Mediterranean + Caribbean = Excellent Dinner

This afternoon I made my very first batch of Spanakopitas. Now, I’ve eaten countless defrosted versions and my mom used to make some teeny little appetizer sized ones…but I hadn’t even thought about making my very own until I realized I had this hunka hunka feta taking up room in my cheese drawer. I came across a reference to Ina Garten’s recipe from a cookbook I ACTUALLY OWN – huzzah! Match made in my little kitchen-minded brain.

Oh- and I only made ONE substitution. One. I swapped in 2 pounds of fresh spinach for 2 boxes of defrosted. Yeah, it was a little more work. Yeah, it was a  lot more messy. The results? SOOOOOO worth it.

Flaky dough, warm filling, crunchy nuggets of sea salt

Flaky dough, warm filling, crunchy nuggets of sea salt

Don’t just take my word for it: R ate half of one – these are DINNER sized portions, mind you.

They were supposed to be the side dish. I am outta control.

The main was Fish Baked in Coconut Milk.

Light, savory, DE-LI-CIOUS

Light, savory, DE-LI-CIOUS

It.Was.GOOOOOOD. Seriously, C had to stop me from having thirds. THIRDS.

All crowded together on the pan. Makes me wanna clap!

All crowded together on the pan. Makes me wanna clap!

Spanakopita by Ina Garten

Printable Recipe HERE

Ingredients:

¼ cup Olive oil
1 cup Yellow onion, chopped
3 Scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted **I used 2 lbs. fresh spinach, washed, briefly sautéed, chopped, then squeezed dry
4 Eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Plain dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon grated Nutmeg
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 cups small-diced Feta cheese (12 ounces) **I used 1/2 of one of those big huge blocks you buy from BJs.
3 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
24 sheets frozen Phyllo dough, defrosted
¼ pound (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
Flaked sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

How To:

1- Preheat the oven to 375º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper/silpat.

2- Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the scallions, and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl. **I used the fresh spinach and after it was rinsed I sautéed it briefly in the same pan, turned it out onto the cutting board, chopped it up, then used a kitchen towel to squeeze out the excess moisture. There was a LOT of excess moisture.

3- When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the feta and pine nuts. **I did this backwards. I added the eggs, cheese, etc. into the big bowl, folded in the feta & pine nuts and THEN the onions, scallions & spinach. It took a little longer to sauté the spinach than I’d thought. If you’re smart you’ll either sauté the spinach first, or just use the stupid frozen stuff she recommended using in the FIRST place. *grimace*

4- Place one sheet of phyllo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the dough lightly with butter and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs. Working quickly, slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush it with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (Use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of phyllo don’t stick together.) Pile 4 layers total on top of each other this way, brushing each with butter and sprinkling with bread crumbs.

5- Cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. Then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed. Continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used. **I ended up having a little extra.

6- Place on a sheet pan, seam sides down. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with flaked salt, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp. Serve hot. **To reheat, I put them on a pan lined with parchment paper and whacked them into a 400º oven for 10 minutes. I think we ALL licked our fingers clean tonight. *clapping*

Not a great picture. Too busy eating. Num num num.

Not a great picture. Too busy eating. Num num num.

Fish Baked in Coconut Milk by Geema on Food.com

Printable Recipe HERE

Dairy-FREE, Gluten-FREE

Ingredients:

Fish and Marinade

2 lbs thick fish fillets or 2 lbs steaks, halibut,cod or 2 lbs salmon **I used Tilapia. It was on sale.
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice **I used the bottled stuff. I lazy.
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups Onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced Garlic
2 teaspoons minced Ginger
1 teaspoon minced green chili peppers, serrano,thai or 1 teaspoon jalapeno **My mom asked that I not add this tonight, as she has a sensitive palate. Then, after eating, we all decided that perhaps, it did, after all, need a little kick. Mom said, ‘You know, like they say on Food Network”.
1 cup chopped fresh tomato **I used a pint of cherry tomatoes. What a pain in the ass it was to chop THOSE.

Spice mixture

6 teaspoons Ground Coriander **Remember, 6 teaspoons = 2 Tablespoons. There. Now you can say you learned something.
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Ground Red Pepper, Cayenne **I used a jar of stuff called ‘Mild Chili Powder’
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Fennel seed, coarsely ground with mortar and pestle **WHOOPS. I missed the ‘coarsely ground’ bit. Put them in whole. Ahh well.
1 1/4 teaspoons Salt
1/2 cup canned unsweetened Coconut Milk **I used an entire can. Made extra sauce = WORTH IT!
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish **Blech. Cilantro is Blech. I omitted.

How To: 

1- Cut fillets crosswise into strips 2-inches wide.

2- Rub fish with mixture of lemon juice and oil, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. **I ended up needing to double the marinade in order to coat everything.

3- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4- In medium frying pan, over medium high heat, fry onion in oil until edges are nicely browned.

5- Add garlic, ginger, and green chile, and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.

6- Add tomatoes, spice mixture, fennel seeds, and salt, and fry, stirring constantly until tomato pieces break down to form a lumpy paste.

7- Add coconut milk and simmer about 5 minutes until a thick, rich sauce is formed.

8- Arrange fish in an oiled baking/serving dish large enough to hold fish in a single layer.

9- Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.

10- Pour sauce over fish, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and return to oven for 15 to 20 minutes until fish is opaque.

11- Garnish with chopped cilantro. **If you smoke crack. *grin*

To complete the meal we served it with a fresh, crispy baguette – which we used to sop up the juices/sauce. This, in turn, led to a conversation about whether or not it’s okay to dip your bread crusts into a pan of sauce. My mom and I both thought it was a normal thing to do, C shook his head and thought we were gross. Luckily, we all laughed.

Tonight’s dinner recipes?

TOTAL KEEPERS.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s