

Take one piece of dough and, using well oiled hands, gently spread it out thinly and evenly into as large a circle as possible, 20 – 25cm (8 – 10″) in diameter. I found the best way to do this to avoid getting holes in the dough was to use the palm of my hand to flatten the ball out, then push gently out with the heel of my hand as I rotated the tray with my other hand. Once it is spread out, fold the upper edge to the centre then fold the opposite edge to the centre to meet it.

Spread about one heaped tablespoon of the filling (you can divide it in the bowl into 16 portions first, to make it easier to judge) in a long sausage along the length of the dough, leaving a little space at the ends for sealing.

Roll into a long tight rope, making sure that it is tight enough to ensure no filling escapes. I found the easiest way to do this was to lift one side of the dough and stretch it over the filling, then lift the other side and stretch it over the top, then roll the whole thing back and forth to even it out and help seal the seam. Seal the ends by pinching closed. Start at one end and roll the dough into a coil.

Place the coiled Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of your Sfeeha using oil to keep them nice and moist.

Brush with oil again, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in centre of oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve hot or at room temperature.


Daring Kitchen blog-checking lines: The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.

The original recipe, including other (vegetarian, non-vegetarian and sweet) fillings and step-by-step pictures, can be found here.

Posted in daring bakers, pastry, tart&pie | 8 Comments

Orecchiette with broccoli

This is a super easy but super tasty pasta dinner, with amazing tastes and textures.

Orecchiette with broccoli

I often find myself cycling through two or three of the same old tomato-based ways of serving pasta, mostly because of fussy eaters, but it turns out that broccoli is one of the few green vegetables that is universally accepted by my hoard. One of my favourite pasta dishes is orecchiette with cime di rapa (rapini… turnip tops… broccoli rabe… so many names!) but it’s not popular with my kids and cime di rapa only appears in the markets here randomly, so when I planned to cook it this week and there wasn’t any of that peppery leaf to be found, I opted to use broccoli instead. It was a winner!

Serves 4
Preparation: 15 minutes active time


1/2 cup olive oil
2 – 3 tsp chilli flakes
4 – 5 large cloves garlic
1 head broccoli
500g (about 1 lb) orecchiette


In a small saucepan, add the olive oil and chilli flakes. Finely slice the garlic cloves and add them to the oil, then heat on low until the oil starts to bubble. Remove from heat and set aside – I do this ahead of time and leave it for at least an hour or so, to allow the oil to absorb plenty of flavour.

Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil and cook the orecchiette according to the packet directions. Add the broccoli to the pot about two minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Drain the pasta and broccoli and return it to the pot. Pour the oil in and toss to coat everything.

Serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan, if desired.

Posted in italian, pasta | 4 Comments

Strawberry curd & cream tartlets

Still no baking around here… it’s just too hot. But there’s only so much ice cream I can stock in the freezer, and I can’t stay out of the kitchen, so a no-bake dessert was in order.

Strawberry curd & cream tartlets

The curd for these tartlets is really easy to make. It’s not a free-flowing curd that you would spread on toast, but a thickened one for easy eating. It’s not too sweet, and it balances the cream nicely. I used store-bought tartlet shells for these, but you can make your own, even if that does remove the no-bake aspect ;)

Makes: about 10 tartlets, depending on size of shells
Preparation: 45 minutes active time
Chilling: about 2 hours


~10 tartlet shells
250ml (1 cup) heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
dash vanilla extract
strawberry curd (recipe below)

strawberry curd

Strawberry curd

500g / about 1lb strawberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
100g / 1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 tsp fine salt
3 large egg yolks
28g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened


Wash, hull and roughly chop the strawberries and place them in a small, heavy-based saucepan along with the lemon juice.

Heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or so, until the fruit has broken down and is easily squashed.

Remove from heat and purée with a stick blender, blender or food processor. Set aside to cool a bit.

In the top pan of a double boiler or in a nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the strawberry puree, sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and egg yolks until smooth.

Set the top pan over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan, or place the saucepan on very low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture is warmed through, just a couple of minutes.

Begin adding softened butter a little at a time, stirring each addition until blended before adding more.

Continue cooking, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until a finger drawn across the back of the spatula leaves a clear path, about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat.

Press the curd through a fine-mesh strainer set over a stainless steel, ceramic or glass bowl. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed to the surface and refrigerate until chilled.

Spoon the curd into the tartlet shells, whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and dollop or pipe on top of the tartlets.

Posted in dessert, snack, sweet, tart&pie | Leave a comment

Eton mess ice cream

Loaded with crushed meringues and macerated strawberries!

eton mess ice cream

It’s too hot to bake. I have a list as long as your arm of projects I had intended to tackle over my summer vacation, but with temperatures hovering around 38°C (100°F), there is no way I am turning the oven on! We have eaten salad every night for a week and will continue to do so for the… well, the foreseeable future is the 10 day forecast on the weather app.

But to balance all that healthy salad, my freezer holds a veritable mountain of ice cream ;)

There is a lovely range of textures to this dessert treat – ever-so-creamy ice cream, bites of chewy meringue and frozen chunks of sweet strawberry. And it’s another no-churn jobbie.

