Archive | March, 2012

Spinach and Feta Fried Pies

29 Mar

I’ve been making a lot of fried pies recently.  I won’t tell you officially why, but I’ll give you a hint.  It’s been fun coming up with sweet and savory variations on the traditional fried pie.  A few I’ve made recently: sweet potato marshmallow, mushroom rosemary, caramelized banana, cheesy walnut apple bacon, brie & dried cherry and most recently, spinach and feta.  I’ve been keeping my pie making close to the vest, at least on this blog, but when my friend Emily asked me to do a post for the blog Nothing in the House, I knew it was time to come out of the pie-frying closet.

I’ve always loved spanakopita, the greek pastry made with spinach, feta, egg and phyllo dough, and thought a similar filling would be lovely in a buttery pie crust.  SURPRISE!  I was right.  Below is the recipe for these tasty pastries.

Spinach and Feta Fried Pies

For Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. very cold water

To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

To make the dough in a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the flat beater, and stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix on low speed just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. Lightly flour the work surface, then in sections, roll out until it’s 1/8 inch thick or less and use a 3 or 4 inch circle biscuit cutter to create dough circles.

For Spinach Feta Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 4 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and continue to saute until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs and feta. Stir in spinach mixture.

To Assemble and Fry Pies:

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling into center of dough circles. Fold and crimp closed with a fork.

Heat a deep fryer or a deep pot halfway filled with oil to 350 degrees F. Carefully add the pies to the oil, 1 at a time, and fry until golden brown, turning the pies as necessary for even browning, about 5 to 8 minutes

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

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Make Potato Chips

28 Mar

There are only a few more days left in St. Patrick’s Day month, so I’m squeezing in one more potato post for good measure. This is another one from Kitchen Play‘s potato-themed menu (sponsored by the US Potato Board) this month.  The Urban Baker provided this sun-dried potato chip recipe.

I’d planned on making these using baby Dutch yellow potatoes as a snack on which to munch while watching the Mad Men season premier with some friends this past Sunday, but I realized too late that making them according the recipe was a two day process.  Instead, I followed the instructions for quick boiling potatoes, but instead of drying them in the sun, I dried them in an oven set to 175 degrees for about three hours before frying them.  I also used a deep fryer in lieu of a cast iron kettle.  They turned out quite well, but I’m including the original recipe because I love the idea of sun-dried potato chips.

Sun Dried Potato Chips

ingredients:
2 lbs of potatoes – your choice
Celtic Sea Salt
Peanut oil for frying

instructions:
• wash and dry the potatoes.
• using a sharp knife, slice the potatoes, thin, but not too think where you can see through them.
• place sliced potatoes oin cold water. let sit 5 minutes and then drain water and repeat with fresh water. do this 3 times.
• fill a large dutch oven three quarters the way up with water. bring to a rapid boil. when water boils, add kosher salt and then drop your potatoes in the water (I did mine in two batches. first the fingerlings and then the purple. the water does change colors, thus I was afraid that the water would change the color of my fingerlings).
• let boil for 30 seconds and then turn off the heat. cover the pot and let rest for 3 minutes.
• using a mesh utensil (I like to use this) remove the potatoes and drain in a colander.
• once drained place on a parchment lined baking sheet. do not overlap.
• find a place in your backyard where you get complete sunshine. leave in the sun for 6-8 hours. this is a 2 day process. I left the potatoes in the sun for 8 hours the following day (it is best if the temp outside is 80* or warmer).
• in a large dutch oven, heat oil to 350* (I use a candy thermometer). fry potatoes in batches. these fry very quickly as all the moisture has been removed from the potato. frying them will only take 10 to 20 seconds. do not walk away from your pan or you will have very burnt chips.
• using a slotted spoon or mesh, bamboo strainer, place on paper towels to drain ( I line a rimmed backing sheet with lots and lots of paper towels). immediately sprinkle with Celtic Sea Salt or any seasonings you may choose (I sprinkled some with truffle salt – yum).
• these won’t last long, I suggest you make a double batch.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

Cherry Blossoms

27 Mar

Shawn decided to do a little pruning this weekend, resulting in a svelter cherry tree in our front yard and loads of cherry blossom branches in our home.  Welcome, spring.  It’s good to see you again!

blossoms in the kitchen

blossoms in the bathroom

baby branches in baby vases

Make Mashed Potato Casserole

26 Mar

I’ve really been enjoying Kitchen Play‘s potato-themed menu (sponsored by the US Potato Board) this month.  After good experiences with the roasted potato salad and Italian Fish Stew, I thought I’d try my hand at a Mashed Potato Casserole recipe, courtesy of Reluctant Entertainer.  The only change I made to this was substituting thyme for chives (since I had some fresh ones already on hand) and using an immersion blender in lieu of a hand or stand mixer.  It was rich, filling and simple.

