Speedy Spanakopita

September 9, 2014

DSC_0654This is what I made as a clean-out-your-fridge dinner the other night.

I know. I sort of couldn’t believe it, either.

But filo dough is one of those things I always have on hand when I’m in the U.S., because it’s impossible to find in France (instead, there’s a much thicker pastry called “brick”), and I love making filo triangles stuffed with whatever I can think of for parties…

But, sadly, with no party on the horizon and an extra roll of filo in my freezer that needed to be eaten up – plus a sack of frozen spinach and a bunch of kale that was about to go south — I figured a spanikopita-like something was in my future.

Onward with the Mediterranean theme. I hope y’all don’t mind.

I used to make the little triangle spanikopitas all the time and I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never made it grande — so I googled and saw a Martha Stewart recipe that scrunched the tops like I’ve done here. I looks tricky, but it’s not — this recipe came together in less than 15 minutes.

Pretty enough for a party, easy enough for every single damn day. Big love.

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Speedy Spanakopita

Makes 6 servings

  •            1 pound of frozen spinach, thawed
  •             2 tablespoons of olive oil
  •             1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  •             2 garlic cloves, minced
  •             1 bunch of kale, removed from the ribs and finely chopped*
  •             sea salt and pepper
  •             2 eggs, lightly beaten
  •             16 ounces of ricotta
  •             zest of 1 lemon
  •             6 ounces of feta, crumbled
  •             ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  •             1 roll of filo dough (1/2 of 1 package)
  •             ⅓ cup of olive oil, plus a bit more for the top

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Put your thawed, frozen spinach in a colander and let it drain.

3. Add the olive oil, chopped onion, and garlic to a skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes, then add the kale, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until it wilts. Be sure and taste as you go. Put the cooked kale mixture in a large bowl to cool.

4. Squeeze out any remaining water in the spinach with your hands (it’s the easiest way to do this) and add this to the bowl, too.

5. Whisk the eggs with the ricotta and lemon zest and pour this into the bowl. Add the feta and nutmeg and mix everything together. Set this aside.

6. Now it’s time to work quickly — and carefully. Have your olive oil in a little bowl, along with a brush, your spinach mixture, and the filo dough ready. These are the three parts you’ll be working with. This is easy to do, but you must work fast so the filo doesn’t dry out. Unroll your filo dough and peel off two sheets and lay these onto the parchment. Brush with some olive oil. Repeat with 2 more sheets, more oil, then 2 more sheets, and a bit more oil, for 6 total. Put the spinach mixture in the middle, spreading it out a bit so it’s even, but leaving 2 inches around the sides so you can fold the filo dough straight up. If your filo sides fall a bit, just brush some oil on top — it acts like glue. Now, taking one sheet of filo dough at a time, gently crumple it and press it onto the top. Keep doing this until you’ve filled up the top with filo — I used 8 to 10 sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and if there are any bits of filo on the sides falling down, just glue it back together with a brushstroke of olive oil. Slide into the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until it’s browned and crispy. Serve right away.

Note: This also reheats beautifully. Preheat the oven to 350°F, put your pieces of spanakopita on a cookie sheet and bake until it’s warmed through and once again crispy, for about 20 minutes.

*I realize adding kale is a departure for this traditional Greek dish, but I had some on hand and didn’t want to toss it out — if you’d rather omit the kale, just double the amount of spinach instead.

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Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

September 5, 2014

zucchini oatmealZucchini breads can be awfully boring things, but who wants to break up with zucchini bread?

Not me. But I can’t remember the last time I made it.

Enter my new big zucchini bread love, one of substance and complexity, with a gorgeous, dark caramel crust and tender, moist insides. The blackish specs you see throughout? Walnuts. And there’s plenty of zucchini and oatmeal, too, making this one of those cakey breads that’s as healthy as it is delicious. Or maybe it’s more delicious. You decide.

I’ve been toasting a thick slice in the morning and having it with my coffee, and it would be especially wonderful with fleur de del butter from Normandy on top, but alas, I have none of that in my fridge right now. If you’re a cream cheese person, that would also work. You might even drizzle a bit of honey on top — but I like this because it’s not too sweet. Which means I can eat more of it.

