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Sunday, May 28, 2006

spinach pie

My friend Teresa is pregnant and we have been mailing about spinach pie. Specifically about her mom in law's spinakopita. The sad thing is she is in Athens so it is almost impossible to make Teresa her favourite pie. Everytime Y talk about his mom's spinakopita, we end up drooling. Because it is a labourous process and she makes her own pastry, the pie is only made for special occassions and usually takes her hours to prepare.

Teresa is intrigued by the fact that my spinach pie sounds so easy and quick. But hey, mine is no spinakopita and most of the time, I buy the pastry from an artisan baker friend or the frozen section of my neighbourhood supermarket. Everything from preparing the filling and baking usually take under an hour.

Today I made some with baby spinach and oyster mushroom. I didn't bother to cook the baby spinach because I usually eat them as is - they are gorgeous just eaten as salad with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and salt. I didn't saute the mushroom either because at this time of the year, they are very sweet eaten raw. Besides I thought baking them in the oven will somehow cook them a little.

I used 3 different cheeses - ricotta, parmigiano and local honey goat cheese which lend sweetness to the dish and bring all the taste together. And the pastry? I got it from my supermarket.

All done under an hour and we had a kick ass lunch.

The recipe
1 packet of puff pastry
150g baby spinach - rinsed and dry
100g oyster mushroom
250g ricotta cheese
100g parmesan
1 goat cheese with honey
fleur de sel
black pepper
2 eggs
provence basil - you can use regular basil if you don't have this.

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 190C or 350F.
2. Line the baking tin with the pastry
3. Spread the baby spinach on the pastry. Add some provence basil. Shred the oyster mushroom and add on top of the greens.
4. Beat the ricotta cheese with some salt and pepper.
5. Add eggs to the cheese and whisk.
6. Add in parmesan cheese.
7. Season.
8. Spread the cheese mixture over the spinach and mushroom.
9. Shred the goat cheese and ground a black pepper over the mixture.
10. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
11. Let it rest. Serve.

Friday, May 12, 2006

burn baby burn

Yesterday, my spunky daughter decided to invite 3 of her closest buddies over for BBQ. I marinated the meat before they arrive, make the dough for foccassia and Terry came home early to do last minute shopping, pick the girls up from school and and do the grilling.
We started of with fruit ice cream and then the girls made their own focassia in the shape of hearts (using my cake moulds) and put their preferred toppings - some just olive oil and salt, some with tomatos, and some with herbs.
Then they started singing and dancing and playing girls stuff. Then they were so fascinated that we make our own lemonade and they tried their hands on this too. The lemonade was a hit. We made a jug of iced tea too(wow not from a packet!!!). The girls were really in awe since we make everything from scratch so I literally was giving 4 6-7 year olds cooking demo. Nabila is raised on home cooked meals since she was born. I am proud to say she has never eaten baby food out of a jar because I was paranoid about the things they put in those jars...
Terry started the fire at 5, and I brought the meat out to lace on satay sticks. The girls saw this and wanted to help - so they were busy making satetjes (literally translated from dutch little satays) which were really chicken breasts cubes ala tandoori and wrapping beef kebabs around the skewers. The teriyaki chicken drumlets were grilled as is.
I cut some cucumber into long strips and served halved tasty toms. A selection of 6 sauces completed the meal. For dessert, we had melons and bbqed pineapple. The pineapple is probably the easiest dessert to make - just cut in 2 and throw face down on the bbq and cut into quater with a pinch of sugar. You can also remove the charred bits with a knife. You can also prepare a chocolate sauce or toffee cream on the side for dipping. But I usually eat this on its own because it reminds me of endless bbqs on the beach when I was a child.
Each of them ate much more than they usually do and declared proudly to their mom they ate the most. G actually won hands down. This morning, the moms asked me what was in the yummy bbq because the daughters can't stop talking about them. When they heard I made the marinade myself, they thought it took me the whole day. I told them it takes 10 minutes and then just to leave the meat marinated in the fridge for at least 4 hours - everything can be prepared in the morning. In fact I only started making the kneading the foccassia dough when Nabila was home during her lunch break so she can knead them with me.
This to me is the essence of summer cooking - fast to cook, lekker to eat with clean, robust flavours that burst in your mouth... And great way to entertain because everything is loose and casual and you can cook together every step of the way.