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I created this recipe in 2012, modeled after an appetizer at an old favourite restaurant which sadly closed down many years prior to 2012. Like many of my old posts, the photos are dark and dreary and deserve an update so here it is. I also threw in a sourdough baguette, the recipe can be found here. I used this starter which, frankly took a long time and was not as sour-doughy as I had hoped but I found the liquid ingredient intriguing so I gave it a go. I will try this starter used in the recipe next time.

It’s still a winter picture, so give me a break!

Sizzling Mushrooms

Serves 2-4 as an hors d’œuvres (about 112 g of cooked mushrooms and onions, without the feta)

Ingredients:

  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 150 g mushrooms, stems removed and sliced medium thinly
  • 60 g sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 g garlic, finely minced
  • 30-60 g sheep and goats milk feta, crumbled (see notes)
  • 30 mL cognac (optional)
  • 2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small frying pan, melt the butter and add the onions, cook until caramelized (about 10-15 minutes).
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are no longer wet (about 5-10 minutes) and have also caramelized. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Season with sea salt if using, but remember the feta is also salty so season sparingly.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the cognac, stirring to loosen any of the bits stuck to the pan. Remove from heat and add the fresh thyme and stir. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the hot mushrooms and serve immediately with thinly sliced sourdough baguette (fresh out of the oven, no less!)

Notes:

  • I used a 50/50 combo of shitake and cremini mushrooms, but feel free to use whatever mushrooms you desire.
  • We prefer actual Greek Feta made in Greece of Sheep and Goats milk, here in Toronto there are many imposters so try to find this one.
  • We typically don’t use pepper, but if you like it, use white pepper to avoid the harsh dark specs on the feta.
  • This recipe cooks beautifully in a cast iron pan, if you have a small one, use it. My small one was a bit too big for this amount.

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Tiropitakia_First

Our tenth progressive dinner was this past Friday and the theme we chose was Greece. We chose Greece for a couple of reasons: we figured we would be knee deep in snow and a tip of the hat to the warm climate and mediterranean cuisine would be just what the doctor ordered and the other reason is that two of our neighbours were just there this summer visiting family!

Fortunately, winter has been somewhat mild this year (shhhhhhh)…not overly cold and although we have had a few flakes, we certainly don’t have the (any) accumulation we have had in the past. Here is a little blast from the past (December 11, 2014) for good measure! Click on the images to see a larger version.

So you can see why the Mediterranean cuisine seemed appropriate. I didn’t want to make something predictable and when I was chatting with the neighbour who went to Greece this summer, she suggested the slightly lesser known phyllo triangle called Tiropitakia which is like Spanakopita but without the vegetables, it’s just cheese! You had me at cheese! I decided to splurge and use butter to coat the phyllo sheets (I usually skip it because of the calories) and it really made the pastry beautifully crispy and flaky. I read quite a few recipes on line, some ven used gruyère and ricotta so I made some changes and used Greek Feta, goats cheese and a little parmesan. The combination made a lovely cheesy filling. I used an actual imported Greek  feta (Alra Feta) which is pretty difficult to come by in Toronto (we have a very strong cheese board in Canada) made with sheep and goats milk, it is far tangier than Canadian feta (and more expensive).

This hors d’œuvres freezes very well but you have to be very careful as the pastry becomes very brittle over time in the freezer. With all the holiday cheer going on in the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll be popping a few in the oven every weekend for visitors.

Tiropitakia_7695

It’s a deliciously crispy hors d’œuvres. Please help yourself to one (or two).

Tiropitakia

Makes 48 5 cm (2 inch) triangles

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Greek Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 160 g goats cheese, crumbled
  • 25 g Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 sheets phyllo pastry, cut into 5 cm (2 inch) strips, long side.
  • 150 g unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the two eggs and pulse to beat slightly. Add all of the cheese and pulse a few times to combine well (do not turn into a paste). Add the parsley, nutmeg and freshly ground pepper and pulse to incorporate. Set aside.
  2. Cut each phyllo sheet into six, 5 cm (2 inch) strips along the long side. Brush generously with the melted butter. Add one tablespoon of the filling to one side of the long strip and begin to fold into a triangle as the diagram below suggests. Continue until you have used up all of the filling. I was able to get 48 triangles.
  3. Bake in a pre-heated 400° F (200° C) oven for 13-15 minutes or until nicely browned. Freeze on a piece of parchment and then gently place into a ziplock bag for future. Reheat frozen triangles at 350° F (176° C) for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through.

