What is it about the beach that kids love? For me, it was gathering seashells, building sandcastles and feeling the squidgy sand under my feet, though I didn’t venture too far into the water. Some past life fear of drowning I suppose, though I love to think of it as a Virginia Woolf hangover. And of course the pink cotton candy, speckled with stray grains of sand, which somehow made it taste sweeter, and balloons and pinwheels from the men who walked along the beach hawking their wares. When I grew older I changed into a hills and mountains person. In preparation for the long walk beyond I suppose. Or perhaps my lungs had just had enough of city dwelling, and my eyes had tired of seeing buildings and cars and people and wanted a respite. Well, whatever it was that prompted the change, the beach was one of my favourite places as a child.
But that was a long time ago and times have changed. And walking along the beach the other day, it suddenly struck me that there was something amiss.
You don’t get pinwheels out there any more!
Nothing whirly which you can hold up and run along the beach with, or stick out the window on the ride home, with mother screaming at you, threats of a severed head urging you to stick your neck out just that bit more, as though daring the forces that be to just try.
So I looked around, and it wasn’t like the kids had all disappeared in Wonkaesque fashion. they were still pretty much all around. Sure, Xboxes, Ps3s and iPads seem to have replaced the good old notion of fun-times… but if I saw a guy selling pinwheels I’d probably pick one up myself. Just for old times sake.
So you can say that the walk to the beach inspired these.
Spinach, Feta and Toasted Pine-nut Pinwheels.
The dough for these pinwheels is basic. 2 1/2 cups flour, about a heaped teaspoonful fresh yeast (11/12gms), 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil and about a 3/4 cup of tepid water… and you have your dough ready. Knead it well, leave it to prove (1 1/2 to 2 hours should be good), and while your dough is proving, prepare the filling.
You can fill the pinwheels with just about anything, sweet or savoury, but I was in the mood for spinach. 3 1/2 cups of big leaf or baby spinach, washed (use a salad spinner to drain out the excess water). Then chop and sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil with a clove or two of minced garlic. Cook on high, stirring constantly till all the water evaporates, turn off the flame and stir in 3/4 to a cup of crumbled feta and 1/3 cup toasted pinenuts, roughly chopped.
Let the filling cool completely.
Once the dough has doubled, knock it back and knead for a minute on a floured surface before rolling it out into a rectangle. Spread the filling onto the dough with a spatula, and roll the dough up into a log. Slice it into 1/2″ circles and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Drizzle the pinwheels with olive oil and bake in a 200 degrees C preheated oven for 20 minutes. I suppose I could have kept them in the oven a bit longer to brown, but I didn’t want to risk overdoing the bread.
I’m glad I didn’t. They were soft and packed with flavour, the chopped pinenuts the perfect little add-on… for that surprise crunch.
A trip to YeastSpotting perhaps?
So I finally got my pinwheels.
And they were yummy :-)