Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spinach Turnovers

Spinach Turnovers

I'm constantly trying to get Daniele to eat more vegetables – with little success. My latest effort was these spinach turnovers. They started out purportedly for him to take to a Thanksgiving potluck at school. Then I discovered I didn't have the right kind of cheese. I also apparently cross-pollinated that idea with something from the Silver Palate 25th anniversary cookbook that called for rosemary, ricotta and prosciutto as a filling for filo dough. What eventually turned out was this:

A savory spinach with sauteed onions, garlic and shroom, planted neatly on a blob of ricotta and egg mixture, and baked to golden crispy perfection. Here's how I did it.

Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat and add a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. Saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until they are golden. Add garlic and stir in a thawed and drained 10 ounce package of spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of ricotta and an egg. Cut 2 sheets of thawed puff pastry each into 4 squares. On each square of pastry, place a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture, and 1\8th of the spinach filling. Fold pastry over filling to form a triangle and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fun Sandwich Surprise

Note: as I review what I've typed here, I realize this is technically 3 separate recipes. Will edit in a bit...perhaps after I've made a panino. Dammit, after thinking about bread and cheese for the last half hour, I'm hungry. ;D

I've been on something of a bread-making frenzy lately and consequently, have tired of my basic white bread recipe. To tart things up a bit yesterday, I pawed through my cabinets. Fortunately, I stumbled over and seized upon the sun-dried tomatoes whose original intended purpose was long since forgotten. I chopped those up and together with a dash of oregano and some julienned basil,  they were kneaded into the dough before the second rise.

If I say so myself (and I do), the house was bathed in that blissful aroma known as Eau du Pizza Joint while the bread was rising and baking. I knew what to do with this loaf even before it came out of the oven. I dragged out the panini maker and heated it up. To a halved slice of my wonderful bread, I added slices of some fresh mozzarella from the local MegaLoMart, as well as a few slices of Roma tomatoes and a couple of fresh basil leaves. Then my off the cuff concoction went into the panini press for just a few minutes, until I heard the hiss of melted cheese hitting the hot grill.

Yes Virginia, it was as wonderful as it sounded. The bread was all toasty and crisp, with the gooey wonderfulness of the cheese. I made one for Daniele when he came home from from school and he declared it a perfectly gourmet combination of ingredients. Ha. He used to say that about everything I made, but when he realized he was losing credibility, he made it a point to dislike things occasionally.

I have decided to name my creation Panino Caprese.

For the bread:

1 cup water
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS sugar
1tsp salt
1 1\2 TBS yeast
3 cups flour
1\2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
good pinch of dried oregano
scant TBS julienned fresh basil

My method for making bread with the KitchenAid is posted here. 

Remove dough when it isn't particularly sticky and knead of a floured surface until somewhat satiny. Back in the day they used to say until it feels "like a baby's butt," but I don't think that expression is quite PC anymore. Place in a greased bowl and allow to raise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, usually around 90 minutes. Punch down dough on the floured surface and knead a few minutes more.

Form into desired shape, ie, conventional loaf, baguette, road load, focaccia...whatever floats your boat and set to rise a second time -- around 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350-75 for around 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Loaf That Was Not to Be

A few years ago, my pal Margaret sent me a bread machine as a birthday present. After the initial gluten-based delirium subsided, we got over the bread-making frenzy and more or less ignored the machine until I met Daniele. He, too succumbed to the same delirium that had enveloped us, and rekindled my passion for the intoxicating perfume of fresh-baked bread wafting through the house.

I, however, had trouble getting loaves to come out consistently right. For whatever reason, Daniele managed to pull it off, so he became the primary creator of all things yeast-related. I had the best luck with the "dough" setting, shaping and baking the loaf outside the machine. Soon, I was making some pretty fantastic baguettes and focaccia on a more or less regular basis.

Today, I thought I would welcome Daniele home from school with focaccia. I started a batch of dough and checked on it after a couple of minutes. The stem thing that holds the paddle on was loose and the paddle hadn't combined the flour with the liquid. I removed the bucket and liquid dripped out of the bottom. I gave up on that batch and started another, making sure that everything was aligned correctly. It seemed to be going well, so I went about my business.

10 minutes or so later, I heard a crash in the kitchen. Since the cat has developed the bad habit lately of checking on things on the counter, I yelled at him, assuming he had knocked over dishes in the drainer. But no -- Fred was cozily ensconced in his chair in the living room, dreaming kitty dreams of catching the squirrels and blue jays in the yard. I continued to the kitchen. There I found the bread machine on the floor, the lid about 3 feet away and the bucket upside down. I had scrubbed the kitchen floor pretty recently but hadn't yet swept today and there was dirt stuck all over the dough. I decided that was enough for the day and threw away the second batch as well.

Oh, when Daniele and I went out to the car for me to take him to school, the battery was dead. Something pretty damn wonderful better happen to make up for my morning. Harumpf!