Spinach & Feta Turnovers {ModBak}

This week’s recipe for Modern Baker Mondays is another savory offering. And as excited as I was about making the Caramelized Onion & Gorgonzola Tart last week, I was kind of so-so about these Spinach & Feta Turnovers. I love turnovers; I could live on spinach (I’ve loved it since I was a child); and anything made with puff pasty is OK in my book.

So I wasn’t sure what exactly was holding me back. Then it occurred to me: I don’t really like feta. There, I said it. Call me a rube, call me a blasphemer. I’m just not that crazy about the stuff. I don’t hate it, and I even make things with it from time to time. But I often find it so bitingly acidic that it overpowers every other flavor and texture in the dish.

I even thought about substituting goat cheese or blue cheese in this recipe, but I decided to make it as Nick intended. I found a somewhat mild feta, and I hoped that baking it into the turnover would tone it down even more.

After rolling out the puff pastry and putting it in the fridge to chill, I began assembling the filling. I started by mixing dill, green onions, feta, and pepper in a bowl (no salt, as the feta is plenty salty on its own).

I set the feta mixture aside while I sautéed spinach in olive oil until it had wilted and cooked down considerably. It wasn’t until I was finished cooking the spinach that I read the part of the recipe that says to chop the spinach before you sauté it. No matter: I grabbed my kitchen shears and chopped it in the pan before adding it to the feta mixture and stirring in an egg.

Now it was time to assemble the turnovers. I got the dough out of the refrigerator, lined a baking sheet with Silpat, and made an egg wash with beaten egg and a pinch of salt.

I cut the edges of the dough straight, then divided the dough into six squares (I made a half batch).

To make each turnover, I brushed the edges of a square of dough with egg wash, then put a dollop of filling near one of the corners.

I folded the corner over, then sealed the edges by pressing the dough together with my fingertips.

I was surprised by how much filling I had left after making all 6 turnovers. I thought about saving it for something else, but in the end I just pitched it.

I baked the turnovers at 375˚F for 15 minutes, then turned the pan around and baked for another 10 minutes.

Feta or no, the turnovers smelled really good baking, and I could hardly wait to try them.

And I was delighted and surprised by the taste. The puff pastry was, of course, buttery and flaky. And the filling tasted of spinach and onions and only a bit cheesy, but not in a bitingly acidic way.

I had two turnovers for dinner. My 7 year old asked if she could try one, so I plated one for her and set it on the dining room table. I didn’t expect her to like it, as she isn’t a big fan of spinach, at least not by itself. But I was barely back in the kitchen when she appeared, plate in hand, asking for another one! (My kids are adventurous eaters, but even they surprise me from time to time.)

If it hadn’t been part of the puff pastry section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I doubt that I would have made this recipe. But having tasted these delicious turnovers, I’m sure I’ll be making them again.


Savory Elephant Ears {ModBak}

Having made Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Elephant Ears several times, always to rave reviews, I recently thought I would mix things up a bit. Rather than the sweet elephant ears, made simply with puff pastry and sugar, I decided to make the savory version in The Modern Baker.

The savory elephant ears were made with cheese and paprika. I decided to use two kinds of cheese — Pecorino Romano and Gruyère.

Cheese en Place

 I began by rolling the puff pastry (using flour instead of sugar) into a rectangle.

I brushed the surface with egg wash,…

…then spread the dough with cheese…

…and sprinkled on some paprika.

I shaped the dough as with the sweet elephant ears by rolling the sides in about halfway, then folding a second time, and finally folding one side over the other.

First roll

Second roll

Final roll

I flattened the roll slightly, then refrigerated the dough for an hour or so before slicing and baking.

These elephant ears were puffy, buttery, and cheesy. They reminded me in a way of mustard batons. And even though they were really tasty, calling them “elephant ears” distracted from the experience, as I couldn’t help but compare them to their sweet, sticky, caramelized namesakes. Maybe next time, I’ll just call them cheese puffs.