Archive for February, 2010

Spanikopita

February 24, 2010

I’m back!!!

I don’t really have an excuse this time for taking a hiatus from blogging (other than laziness), but I have certainly missed it. The start of 2010 has been a bit of a bumpy ride and I am now ready to start climbing that ladder of greatness again. I’ve come to understand that life isn’t easy and each new challenge just makes you stronger.

One of my best friends in the world, Maija, came over yesterday for dinner. Maija and I always make all sorts of promises to hangout often and keep in touch. Unfortunately, we don’t always follow through with our plans, but when we do, it’s a guaranteed good time. In our defence, I think that we are getting better and better at it!

Last night I decided to make another one of my all-time favourites for one of my all-time favourite people: Spanikopita (also known as spinach pie).

Spanikopita is another recipe that I learned from my mom when I was quite young. My mom always used the famous Spanikopita recipe from the Moosewood cookbook, a cookbook (and now restaurant) that is based on healthful, natural foods cuisine. Check out http://www.moosewoodrestaurant.com/index.html for more info. Since then, I think that we have both memorized the process of making the dish and enjoy spicing it up with different ingredients.

This time around, I decided to make individual mini spinach pies and was pretty pleased with the result. I definitely recommend this one if you are a spinach and feta fan. It’s actually super simple, but does take a little bit of time for assembly.

Spanikopita  

  • 1 box Phyllo Pastry (found in the freezer section at the grocery store), thawed
  • 2 packages frozen spinach, the chopped kind (you can also use fresh spinach and chop it, but I was feeling lazy) Be sure to thaw and drain any excess water from it
  • Greek Feta (I used half of a container that was the size of a sour cream container)
  • Half a container of cottage cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly oil mini loaf tins (or a large casserole dish to make one big pie, instead of individual ones).

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until softened a bit (2-5 minutes). Add all the spices (oregano, sage, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper) to the onion and garlic mixture. Be careful not to add too much salt because the feta is pretty salty naturally.

Add the defrosted spinach (I like to pat it dry with a paper towel), and sauté for about a minute until the onions and garlic are incorporated into the spinach. Add the flour and cook and stir for about 2 minutes until the flour dissolves. Add the feta and cottage cheese and turn the heat off the pan. If the mixture is looking too dry, feel free to add a few tablespoons of water or chicken stock. You want it to look thick and moist.

Now you just have to layer the phyllo, one sheet at a time in the mini loaf pans, or casserole. Brush each phyllo sheet with butter before placing the next sheet on top. After you have about 10-15 layers, add the spinach mixture.

Continue to layer and butter the remaining phyllo on top of the spinach mixture about 5-10 more times. At the end, fold in any edges that were overlapping the pan. Make sure you brush the last layer with butter and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious.  

I served mine with a simple tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.

Congrats Canada for dominated women’s double bobsleigh and men’s hockey tonight!!!!!!!

Thanks for coming over Maija! xx

Mango Salad

February 10, 2010

It’s catch up time. I have a ton of posts that have been sitting on the back burner and this is one of them. It’s been awful battling this stomach virus and am glad that I can finally start thinking about food again.

A few weeks ago I was craving Thai. I love Thai food, but haven’t been able to master the fine art of Thai cooking quite yet. On this particular evening, I didn’t have much time and decided to try out one of the Pad Thai kits that you can get at the grocery store. The end result wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. After buying all the ingredients to make it, I figure you may as well just go support your favourite Thai restaurant and get an order for takeout. This is what I’ll be doing from now on, until I master Pad Thai cooking myself.

I can, however, successfully make a fresh Thai mango salad (at least I think I can). To be honest, it’s super simple to make. With just a few ingredients, a regular salad becomes something a little more exotic.

Mango Salad

  • 2 Semi-ripe mangos (regular mangos OR green mangos…I portion 1 mango per serving)
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • A few slices of finely sliced red onion (green onion also works)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar (optional)
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped peanuts
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Place everything in a bowl and toss gently. Couldn’t get any easier!

Chou-fleur

February 8, 2010

Wow. Mid-February already? Really?

It’s been a rough few weeks and I haven’t felt like blogging. It’s just like when you take a “break” from the gym, doing yoga or exercising…the longer you stay away, the harder it is to get back into the game. Today I made a deal with myself. I would finish a blog post tonight and go to yoga tomorrow (now that it’s in writing, there’s no breaking the promise).

I bought some cauliflower the other day for a veggie and dip platter and as it turns out, cauliflower isn’t the favourite veggie of the bunch. I personally go through fazes with cauliflower, sometimes I love it and sometimes I just don’t want to eat it. I blame part of this on my dad who used to boil it up and sprinkle on shredded cheese, about twice a week. There’s definitely nothing wrong with this, I just got a little sick of it as a kid. To this day when I eat cauliflower I think of my dad.

To use up all the leftover cauliflower I made a Cauliflower Gratin, or as the French would call it “Gratin de chou-fleu”. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish and was pretty darn tasty. Too bad I couldn’t really enjoy very much of it…stupid stomach virus that doesn’t seem to want to go away.

Cauliflower Gratin  

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups grated cheese (I used white cheddar)
  • 1 cup panko break crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a saucepan, boil the cauliflower florets in salted boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain.

In another saucepan, bring the milk, bay leaves, garlic and onion to a very gentle simmer. Let this infuse on low heat for about 10 minutes.

In a frying pan melt half the butter and add the flour. Stir and cook this mixture for about a minute. Take the bay leaves and garlic clove out of the milk mixture and slowly add the mixture to the butter and flower. Whisk constantly until all the milk mixture is incorporated and smooth. It will thicken instantly, but you really need to whisk hard.

Stir in ¾ of the grated cheese and toss the cauliflower in the sauce. Pour the mixture into a baking dish or casserole. Melt the remaining butter and mix with the panko breadcrumbs to make a topping. Sprinkle this topping on the cauliflower, along with the remaining cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.