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.

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

Puff pastry

This baking done was out of  hunger and procrastination (I am very good at that). I had store bought puff pastry in my freezer because I attempted to make napoleons (mille-feuille) once, that was an arduous task, and if I ever made it again I would use it. But instead of making napoleons I made an Asparagus and dill quiche and apple galette since the package came with two puff pastry sheets. When I unfolded the puff pastries I felt that it was not big enough to use, therefore I rolled it out a bit.
As I was baking I listened to Michael Bublé’s new album, To be loved,  to calm my brain down from all the studying. It’s a great album and I love his music.

Asparagus and dill quiche.
Adapted from not derby pie
In the original recipe, a rectangular tart pan is used but I have a circular one and I felt that it’s not much of a tart but more of a quiche since it has cheese, milk and eggs.
Also, I did not have buttermilk so I decided to make my own, which is the yellow/white mixture in the bowl.  That was not a good idea, I knew it too but I still had to try it, because after you bake it all those lumpy bits, which you see in one photo, melts into a big puddle of butter atop the quiche. I had to use coffee filters to soak up all that butter. Well I learned my lesson, buy buttermilk or use the milk you have already.
Another store bought product, as you can tell, is frozen asparagus. No need to boil it just defrost it and use it.
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The weird buttermilk mixture I attempted to make.
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the lumpy butter bits.
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After I soaked out all the butter.

1 bunch of asparagus (about 12 spears)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
4 or 5 bunches of dill (more if desired), chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Roll the dough into an 11-inch disk (for a 9-inch round pan) or a 16″ x 6″ rectangle (for a rectangular pan) and fit it carefully into the pan, leaving the overhang in place for now. Prick the dough with a fork, then stick in the fridge for half an hour or so to rest (this ensures that the dough won’t shrink when baked. The overhang helps with this, too; I cut it off after the tart was done.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to  400°F. Put crust on a flat baking sheet and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Leave the tart on the baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop in asparagus and cook just until tender, about 5 minutes. (Slater says longer, but I can’t bare to overcook a batch of perfect ‘gus.) Remove the asparagus and set aside.

Combine eggs and milk in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the tarragon to the cream mixture along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.

Lay the asparagus in the tart crust. (Slater recommends you cut them into shorter lengths, but I think the full spears look elegant in the finished tart.) Pour the cream mixture over the asparagus, taking care to fill in the tart evenly. Transfer the tart, on its baking sheet, into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the filling is golden and quivers only slightly when moved. Serve warm.

Apple galette.
adapted from Williams-Sonoma
I was going to try to make this out of memory from the apple pies I’ve made but I thought I better refer to a recipe just to make sure.
I did not want to save the puff pastry for another time, besides I had extra apples that I cut up from the French apple tart.
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2 lb. apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonagold,
peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

To make the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch. Set aside.

Roll the puff pastry to a bit to accommodate the amount of apples you will be putting in. About 12-inch round. Brush off the excess flour. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Arrange the apple filling in the center of the dough, mounding the fruit slightly and leaving a 2-inch border. Gently fold the edges of the dough over the apples, pleating loosely. Lightly sprinkle sugar over the apples.

Bake until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the galette cool completely, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!