Mashed Potato Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 T. finely chopped fresh chives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375. Bring potatoes and water to cover by 1 inch to boil in large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1/2-and-1/2, chicken broth, butter, garlic, mustard, and salt in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.
  3. Drain potatoes and transfer to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle and mix on medium-low speed, slowly adding half-and-half, until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time for about 1 minute. Add in chives.
  4. Transfer potato mixture to greased 2-quart baking dish and use fork to make peaked design on top. Bake until potatoes rise and begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 55 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

Make Italian Fish Stew

23 Mar

As I mentioned before, this month, Kitchen Play is featuring a potato-themed menu sponsored by the US Potato Board.  The roasted potato salad turned out so well, I decided to make their Italian Fish Stew recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen last night when my friend Kelly came over for dinner.  It was super easy to make and the result was hearty without being too heavy.  I had frozen some Tilapia filets on hand and they worked well for this recipe.  I forgot to grab clam juice and so omitted that, but I miraculously had all the other ingredients already in the kitchen!

Italian Fish and Potato Stew
Recipe created in Aggie’s Kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, small dice
2 red potatoes, small dice
1 large white potato, small dice
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch salt and pepper
1 28 oz can of Italian diced tomatoes
1 8 0z bottle of clam juice
4 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable – I used 4 cups water swirled from tomato can and added a tablespoon vegetable bouillon)
juice from 1 large lemon
1 1/2 lbs fresh or frozen cod fish (or any other firm white fish), cut in 1″ – 1 1/2 ” pieces
handful of roughly chopped green and kalamata olives
additional salt and pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil and add onion, garlic, celery and potato. Season with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes until slightly softened. Add tomatoes, clam juice, lemon juice and broth. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Add pieces of fish and olives to soup and gently stir. Continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes until fish is cooked through. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

Stop Motion Paper Video: Pale Blue Line

21 Mar

I’m lucky enough to be friends with one of my favorite musicians of all time.  I met Alexa Woodward through mutual friends and am glad I hadn’t heard her music before being introduced, because I probably would have been too star struck to carry on a conversation.  Since then, however, I’ve fallen in love with her music, especially her 2011 Album It’s a Good Life, Honey, If You Don’t Grow Weary.  I’ve been wanting to do more stop animation, so I offered to create a video for the first track on the album, “Pale Blue Line.”  When we discussed the making of the video, Alexa told me:

The song is inspired by a place in Big Bend in western Texas, a hike that leads to a tremendous drop off where you look out at a huge expanse of desert land.  The story I envisioned was a woman jumping off of the mountain there, out into the desert.  What happens next is up for interpretation….

I so enjoyed making this video, creating a little world with an X-Acto knife, some printer paper and a table cloth.  OK, so it’s not quite as impressive as Josh Ritter’s much talked about “Love is Making Its Way Back Home video,” which uses 12,000 pieces of paper to create some stunning animation, but I’m still pleased.

Roasted Potato Salad

20 Mar

This month, Kitchen Play is featuring a potato-themed menu sponsored by the US Potato Board and I decided to try their roasted potato salad recipe from Miss in the Kitchen.  It’s tangy and a little sweet.  I tasted it warm and refrigerated and it’s super tasty both ways.  I substituted red potatoes for the fingerlings in the original recipe and used thyme instead of parsley since we had some in the herb garden.

Red Onion- One Potato, Two Potato Roasted Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes (I used a mix of red and white)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

for dressing:

  • 1 cup red onion, chopped large
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash and dry potatoes. Cut Yukon Gold potatoes into cubes and fingerlings into thirds.  Place onto a large baking sheet.

In a small bowl combine olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Pour over potatoes, and toss to coat the potatoes well.

In a small baking dish add onion and garlic pour 1 tablespoon of  olive oil making sure to get the top of the garlic.  Toss the onions to coat all sides.

Place potatoes and onion and garlic into oven and bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and fork tender.  Stir potatoes and onions half way through.

Remove from oven and set potatoes aside.

Carefully squeeze four of the garlic cloves from the garlic head.  Add onions, garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil, mustard, lemon juice honey and salt into a food processor or blender.  Pulse about 20 to 30 times.  You want it to be blended but not smooth.  You should still have visible pieces of onion.

Add potatoes to a large bowl, pour dressing over potatoes and add parsley.  Stir together until potatoes are well coated.

Serve warm or refrigerate for 2 hours to serve cold.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.