Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)

Happy Halloween!  It would be more appropriate to post a recipe that had pumpkin as an ingredient or was somehow shaped to look like a ghost.  But this spanakopita recipe is good enough to make up for the lack of a holiday theme.  When I first started using this recipe (about 3 years ago), I compiled a few aspects of different spanakopita recipes for this one.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach - thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 (4 ounce) packages feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 (16 ounce) packages phyllo dough
  • Olive Oil
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


    1. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir onions until softened. Mix in spinach, dill and flour. Cook approximately 10 minutes, or until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Mix in feta cheese, eggs, salt and pepper.
    2. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with 10 more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. 
    3. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.
    4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Roasted Pumpkin Pie with an Easy No-Roll Pie Crust

    Dear Les Voyageurs & Others who were at The Cabin tonight,

    As promised, here is the pumpkin pie recipe… posted as SOON as possible.  I made this earlier today using some pumpkin puree I had frozen a few days earlier.  However, I had two different varieties of pumpkin puree - which I think added a little something to the pie.  One was a small (early autumn) Sugar Treat pumpkin I bought at the farmers market in the middle on September and made into a puree and froze.  The other was from a Small Sugar pumpkin I bought at Trader Joe's on Monday (and once again, made into a puree and froze).  While I recipe I used called for the pie to be baked for 55 minutes, I had to bake it for about 25 minutes longer (I'm starting to think it's because of my shoddy student housing kitchen, not the recipes).  But what really matters is that the center of the pie is "firm" when you take it out of the oven.  ALSO - I used a no-roll pie crust.  It is literally as easy as just mashing it into the pie pan.  So please, never ever buy a pie crust from the store again.  Now, little LV's/other people at dinner tonight, go and make this pie ASAP and impress your mother when you can make it for Thanksgiving dinner!


    No-Roll Pie Crust
    Adapted from Joy the Baker
    makes 1 9-inch pie crust

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 Tablespoons sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoon) frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used almond oil)
    • 1 Tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 Tablespoons cold milk


    1. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.  Whisk together.  
    2. Add frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater and tablespoon of cream cheese.  With your fingers, work the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture, breaking the butter and cream cheese up until they're in well incorporated into the flour.  I like to think that the texture was comparable to "wet sand."
    3. Combine the milk and oil.  Whisk together.  Add all at once to the flour and butter mixture.  With a fork, begin to combine the ingredients, making sure that all of the flour mixture is introduced to the liquid.  The mixture will (and should) be shaggy; just dump the dough into a clean 9-inch pie plate.  With your fingers,  press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides.  Try to get the dough as even as possible.
    4. Place the prepared crust in the freezer while you preheat the oven and prepare your filling.  DONE!  That easy!

    Roasted Pumpkin Pie

    • 2 cups pumpkin puree
    • 1/2-1 cup brown sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cup cream
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
    • 1/2  teaspoon salt
    • A dash or so of apple pie spice
    • A splash or so of vanilla


    1. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and whisk until combined.
    2. Pour into pie crust
    3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until filling is firm, and a knife, when inserted in the middle of the pie is clean when removed.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    As you can see from the previous post, I made my brownies using freshly made pumpkin puree.  What's another byproduct of pumpkins?  Pumpkin seeds!  Here is a quick way to make a nice snack out of the innards of your pumpkin.

    (Side Note: When I brought these over to my neighbors house, NONE of them had eaten pumpkin seeds before.  What deprived people....)

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    • Seeds from one pie pumpkin (adjust the rest of the ingredients depending on what kind/size of pumpkin you use)
    • 3 tablespoons of butter (unsalted), melted
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Kosher Salt


    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    2. In a bowl, pour melted butter over clean pumpkin seeds.  Toss together with kosher salt and black pepper.
    3. Spread out on a prepared baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the seeds look "roasted" and are crisp when you bite into them.

    Spiced Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

    While the name of these brownies is a mouthful, nothing about the taste of these brownies is unpleasant. I guess you could say I went on a "baking binge" on Monday (it was fall break and I needed a study break) and I had been wanting to try these brownies for quite sometime.  I did have some difficulty getting the brownie batter to "swirl" into the pumpkin cheesecake batter; the brownie batter was much thicker in comparison to the pumpkin batter.  Also, the center of the brownies did not firm up in 40 minutes - so when making these I would allot more cooking time.
    When I brought these over to my neighbors house (along with cookies and pumpkin seeds), I'm pretty sure the brownies were inhaled in less than 5 minutes.  Someone at work even asked me "Why have you never made these before??"  So, I dub these a success!

