Tuesday, 24 June 2014

E for Eccles Cakes - vegan and savoury with leek, spinach and blue cheese - For the Picnic Game and Eat Your Greens

Eccles cakes - those British pastries packed with dried fruit - have never held much interest for me.  Not until I saw the creative Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen make a savoury version.  Fortunately she posted two versions.  Once years ago when I bookmarked the recipe for Leek and stilton.  Then again recently she posted a Savoury nettle, ground elder and spinach 'Eccles' cake.  I found serendipity had presented me with all the ingredients to make a vegan version.

I had Vegusto's vegan blue cheese, Borg's puff pastry and lots of greens.  It was meant to be.  Especially as I had been wandering what to do with the blue cheese.  The vegan stuff really needs to be used in a dish rather than a sandwich.  It isn't crumbly and creamy in the way of dairy cheese.  But it worked well in this dish.  Of course you could deveganise the Eccles cakes and make them with dairy like Shaheen did.

Shaheen had used wild garlic so I thought it was a good way to use my wild garlic salt.  Not that I need any help with ideas for using the salt.  I put it in everything.  And it really does smell strongly of wild garlic.   

I loved these Eccles cakes.  They have a magnificent combination of indulgent puff pastry, virtuous greens and creamy cheese that gives it oodles of flavour.  I think they would be great for entertaining.  They look impressive despite requiring very little effort and skill.  You could prepare them in advance up until the point where they are baked and pop them in the oven when you friends arrive.  I also think they would be a great conversation starter.

Alas I haven't been doing much entertaining of late.  Mine were eaten for dinner on the run during Sylvia's dinner and bedtime routine.  They deserve better than this.  I think a hearty salad and a nice home cooked tomato sauce would be far more respectful.

The next day I heated them up in the microwave for lunch and popped them under the grill to crisp up the tops.  You might have noticed that they were rather well browned on top in some of my photos.  I don't recommend this method.  But between you and me, sometimes there is just not the time  and energy.  And if you wanted them really quickly or to take out for lunch, I think they would work at room temperature.

I am pleased to be able to send these Eccles Cakes back to Shaheen for a new blog challenge she has started this month called Eat Your Greens.  It is a vegetarian event to share ways of serving up green vegies.

I am also sending the Eccles Cakes to Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations for the Picnic Game. My fellow Melbournians will appreciate that it is not at all picnic weather here.  But Louise lives on the other side of the world and begins this game each year to celebrate International Picnic Day on 18 June and has the full list up on 1 July in time for National Picnic Month.  Bloggers all choose a letter and play along as we used to like when we were kids.  Here we go (a few more to be added when they are posted):

We are going on a picnic and my friends are bringing

A - Angel Cake
B - Basil Leaves in Caramelized Prawns
C - Chicken Piccata
D - TBA
E - and I am bringing Eccles Cakes filled with Leek, Spinach and Blue Cheese

Head over to Months of Edible Celebrations on or after 1 July to see what everyone brought to the picnic.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Winter Solstice chocolate fruit mince slice
Two years ago: Oat and honey bread, and a malted bread
Three years ago: Tahini lime rice with some multicultural day thoughts
Four years ago: SHF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Five years ago: Novice Nutella cupcakes accompanied by guitar
Six years ago: The solstice fruitcake offensive
Seven years ago: Winter Solstice Roast Dinner

Vegan Leek Spinach and Blue Cheese Eccles Cakes
adapted from Allotment to Kitchen
serves 3-4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium leek, washed and chopped
100g (couple of big handfuls) baby spinach, chopped
1 tsp wild garlic salt (or regular salt)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (a good handful)
finely ground black pepper 
100g vegan blue cheese, diced (I used Vegusto)
1-2 tablespoon dried breadcrumbs (oops I forgot)
2 squares of ready rolled puff pastry
Soy milk, for glazing
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Fry leek in olive oil over low heat for about 10 minutes or until soft.  Add spinach, salt, parsley and pepper. Stir for a minute or two until spinach starts to wilt and turn off the heat.  Cool slightly.  Stir in blue cheese and breadcrumbs.

Cut the sheets of puff pastry into four squares.  Cut the corners to make the squares a roundish shape.  Place a spoonful or two of spinach filling in the middle of each square.  Bring the edges together and seal to make a round parcel.  Turn over with seam side down and lightly roll with rolling pile to flatten slightly.  You should be able to see the filling through the pastry but do not break the pastry.

Place parcels (or eccles cakes) on a lined oven tray with a little space between each.  Brush tops with soy milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Use a sharp knife to make three slashes in the pastry.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Serve warm.

On the stereo:
Tooth and Nail: Billy Bragg

41 comments:

  1. Awesome, I have the Cheezley blue cheese in my freezer and have been wondering what to do with it, along with too much puff pastry (when my husband does the shopping, he will buy in bulk if stuff is on special... if I ask for a packet of puff pastry I will get five...)

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    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - never thought to put the vegan cheese in the freezer - I have had one stump of leftover cheese go off which was annoying because it is expensive - and lots of puff pastry sounds delicious - though I never use it as quickly as I mean to

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  2. What a great "E" submission!

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    1. You are more than welcome to join us once again, Yummy:)

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  3. I am fond of the traditional, dried fruit eccles cakes, but love your savoury vegan twist on them too. And they definitely look impressive!