Zucchini is at crazy cheap prices at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores right now, and I plan on making and eating as much of this as I can.

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

I saw this recipe in Bon Appétit and knew I needed to make it quickly, while I had plenty of zucchini on hand. This is basically their recipe with my tweaks — I swapped out coconut oil for vegetable oil, omitted the white sugar and used only brown (and less of it), and I doubled the amount of oatmeal in the recipe, but this was simply a mistake that turned out not to be one at all. I love it when that happens.

Makes 1 loaf

  •             1 egg
  •             ½ cup of coconut oil (I use refined so my cake isn’t coconutty)
  •             ⅔ cup of brown sugar
  •             ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  •             1 ½ cups of flour
  •             ¾ teaspoon of sea salt
  •             ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  •             ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg
  •             ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  •             ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  •             2 cups freshly grated zucchini
  •             1 cup of oatmeal, plus 2 additional tablespoons for the top
  •             ½ cup of chopped walnuts

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the egg, coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla.

3. In another bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add this to the wet ingredients.

4. Fold in the zucchini, oatmeal and walnuts, mixing just until combined. Pour into your prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of oatmeal on top. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer right away to a wire rack and let cool completely. 
This is great for breakfast, toasted with butter or cream cheese on top, or for a mid-afternoon avec your coffee snack.

 

 

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No Recipe: Sweet Potato Wedgies

September 2, 2014

Sometimes doing the simplest of things, like changing the shape of a particular vegetable, can completely alter the outcome. Until now, my go-to roasted sweet potato method has pretty much been the same as red-skinned potatoes — cut into smallish, one or two-inch cubes, toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roast at […]

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Lime Poppyseed Cake

August 29, 2014

I’ve wanted to make this for a long time, since my coffee-filled, editing-the-book-manuscript afternoons at Kooka Boora (now KB Cafeshop) in Montmartre, when I nearly always had a thick piece of a lemony poppyseed cake with my triple lattes. I always wondered how it would taste if the lemon were lime. Swapping out the lime for […]

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Zucchini and Corn Galettes with Green Tahini Sauce

August 24, 2014

You say fritters, I say galettes. I can’t bring myself to call these sweet summery pancakes “fritters.” Fritter sounds so, oh, unhealthy, right? And these are not fried, which I believe a fritter — an Americanized form of the French word, frire, (to fry) – normally would be. Instead, they cook quickly, and with very little oil in a […]

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Oatmeal, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

August 18, 2014

Newsflash: my new favorite cookie is also one that’s — gulp! — gluten-free. But that’s not why I made them, and it’s not why I like them. But I saw this recipe and liked that it used maple syrup instead of refined sugar and wondered how this alone would transform a cookie. It’s not a […]

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No Recipe: Oven-Dried Tomato Skins

August 15, 2014

The sad truth of testing recipes all the time means that there’s a lot of waste. I often make full recipes of dishes (to serve two or four) in order to get the measurements right, but one cowgirl can only eat so much. Things get tossed out. And even when I’m not in recipe-testing mode […]

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No Recipe: Peach-Basil Popsicles

August 11, 2014

  What do you do with a big ‘ol box of scratch-and-dent peaches (for just $20!) from Ham’s Orchard in Terrell? Make peach popsicles, that’s what. Those slightly overripe, still perfectly good peaches are perfect for popsicles, and there’s absolutely nothing to it. You peel and pit as many peaches as you’d like (in my […]

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Two Great Asian Dipping Sauces

August 7, 2014

Making Asian food at home is really quite easy, but like any other cuisine, you just need to stock up on all of the staples (in this case, fish and soy sauce, sesame oil, etc.). Then once the craving strikes, you’re ready to go. These two sauces are fantastic for spring rolls, cold noodles, or […]

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99 Ranch

August 3, 2014

This is a partial photo of what I managed to put in my grocery basket after wandering the long aisles of 99 Ranch the other day, the grocery store for all things Asian in Plano. It’s like what Tang Freres in Paris would be if, I guess, it were here — a bigger, more inclusive, store […]

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