Food from a Physicist who loves to cook

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I have a confession to make up until last Wednesday, I had not really cooked in 2013, that’s 16 days without doing any real cooking, I’m ashamed. I mean I cooked on new years day, and did the big roast but after that nothing real until the 16th. This is partially due to the fact that I’d been with excessive amounts of family and friends and stuff had been pre cooked for those days, it’s partially due to the fact I had a bad cold for about a week, and so ate very little but it’s mostly to do with the fact that the people I am lodging with are on a health kick. Why is the latter so important? Well I don’t know how to cook low-fat healthy food! I like cream, butter and cheese, I like the fat on my meat, and I’ve never been good at judging what is in meals. Up till now all I knew was that if you replaced cream with low-fat creme fresh it was healthier.

See I know that this is healthy

See I know that this is healthy

So I have had to have a little think, a break from cooking where I planned recipes etc, to makes sure what I was making was low-fat. In the mean time the people I have been living with cooked, they have the hairy dieters book, and let me say, it is fantastic  in fact I am rather tempted to put a review on here. First though, we shall have one of the first things I cooked in 2013, and it’s healthy!

Spinach and feta filo Pie

Ingredients serves 4

  • 2 onions halved and chopped
  • a little olive oil
  • 500g chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • nutmeg
  • 200g feta cheese (low-fat if you choose)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4-6 sheets of filo pastry or there abouts.
What to do if you have any left over

What to do if you have any left over

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  2. Cook the onions in a little oil until soft and turning golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  then if using fresh spinach, add in batches and cook until wilted. If using frozen defrost and then stir in.
  3. Allow this mixture to cool then tip into a bowl  leaving behind any excess moisture.  Give it a generous grating of nutmeg. then mix in the feta,  and eggs, then season.
  4. Using a  non-stick springform cake tin, about 20-22cm, placed inside a roasting tin, so that any mixture that leaks out doesn’t burn to the bottom of your oven. Brush the inside with olive oil and lay a sheet of filo in the tin, letting excess hang over the sides, brush this with oil and add another layer, repeat until you have 3 layers.
  5. Spoon in the spinach mixture and then fold the excess edge over the top. Now with the remaining filo, cute into about 3cm squares, brush with a little oil and scrunch them up  like little twists, then place the twist on top of the pie. Cover the whole top with twist like this.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-30minutes or until the filo has gone crisp and golden brown. Then leave to cool for 5 mins, press out and slice to serve.
Plates of filo pie

Plates of filo pie

We worked out that if you use low fat feta this should be about 350-370 kcalories per quarter, and served it with a simple salad of rocket, red cabbage, plum tomatoes and cumber with a balsamic dressing and light dusting of parmesan, as seen in the picture at the start of this post.


So today, some one called me a really foodie today and it brought a smile to my face. I was only looking through the Times food pages looking for inspiration, apparently the nudging and exclaiming was unusual. I just like reading about food, I can’t help it, everything I read I want to try, so yeah I guess I might be. Anyway I’m going to give you the recipe to one of my favourite foods, and something I think everyone should be able to cook. And it’s full of pictures to inspire you.

Lemon, Asparagus and Spinach Risotto


  • Risotto rice (enough to serve you and your friends)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • A few cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • 2-3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pint Vegetable stock
  • Oil a small splash
  • Butter aprox 50g
  • White wine
  • Thyme
  • Pepper
Yum yum yum

Key Ingredients

  1. Heat the butter and a little oil so it doesn’t burn in a large flat bottomed pan, you use a little oil so that the butter doesn’t burn. Add the sliced onions and garlic to the pan and fry over a medium heat till softened.
  2. Then add the rice, and more butter or oil if needed, stir the rice over a low heat until it becomes translucent, with the edges semi see through. When the rice reaches this point add half of the stock and turn the heat down so the whole mixture is simmering.
  3. To the lightly simmering mixture add the asparagus, roughlychopped, along with the juice and a little ring of the lemon. Then add a splash of white wine to deepen the flavour, and continue to stir so that nothing sticks to the pan.

    Adding the green veg

  4. Continue to stir, adding more stock or wine until the rice, become fat, and soft, then add as much spinach as you like. Stir that in, and season with thyme, pepper and possibly salt depending on how salty your stock is. Now turn of the heat, add more spinach if desired and plate how you like. Small portions for a starter, larger portions for a main.

Presentation {a brief word}

I often don’t care about presentation, so long as food looks appetising and tastes good, I’m happy, I mean I’d never eat anything that looks off-putting unless it smells amazing, but I’m not bothered about fancy details.

How I normally serve  risotto

However because I’ve started hosting dinner parties and served this at an anniversary meal I have looked into plating. So if you do want to present this dish in an aesthetically pleasing manner, I suggest small rounded portions, with a garnish of lemon rind on top, and a little spinach to one side, finishing with a sweep of balsamic vinegar. (Only a small sweep otherwise it over powers the flavour.) As an example, I have below, a picture of the risotto plated for a dinner party.

Fancy plating for a dinner party

One final note.

As with any risotto this dish can be easily adapted to water green veg you have available to you. I’ve used green beans, courgettes and leeks as well. I always like to put some green leaf in it and I really feel that spinach is the best bet for this.

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