Monthly Archives: March 2012

Fatayer Kolokithopita

Lebanese spinach pies meets Greek pumpkin pies in one tasty bundle!

Fatayer Kolokithopita: Lebanese spinach pies meet Greek pumpkin phyllo triangles in one tasty package!

Inspired by the fatayer at a local Lebanese restaurant, I immediately wanted to re-create the dish at home. However, I had some ideas to tweak the inspiration to better suit my pantry. First, the fatayer in the restaurant came in these cute dough square parcels, which seemed like a LOT of work. I am an old hand at empanadas and perogies, but these parcels made me pause. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to use up that spare box of phyllo dough that was hanging out in my freezer instead. The phyllo thought made me think of Greece, which led me to spanikopita. However, I already had the spinach component covered in these fatayer, so I researched other things Greeks do with phyllo. Turns out quite a lot! One such item is kolokithopita, which is a pumpkin phyllo pie that can be either sweet (think pumpkin pie) or savoury. Looking at the ingredients from the recipes I found, I quickly discovered that the list of ingredients for the kolokithopita was almost the same as that of the fatayer. Limited by my supply of phyllo pastry, this seemed like kismet. So fusion fatayer kolokithopita was born!

I baked the triangles instead of pan-frying them which is why they appear pale in the picture. I like them better this way because when reheating you can just stick them in a frying pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil and re-brown the sides. This makes the leftovers nice and crunchy, and just like if they were made fresh – in 5min or less! They are extremely tasty and addictive. Be forewarned however – due to the onion in the recipe you will be chasing away vampires for a long time after eating! Bring some mints if you’re going to eat them at work.

The original fatayer recipe is from Food.com, and I added 1c. of pumpkin puree to the mix. The original fatayer recipe can be found here if you don’t have phyllo lying around for experimentation and feel the urge to challenge your dough-parcel making abilities – I won’t stop you! Lebanese Spinach Pies. My adapted recipe is below, for those of you who have had a box of phyllo dough staring you in the face for the past six months. 🙂

Fatayer Kolokithopita

4c. fresh spinach, stems removed and chopped finely

0.5t. salt

3 large red onions, diced

0.5c. lemon juice

1 pinch fresh black pepper

1c. natural pumpkin puree

1 package phyllo dough, thawed

Directions:

To make filling:

1) In large bowl, mix spinach and salt together until spinach appears ‘bruised’ (darker in some spots). Let sit while you prepare the onions.

2) Dice the onions and add to bruised spinach.

3) Mix in lemon juice, pepper, and pumpkin puree.

To make triangles:

*Note* There are various ways to do this, and everybody has their preference. I was going to explain it, but some things are just better in pictures! Here is the most comprehensive step-by-step guide: How to make phyllo triangles. I put in ~1 tbsp. of filling for each triangle.

If that process seems daunting but you want the goodness of Fatayer Kolokithopitas, no worries!

Take one sheet of phyllo dough and lightly spritz with cooking oil (or brush with butter, if that’s how you roll). Overlay another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, and lightly spritz with cooking oil. Continue until you have a stack of four sheets. This is your pie ‘base’.

Place your pie base in a lightly greased 9″x13″ pan, and dump the filling on top. Smooth out the filling so it’s reasonably even.

Make another pie crust of four layers of phyllo dough, and set on top of filling. Tuck edges in however you like.

Regardless of how the filling gets into the dough, bake at 350dF for 20-25min (40-45min for casserole method), or until tops nice and brown.

Enjoy!


Pizza Soup

Pizza in soup form? Is this genius or madness? I vote genius.

This is my definition of comfort food in a bowl. A special treat from my childhood, often consumed after a hard day out skiing the slopes. Don’t be scared by the short ingredient list – the soup is full of flavour and makes for a filling, yummy meal. And like pizza, the variations are endless. Feel tropical? Throw in some pineapple. Hate mushrooms? Then don’t put them in! Feeling like a Mediterranean pizza with olives, pesto, red pepper, and maybe some zucchini? Go for it! Anything goes with pizza soup.

 

For this variation I stuck to the basic toppings: mushroom, green pepper, onion, and Italian sausage. The sausage was the experiment. I have made my own seitan before, and am no stranger to chickpea cutlets, but my experiences with vital wheat gluten stopped there. The recipe is originally from Vegan Brunch, and has been nicely re-posted at the PPK: Italian Sausage. Move aside seitan – the steamed bean sausage is here to stay!  The best part about this recipe – other than it’s simplicity – is that it is also endlessly versatile. Mix and match spices, shape of sausage, even beans! I cannot wait to experiment with this one. As written, the spice mixture is just like the infamous Italian sausage I grew up with – the one that gave the Italian gravy in the lasagna the ‘YUM!’ factor. So put aside your conceptions about what pizza should be! Pizza in a bowl is the wave of the future. Embrace this hearty, filling, and delicious twist on the staple that has been reinvented umpteen times!

 

Pizza Soup

1 tsp. oil

1 small onion chopped

½ cup sliced mushrooms

¼ cup slivered green pepper

1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes, whole

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, or water

1 cup thinly sliced Italian Sausage (I used two sausages)

½ tsp. dried basil

1 cup non-dairy mozzarella, shredded (optional. I have yet to jump on the Daiya bandwagon)

 

Directions:

1)      In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; stir-fry onion, mushrooms and green pepper until soft but not browned.

2)      Add tomatoes (tear them a bit into bite-sized chunks as you add them if you like), vegetable broth, pepperoni and basil; cook until heated through.

3)      Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with cheese; microwave if necessary to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.

 

It’s that easy!


Eggplant Provincial

The picture doesn't do it justice!

 

This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, one of my cookbooks in permanent recipe rotation. I love the cookbook because it is the first that I have owned (aside from Papa Tofu, another tome of excellence) that does not dedicate space to baked goods and desserts. Space that could be used for separate sections for curries, stews, and one-pot meals, which is what I’m interested in! Let’s face it: curry is a meal. Cookies are not. This cookbook is almost like Veganomicon-lite, with recipes composed of cupboard staples that are quick to throw together, minimal leftovers, and are delicious too-boot! There is even an entire section devoted to the greatness of a bowl. Not everybody appreciates the science behind a well-proportioned and thought out bowl of food, but this cookbook pays homage to that unsung everyday hero!

 

I have been to France more than once, and the best part of French cooking is the baguettes. Munching on a fresh baguette and an apple while wandering Paris while the city is waking up is one of my favourite memories of that gorgeous city. I am not a lover of crèmes, butter, or very rich food, which is what springs to mind when someone says “French cuisine” (or Julia Child!). I tried this recipe full of trepidation, and came away liking something other than baguettes! Spurred by my French-themed dinner and a movie (I’ve Loved You so Long, and a bottle of red wine), I gave this recipe a try because it had my favourite vegetable, eggplant, and a fail-safe legume: lentils. The dish itself is a boozy stew, with fennel, potatoes, and tomatoes. Spiced with marjoram and thyme, it is almost a French chili, which I can definitely get behind! The eggplant and potatoes soak up the delicate spices, making leftovers almost better than the day-of dish. Be prepared for sideways glances from co-workers if brining for lunch – the wine makes its presence known! Serve it with a simple spinach salad dressed with red-wine vinegar and olive oil, and the meal is a nice taste of the Mediterranean – perfect for a cold winter evening!


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