Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pear and Ginger Phyllo Triangles

These are amazing.  Sweet, savory, tart, creamy, crunchy...I really wish they weren't all in the freezer now awaiting reheating for the party.

Meli and I made these, Jezebel sauce, sugar cookies (not yet decorated) and raisin-filled Christmas cookies this evening.  Oh, and dinner.  I'm exhausted, but it's been a great day.

1 egg
1 lemon, zested and juiced, zest chopped finely
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped finely
3 oz triple creme goat brie (or regular brie), chopped
2 medium pears, cored and chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 pound phyllo dough

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat the egg in a medium bowl with a whisk.
  3. Add the lemon juice, zest and mascarpone and mix well with a rubber spatula
  4. Add the ginger and brie and pears, mix well
  5. Make the triangles:
    1. Take a sheet of phyllo, lay it on a large cutting board long side up, and brush it with butter
    2. Take a second sheet of phyllo, place it over the first sheet, brush it with butter
    3. With a sharp knife, cut the phyllo lengthwise into four strips
    4. Place a heaping teaspoonful of filling at the bottom of each strip
    5. Fold from the bottom right corner over to the left side, then fold the resulting triangle up, then the next resulting triangle over to the right side, then up again.  Continue in this fashion up the strip.
    6. Put the triangles on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake them for 20 minutes.
  7. If not serving immediately, transfer the slightly cooled triangles into plastic storage containers lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze.  Make sure there is paper between each layer.  Freeze.  They can be reheated for 10-15 minutes in a 350F oven straight out of the freezer.

Christmas party and Children's play

When we were young, my parents threw an annual Christmas party where one of the features was that the children put on a holiday play.  It was so much fun!

I am my mother's daughter, and decided to attempt to replicate her insanity this year.  We've had over a dozen kids over here rehearsing for the production and generally making (adorable) menaces of themselves.  The house has been transformed into a space suitable for putting on a play and having a bunch of people over.  This weekend, we are decorating, cooking, cleaning, and shopping for the party next weekend.

I find that a lot of advance planning and cooking are the key to enjoying myself at parties.  Luckily, Meli agrees!  The shopping list is being split into "today" and "later", the cooking list has assignments and days written on it.

Here's the progress on the menu so far:
  • Spanakopitas - Mom will make these, they can be frozen and reheated night of.
  • Gingered Pear & brie triangles - I'm going to make this up today, I'll be creating the recipe so will blog about it later (hopefully).  Also will be frozen and reheated night of.
  • Deviled Eggs - Meli will make on Friday
  • "Crack" dip and Tostito scoops - Meli or I will make on Saturday, it's so easy...look up Rotel Sausage Dip on the web
  • Fried duck, pancakes and duck sauce - Meli will fry the duck on Saturday and chop it up, I'll make the pancakes and duck sauce on Thursday and steam them right before serving.
  • Crab beignets and Aioli - Meli will make these right after frying the duck, the aioli will be made Friday night.
  • Roast beef sticks - deli roast beef (Whole Foods in-house is the best!) spread with a horseradish garlic oil, covered in arugula and wrapped around grissini (skinny Italian bread stick).  I'll prepare those Saturday morning or possibly Friday night.
  • Dolmades!  I'm going to make these Tuesday or Wednesday, put them at the back of the fridge in their serving dish, which is a nice stoneware pot with a lid.
  • Gravlax and toasts - Meli will make the gravlax on Thursday evening.
  • Crudites & blue cheese dip - day of.  Crudites also include "ants on a log" which is something I had never heard of before, celery sticks filled with cream cheese and topped with raisins.  Meli makes the blue cheese dressing and it's fantastic, I think he'll make it Friday night.
  • Cheeses and crackers - Baked Goat Brie with Fig Preserves, Cheese ball, and cream cheese topped with Jezebel sauce.  Jezebel sauce will be made today by Meli, cheese ball will be made Thursday or Friday.
  • Hummus and pita
  • Fruit tray with yogurt sauce and chocolate fondue - I already made an orange pound cake for dipping last night, it's in the freezer.
  • Scotch egg nog, will be made early in the day on Saturday.
  • Cookies - I made chocolate-hazelnut meringues this morning, Meli made dough for sugar cookies last night, we'll decorate those today, Meli will make raisin filled sugar cookies as well, and macaroons will be made on Wednesday or Thursday.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


This is the recipe from The Grecian Plate, a fantastic cookbook produced by the Greek Orthodox Church in Durham, NC. I've made a few annotations in italics, because I do it slightly differently

  • 3 (10-oz) packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or lots of fresh spinach or dark leafy greens, kale is great!)
  • 4 medium onions, chopped (I only use one large or two medium onions, usually)
  • 6 whole green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (I use fresh ground, and probably more like 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill (optional)
  • 1 tsp cream of wheat
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (can be replaced by chevre for the lactose intolerant)
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 pound phyllo
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups butter, melted and warm (I don't usually use this much butter. I start with one stick and add a bit of olive oil, that's usually enough for the whole pie)
  1. (If using frozen spinach) Drain spinach thoroughly in colander, squeezing out excess moisture.
  2. In a large skillet (if using frozen spinach, or a large non-reactive pot if using fresh greens), saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until tender, stirring constantly.
  3. Add spinach, water, seasonings and herbs; cook until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Sprinkle cream of wheat over top; cool.
  5. In a large bowl, combine eggs and cheeses; stir in spinach mixture, blending well.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Assemble pita (following directions are mine, the cookbook has a slightly different detailed set plus diagrams)
    1. Phyllo should be defrosted
    2. Set out two large cutting boards, and a large, wide baking pan. Have the melted butter and a pastry brush ready.
    3. Carefully unfold the phyllo on the first board, cover with waxed paper and a very slightly damp towel (not too wet) -- this might not be required at all if you can work quickly enough so that the phyllo doesn't dry out.
    4. Working as quickly as you can, transfer a sheet to the second board, brush it lightly with the pastry brush and place the phyllo into the pan. Overlap each sheet, allowing overhang on all sides. Use about 2/3 of the phyllo in this manner.
    5. Pour the filling in, then fold the overhang over the top of it.
    6. Add the remaining phyllo sheets on top, this time not overhanging.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown (or you can freeze it, bake it later.