Folding Tiropitakia

Tiropitakia_7698

I usually don’t put egg into my spanakopita so these ones puffed up quite a bit more than the spanakopita does.

Notes

  • This recipe can also be made into squares. Use 5 sheets of Phyllo, generously buttered, in a 9″ x 9″ square pan. Add the filling and top with 5 additional, generously buttered sheets. Fold in the edges to make a neat square, add 2 more sheets, generously buttered, cut to the exact size (to make it pretty). Butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
  • If you wish to save calories, skip the butter on each strip, just butter the triangle, both sides.
  • Some recipes added dill, but it was not comment.

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For a luncheon one weekend at the cottage, I served the Empanadas because I wanted something reasonably fast as we were leaving to get back to the city. While the Empanadas were warming in the oven, I put this simple, yet tasty salad together. The salad really should have been entitled The Kitchen Sink Salad because in all honesty I was just trying to use up some ingredients we had left on our cottage weekend. It’s a delightful combination of salty, sweet and peppery. If you don’t like feta, add some crispy fried bacon. But don’t leave out the watermelon or avocado!

salad

Watermelon, Avocado and Feta Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • 2 ounces feta
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • a handful or two of arugula and spinach mix
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • t tsp Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients to the arugula mix.
  2. In a small glass jar, combine the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and Dijon and shake vigorously to combine.
  3. Toss salad just before serving.

 

Empanada and salad2

A really tasty lunch.

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Hello loyal readers, I do hope you are all well and adjusting to climate changes you are  experiencing (spring-ish for us Northern Hemispherers, fall-ish for those down under!). Cottage season has begun for Canadians, starting with what we call the May 2-4 (two-four) weekend which happened to be last weekend, even though it wasn’t May 24rth! Therefore list season has begun. Since last Saturday, I have made no less than 5 lists believe it or not. Once it goes on the list, I can safely delete it from my memory, so don’t bother asking me about it, check the list! Why 5? We needed a menu plan for last weekend: List 1, then there is the shopping list for said menu plan, List 2. Then we get to the cottage and almost as soon as the front door is opened for the first time of the season, a third list has begun: List 3, things we need to bring/buy for the next time. And then there is the next time, List 4 is the new menu plan and then List 5 the new shopping list and of course, list 6 (to come) is the list of things we need to bring/buy for the next time around! Such fun.

Sunset2014_2779

Being the suck that I am, this was taken in the screened in porch because the bugs were BRUTAL. Believe it or not, even JT put on a bug shirt for the first time EVER.

You also may have realized that I failed to post on Thursday, and sadly for the time being I’ve decided to reduce my blog posts to once per week, I hope you don’t mind. It’s still a joy for me and I want to keep it that way; plus my marketing freelance gig writing for social media has upped the anti and I’ve been contracted until September, god forbid I run out of words. Good news is that it’s steady, bad news is that I’m using up my Data plan like it was going out of style. But I’m not complaining, I’m loving the projects and the people I’m working with so all is good in the new reality!

Now you have probably been wondering why there hasn’t been an Ebelskiver post in a while. I know, I asked myself the same question…and if you’re interested in the other posts, please click here, and here and here. Remember that I have my dear friend Barb (from Profiteroles and Ponytails — she’s on a bit of a break, so busy!) to thank for that gorgeous cast iron Ebelskiver pan, so I can’t let it go unused.

BaconEbelskivers_2664

I’m getting much better at making perfectly spherical Ebelskivers.

Bacon, Feta, Kale and Onion Ebelskivers with a Yogurt a Dill Sauce

Makes about 17 Ebelskivers (I used 5 Ebelskivers for breakfast and froze the remainder for another time — guess who had 3)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 140 g onions
  • 60 g bacon (should have been 80!)
  • 60 g feta
  • 100 g kale (or mixed spinach and kale)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp EVOO

Filling Directions:

  1. Heat the EVOO and cook the bacon until crispy. Set aside. If there is more than one teaspoon of bacon grease left in the pan, remove excess (or not, it’s your arteries!). Cook the onions until soft and translucent, add the greens and wilt. Set aside to cool completely. In the meantime make the batter.

Basic Ebelskiver Batter Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolk until thick and pale, then whisk in the milk and melted butter. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well blended. The batter will be lumpy.
  3. In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Using a spatula, fold about one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest just until no white streaks remain.
  4. Fold the cooled wilted greens, onions, bacon and crumbled feta and mix thoroughly.