    Spiced Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
    Adapted from Beantown Baker
    Brownie Batter Ingredients:

    • 3/4 cup butter, melted
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp cinnamon

    Cheesecake Batter Ingredients:

    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp flour
    • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (I used freshly made pumpkin puree - it's a much different texture than puree out of a can)
    • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/3 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves (I substituted a dash of allspice for cloves)


    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" square metal baking pan.
    2. Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients.
    3. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan.
    4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set (I had a difficult time getting the center to set - I set my timer in 5 minute increments, after the 40 minutes were up, until I noticed that the center was firm… it was maybe more like… 55 minutes?).   Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Yeasted Apple Cider Doughnuts

    I just committed the cardinal sin for food bloggers - I forgot to take a picture of my food before it was inhaled by co-workers and housemates.  So, you are left with the tupperware remnants of the apple cider doughnuts I made.  For this being my first time frying dough (I do make onion rings from time to time, so I'm not a complete stranger to frying), I think they turned out quite well.  I was happy that I was able to find a recipe for yeasted apple cider doughnuts - most of the recipes out there are for cake doughnuts (a texture I am not too fond of).  I had the most trouble with keeping the oil at a consistent 360 degrees.  One second it would be at a perfect 360 degrees then shoot up to over 400 degrees and take forever to cool back down.  Next time I make doughnuts, I'll work harder for temperature regulation.

    Apple Cider Doughnuts
    Adapted from Coconut & Lime

    • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
    • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup apple cider, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup warm apple cider (about 110 degrees)
    • 3 1/4 cups flour
    • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoons salt

    apple cider frosting

    • 3 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
    • 1/3 cup apple cider

    Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

    vegetable oil for frying


    For the frosting:

    1. Beat all ingredients together until a spreadable icing forms.

    For the doughnuts:

    1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm cider in the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add the flour, remaining cider, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until you have a soft, elastic dough that comes together easily into a ball.
    3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
    4. Flour a clean work surface. Place the dough on the surface and roll it out. Roll until it is about 1/2 thick. Cut out doughnut shapes.  With excess dough, reform into a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator until ready to roll out again.
    5. Meanwhile, heat (to 360) about 3 inches of oil in a heavy pot. Fry the doughnuts flipping at least once to insure that they are golden brown on all sides, about 1.5 minutes. 
    6. Drain on paper towel lined plates or baking pans. Repeat for remaining doughnuts. Frost cooled doughnuts if desired, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Eat the same day they are made.

    Football Saturday Buttermilk Pancakes

    Set down the box of Bisquick. Now slowly step away.  I made these pancakes for the housemates before Saturday Football (go blue!), and I must say that we were all happy and full afterwards.  These buttermilk pancakes are incredibly rich & fluffy and only slightly more time consuming than a box mix.  It employs a standard separate wet/dry mixture (which I guess means more dishes) but you have hot off the griddle pancakes in no time.  As with most all pancakes, you do NOT want to over beat these.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until they are just combined - you want them to be lumpy!

    Saturday Morning Football Pancakes

    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 4 teaspoons light brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    1. Whisk together milk, eggs and vegetable oil in a medium bowl, then whisk in the butter.
    2. Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in another medium bowl. Whisk in egg mixture until combined.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Risotto with heirloom tomatoes, artichoke, basil, & garlic

    The last time I made Risotto I was mildly satisfied with my results.  I think my biggest mistake is that I added stock to the risotto before the last cup was COMPLETELY absorbed.  I found that when all the stock (and/or wine) is absorbed, you should see residual streaks created from stirring from the rice starch in the sauce pot.  I made this risotto using tomatoes that Laura gave me from the Cultivating Community garden.  I walked home from the garden that afternoon with a HUGE garbage bag full to tomatoes and a bunch of herbs; there was a frost coming that night and everything had to be harvested! (Oh yes, I also invented this recipe!)

