Saturday, May 23, 2009

Strata Spanikopita

I was looking for what to make for dinner and decided to create something that pays tribute to my favorite appetizer, spanikopita. Perfect for brunch as well, this bakes up fluffy and full of vibrant flavor and color.

10-12 slices of Texas style toast, cubed
8 eggs
4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
Olive oil
1 pkg. fresh spinach or 1 box frozen, thawed and drained
1/3 cup red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread 2/3 of the cubed texas toast in the bottom. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, thyme and pepper. pour 2/3 of the egg mixture over the bread in the 9x13.

Saute the onion and garlic for several minutes in a skillet and then stir in the spinach, lemon juice and nutmeg. Saute for several more minutes until heated through and spinach has wilted. Spread spinach mixture over the bread and egg mixture in the 9x13. Crumble 2/3 of the feta cheese and chopped tomato over the spinach mixture. Spread the remaining bread cubes over the top and pour the remaining egg mixture evenly over the top. If the bread looks too dry, pour a little milk over the dry spots. Spread the remaining 1/3 of feta and tomatoes over the top. Let sit on the counter for 1 hour and then bake in a 375 degree oven for one hour or until the center is set. It will puff up considerably.

Variation: Add some cooked and cubed chicken breast in with the spinach layer if you like.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Summer Carrot Soup with Ginger Essence

The taste and body of this soup will have you savoring every spoonful. So simple and elegant, it's perfect for a brunch or summer dinner. I serve with a mixed green salad and parmesan crisps. And yes, it's even better the next day so feel free to make ahead and gently reheat.

2 lbs. organic carrots (typically sweeter)
4 1/2 cups water,
2 tsp. salt
5 inch piece fresh ginger, approx.
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
Additional water

Cut tops from carrots and peel them. Halve and cut into one inch pieces. Place in pot with water and salt and cook at a gentle boil until they are soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the ginger over a fine grater into a fine sieve placed over a bowl. Press down on the grated ginger, until you have 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of ginger juice. Set juice aside.

Once the carrots are soft, transfer carrots and remaining water to a food processor and process until smooth. Careful when processing hot foods. Add cream and 1 tablespoon of the ginger and process again. Return to pot and add wine and additional water (if needed, you probably will need) to reach desired consistency. This is not a thin soup. Gently bring back to low boil, taste and add remaining ginger juice if desired. Serve.

Notes: You can reserve some cooked carrot, slice it, and place on top of soup with a drizzle of cream for a nice presentation. You may also reduce the amount of cream if you are looking for less fat calories.