Author Archives for april

Potato and Leek Au Gratin for Two

Cooking for two people sounds easy peasy, but in reality, it’s something altogether different. My three kids have been out of the house for a while now, but I still find myself cooking cisterns of soup and medium-sized farm animals for dinner. My default habit. Leftovers are a “thing” at our house these days, but I do keep trying.

I had some salad stuff in the fridge for a side, one russet potato, two leeks, a hunk of Gruyere, and heavy cream in the fridge, so I decided to try to pull off an au gratin for two. It worked! It was so yummy that we ate the WHOLE thing. We were using our fingers to wipe up every last smear of goodness. After we practically licked the dish clean, we thought maybe cooking this for two was a big mistake? You could always double the recipe J  

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees

Here’s the recipe:

1 ½ cups heavy cream

2 oz. grated Gruyere cheese

2 leeks, light green/white parts only

1 large russet potato

2 thyme sprigs

1 tbsp. EVOO

Kosher salt

Slice leeks in half and then julienne.

Rinse leeks well.

Saute leeks in EVOO until brown around the edges. Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs and add to the leeks. Mix well. Remove from heat.

Peel the russet potato and slice with a mandolin (best to have uniform slices of potatoes or they’ll cook at different times).

Begin layering the potatoes in a small-ish pyrex dish (the size will depend upon the size of your potato). Sprinkle the salt between each layer.

Cover the top potato layer with the leeks and pour the heavy cream over the top. Slowly move the dish back and forth so that the cream migrates to all of the layers and to the bottom.

Cover the top of the leeks with the cheese.

Tent the top of the dish with aluminum foil so it’s not touching the cheese.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the aluminum foil and cook until the cheese is golden brown. Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting into the cheese-y goodness!

Eat well!

April

 

Spanikopita and Beef Pie

Oh, no. Not phyllo dough! Those words always come to mind when I see a recipe that contains this challenging ingredient. I swear it’s easier to line a pan with wet toilet paper than to work with phyllo dough. Honestly. If you don’t work quickly and carefully, you end up with hundreds of shards of shattered phyllo sheets. It’s maddening, but in the end, it’s worth the effort. Really. Just work fast.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, but With Roger’s GBM fight and my concern about him being able to retain weight, I’ve made a few modifications and have also added the grass-fed beef for protein, calories, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain. The pine nuts add a nice texture and a nutty flavor, too. 

4 – 8 oz. packages of frozen spinach

½ lb. grass-fed ground beef

3 whole eggs

1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced and washed well of any residual dirt

1 medium onion, chopped

5 scallions, white and pale-green parts, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

8 oz. of feta cheese, crumbled

¼ cup pine nuts

1 package of frozen phyllo dough sheets (need about 12 sheets)

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup chopped dill

1/3 cup chopped basil

3 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

¾ cup melted clarified butter

Zest from one medium lemon

1 – 9-inch spring-form pan

Heat oven to 350-degrees.

Butter the intact spring-form pan.

Let the phyllo slowly defrost in the refrigerator for 8hrs – overnight. Bring dough to room temperature before you begin to work with it. Keep covered with a kitchen towel continously.

Bring spinach to room temperature. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible with a clean dish towel. Add the spinach to a large bowl.

Cook ground beef until brown. Drain grease and add to the spinach.

Sauté the leek, garlic, and onion in the ground beef pan until translucent. Add to the spinach and ground beef.

Add the herbs, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, pine nuts, and scallions to the bowl. Mix. Feta and Parmesan cheese are salty all on their own, so I didn’t add any extra salt. Before adding the eggs, taste and add more to taste.

Scramble the three eggs and add to the mixture. Mix again.

Brush butter on one side of a phyllo sheet, working very quickly, and press and tuck the phyllo sheet into the bottom of the pan, buttered side up. Repeat with 2 more (brush top with butter before placement).

 Don’t forget to return the kitchen towel to the phyllo stack every time you remove a sheet from the pile.

Now begin adding the remaining sheets around the edges so that ½ of the sheet spreads across the middle. You want to have enough overhang that you can fold it all over the center (see photo).

Bake for an hour until the top is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes and release the ring. Cut into wedges and serve. Enjoy.

Eat well!

April

“I’m Greek. My body produces feta cheese.”

  • Zach Galifianakis

Broccoli and Black Forest Ham Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti pie. An odd – and delicious, I might add – sounding item don’t cha think? I reckoned it would be, too, so I took the recipe I saw on foodnetwork.com and made some modifications to accommodate the edibles I had on hand. Then it was time to get to work.

After about 30 minutes of effort, I found myself with a counter covered with mixed/chopped ingredients all ready to do their job, but no vessel to do it in. The Robert Burns quote, “best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” came to mind. I reached into the cabinet for the springform pan and found only the ring. The bottom of the pan somehow vanished. I pulled every pot and pan out in my search with no success. I had to come up with a plan B, so I grabbed a cake pan, lined it with foil, and sprayed the foil with non-stick spray. It worked out okay in the end, but you’d make it easier on yourself if you have a springform. I still have no idea where the missing piece disappeared to and with no kids living at home to blame, what’s a girl to do? 

Serves 6-8 people (although we each had 2 large pieces. It was that good!

1 tbsp. butter

8 oz. Black Forest Ham, diced small

1.5 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water

1 bunch broccoli (Keep the heads intact, but slice the stalks thinly)

1 pound dried spaghetti

1 ½ cups whole milk

Zest from one lemon

3 large eggs

2 egg yolks

8 oz. grated fontina

2 oz. grated Parmesan

1 tsp. black pepper

Heat oven to 425-degrees

Butter a 9-inch-springform pan and wrap the outside in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the broccoli for 1 to 2 minutes in the salted water until it has some give. Fish it out with a large slotted spoon and dunk in a bowl of ice water (blanching). Drain, squeeze the water out of the broccoli with paper towels, and chop small.

Mix the milk eggs, lemon zest, ¾ of the cheese, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the ham and broccoli and mix well.

Now add the spaghetti to your boiling water and cook until 2 minutes shy of done and very al dente (very chewy!). Drain and let cool.

Once the spaghetti is cool, add it to the egg mixture. Mix very well.

Pour the spaghetti mixture into the pan. Push down with a spatula and top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on the top and the center is set.

Cool for 10 minutes and release the ring. Serve in wedges like a pie. Enjoy!

Eat well,

April

“Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.” – Sophia Loren

 

 

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