Makes about 2.5 litres (5 pints)
Active: 10 minutes
Resting: 1 hour
Freezing: 6 hours or overnight


500g (about 1 pound) strawberries
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
500ml (2 cups) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large or 8 small meringues – about 2 cups when crumbled


Wash, hull and dice the strawberries into pieces about 1cm (2/5″), place in a glass or ceramic bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Stir briefly then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to macerate for at least an hour.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, but not to the texture of whipped cream, 3 – 4 minutes on medium. Be careful not to overbeat.

Add the condensed milk and vanilla and beat just until very soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted – it should have a thick, mousse-like consistency.

Crumble the meringues roughly.

Stir the strawberries (and the juice in the bowl) and the meringue pieces into the cream mixture.

Pour mixture into a container, seal tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Posted in dessert, ice cream, snack, sweet | 4 Comments

Nectarine gelato with raspberry ripple

A cool and creamy way to enjoy delicious summer fruits.

Nectarine gelato with raspberry ripple

No ice cream maker is required for this, just a bit of fruit preparation, then a few minutes with the hand mixer. It would, of course, work just find in a machine as well, if you’d prefer to use one.

You can use any combination of summer fruits for this gelato – for example, peaches, plums or apricots for the ice cream; strawberries, cherries or blackberries for the ripple, or vice versa. The fruit can be prepared up to a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to whip up your gelato.

Makes about 1.5 litres (3 pints)
Preparation: 30 minutes (including prep of fruit)
Cooling/chilling: 2 – 3 hours
Freezing: 6 hours or overnight


500ml (2 cups or 16 fl oz) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ripe nectarines
250g (about 1/2 pound) raspberries
50g (4 Tbsp) granulated sugar


Stir together raspberries and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until raspberries break down completely and mixture comes to a simmer, about 5 minutes.

Strain through a mesh strainer, squashing any remaining pulp to get the liquid out, and set syrup aside to cool to room temperature. You should have about half a cup of syrup. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Peel the nectarines and remove the stones, dice the flesh then place in a small, heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook gently just until starting to break down, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and puree in a food processor, with a stick blender or just mash with a fork if soft enough. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Beat the cream on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, but not to the texture of whipped cream, 3 – 4 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat.

Add the condensed milk and vanilla and beat just until very soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted – it should have a thick, mousse-like consistency.

Add the nectarine pulp and beat very briefly to combine.

Pour mixture into a container, then slowly pour in raspberry syrup as you swirl it through with the flat of a butter knife.

Seal the container tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Posted in dessert, ice cream, snack, sweet | Leave a comment

Peach muffins

Soft, moist muffins bursting with fresh fruit.

Peach muffins

After a long, grey winter of apples, apples, a quick flurry of clementines over the holidays, then back to apples, apples and more apples, it is mind-blowingly fun to go to the grocer’s now! Plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, berries… all those gloriously sweet, juicy fruits that make me hungry just looking at them.

But it turns out you can fill the fruit basket only so many times before the novelty wears off for the kids and they are asking me to do something with nature’s bounty.

Bake it, to be precise. Into cake.


Makes 12 standard sized muffins
Preparation about 30 minutes
Baking about 20 minutes


125g (1 cup, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
115g (1 stick or 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter
2 medium sized, ripe but firm peaches
2 large eggs
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 – 3 Tbsp milk, as required
powdered (confectioners’ or icing) sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat oven to 175°C (350ºF) and set up 12 cupcake liners on a baking sheet or in a muffin pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt the butter. Set aside to cool.

Halve the peaches, remove the stones, peel and cut into small chunks. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with a whisk until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

Using a hand whisk, stir in half the flour. Add half the melted butter and whisk gently to combine, then repeat with the remaining flour and the remaining butter. Add milk to loosen, as required (I used 2 Tbsp).

Stir in the peaches, then distribute the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.

Bake in centre of oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, if desired.

Posted in breakfast, cake, muffin, snack, sweet | 8 Comments

Chickpea, cous cous and beet salad

There is nothing better on a warm summer evening than a big bowl of salad.

This one is loaded with goodness, it’s full of fresh flavours and a variety of textures.

Chickpea, cous cous and beet salad

This salad goes really well with a drizzle of tangy za’atar yoghurt dressing and a hunk of whole wheat bread.

Serves 4 – 6
Takes about an hour to prepare
Plus chilling time, if serving chilled


Note: The quantities can be adjusted according to availability or preference.

1 x 400g (14oz) can chickpeas
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp za’atar
sea salt & black pepper
125g (3/4 cup) uncooked cous cous
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
300g (10oz) beets
3 cloves garlic
1 lge or 2 sml bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
2 spring onions (scallions), white and light green parts
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
150g (5oz) cherry tomatoes
100g (3 1/2oz) baby spinach leaves


Drain the chickpeas well and transfer them to a bowl. Add the lemon juice and za’atar, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir well. Set aside while you prepare the other parts of the salad.

Cook the cous cous according to the packet directions and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

Trim, quarter and steam the unpeeled beets until easily pierced by the tip of a sharp knife, about 15 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off. Set aside to cool.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add the crushed garlic and as soon as it starts to sizzle, add the chickpeas and toss until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Cut the beets and peppers into bite-sized pieces, chop the scallions and parsley, wash and dry the tomatoes and spinach.

Add everything to a large mixing bowl and toss well.

If you chill the salad for an hour or so, the cous cous will turn a beautiful pink.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Posted in lunch, salad, side, starter, vegan | 2 Comments