Ebelskiver cooking directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Spray the ebelskiver pan with a good squirt of non-stick spray and place over medium heat. Add about 1/4 cup batter to each round as soon as the pan is quite hot. Maintain the heat at medium, you don’t want to burn the ebelskiver edges before the insides get a chance to cook.
  3. Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are lightly browned and crisp, 3-5 minutes. Using a fork, gently push the ebelskiver until it entirely turns around in the pan and the uncooked portion is now facing the bottom.
  4. Transfer the finished spheres to a platter and finish baking in the oven while you repeat to finish the batter (about 15-20 minutes).

Yogurt Dill Sauce

Enough for two servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-fat yogurt, well stirred
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp dill

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan melt the butter and add the flour. Cook the flour but don’t brown it. Add the yogurt and stir.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the dill.
  3. Serve warm over the Ebelskivers.
BaconEbelskivers_2667

I was surprised and thrilled that the feta stayed whole and did not melt into the batter, it was so tasty.

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Recently we opened our cottage for the summer. It was a busy weekend made even busier by someone’s hair-brained idea to redecorate (paint the wood paneling, new flooring, update kitchen upper cupboards, etc)! And that doesn’t stop me from complicating things by making an entire menu for the weekend home-made.
I’ve mentioned that our cottage is remote, so everything has to be brought in because even a 45 minute trip to the closest largest city doesn’t guarantee that one can find what one is looking for. So preparing a Menu Plan is essential as is the List of what needs to be brought up to execute said Menu Plan.
The list is key, here’s how I organize the list:
Menu Plan, Shopping List; things to be brought from home: the Pantry, the Freezer and the Refrigerator. As we pack for the weekend, things get checked off The List. The Menu Plan is followed to a T. If I bring four eggs, it means I’ll use four eggs. The trick is to end up with less than what we came up with, which usually works well. The Menu Plan also allows for left overs to be utilized in some sort of wrap for our return drive home, guaranteeing a healthier lunch than the truck stops on the road. Over the last twenty years I’ve only forgotten one thing and that was before The List was implemented, we were young and lived dangerously. If you’d like to download my template, feel free to use this one May 24 2013 Cottage Menu. The other essential thing is the running list once we get to the cottage — things that need to be brought the next time (toilet paper, paper towel, hand soap etc, you get the picture!)
JTs sister uses my FIL’s cottage about 15 metres (50 feet) from our place, so we generally get together at least once for cocktails during the weekend. I usually make something for cocktails because I like to cook! I came up with the idea of spinach and feta tartlets using my friend Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese pastry after seeing Sawsan’s post of Fatayer. They can be baked and then reheated to serve. I like them because they are full of flavour and small (portion control or eat them ALL!). This recipe makes 36 mini tarts using mini muffin tins with lots of pastry left over which can be frozen for future use. My lovely niece Laura (soon to be a full-fledged Lawyer) made Spanakopita, a delicious Weight Watchers recipe…great minds! This recipe isn’t for the dieter even though the serving is small, there is a lot of butter in the pastry. An alternative to the buttery pastry would be using wonton shells like my lovely friend Sissi has done here!

Spanakopita Tartlets

A single bite portion packing great flavours

A single bite portion packing great flavours

Makes 36 mini 2.5 cm or 1″ tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese pastry dough
  • 200 g (7 oz) baby spinach
  • 50 g (2 oz) finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dill weed100 g (3.5 oz) crumbled Greek Feta

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Sweat the onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until you can smell its aroma, add the spinach and cook down until spinach has wilted.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  5. Add to a food processor and pulse a few times, you don’t want paste, just smaller bits.
  6. Add the oregano, dill and the crumbled Greek Feta and stir well.
  7. Roll the dough to about 2mm (a hair more than 1/8th inch) thick and cut with a 5 cm (2 inch) scalloped cookie cutter.
  8. Press each round into the bottom of an ungreased mini muffin tin.
  9. Fill with about 1 tbsp of the spinach filling.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm. Can be frozen and reheated for 10-12 minutes at 350F.
The pastry is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

The pastry is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

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As you may have noticed, I am often swayed by the recipes of my blogging friends. And this time is no different, because I fell for Sawsan of Chef in Disguise’s Fteer falahi (Cheese and anise flat bread). I had feta at home and fresh basil, so I thought I would use them (plus JT is not a huge anise fan). I had a little extra pot of the Titanic Pâté for our Sunday dinner with nephew Brian and the flat bread went very well with it.

These flat breads are soft but firm enough to hold a heavier spread, like the Titanic Pâté. Cheers!

