Spanakopita

My Greek friend Steph invited a couple of girls (and Alexei) over to learn how to make spanakopita… from scratch!

It’s a bit of an elaborate project:

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Kneading the dough

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Rolling out the dough

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Cutting out circles to lay upon each other

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Making ‘mille-feuille’ to get the phyllo-like pastry. Careful to butter every. single. layer.

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Mixing ingredients and stuff.

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Alexei decided to take a break from watching Cars to help out. Such a great helper. Haha!

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Making the filling and preparing the baking sheet.

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Assembling all the layers using lots of butter!

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2 hours later… 😉

I’m glad this was done in good company.

xoxo
-P

No Big Deal.

Yesterday morning I was in a mood to bake and happened to find some blueberry preserves so I decided to make scones!

Made from scratch scones ready for baking

Scones are ready to eat!

In the afternoon, I decided to help herd the cows and milk them for the day.

The cows anxiously await milking time

Brayden teaching me how to milk the cows… No Big Deal.

I am really happy here.

The Apple farm.

 xoxo
-P

Stuffed Grape Leaves

I’ve managed to befriend a darling pair, the Sabbaughs, who I met at my local gym where I do workouts a few nights per week. Not only do they make the workouts more bearable/enjoyable, but I also know the Sabbaughs through mutual friends.

I’d been pestering Sandy to teach me how to make some of her delicious traditional Middle Eastern foods (in particular, baklava; I can never get the phyllo dough to cooperate!) after I got a taste of her wonderful cooking at the holiday party last year. I’ll have to wait until the fall/winter in order to learn how to make baklava since it is mostly consumed during the holiday season, but I was fortunate to learn how to make stuffed grape leaves. There is a very particular way one must go about wrapping the leaves, and depending on the leaf size and the way the leaf was obtained and preserved, the whole process can be rather tedious and time consuming. Nevertheless, the result is totally worth the time and effort!

Here is the recipe (that she slightly modified), from Sandy’s recipe book:

We followed the recipe with some slight modifications. We did not blanch the grape leaves. We also tried a grape leaves obtained from a variety of sources; naturally picked and frozen, from a jar, and vacuum packed. By far, the leaves I enjoyed working with the most were the ones that had been naturally obtained and frozen.

Once the stems of the leaves were picked off, and the stuffing was made, we got started on rolling the leaves.

All in all, Sandy and I spent about 1.5 hours wrapping the leaves; this isn’t a trivial time commitment. After we were finished packing the leaves, we tightly arranged the stuffed leaves into a pan and placed a plate on top so that the leaves would not rise and float around.

We let the leaves sit in boiling water for about 45 minutes. When they were done, we could barely wait for them to cool before having a taste; I may have burned the roof of my mouth in the process 😉

It was a neat technique to pick up, hopefully I can learn how to handle pesky phyllo dough next.

I’m currently at the airport and now off to board my flight to Minneapolis. Wish me luck!

xoxo
-P

Indian Spiced Green Beans

I grew up eating a diet of traditional Indian food. My mother would come home after work and make dinner from scratch for my father and I every day. I don’t know how she managed to balance everything, part of me thinks she has superhuman powers!

My favorite simple dish she makes is spiced green beans. They end up flavorful, crunchy, and pair well with any sort of daal.

Ingredients:
3.5 cups cut green beans (about 1 pound)
2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil
½ tsp ajwain seeds
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 cup cold water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed cardamom seed
1 tsp lime juice
¼ cup cilantro (for garnish/additional flavor)

Place 2 tbsp canola oil in skillet and add ajwain seeds to the oil. Allow to cook until seeds become dark in color.

Add ¼ tsp turmeric , all of the chopped beans, the water, and salt.

Cover and allow to simmer stirring occasionally until beans are tender (about 5-10 minutes)

Add in paprika, cardamom seeds, and lime juice. Allow flavors to blend into bean mixture for a few minutes.

Place cilantro on top of the beans to garnish the dish.

xoxo
-P

Roasted Vegetable Galette

For this years Thanksgiving pot-luck, I decided to make a vegetarian galette. I loosely followed this recipe, changing up the topping ingredients and adding my own flair to the dough.

I began by dicing up some kalamata olives to fold into the dough for a rosemary-olive based flavor

dicing pitted kalamata olives

Folding olives into the dough

To enhance the flavor of the roasted veggies, I went ahead and roasted a head of garlic alongside the veggies, baking at 400F for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, I rolled out the dough onto parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal

After the veggies and garlic were done roasting, I combined all the ingredients and spread them out onto the dough

To make it semi-fancy looking I folded over the edges…

The galette was then baked for 30 minutes and came out delightful!

xoxo
-P

What’s cooking Wednesday: Homemade Whey Chocolate Protein Bars

I hang out with a bunch of health nuts. I am totally fine with this (we are products of our environment after all), but it has put a damper on my baking. My friends and I constantly monitor macro-nutrient ratios; this leaves little room for empty calories in the form of sweets.

