Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Made Swisschard-akopita

Good Day,

Last night I scrambled to make a good impression on all my new classmates by bringing a delicious dish to a potluck reading. My original plan was to make dumplings (which I have never done before, but always admired Sarah for) but none of my New Mexico grocery stores had the dumpling dough. I ended up leaving with Phyllo dough, and made a last minute switch to do Swisschard-akopita which worked out great!

As a kid I really hated Quiche and I think this would be a good option for any Quiche haters out there if you're looking to little by little get over your Quiche disgust (for me it's the texture! Barf!) Because this is densely packed with greens the eggyness just fades away. Also if you have pie crust phobia this dish might be a good alternative.

Spanakopita is a traditional savory greek pastry, which traditionally probably isn't so good for you (tons-o-butter+cheese), and the greeks normally eat it as a little snack for that reason. With slight modifications I think this dish is filling healthy and great with just a salad as green and hearty meal. I read somewhere that during high holidays the greeks often make this without any dairy, which I would also like to try, and for any Vegans out there would be a great option!

I got home and took a look at a recipe...Below is the recipe, and my modifications:

Ina Garten's Spinach Pie
2 yellow onions (I used 2 red onion, which made things nice and sweet)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt (I actually omitted this because cheese is so salty)
2 teaspoons pepper
3 (10 ounce) packages of frozen chopped spinach defrosted (I used 1 large bunch of colored brights Swiss Chard which I bought raw)
6 eggs
2 teaspoons nutmeg
6 cloves garlic minced (the recipe did not call for any garlic, but I love it)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I think I used slightly less)
3 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs (Omitted)
1/2 pound good feta
1/2 cup pine nuts (I used chopped walnuts)
1/4 pound butter for the phyllo dough (I used a 1/4 cup of olive oil instead and it worked great)
6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted (I used 8)

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

1) Chop 2 onions and saute them in 1 TBS olive oil until translucent and a bit brown, 8-10 minutes, and set them aside to cool a bit, add ground pepper.

2) Cook down your chopped greens in a TBS of olive oil. I used Swiss Chard and it worked wonderfully. Do not over cook them as they will spend ample time in the oven, just cook them down enough to where they are a bit tender, but their cores are still crunchy. 6-8 minutes or so. This made me think I'd like to make this with Kale or even Mustard greens at some point, and it seems like a good way to introduce your children to exotic greens that they normally wouldn't tolerate. If you are using the frozen spinach drain as much water as possible from it.

3) Combine your greens (cooked, or defrosted and drained) with the onions, 6 eggs (beaten), nutmeg, parmesan, minced garlic, feta, and nuts (pine, walnuts, or both!)

4) grease a pie pan, or any pan really, but i find the rounder the pan the better the top looks when you fold it over. gently handle the Phyllo dough, unrolling it, and placing the first sheet in the pan. Let the edges of the phyllo dough hang over the pan. Then gently brush on olive oil (with a brush, or your fingers) covering the whole bottom of the pan where the Phyllo Dough touches working your way out to the edges of the dough that hangs. Continue layering phyllo dough 6 sheets deep brushing olive oil on each layer.

5) Once you have 6 layers in your pan go ahead and pour your filling in. Depending on the size of you pan you may have enough filling for 2 pies.

6) lift the edges of the phyllo dough up and over the filling (It's okay if it doesn't cover the filling completely you can put 2 extra sheets on top to seal your pie.)

7) bake in the oven for an hour. You could bake it for 45 minutes if you're short on time, but the full hour really lets all the flavors set, and gives you a pie you can cut well.

8)Let the pie cool at room temp before serving, and refrigerate leftovers they are great cold or warmed up!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I made that olive oil granola that everyone is talking about!

Ever since this granola recipe was published in the NY Times a few weeks ago I feel like I can't read a food blog without coming across a wild endorsement. My interest was already piqued when I read that the recipe contained one of my favorite flavor combos, savory and sweet. I have never seen a granola recipe call for kosher salt before, and I was intrigued. I finally decided to make it on a Sunday morning 2 weekends ago, and I have been enjoying is ever since. I actually just polished off the last of it this morning. Time to make more !

