I fell behind on posting over the holidays, which I wouldn't too bad about, except that it means I haven't posted about these empanadas yet! These were Melissa's idea for one of our amazing vegetarian lunches. You can see from her post, which is from all the way back in October, just how far behind I am!
Anywho, back to the empanadas! Crispy, buttery, flaky crust. Smoky, creamy, hearty filling. Cool, creamy, vibrant dipping sauce. Yes, yes, yes!
You will need to bake some sweet potatoes, the fastest and easiest way to do this is in the microwave. Then scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork.
Corn pudding (or spoonbread) is one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides, and I love this recipe in particular because of how easy it is. There is a little bit of sauteing involved, but then everything goes into a blender, and then directly into the baking dish - easy.
Cream, butter, eggs, corn, sauteed onions, and a bit of flour and sugar - what's not to love?
It is kind of like a corn souffle that's a little bit sweet, and really buttery. It's hot and soft and creamy and kind of melt in your mouth. I made it for a friend that had never had it before and totally made a believer out of her. So let's make this beauty!
Hello, Spring! I am so glad that you have finally come to stay! I'd like to welcome you with this lovely little tart made with fresh peas, creamy homemade ricotta, scallions, herbs, and lemon. Please stick around for a bit.
Well, Spring, I know that fresh English peas are kind of your thing, so I used them two ways just for you! I pureed some peas and ricotta together with lemon juice, mint, and basil to make a creamy spread. Then I mixed some whole peas with scallions, more mint and basil, and lemon zest.
I baked some puff pastry until golden, puffed, and crispy; then I spread the creamy ricotta mixture over the top; and sprinkled the whole pea mixture over that. Look at all that green!
As per usual, I went to have lunch with Melissa of Smells Like Brownies. We had actually planned on going out to eat that day, but Melissa said she was planning on making these spanikopita at some point that day and I thought that sounded waaaaaaaaaay better than eating out. And then it turned out that she was looking at the exact same recipe I had been eyeing for awhile. Great! So we whipped them up pretty quickly, and while they were in the oven there was a knock at the door. Her Greek neighbor came by to drop off some homemade baklava - serendipity! Sometimes being spontaneous or changing your plans leads to some pretty great stuff.
Anyway, you will not believe how easy it is to make these. First step - filling. Whiz a whole bunch of fresh spinach around in a food processor until chopped but not pureed (we don't want soup here) - I suggest doing it in 3 batches. Then add some well beaten eggs, feta (you know my favorite brand), and cottage cheese. The cottage cheese threw me for a bit of a loop, I wasn't expecting that. Some recipes use ricotta, but what I ended up liking was the creaminess of the cottage cheese. I think ricotta dries out quite a bit when it is baked.
The next part can seem daunting, but I promise it's not really that fussy. When working with pyllo dough, you need to move quickly or it will dry out. The box will usually have tips, like keeping the bulk of it covered with a cloth while you work, but I find that I don't really need that. In order for it to bake into crispy layers, you need to get fat in between the sheets of phyllo. Most people brush butter over the sheets, which is time consuming and actually doesn't work as well as other methods because it saturates the dough too much and weighs it down. I recommend drizzling the butter, or if you are really in a rush - spraying with cooking spray. You will need to use the brush on the top of the strudel, though, to make sure it is covered.
Now I didn't get any pictures of the rolling up process, so please check out Smells Like Brownies for a more detailed tutorial. What I love about these is that they are large and self contained (versus baking in a big sheet like a casserole and cutting into triangles). So one strudel is a serving and you have a good visual reminder of that (not that that will prevent you from eating two, or three...).
These are really very easy to make, and they come out so perfectly. The phyllo is buttery and crispy, while the filling is silky and creamy. I'm pretty sure this will be my go-to recipe for homemade spanikopita.
Merry Christmas, y'all! We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas. We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.
We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year. But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?). Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.
And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.
Oh yeah, and breakfast! Can't forget Christmas morning sweets! I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!
This is one of those transitional dishes that takes you from one season into another - the last of the summer corn, combined with dark leafy greens in a warm tart. The original recipe didn't have any protein, but it did use feta and dill, so I thought shrimp would be perfect.
If you don't eat shrimp, then no problem - leave them off. The veggies and cheese are hearty enough on their own.
This post got lost and forgotten somewhere, so it's not very seasonal and I apologize. But you can look forward to making it next Fall.
And you should look forward to it. Sweet, caramelized pumpkin with spices, creamy yogurt, and tangy tomato sauce? Yes, please. This is one of my favorite Afghan dishes, called kadu bouranee.
And these delicious Moroccan inspired meat pies made with phyllo, ground beef, and spices are the perfect main to complement the pumpkin. You could also make the Afghan meat dumplings called mantu, of course, but they require a little bit more work.
Spring vegetables are delicate and fresh and I think that one of the best ways to utilize them is in a quiche. Fluffy eggs, creamy cheese, and flaky buttery crust - what's not to love? I used spinach and leeks this time, but zucchini and asparagus work great too!