Spanakopita

I have a friend that loves Greek food, I mean LOVE and she is Italian. I remember making individual triangle spanakopitas, from none other than Ina Garten, for a school project and a friend of ours did not want to eat it so he threw it out. Needless to say, she was quite sad about it. So this is for you Lauren!
If you happen to live in New York and travel to Astoria, where Greek food is prominent, you should check out Titan foods. It’s a Greek supermarket with every Greek food imaginable.

Spanakopita
Adapted from Food.com
The recipe for this spanakopita is different than that one I made before because I made it into a large pie, phyllo dough, filling, phyllo dough. I learned that this is the true way it is made from an authentic Greek person and from reading multiple recipes.
I took a shortcut when oiling the phyllo dough. I used cooking spray instead of brushing on extra virgin olive oil since it was so much easier. I also, (you don’t have to do this) added panko bread crumbs in between the layers with the olive oil to help separate the layers.

DSC_3729
All the lovely ingredients. Sadly the lighting was bad so I needed to use flash and I really don’t like to use flash.
DSC_3735
Spinach mixture with feta cheese!
DSC_3746
Spreading out the ingredients on the of the bottom layer of phyllo dough.
DSC_3750
Covering the filling with the remaining phyllo dough and sprinkling a little panko in between the layers.
DSC_3757
Look the flaky golden brown goodness!
DSC_3759
Yum! the spinach and feta cheese!
DSC_3770

Pastry :
1 lb country-style phyllo pastry (if you can’t get that, regular phyllo pastry will do)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Spinach Filling :
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs spinach, cleaned, tough stems removed (you can use frozen spinach)
6 spring onions, cleaned, sliced in 1/4 inch lengths
1 leek, white and tender part of green, cleaned, sliced in 1/4 inch lengths (if very large, slice leek in half lengthwise before slicing)
1 medium red onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup fresh dill, minced
1/2 – 1 lb (1-2 cups) feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and leek until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and saute until the leaves have wilted. Then remove the spinach mixture from the pan and drain out the water.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool somewhat. When cool enough to handle, finely chop the spinach and place in a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Lightly oil a 12 inch in diameter, metal baking pan (you can use a larger baking pan – you will just have a thinner pie, but don’t use a smaller one), or a 10 x 15 inch rectangular baking pan.

Add dill and feta cheese to the spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste (careful with the salt – the feta will add quite a bit of its own). Pour the eggs over and give a stir to combine well.

Open up the phyllo pastry and place on a work surface. If using the country style pastry proceed, if using the thinner phyllo; cover with a damp cloth. (Continue to cover the pastry sheets with the damp cloth each time you remove one as you prepare the pie.).

Layer the phyllo in the pan, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the pan, brushing each phyllo layer generously with olive oil.
Use up half the phyllo sheets (about 10 sheets) to make the bottom pastry layer, allowing excess pastry to drape over edge of pan.

Put the spinach mixture in and press the top down gently to smooth filling. Tuck in the pastry draping over the edges.
Repeat layering with the remaining phyllo, oiling each sheet generously.

Using a sharp knife, score the upper layers of pastry into the size pieces you will want to serve once the pie is baked- BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THROUGH BOTTOM PASTRY.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until it is golden brown.
Cool till just warm. Cut into serving pieces and serve either just warm or at room temperature. .

Advertisements

Roasted Almonds

Since the previous recipe was not baking related I decided that to put in this super simple recipe for roasted almonds. My friend Amber introduced me to roasted almonds and let me tell you if you have not tried roasted almonds, or thought raw almonds were ok, then this will make you love almonds. By roasting the almonds you release a distinct almond aroma and when the almonds are cooled it gives the almond a great crunch. I think the crunch is the best part!
Almonds are great for snacking or when you are counting down the time to lunch or dinner. Also, they are packed with nutrients such as protein, magnesium and vitamin E.  Which helps you lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Keep the portion size to a handful or 1 cup.