This is the original recipe with my notes/substitutions:

(The ingredients are pretty flexible. As long as you've got the right balance of oats/sweeteners/oil, you can really add pretty much anything.)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled (Omitted)

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled (Only used about 1/2 a cup)

1 cup coconut chips (Omitted)

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (Used a bit less.)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (I actually found the saltiness too subtle. But I REALLY like salt. If you also really like salt, I recommend adding another teaspoon. )

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I recommend adding extra if not using cardamom.)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (Omitted)

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots (Omitted)

Blanched whole almonds (1/2 cup)
Sunflower Seeds (1/2 cup)
Sesame Seeds (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed (1/2 cup)
Dried cranberries (1/2 cup)

Fresh ricotta, for serving (optional)

Fresh berries, for serving (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, your selection of nuts, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom (if using). Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots (if using), tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.

I think I understand why people are so crazy over the granola. As the Times article says, the olive oil gives the granola a unique, somewhat bitter and fruity flavor. The salt adds a nice layer of flavor as well. After the sweetness hits, that's when the salt comes through, creating a really interesting combination.

The only problem for me is that the unique flavor of the granola was somewhat overwhelmed when I combined this with yogurt - all I could really taste was the sweetness, and those other layers of flavor sort of disappeared. I think this granola might be best straight up by the handful. Of course, I didn't get a chance to try this with ricotta and berries like the author suggests, but perhaps that's another solution that would compliment the granola instead of overwhelming it. Something to keep in mind for the next batch.

Enjoying some granola at work, as I am known to do.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I made Salmon and that pesto pea rice that Alena made!

Greetings from Albuquerque!

I wanted to share my easy salmon marinade with everyone, and I decided to take Alena up on her suggestion to pair her pesto peas and rice dish with fish Alena's and I'm certainly glad I did!

Grocery List for The Marinade

2 pieces of 6 ounce Salmon (Sockeye is more fishy, Atlantic is mild and buttery) I know there is an on going debate about Farm raised Salmon, and wild caught etc. but no judgement here, just eat what you're comfortable with.

2 TBS Soy Sauce
2 TBS Tequila Lime Hot sauce (We picked this up in Austin, TX at the Tears of Joy Hot Sauce Shop Super delicious stuff! If you don't have that, use whatever hot sauce you have laying around. I highly recommend Tequila Lime hot sauce for fish marinades. It's also an important Southwest flavor, and it's unique to that area.)
6 TBS Olive Oil
2-4 TBS Balsamic Vinegrette
pinch of Salt and pinch of pepper
the juice of half a lemon
3 cloves crushed/chopped garlic
2 TBS Honey

Mix all the ingredients above into a bowl, and put your fish filets skin side up meat side down into the marinade. (Remember the longer your fish sits in these flavors the better, but usually 30-45 minutes is fine.) This marinade also works well on Tuna steaks!

Put the fish and marinade in the fridge while you whip up your side dish. I followed Alena's recipe exactly, except as well as peas I put in some nice, meaty, fresh shiitake mushrooms. I sauteed the mushrooms in a little bit of butter and added at the same time as the peas.

While the rice is setting, before you add the peas and mushrooms, take your fish out of the fridge, and put it in your oven on Broil for about 15-20 minutes. (Depending on how thick your fish cut is.) Make sure you remove the fish from the marinade when placing it on your broil pan. Do not drizzle any juices over your fish it will produce it's own in the oven!

Once your fish is done broiling, go ahead and serve this up! I highly recommend eating this meal with a lovely glass of white wine, preferably a Riesling!


Monday, August 3, 2009

I made Arborio Rice with Spinach-Basil Pesto and Peas!

So here I go with another "lazy risotto". Ain't no shame in it!