    Risotto with tomatoes, artichoke, bail, & garlic

    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Barefoot's Chardonnay)
    • 2 TPSP olive oil
    • 1 clove of garlic, minced
    • 1 cups of Arborio rice
    • 10-15 basil leaves, chiffonade
    • 1 cup white onion, minced
    • 5 artichoke hearts
    • 3 good to medium sized tomato (any variety will do)
    • Kosher Salt
    • Pepper

    1. In a medium/large sized sauce pot, bring 4 cups of vegetable stock to boil along with the artichoke hearts.  Once the stock boils, turn down the heat until the stock is simmer, remove the  artichoke hearts when they are cooked and set aside.
    2. Heat up olive oil in a sauce pot and cook onions & garlic until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add in arborio rice, stirring constantly until all the moisture is absorbed.  Then pour in white wine, still stirring until all moisture is absorbed.
    3. Add 1 scant cup of hot stock to the rice, cook and stir often, until it is completely absorbed. Continue to add the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring gently until absorbed.  However, before the last addition of stock, stir in the artichoke hearts, basil, tomatoes, and kosher salt & pepper to taste.
    4. The risotto is done when the rice is creamy and tender but still slightly firm

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Crusty No-Knead Bread

    I have been baking bread for about 3 years.  Sometimes the bread comes out beautiful, crusty, flavorful, and just like I wanted.  Other times I knead bread for hours and hours praying that I will be rewarded with a bread that was worth the effort.  Usually the longer I work at getting a bread to be perfect, the worse it turns out (not ALWAYS though - sometimes my effort is graciously rewarded).  I was a little skeptical about trying this recipe - a bread the promised all the results with none of the effort?  Alas, it is true!  While I was studying for Ethnobotany and writing up some things for my journalism classes, the dough slowly rose in my kitchen and I don't think it could have been easier to cook.  I did use the "speedy" recipe for no-knead bread (about 4 and a half hours compared to 12 to 18 hours) from The New York Times, but I plan on trying the original no-knead bread sometime in the future.  Check back in the morning to see how the bread tastes (the housemates and I are using it for our sandwiches tomorrow).

    Speedy No-Knead Bread
    Adapted from the New York Times


    • 3 cups bread flour (I used Kind Arthur Bread Flour)
    • 1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I used Kosher Salt)
    • Oil as needed (Pam cooking spray works fine)


    1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature.
    2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
    3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (I used a dutch oven) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
    4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack for about 30 minutes before cutting into and enjoying!

    Look at that texture!

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Spiced Apple Pumpkin Muffins

    Here is the second pumpkin puree inspired recipe!  These muffins are absolutely fantastic!  I over processed the streusel a little bit too much, so it wasn't as crumbly as I wish it'd be.  But it still baked well and firmed up nicely.  A tip for baking muffins - don't ever beat the batter!  Fold in the ingredients lightly until their just combined.  This will ensure that the muffins come out light and fluffy.  While that is a general tip for all muffins, for these muffins I fill the tins 3/4 of the way full.

    Spiced Apple Pumpkin Muffins
    Adapted from Inn Cuisine

    • 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
    • 1/2 cups canola oil
    • 2 cups peeled apples, finely chopped

    For the streusel topping:

    • ½ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour
    • 4 tbsp. butter, cubed
    • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon


    1. In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In a small bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients until just moistened, taking care not to over-mix. Gently fold in apples. 
    2. To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.
    3. Fill well-greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. 
    4. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter.
    5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until muffins test done (toothpick inserted near center comes out clean). Cool for 10 minutes before removing muffins from pan.

    Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

    I finally have my lightbox!  Well, a DIY lightbox that my dad made for me, but it is still fantastic!  Sadly, my cameras ISO was still set to 800 when I was taking pictures... so they are much grainer than I wish they'd be.  These cookies (along with the apple pumpkin muffins) were made with the fresh pumpkin puree that I whipped up yesterday.  These cookies have the texture of cake (see the picture!) but are definitely still a wonderful cookie!  Both my housemates and neighbors loved them (especially the Mickey Mouse shaped cookie for Zenka)!

    Spiced Pumpkin Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips
    Adapted from Joy the Baker

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup canola or corn oil
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
    • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips


    1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.
    2. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. 
    3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. 
    4. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended.
    5. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips. 
    6. Place heaping teaspoons full on batter on the prepared cookie sheet.
    7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 14 minutes. 
    8. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Snap the stem off of a pie pumpkin and cut down the middle.
    3. In a large rosting or baking pan, place the cut side of the pumpkin down and roast for an hour, or until the pumpkin is soft.
    4. Wait until the pumpkin is cool enough to hold and peel off the skin.  Place the pumpkin meat in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
    5. Line a colander with cheese cloth and place pureed pumpkin in the colander and drain for at least 4 hours.
    6. Use the pumpkin puree right away or freeze in freezer-safe bags and defrost before using.


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