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Friday, June 13, 2014

Spanakopita, baklava and creativity

Last week I really wanted some spanakopita so I got the ingredients at the store and finally made it last night. It *really* hit the spot! We had it with grilled squash, and chicken breast sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with TJ's Everyday spice grinder blend.  

I was cooking for two and had some phyllo dough leftover, so I made an impromptu almond baklava. If you make the recipe below, you will have dough leftover. I highly recommend making the baklava. It's delicious and keeps well. 

It is wonderful to feel my culinary creativity returning!

1/2 pkg phyllo dough, thawed
1 stick butter, melted
Frozen spinach, one box or 1/2 of a 1lb. bag, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 block of feta, crumbled, about a cup
1 tbs. Italian seasoning
Black pepper, to taste 
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Mix spinach, cheese, seasonings and about half of the beaten egg until well combined. 

Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on a cutting board and brush with butter. Repeat two more times for three layers. Cut lengthwise into three strips. 

Put a tablespoon of spinach mixture about an inch from the bottom of one of the buttered phyllo strips. Fold the bottom inch over the spinach, then roll up, flag-style, to make a triangle. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. 

Repeat until all the spinach is used up. It made 9 triangles when I made it, but it could vary a bit.  Brush the tops of the triangles with butter and bake until golden brown. 

Cool slightly and try not to stuff them all in your face at once. 

Almond Baklava

phyllo sheets leftover from the recipe above, or about 1/4 of a package, thawed
1 cup finely chopped almonds (you can use whatever nuts you have on hand)
1/2 stick melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 and thoroughly spray an 8x8 brownie pan with cooking spray. 

Lay a sheet of phyllo on the bottom of the pan, folding the edges over. Neatness does NOT matter, just make it roughly the same size as the bottom of the pan. Brush with butter. Repeat. 

On every third layer, after brushing in butter, drizzle a good amount of honey over the dough before folding the edges in. 

When you've used up about half of the dough, sprinkle the nuts evenly over the butter and drizzle with honey before folding the edges over. 

Continue layering until you are out of dough, making sure to put honey on every few layers. Brush the top with butter. 

Bake at 350 until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing. Store at room temperature, if you have any left.