This is another dish I cooked up on a sleepy weeknight when I also really did not have too much food in the house. But this just proves that you can cook up something fast and tasty with what you got around.

First, I made a spinach-basil pesto. I used:

-Equal proportions spinach + basil (I used about 1/2 a bag of baby spinach and some basil leaves from my sad little basil plant*
-Some walnuts
-1 or 2 cloves garlic
-juice of 1 lemon
-olive oil

*Since I did not have enough fresh basil, I supplemented my pesto with some jarred pesto from Trader Joe's, which I like to keep on hand for moments just like this! Again, ain't no shame in it. I used the hand blender! (Sarah's fave technique.)

Then I cooked up some arborio rice in the same fashion as my lazy risotto. While that cooked, I looked around my kitchen for other elements to add to the dish. I came up with some frozen peas and Parmesan cheese and decided that they would go nicely with the pesto.

I sauteed the peas in a pan for just a few minutes to thaw them and get the moisture out. If you have fresh peas, even better, but frozen will do the job admirably. Just make sure not to throw them in the pot with the rice as it cooks - even though this will defrost and cook them, by the time the rice is done, they'll be overcooked and mushy. Mushy peas are not cool. I know they are a popular thing in England, but I don't get it.

Once your rice is done and has a nice chew to it, (about 12 minutes, maybe), take it off the heat and stir in the peas, some grated parm and the pesto - add gradually to your liking. Top with some more Parmesan cheese. (Also delicious I bet: ricotta or goat cheese.)

The peas add a nice sweetness to the rice and all the salty pesto and cheese. Fresh tomatoes would be tasty as well, although they would alter the all-green theme of the dish.

This dish was a tasty and satisfying light dinner. I think it would also make a great side dish paired with fish or shrimp or even just a really good salad. I brought the leftovers to work for lunch the next day and was very happy.

I made Tangy Cabbage Salad and Peach Crisp!

I went to the greenmarket on Saturday with a vague idea of 'slaw' in my head and I bought a cabbage (as well as numerous other non-slaw vegetables). I found this "Tangy Shredded Cabbage Salad" recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which she "adapted from Ruta Kahate via, 6/8/07". It's very simple and tasty; I think it would be good at a picnic.

Below is the original recipe with my notes. I also added diced kohlrabi and chick peas because I had them on hand and I thought they'd blend well. I bought kohlrabi last week because it looked interesting and then didn't know what to do with it, but I found a recipe similar to this one using kohlrabi instead of cabbage, so I threw it in. It added a nice crunch to this dish.

2 cups shredded green cabbage (The recipe suggests using the large holes of a grater. I used one at first but found that it took a really long time and I resorted to finely chopping the cabbage with a knife. Maybe your box grater is better than mine though...)
1 small serrano chile, minced (I used a jalapeno)
2 TBS lemon juice
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp sugar
1 TBS canola oil
1/2 Tsp mustard seeds

In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, chile, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You are looking for a well-balanced, sweet and sour taste.

Heat the oil in a small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. When seeds top popping, immediately pour the oil over the cabbage salad and toss well. Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to blossom.

Serve cold or at room temperature.


Now onto peach crisp!

Peach crisp is great for summer when you want a fruit dessert, but don't feel like committing to making pie crust. You can also use nectarines, or other stone fruit. In the fall and winter you can use apples and I highly recommend it. This is the recipe my mom uses, and she would always make this in the summer when we vacationed in Vermont. She lessens the amount of sugar (to about 1 cup) and butter (8-10 TBS) and so do I.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
12 TBS butter
6 to 8 peaches, about 3 pounds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 375. Combine the sugar, flour, and butter in a mixing bowl and mix well with the fingers. Set aside. Peel and quarter peaches. Cut into thin slices. Blend cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over peaches. Sprinkle with lemon rind. Add lemon juice and toss to blend. Arrangethe slices in a not too shallow baking dish. Cover with the butter and sugar mixture, smoothing it over. Place the dish in the oven. Bake for one hour.