Roasted Almonds
from Amber
If you don’t want to turn on the oven then you can use a toaster oven, works just as well.
You can put as much almonds as you want and keep the same time.

DSC_3911
Before baking
DSC_3918
After baking. Enjoy!

2 cups almond

Oven temp to 350°F and bake for 10 mins.
Let the almonds cool and enjoy the crunchy tasty almonds.

Pesto

I love the smell of basil and lemon! Making this pesto is simply the best way to incorporate those two ingredients. A very simple and easy recipe that can be used with pasta, shrimp, tomato & mozzarella, omelets, and well anything you want. Even better is that you can keep pesto for a long time in the freezer. Yum!
I saw this recipe on the food network a long time ago when Dave Lieberman was hosting his show and from then on I kept making this recipe over and over again.

Pesto
Adapted from Dave Lieberman
After making this recipe a million times I tweaked it to my preference such as not adding garlic, less extra virgin olive oil, switching nuts and the rest is all to your personal taste. The reason i switched nuts is because if you have bought pine nuts you know that it is more expensive than walnuts, almonds, etc. As for the oil, I felt that it was a bit much for me since the oil would float to the top when the pesto was resting; I know that is quite normal but that is just me, you can put more oil if you would like.
DSC_3804
Colorful ingredients going in the blender. If you have a large food processor, I think that it would be easier to get the pesto out rather than struggle with spoon trying to scoop out every last bit.
DSC_3815
Finished product.
DSC_3818
Nothing like pesto pasta. yum!
DSC_3822

5 big handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 small lemon
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until pesto is thick and smooth.

Berry Crumble

One day I watching Ina Garten on her food network show, Barefoot Contessa, she was baking a peach blueberry crumble and I thought oh my goodness, that looks so delicious! I have to make it! Actually almost everything that she makes I also want to make because it looks delicious, even a simple fruit platter or antipasto. Ina Garten is by far one of my favorite cooks because she always looks happy, relaxed and easy going, then again who wouldn’t when you live in the Hamptons. Plus, she has all these fabulous friends that come over and help her cook or decorate. awesome! Speaking of fabulous friends, I have a friend (J.Z.) that also loves Ina Garten as much as I do. My friend has a few of her cookbooks, sadly I only have one but that one has her signature in it!
I realized that I haven’t really talked about music in a while, the songs I am listening to now are by Lana del Rey. Her music has a more low and slow, sometimes a sadder, tone to her tunes but I guess her music grew on me and I like it. Some of her more popular songs are blue jeans, blue velvet (this song was played in an H&M commercial with her in it) and young & beautiful (this song was on The Great Gatsby soundtrack and trailer). Now on to the food!

Berry Crumble
Adapted from Ina Garten
Instead of using peaches I used frozen raspberry and strawberry along with the blueberries, just because I didn’t have peaches. Also I found that the recipe asked for a lot more flour than I thought it needed or it could be because I didn’t have enough fruit. It’s a bit of both, to remedy that I would add on two more cups of any berry of your choice and lowering the amount of flour (which is done below).
If there is anyone out there that is following a gluten-free diet then instead of using flour you can use cornstarch and you don’t have to make the crumble, this is great over other things such as gluten free ice cream or banana bread…..Hi Amy!
In the original recipe the dessert was plated in ramekins but if you don’t have those you can put it in a baking dish or casserole dish.
DSC_3692
Colorful ingredients.
DSC_3696
Berries combined with the flour mixture.
DSC_3709
The crumble and fruit mixture.
DSC_3712
Ready for the oven.
DSC_3716
DSC_3724
Top it off with some ice cream and its ready to eat!

For the fruit:
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cup raspberry
1 cup strawberry
2 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)
For the crumble:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries, strawberry, raspberry. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or baking dish.For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas, or if you are like me then use a knife to cut the butter into itty bitty bits. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.