Good morning, everyone. Yes, a morning post.
Yesterday I tried to use up all my remaining phyllo dough by making a version of spanakopita. However, I had some left over sheets of dough…probably about 6-7 sheets. What to do with it? Make more spanakopita? No. Already have way too many leftovers. Make baklava? Close, but no. I have none of the necessary ingredients.
After scrounging around my refrigerator, I noticed I had an unopened container of creme fraiche and some pumpkin butter. What an interesting combination…
Drizzled very lightly with honey, these triangles make a nice dessert…..or breakfast.
olive oil (or unsalted butter, whatever you prefer)
*by the way, when working with phyllo, it always helps to lay it out on a baking sheet or other flat surface, covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel. it keeps the dough from drying out, which is very important*
1. preheat oven to 350F.
2. lay out one sheet of phyllo and brush the top with olive oil (or your fat of choice). lay another sheet on top. repeat the process until you have 3-4 sheets.
3. vertically, cut about 2 1/2 – 3 inch wide strips. at the top of each strip, add maybe……2 tsp of creme fraiche and 2 tsp of pumpkin butter. fold as you would a flag (i posted a youtube video on how to do this in an earlier post)
4. continue this process until you’ve used up all your dough.
5. line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and place all the triangles on. throw in the oven and bake until the triangles are golden brown. i’d say…about 15-30 minutes depending on your oven. just keep an eye on them.
The creme fraiche and pumpkin butter turned out to be a really good combination. It sort of tasted like a creamier pumpkin pie wrapped in buttery phyllo. You can fill these with anything, though, to make them either sweet or savory. I had some last night fresh out of the oven and they were so crunchy and gooey. This morning, I had some that had been in the refrigerator. They weren’t as gross as I thought they would be. In fact, the filling hardened slightly, and it was actually really enjoyable (at the expensive of the phyllo’s crunch). Drizzled with honey, it was a perfect pastry-esque breakfast to have with some good coffee (I would’ve preferred an espresso, but whatever).
Yet another fun fact about Australia and food. I sense a trend…anyone who guesses what sparked my latest obsession with Australia gets a prize. Seriously, I’ll mail you something food related (disclaimer: this doesn’t count for people who already know the answer)!
Tonight, I decided to use the rest of my frozen phyllo dough. It’s been in the freezer since February, and I was afraid it was just going to dry out if I kept it in there longer.
So, after consulting this very good site about the basics of spanakopita, I decided to go my own way about it. For those unfamiliar with Greek cuisine, spanakopita is a spinach pie made with phyllo dough as the crust. I’ve always been too intimidated to make this, but once you get the hang of working with the dough, it’s really easy. Really.
1/2 bag of spinach, chopped
1/2 cup of feta, crumbled
1/3 cup marscapone
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
other herbs like dill, parsley, or even onions. you can really put what ever *fresh* herbs you want into this, it’s a blank canvas. i just had nothing on hand.
(preheat oven to 350F)
1. mix the spinach, feta, marscapone, salt and pepper in a bowl. (frustrated because the marscapone is sticking to the spoon you’re haplessly abusing your mix with? well, the only solution is to use your hands. sure, it may be gross or…icky, even. sure, it may make a nasty squishing sound when you dive your hands in. but, it’s the best method.)
2. brush bottom of an 8×8 (or 9×11, whatever you have) pan with olive oil.
3. place a sheet of phyllo in the pan. brush the top of it with olive oil. put another sheet on top of that, and repeat this process until you have 6-8 layers.
4. place the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo dough layers in the pan. spread it around evenly.
5. plae another sheet of phyllo on top of the spinach mixture, and brush with olive oil. place another sheet on top of that, and repeat this process until you have another 6-8 layers.
6. bake until the top is a golden brown, for about 30-50 minutes.
This was so good! Next time, I will definitely add the fresh herbs because it lacked a little bit of flavor. However, the marscapone made the filling pretty creamy, which was very pleasant. Yes, pleasant.
Good morning everyone. I never post in the mornings, now that I think about it.
Last night, we hosted a friend’s surprise 21st birthday party at our apartment. I offered to make hor d’oeuvres, which was pretty exciting. I’ve never made food for a large group of people before, and I’ve definitely never made appetizers. I didn’t want to cop out and grab frozen shit to throw in the oven before guests arrive (although it was definitely a plan B). Initially, I had too many ideas for what to make, but I chose these four things:
In the spirit of chips-and-dip, I decided to try my hand at making my own pita chips, along with an olive tapenade.
As I have no food processor, I had to chop the olives by hand. It was a lot of olives. I figured if people could make tapenade before the advent of food processors, I could do it too.