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    1. Thanks Kari - making the savoury version made me think I should try a sweet traditional version because they were quite easy and look impressive for little effort

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  4. Hi Johanna!
    Impressive indeed!!! Don't you just love it when you have all the ingredients you need and you're actually in the modd to make "the" recipe???

    I have never had Eccles cakes but have often heard of them and have always wanted to try them. How wonderful that they will be at the picnic. I must set up close by so I get to sample one, or two, or even three! Bring plenty!

    I am so delighted that you are joining us once again for the Picnic Game, Johanna. That's what's so great about a virtual picnic weatherr doesn't matter as much as the those sharing...Thank you so much for sharing..."See" you at the picnic!

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    1. Thanks Louise - it is brilliant when you have all the ingredients for a recipe - and the time too. Lovely to join your picnic - am sure we will have plenty of virtual sunshine :-)

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  5. I have never seen a savoury Eccles cake before - interesting!

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I have only seen them on shaheen's blog - she has lots of great ideas

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  6. I had no idea that there was such a thing as vegan blue cheese! I am really interested in trying it now. I'll have to keep a look out for it at stores here :)

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I am not sure the vegan blue cheese was as bitey (or as creamy) as the dairy one - I bought it partly because it was on special and I was curious - it is fun for experiments but I think I prefer the vegusto mozzarella

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  7. I've heard of Eccles cakes but I've never had one. I love the list of ingredients and am sure I would really enjoy these. I love how they have blue cheese although I've never tried a vegan blue cheese - must look out for that at the shops xx

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    1. Thanks Charlie - I don't think I have tried eccles cakes either - I think I tend to pass them over at a bakery for chocolate cake or a coffee scroll. I think the greens and blue cheese is a really nice combination

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  8. I can't wait to try them at the picnic!

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com ... letter "c"

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    1. Thanks Mae - look forward to joining you there

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  9. Mmmm these look so good! Wow - they came out really pretty.
    National Picnic month huh? I think I should take advantage of that!

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    1. Thanks Kimmy - love any excuse for a picnic :-)

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  10. Oh Johanna, they look absolutely fabulous, loving the golden crispness on top, even though accidental. Eat them as you wish, just enjoy them! Its a very forgiving and versatile recipe, and I think you would agree. I love you step by step photos too! Thank you so much for sharing and supporting my first ever food challenge #EatYour Greens. I must admit your vegan cheese version sounds utterly delicious.

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    1. Thanks Shaheen - it is a versatile recipe - must try some other combinations when I next have puff pastry - I think a pumpkin and blue cheese combo would work well - delighted to be part of Eat Your Greens - looking forward to the round up to see what others have sent in

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  11. I've never heard of these kinds of cakes before, but I want them! They remind me of spanakopita but with blue cheese instead of feta!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - yes a bit like spanakopita but a higher pastry to greens ratio :-)

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  12. Hi Johanna, I am sure this will be a hit at the picnic. I love your Eccles Cakes and the aroma from the leeks will see me asking for more. Thanks for sharing and see you at the picnic. Regards :)

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    1. Thanks Ivy - they do smell lovely coming out of the oven - look forward to catching up at the picnic :-)

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  13. I really love the look of these Eccles cakes. We buy that vegan blue cheese sometimes. And the greens look so good in the pastry :)

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    1. Thanks Kate - I thought it was a great way to use the blue cheese (though other cheeses would work - wonder how the vegusto mozzarella would work) because I am not so keen on the blue cheese just in a sandwich or on a cracker

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  14. I have never heard of Eccles cakes, but these look delicious! Thanks for sharing. I came here via Louise's picnic game :)

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    1. Thanks Lynn - eccles cakes are a great way to use up a bit of puff pastry - and yummy too

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  15. This is such a perfect snack for a picnic! I have never had an eccles cake before! Looks really yummy! See you at the picnic!

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  16. Nice meeting you, Johanna ! Oh boy, your savory eccles cake look marvelous. Mind if I pack a few home with me? See you at the party.
    Blessings, Kristy

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  17. What a super idea, Johanna! I've never made any kind of eccles cake and these look marvelous. Love picnic items that you can carry in your hand with a napkin.
    Have a great weekend!
    Barbara

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  18. I grew up eating Eccles cakes but never seen tried a savoury version. Wild garlic grows near to where I live but it's past it's prime for another year. Still, blue cheese and greens is singing to me :)

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  19. Wow they look really delicious! We don't often have pastry but we might have to try these for a special treat :-)

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  20. This looks gorgeous. Nice meeting you at the picnic.

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  21. Welcome to the picnic! Glad to meet you. Your tarts look very nice, and the puff pastry makes them easy, too!

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  22. What a perfect tote-able food. I love the swap to a savory filling--so much more you can do with it then!

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  23. Hi Johanna, I love your savory Eccles cake...the name is very unfamiliar to me, but the ingredients are amazing...love the combination, and the cheesy goodness. The best part is the puff pastry dough that is so versatile. You made an incredibly creative, and very tasty little appetizer to munch on. I love the recipe, and will want to make this real soon! See you at the Picnic!
    Mine is the letter V, (since the M was taken)

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  24. Hi Johanna , great meeting you and those Eccles cake are just yummy and will make some soon . see you at the picnic :)

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  25. Oh, these look fantastic! And not too difficult either.

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  26. Oh those sound fabulous! Thanks for bringing them to the picnic.

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