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!


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

  • Zach Galifianakis

Turkish Meatballs in Yogurt and Tomato Sauce


I have a thing for the richness and tang of Greek yogurt. I use it all the time. It’s a healthy, tasty alternative to sour cream. It’s wicked awesome on baked potatoes with a little, salt, pepper, butter, and chopped chives. I put it in a bowl, so the kids don’t know that I’ve tricked them. I’ve got one, in particular, who would think it was heresy to put yogurt on his tacos (sour cream on tacos is a New England thing…don’t hate). What they don’t know won’t hurt them. And it’s mmm mmm good.

Yogurt’s also a frequent guest star in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. You can’t pick up a nutrition book or magazine these days without reading about the copious health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. I wonder, is it the yogurt or the red wine? I vote for the red wine.

This is a riff on a recipe I jotted down in one of my notebooks some time ago.

Feeds 4-6 (depends on who you’re feeding!)

1.5 pounds grass-fed ground beef

1 medium onion

1.5 tsp. cumin

1.5 tsp. dried oregano

1/3 cup chopped parsley

2 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. grated fresh ground pepper

1.5 cups Greek yogurt

1 tsp. grated fresh garlic

½ tsp. kosher salt

1-28 oz. carton of crushed San Marzano tomatoes

2 tsp. smoked paprika

3 tbsp. salted butter

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees


Grate the onion with a cheese grater.


Mix the ground beef, onion, cumin, oregano, parsley, 2 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper in a bowl.


Roll meat mixture into 2” meatballs. Roast the meatballs on a cookie sheet until cooked through.

Mix the yogurt, garlic, and ½ tsp. salt in a bowl.


Melt the butter in a large skillet and add paprika. Heat until the paprika is fragrant. Add the tomato sauce. Mix the butter and tomato sauce well, heat, and add the meatballs to the hot sauce.

I served this dish over basmati rice. First I put rice on the bottom of the dish, then yogurt, tomato sauce, the meatballs, chopped cilantro garnish, and topped with some roasted baby zucchinis. Those baby zucchinis are so dang cute! 

Serve with a generous glass of Burgundy and reap those health rewards. Enjoy.

Eat well!


“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.” -Jalaluddin Rumi







Chianti Braised Short Ribs

We made it six whole days without eating a scrap of bacon. That is until we had some peeps over for dinner. They’re meat lovers, and the day was refreshingly cool, so naturally I thought of braised short ribs. A little pancetta, a little beef, and some Chianti, and you’ve got yourself a match made in heaven.

Preheat oven to 300-degrees


1 med. onion, diced

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into rough chunks

1 celery stalk, cut into rough chunks

4 garlic cloves, minced

5 oz. pancetta, small dice

5-6 boneless short ribs

2 cups of Chianti (not top shelf, but somewhere in between)

1 tube of tomato paste

½ tsp. salt

2 sprigs savory

3 sprigs thyme

1 tbsp. of vegetable oil


Generously sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper.

Pour the oil into a 3qt. braising pan and heat to medium-high.

Once the oil is shimmery, sear the ribs until brown on all sides. Remove the ribs and set aside.

Add the pancetta to pan and sear until almost brown.

Add the onions to the pan and sauté the onions until translucent.

Add garlic and heat until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste and mix well.


Add the ribs back to the pan with the salt, garlic, carrots, celery, wine, savory, and thyme. Give it a gentle stir and cover tightly. Cook for 4-5 hours, carefully stirring periodically, until the ribs are super tender.

You’ll get the best results if you don’t disturb the dish and let it sit, once it’s cooled off, overnight in the fridge. The flavors develop and become more intense. In the morning you can easily degrease the dish by scraping off he grease with a spoon.

Carefully remove the ribs from the sauce and set aside.


Take the rest of the ingredients out of the pan and squish it all through a fine strainer (I have a China cap), over a bowl to catch all the liquid goodness, with a ladle. Warm the sauce and check seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Place the ribs back in the sauce. Heat and serve. I served my ribs over cheesy polenta, a large dollop of fresh basil pesto, and roasted baby carrots. The pesto adds brightness to the rich flavors of the meat and cheesy polenta. Enjoy!

Eat well!


“Wine is bottled poetry.” – Robert Louis Stevenson