Homemade Pita Chips
5 mini pita pockets
herbs of your choice
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the pitas into little triangles. Separate the fronts from the backs. Place on a baking sheet lined with either foil or parchment paper. Brush a little olive oil onto the triangles and place herbs and/or salt on top of that. Bake for about 5-10 minutes, or until desired level of crispiness is reached. Because these are so thin, they’ll cook quickly (which is why I had the oven fairly low for this kind of job) so keep an eye on them.
Olive Tapenade adapted from here
1 – 1 1/2 cups of pitted kalamata olives
a few tablespoons of olive oil
Chop up olives (if you have a food processor, this is when you use it) and combine with olive oil.
Along similar lines of chips and dip is this next appetizer. I wanted at least two hor d’oeuvres that people could take large quantities of at once and go.
Spice Roasted Chick Peas adapted from here
1 1lb bag of dried chick peas
ground cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350F.
Soak chick peas over night in water. If you can’t do this, or forgot to like I did, boil them until they are plump and a little al dente.
Pat them dry, and put them in a roasting pan, or any baking sheet with raised sides. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and coat the chick peas thoroughly. Throw the spices on them. I wanted mine to be very flavorful, so I spiced them pretty heavily. Roast for about 40-50 minutes, depending on the level of crunchiness you want.
I enjoyed the spicing on those because the cayenne pepper was not overpowering at all. It was a subtle, unexpected kick right after you swallowed the pea. I love surprises.
During the summer, my family and I went to Washington DC for a few days. Incidentally, my friend whose birthday we were celebrating lives outside of DC and works at this Spanish restaurant in the city. It’s called Jaleo, and after hearing such good things about the tapas there, my family and I had dinner there one night. Unfortunately, my friend was in Miami while we were in DC so we did not get to see him. One of the recommended tapas at Jaleo is the bacon-wrapped dates. Initially the combination sounded a little weird to me, but this was before I was a foodie (in fact, I kind of attribute that DC trip to my burgeoning food obsession). They are absolutely delicious. The dates are gooey and so sweet, while the bacon is crunchy and salty. This perfect combination beats chocolate covered pretzels hands down. So drawing inspiration from Jaleo, I attempted bacon-wrapped dates. (Excuse the bad photography, at this point there were a lot of people in the apartment and getting an artsy photo was pretty difficult!)
Bacon Wrapped Dates
1 box pitted dates (or you can use fresh dates, which would probably be better)
1/2 lb bacon
Cut each slice of bacon in half horizontally to make two skinny slices, and then cut those in half vertically. Wrap each date with these slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, seam side down.
You can do this ahead of time and place them in the refrigerator (which is what I did). When you’re ready to bake, put them in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the desired level of crispiness is reached. When they’re done, place them on a paper towel lined plate to drain the grease.
And finally, the most challenging hor d’oeuvre of the night. Phyllo triangles. I’ve never worked with phyllo before, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. It intimidated me. A lot. Initially, I wanted to make phyllo triangles stuffed with feta cheese, a walnut, and pomegranate seeds. However, I could not find a pomegranate to save my life, so I had to switch things around. Instead of walnuts, I used pecans. And, instead of pomegranate seeds, I used banana slices. Banana and feta? What? It works. Ooohhh, it works.
The first sheet of phyllo I tried to work with was way too dry so it just crumbled everywhere. The first four triangles I made were absolute rejects; it took a few tries to get used to folding the dough. As with any baking or cooking (this is the best part about making Christmas cookies), the rejects become the tests. When my roommate tested a triangle and liked it, I was beyond relieved. To be honest, I wasn’t totally sure about the feta and banana combination, but it was great. The bananas provided a really subtle hint of sweetness, while the feta added that hit of salty brine. And the pecan topped it off with that meaty, nutty bite. So good. This was one of everyone’s favorites.
Phyllo triangles stuffed with Banana, Feta, and Pecans adapted from here
1 package of phyllo dough, thawed.
2 bananas, sliced
feta cheese, crumbled
olive oil or melted butter
1. Slice the bananas, get the pecans, get your feta. You absolutely want to have everything ready before you start working with the dough.
2. Take out thawed dough. Place on a dry surface (I used a baking sheet) and cover with a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a damp towel. Take out one sheet of dough. Lay it on a dry surface. Brush it with either olive oil or butter. Put another layer of dough on top of that. This is where I stopped (because I wanted to have as many triangles as possible while using only one package of dough). You can continue this for up to 4 layers, however.
3. Cut the dough lengthwise. Place one slice of banana, one pecan, and one or two chunks of feta at the top of the slice. Here is how to roll.
4. Continue until you’re finished. You can store these rolls in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before you’re ready to bake them. When ready to bake, place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, and brush the tops with either olive oil or melted butter (butter is always better). Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes, or until sufficiently browned. Keep a watch on them, as they’ll burn easily.
All right, that concludes the epic hor d’oeurves post. Tonight, I’m making chili for dinner. Good hangover food? We’ll see…