Tag Archives: spinach

Holiday Brunch: Drunken Mushroom, Spinach and Gruyere Strata

Drunken Mushroom, Spinach and Gruyere Strata

For years and years – as far back as I can remember (all the way to last week?), we went out for brunch on Christmas Day. It was something I always looked forward to as a kid, and we usually went to the same place. Things changed, the places to go were limited, our little group dwindled, and we decided it was time for a change.
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Malfatti with Red Sauce

I think I cheated by picking a recipe from the same cookbook as last time, La Cucina Italiana. It wasn’t planned – I actually chose three different recipes from three different cookbooks. This just happens to be the first of the three that I made.

This is a ricotta-based dumpling dish called ‘Malfatti’. The malfatti get pressed into small eggs, using spoons.

Malfatti- Shaping

Shaping the malfatti into “quenelles” using two spoons.

Unlike other European dumplings I’ve had, these were light and not as dense as I expected. They were, however, filling. Four malfatti were enough for me!! The sauce was a bit of a departure for me – my sauces are usually a bit of a ‘kitchen sink’ concoction where I add a mix of herbs and spices, as many veggies as I can fit, and whatever else I have in the fridge. This sauce was simple, red pepper and tomato being the main ingredients, with oregano and s&p as the only seasoning. I think I showed great restraint by not adding in sautéed mushrooms, chili pepper, or any other herbs. (I did add a few fresh chives to my dish, but I don’t think that counts!!)

Malfatti with Red Sauce

A few grilled scallops and shrimps rounded out the meal. They were a good addition, because they are also lightly flavoured. We considered having rainbow trout, but I think that would have been a little too much alongside the malfatti.

This was a tasty dish, good to make whenever you have a little bit of extra time. It takes a little more preparation than your average pasta meal, but the extra effort is definitely worth it!

Recipe after the jump.

Continue reading Malfatti with Red Sauce

Greeky Pt1 – Spanakopita


Greek spinach and feta pie, spanakopita, has been a favourite of mine for years, but I had never tried making it before. A couple of weeks ago, I was watching or reading something that said that even a child could make it, it was that easy. I got offended and decided to make some myself. It was pretty darn easy!!

Let’s forget the part where I didn’t know how to deal with filo and took it out of the freezer RIGHT when I needed to use it. I mean, the recipe I had didn’t mention anything about thawing out the filo, so how was I supposed to know you’re supposed to thaw it in the fridge for 12-24 hours before you need it! As panic was sinking in, I made things worse by searching the internet for “how to quick thaw filo”, only to find the direst warnings NOT to try to quick thaw filo. Crap on a stick. Ignoring all of the warnings, I laid the frozen roll on my cooktop (the oven was on, and keeping things a little warm) and slowly warmed and rolled out the filo. There were a few more cracks than there might have been otherwise, but I was so relieved to be able to resolve the problem quickly and move on to the building of my pie. I have modified the recipe below to include that the filo needs to be THAWED, argh.


The results were delicious!!!

It turned out fantasticly, and we probably ate more of it than we should have. I should mention that I made half of the recipe listed below — but keep in mind that you still need about 14 sheets of filo. I just made it in an 8×8 pan instead of 9×9, requiring less filling, but the same number of filo sheets (just shorter ones). It was probably a little flatter because of this, but no less delicious. Seriously, we didn’t need bigger!

When I first saw this recipe, I saw that there was dill and parsley and no oregano. I thought that was odd (huh, dill, weird). On first bite, I realized that the dill flavour really makes it. We ate this with a lovely spread of Greek-inspired food, such as dolmathakia (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs), various greek olives, feta and tomatoes with oregano, grilled squid and some lovely eggplant bundles (which will be covered in a future post). Also, lots of wine (sorry, I didn’t have any Ouzo or Metaxa).

I’m actually making a greeky brunch for us tomorrow, too, thanks to the new Food & Drink magazine. More on that later!

Spanakopita (spinach filo pie)

6 to 8 servings
modified from this recipe

  • 3tbsp Olive oil
  • 8 Scallions, chopped
  • 2lbs Spinach, cleaned and destemmed
  • 1 cup Fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lb Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Eggs, beaten
  • 12-14 sheets Filo dough, thawed (follow the instructions on the package)
  • 1/2 cup Melted butter or olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2tbsp butter or oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the spinach in batches, stirring each addition to wilt. Finally stir in the dill and parsley. Remove to a colander or strainer and allow to cool somewhat.
  2. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess liquid. Remove the spinach to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  3. Mix together the spinach, feta, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in the eggs.
  4. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish or a deep-dish pie tin. Lay a layer of filo over the dish and brush with butter or oil. Add 5 or six more sheets of filo, each at a different angle to cover the entire bottom of the dish, brushing each layer with butter or oil before adding the next. Press the filo carefully down into all corners of the dish.
  5. Add the spinach-cheese filling to the dish and spread out evenly.
  6. Using the remaining filo, repeat the process of adding layers to form a top to the dish. Trim the edges of filo to leave about 1 1/2 inches hanging over the edge of the dish. Roll the edges together toward the center of the dish to seal the spanikopita.
  7. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake until the crust is nicely browned, anywhere from 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

My Very Own Thali

Indian Thali

I love Indian food. I love the spices, I love the mix of textures and flavours, and I absolutely love the variety you get in an Indian Thali. Indian thalis are platters that feature a number of dishes, alongside some kind of bread (such as naan or chapati) or sometimes rice. Most of the Indian food that people are familiar with are from North India, but it is important to note that there are many regional differences in Indian food. This is something I’d like to learn a little bit about, but I haven’t started researching it yet.

Indian Thali

My first Thali (clockwise from the top): Baingan Bharta, Saag Paneer and Chole.

I love to make Indian-inspired dishes at home, but haven’t had much success at making restaurant style dishes until recently. A few weeks ago, I tried a Palak Daal recipe that was fantasic but very lonely. We’re used to having multiple dishes in an Indian meal, so my loney daal didn’t go over as well as it should have. This inspired me to try making a group of dishes at once.

There are two challenges for me here: successfully making restaurant-style Indian dishes AND making multiple dishes at the same time and timing it all out properly. It was a great experience, and left me with the confidence to try more in the future!!


A mix of the spices I used in one of the dishes.
Recipes after the jump!