So, I’ve been playing around in the kitchen, and came up with a cool recipe for protein brownie bites. Each has about 60 kcals, 6 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs, and 0.5 grams of fat. They aren’t half bad either… Nikhil, Arthur, and I annihilated a batch in only a couple of days.

Warning: these are not actual brownies, they are not terribly sweet, and they do have a ‘healthy’ taste and texture. But, we eat to live, and live to eat only on rare occasions.
Here’s the recipe (per Arthur’s request)…

Ingredients:
4 oz Almond Milk (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sucanat
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
8 oz baby food (I used pears)
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup oat flour
3 scoops of vanilla whey powder (I used Isopure whey isolate)
walnuts (optional for garnish)

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1) Mix the wet ingredients in one container, and the dry ingredients in another

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2) Mix wet and dry ingredients all together in one container
3) Lightly spray 8×8 baking container with non-stick spray
4) Pour batter in baking dish
5) Allow to bake 40-45 minutes at 350F checking occasionally for consistency.
6) Garnish with walnuts

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7) Try with all your might not to eat the entire batch in one sitting. 😉

xoxo
-P

Solid state stimulant

Because the scorching temperatures outside make it impossible to drink espresso hot off the press:

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Because I don’t have to wake up earlier in the morning to percolate the coffee:

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Because watered down espresso does no one any favors:

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Because almond milk tastes oh-so-good, and only has 35 Kcal per serving:

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Because watching milk swirling around the iced espresso cubes makes me smile:

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Because the color of iced espresso in almond milk is incredibly delicious to look at:

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…and because a tasty buzz is all I really need sometimes.

xoxo
-P

Classic Tiramisu

The last time I was in Europe I spent a significant amount of time in Italy, exploring many cities and taking the train to get from place to place. While on the train, I met a lot of really interesting people, an Italian horticulturalist with his own television show, a suave Italian guy who insisted on playing charades, a group of Australian tourists, and finally, a middle aged Italian woman who spoke broken English.

After a bit of trying to converse, I mentioned my love for tiramisu and the Italian woman immediately began spewing out a tiramisu recipe that had been passed down in her family for many generations. I had made it once when I returned to Belgium, but I left the recipe in Brussels, so I never really made it again… or, rather, it never came out tasting right again, until now.

The recipe and I have reunited (I made it for dinner) and now, it will remain here and easily found.

Ingredients:
500 grams marscapone cheese
5 egg yolks
8-9 tablespoons sugar
1 pot espresso (moka made)
Package of ladyfingers

1. Mix egg yolks and sugar together. Beat with mixer until light and fluffy (peaks should form)

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2. Fold marscapone cheese into the mixture until no lumps remain.

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3. Line the bottom of serving tray with marscapone mixture.

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4. Take a ladyfinger, soak it in espresso (room temperature) for 10-15 seconds, and lay ladyfinger into the bowl. Repeat until a layer of the bowl is covered.

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5. Cover layer of soaked ladyfingers with another layer of marscapone mixture.

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6. Garnish with dark chocolate shavings.

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I kid you not, this is the best tiramisu I have ever eaten, and I have eaten very many!
Enjoy!

xoxo
-P

This isn’t turning into a food blog.

I promise. Aside from research, music and food are the only things that seem to be on my mind (not too shabby if you ask me).

Now that spring vegetables are popping up, I’ve been doing much more cooking, and I’ve been ogling new foods to try. Also, my friend Nikhil and I have a summer plan where I cook, and he grocery shops and does the dishes. Eating is much more economical now, and I get to try lots of new foods (instead of being stuck eating the same food day after day).

The past couple of nights, we’ve had tofu tacos. For the taco stuffing options, I made kale and cilantro lime-infused quinoa dish (inspired by this recipe), made a mango/guacamole slaw with goji berries, and pan fried tofu sweetened with agave and lime.


I’m looking forward to summer eats and beats!

xoxo
-P

Odds and ends : Grilled gruyere, swiss chard, and strawberries

I live really well for a graduate student. I’m not even kidding.
While most grad students are off living on Ramen noodles, and pilfered packets of ketchup, I’m eating artisan cheeses, decadent berries, and fresh-from-the-market greens.

But, by the end of the week, it all has to get consumed somehow. Ergo, my latest creation…

With a few remaining strawberries at the bottom of the pint, Swiss chard, and remains of gruyère from the quiche I made earlier in the week, I concocted a sandwich of sorts.

While I was eating, I video-chatted with my friend in Belgium. He was a bit amused by my sandwich. But really, I don’t find the mix too odd given that people commonly eat fruit preserves on bread.

Odds, ends, and friends are all you need for a good weekend brunch.
…and maybe an idevice too 😉

xoxo
-P