May 20, 2013 § 40 Comments
While traveling abroad I had the opportunity to learn a bit about Greek culture and become acquainted with traditional Greek cooking. During this time I spent several weeks with family and friends in Athens as well as on a small island called Siphnos. I learned Greek cooking to be simple, wholesome and solely based on fresh seasonal ingredients. There is no place for canned or packaged foods in a Greek kitchen. My fondest memories are gatherings around tables in a quaint taverna savoring slow braised lamb, a freshly shredded cabbage salad, tzaziki, dolmades, and one of my favorite comfort foods gigandes plaki…giant white beans. Potatoes were sliced and fried in olive oil right then and there if your ordered french fries. I still have a clear image of a taverna owner walking out to the seashore, pulling in a net, collecting a fish and returning to his kitchen to cook it for me after I requested it from his menu. Fresh, simple and organic. Spanakopita was one of many dishes I learned to prepare from a very dear acquaintance while staying in her family’s home in Athens. Not long after she rose out of bed she would begin cooking the meal of the day. The aromas coming from her kitchen kept your appetite stimulated throughout the day. Spanakópita is such a delightful side dish and quite easy once you get the hang of working with the fillo. It is important to keep the fillo humid by lying it flat in between a clean, damp kitchen cloth, preventing it from drying out. Purchase a good quality feta cheese. If possible find a bright white sheep feta packed in brine. Most spanakópita recipes call for cooking the spinach filling prior to “filling” the pie. I think the cooking time in the oven is sufficient. Ingredients
- 2 large bunches of spinach, washed, dried and chopped
- bunch of spring onions, chopped
- handful of dill, chopped
- small handful parsley, finely chopped
- 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 package of fillo sheets
- 1/2 cup butter melted (1 cube)
Method Preheat oven to 350°. If you are not using pre-washed packaged spinach, wash spinach very well and dry. Cut off stems and chop. Place in a large bowl and add chopped spring onion, chopped dill, feta and eggs. Using your hands mix well until all ingredients are fully combined. Season with salt and pepper. Melt the butter and brush a little onto a 9 x 12 baking dish. Open your fill0 package and lay them flat in between a clean damp cloth folded in half. Place two fill0 sheets on the bottom of your baking dish and brush with butter. Make sure to keep your fillo sheets covered at all times to keep them from drying out. Continue placing two sheets at a time and brushing with melted butter until you have a good bottom base, approximately 10-12 sheets. Put your spinach filling in and continue layering fillo two sheets at a time and brushing with butter for another 12 sheets. I create a little more dramatic top by folding the fillo as you would a fan and placing them on top to fully cover. Drizzle the remaining butter on top and place in over for approximately 30 minutes until the top is well browned. Serves 4-6 as a side dish buon appetite.
May 3, 2013 § 19 Comments
I found some nice-looking watermelons at the market yesterday. I realize it is not quite watermelon season here in the Pacific Northwest, nevertheless, once I saw them I decided to pick one up. We were not disappointed at all because it was bright red, juicy and sweet. It is the season for mint. I have been using mint quite a bit because I have it growing as weeds around the side of my house. Here is a recipe for a refreshing fruit salad. I had this salad at a dinner party several months ago. I loved the simplicity of it and minimal list of only three ingredients.
- 1 medium size watermelon, cut in bite size shapes
- large handful of mint, finely chopped
- 3-4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- sprinkling of salt
Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl. Simple.