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For the past few weeks, we’ve been spending our Saturday running around -amazing race style- doing inspection marathon. What a stressful activity! with all the adrenalin,finding the right address, got lost, got pissed, arguing about which way to go, catching another tram to the next house / flat..pheeww..! Each inspection only lasts 15 – 30 min, and if the property located in popular suburb and close to public transport, there always at least 10 people looking as well. I found that inspection is kinda funny in a way, you can see in people’s eyes, when they see another couple arrived at the property, they look slightly pissed. And they try to limit interaction with each other, I think, in their mind would be sort of like “hmmm, we’re competing for this house.., better avoid eye contact!” (or, maybe not, I probably just imagining it).

Last Saturday, we went out around 9am, fully charged with coffee, and half a croissant (we share 1 croissant, we’ve got nothing else at that time). About 3 hours, 3 properties and 2 blisters later, (I stupidly wear my new shoes – NEVER wear new pair of shoes for inspection marathon, stick to your havaianas) we were famished and cranky.

We decided to go to A1 bakery, because other breakfast places must be really busy at that time, and we didn’t have any energy left to wait longer. It was quite busy when we got there, but luckily, there were still some empty tables around. The scene was different form other cafes we usually go to, most of the customers are families, or locals. We ordered the same stuff, spinach and cheese pastry, $3.50 each (how uncreative, I know, but low blood sugar level shut down our creativity). while we’re waiting for our pastry reheated, we couldn’t resist to buy the baklavas ($1 each, but if I bought $5, I always get 1 extra 🙂 ). I ended up eating the pastry, and saved the baklava for dessert. My hubby, has interesting way of eating them, he had 1 bite of pastry, and then 1 bite of his baklava, and his pastry again..weird! his tastebuds must be soooo confused..  The spinach and cheese pastry were really good, stuffed with generous salty chunks of feta, and fresh spinach, wrapped in crisp golden pastry. The spinach and cheese pastry was a huge triangle, sliced in three smaller triangles.The amount of cheese was just right, not overpowering the spinach, yet still satisfying.

The baklava – sheets of filo pastry, nuts, drizzle with syrup, and sprinkled with crushed pistachio. Very sweet, rich, and sticky (in a good way). I try to be good, and resisted the temptation to buy baklava to take home, because we still had some tiramisu left in the fridge. (I wil post the recipe later). On the way out, we saw a couple sharing a huge plate of pizza, automatically we exchanged glance, and telepathically said “we got to try that one!”

A1 Bakery – 645-645 Sydney Road, Brunswick, (9386 0440)

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spanakopitaI called this my version of spanakopita, because it has broccoli in it (yes, I sneak broccoli in a lot of my cooking). I’m using frozen spinach because it cuts cooking time massively. I’ve tried  with fresh spinach in the past, I personally found it’s  too time consuming, and the result was a bit gritty, maybe i didn’t wash the spinach leaves properly. However, you can always replace it with fresh spinach if you prefer.

ingredients :

  • 1 package of filo pastry
  • 1 package frozen spinach thawed or microwaved 1.5 min, squeeze excess water (important!)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small – medium head of broccoli (chopped very finely)
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (or 1 small tub)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter / oil spray
  • salt & pepper to taste

saute onion until just cooked, add garlic broccoli and spinach, cook until the spinach dries up a little bit, transfer to a bowl

mix ricotta cheese into the spinach, add feta cheese, salt and pepper,  you don’t have to add lots of salt, feta cheese it’s quite salty as it is

melt butter in a microwave (~seconds), add 1 tbsp olive oil

brush pastry with butter, or spray with oil, top with another pastry, repeat until you have 3 – 4 (or more) layers

do another  3 – 4of filo – butter layers

oh yeah, don’t forget to cover the rest of the pastry AND the buttered pastry with tea towel, otherwise they will dry up, and believe me..you don’t want to have flakes of filo pastry storm in your kitchen

transfer 1 set of  filo layers to baking dish, if its overhang, that’s fine, spoon the filling in, and top with anther set of layers

tuck the hanging pastry, you dont have to do it neatly, just make sure you cover all the edges

brush the top with butter / spray with oil

bake in the oven 180 C for 20 min until the pastry turns golden (it varies, depends on the oven, just make sure you check it every 10 min or so)

let it cool for 10 – 15 min (if you can)

serve with mountain of salad