I made only half the recipe Sawsan made because we are not huge bread eaters, and it made a lot of dough, so I froze half as raw dough and will be using it in the future. I liked the over all texture, but I did make a mistake, I didn’t brush it with oil at every fold (trying to keep the calories down). It turned out a little harder and not as chewy as I had hoped, but the flavour was certainly there. When I make the frozen batch, I will be certain to use the oil that Sawsan’s recipe recommended. As well, Sawsan recommended that I leave my dough a little thicker so it’s chewier. I can see this recipe being used for many a dips in the near future. Thank you Sawsan, you have inspired me yet again.

Fteer

Makes 2 12″ flat bread squares

Ingredients:

  • 0.5 kg all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I left this as the full recipe, JT said my bread was not salty enough!)
  • water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of sheeps milk feta cut into small 1 cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup of chiffonade of basil

Directions:

  1. In a 1/8 cup of warm water dissolve the yeast and sugar (make sure your yeast is alive!)
  2. Sift the flour and salt into your large stand mixer bowl, add the yeast/water mixture and start kneading adding water gradually till you get a soft sticky dough consistency (I added a little over 1 cup of water but the amount varies with the type of flour)
  3. Machine knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, allow to rest , covered in a warm place for half an hour (I kneaded 7 minutes).
  4. Preheat your oven to 270°C or the highest temperature it will go.
  5. Gently combine the vegetable oil and olive oil and keep it next to your working area.
  6. Wet your hands with a little oil and cut the dough into 4 balls , brush each ball in the oil mixture and allow to rest for another 10-15 minutes. (don’t skimp on the oil)
  7. Brush your working surface with a little oil, start with the first dough ball you cut and spread it into a circle roughly 25 cm or 10 inches in diameter. Sawsan has some great photos on how to fold the dough, please visit her post here.
  8. Spread your filling onto the pressed dough and begin folding, much like a croissant dough, folding the left third over the centre, then the right over the centre, then the bottom fold up one third and finally fold the top down one third. You should have a nice folded smallish square. Allow this one to rest while you start working on the next one.
  9. When you have finished all of the dough balls, go back to the first square and brush it with oil and spread it into a larger square using a rolling-pin or your hands. Then do the same with the rest.
  10. I like using my cast iron pizza pan for this type of bread and I always pre heat it. using a rolling pin, roll up the dough and carefully roll out to the heated pizza pan. Drizzle more oil on it.
  11. Bake on the middle rack of your oven. Sawsan cautions to watch it carefully as it will burn very quickly.

Thanks again, Sawsan, this one will have a repeat performance in our repertoire, it is indeed a very easy flat bread to make. Next time, I shall substitute some of the white flour for whole wheat, just because 😉

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HAPPY ST PATRICK’s DAY. I have NOTHING green for you, other than this, hope you enjoy it.

I had my hair appointment this week. I book it as early as I can in the afternoon, without having to leave work early. I got 6pm. I had a couple of things done (I won’t divulge my secrets ;-)!) and although I do love my stylist, Jordan, he does have the gift of the gab. A simple cut can take over an hour. I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, and then some. I wish they served wine, just saying. The appointment this week would be at least two hours long. Good old JT figured I’d be starving by then, so he whipped up an old favourite for cocktails (yes, we had cocktails before my appointment even though it was Thursday. We had time for cocktails but not for dinner. So, what of it?). This recipe is quite forgiving so the quantities are not exact. I urge you to try it to your taste. It is one yummy combo, that’s for sure!

We had this appetizer quite a few years ago, in a place that no longer exists; we up’d the anti, of course!

Sizzling Mushrooms

Serves 2-4

Careful, they are called sizzling for a reason

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced coarsely (we had white ones that needed to be used, but forest or wild would be incredible as well)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced onions
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled sheeps milk feta
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • a few slices of French stick, or crackers

Delicious lightly buttery shrooms, sweet onion, tangy garlic and sheeps milk feta...oh wait, there is a splash of cognac in that too!

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a cast iron pan (cast is best as it holds the heat longer, after all, it is called SIZZLING!)
  2. Add the onions and sauté until slightly translucent, add the mushrooms and sauté until they have a bit of colour. Add the garlic and sauté just until you can smell its delicious aroma.
  3. Pour the cognac in all at once, you may flambé at this point or not.
  4. Sprinkle the feta into the mushrooms and give it a stir. You can add a bit of Thyme into it at this point, we didn’t, we forgot (having got into the martinis already ;)!)
  5. Serve immediately with Vodka Martinis (I don’t care if you shake or stir, just do it!).

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