Spinach Pie

60 Comments

It was the photo that caught my attention on the Epicurious website. I was searching for something, and this distracted me. Spinach pie. A simple, beautiful Irish recipe.

Savory tarts, pies, and quiches are some of my favorite things to serve for lunch, especially for company. They’re not much work, as long as a pie crust doesn’t worry you. Plus, they look so much more special than, say, a casserole.

On this blog there’s a leek and cilantro pesto tart, a recipe by Eugenia Bone, which is more quiche-like, marbled with a cilantro pesto.

I also have a tomato tart on the blog, a recipe by Guliano Bugliali. It’s like a cross between a quiche and a rich tomato soup.

There are just so many ways to create something savory in a crust.

Then I read the recipe through, and there’s no crust in this recipe! So there are no excuses not to make this!

Here is the recipe from Epicurious.com:

Spinach Pie
from Irish Country Cooking

1 lb. 4 ounces spinach, washed
1 onion, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
10 ounces cottage cheese
10 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Steam the spinach, drain well, and roughly chop it once it cools down.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked spinach with the onion, beaten eggs, and both types of cheese. Beat well and season with pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the mixture to one large pie dish, (9″) or individual dishes if using. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.

And that’s it!

I served the pie with a simple salted tomato salad, so as to let the pie filling shine.

If I had been thinking, I might have puréed the spinach mixture so that it was more green than mottled with the cottage cheese.

Or, maybe checked with Conor Bofin, from the blog, “One Man’s Meat,” to see if Irish cottage cheese is more like a farmers cheese or even ricotta cheese.

Nonetheless, the taste was lovely.

And I copied the purple flower idea since my borage flowers were blooming!

Reprinted with permission from Irish Country Cooking: More than 100 Recipes for Today’s Table by The Irish Countrywomen’s Association. © 2012 Irish Countrywomen’s Trust. This Sterling Epicure Edition published in 2014.

Cheese Blintzes

60 Comments

With every season change, I go through recipes that I have saved since I was very young. It started when I would cut up recipes from McCall’s magazine and glue them on large index cards for my mother. Then I started doing it for myself.
IMG_7358
As I just turned 60 years old, you can only guess at how old many of these recipes are!

Recently I came across this old McCall’s recipe for blintzes. It gave me the idea to make blintzes for when I have overnight company soon.
IMG_8280
Blintzes can be made the day before and re-heated gently the next morning. Plus, the little blintz packages are so pretty – much prettier than some breakfast casserole.

You need three parts to make blintzes. You need the crêpes, filling and sauce.

Cheese Blintzes with Strawberry Coulis

Sauce:
12 ounces fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar or to taste
2 tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice

Filling:
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Few drops of orange oil or 1 teaspoon orange zest, optional
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Melted butter, optional
Cinnamon sugar, optional

Crêpes; make a quadruple recipe.

To make the sauce, place the three ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.
IMG_8242
To make the filling, place the cottage cheese in a food processor jar and process until smooth.

Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ingredients and process until all combined.

Taste the filling. Personally, I prefer the sauce sweeter than the filling; you don’t want a sweet filling and a sweet sauce because this is not dessert. Also, the cinnamon should be fairly strong because it pairs so nicely with the fruit. If you can’t taste it, add some more. There are different grades and potencies of cinnamon.

Cover and refrigerate the filling if you’re not using it right away.

When you are ready to prepare the blintzes, have the crêpes at your work station either just cooked and still slightly warm, or at room temperature, if you made them the day before. If they are too chilled they will break instead of fold. Also have the filling on your work station.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter two baking pans to hold the blintzes in one layer.

Place about one heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of a crêpe.

First fold over the front of the crêpe over the filling, then the left and right sides over the filling, then roll the whole thing over the remaining flap.

Gently pick up the blintz and place in the pan with the folded sides down. Continue with the remaining crêpes and filling.
IMG_8264

If you like, brush the tops of the crêpes with melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or just until golden. They will be puffy, but unfortunately they will unpuff within minutes. That’s ok – they’re still really good.
IMG_8277
Serve with the warm or room temperature strawberry coulis.

If you like, serve with a few fresh berries.

note: Some blintzes are sautéed in butter in a pan instead of baked. Those are also fabulous!
IMG_8336

Ghent Cheesecake

57 Comments

We have a friend named Ghent. His mama chose the name because she wanted her son to grow up and be a gentleman. Which he is, by the way. She thought the name was unique, but she’d never heard of the city in Belgium, although it’s pronounced with a hard “g.”
data=RfCSdfNZ0LFPrHSm0ublXdzhdrDFhtmHhN1u-gM,S3dZSDlU5shON68k2Q3APUhaaoGbQUBiySRDs4u52xnNRZsGc7yCoPP8jfztGokTqARTjoa75uUsBkb-NOpy5gzbJ9r5UqkdWNaBN2CLwsd_ftB4caeu63xGV7ECy1_DeOA86vVOybMBZLtUKfG9mGTLJ4F9Ac883I3CI2mbUHYHthMz

I’ve only been to Belgium once, back when I was 18, which is where I memorably ate mussels for the first time. This was in Brussels. From what I have seen, I need return to explore Belgium and more of its foods.

Recently I came across a Ghent Cheesecake recipe that I’ve saved for years, or Plattekaastarte, which I have no idea how to pronounce. The Flemish language is beautiful, a mixture of French and Dutch. Not enough French to help me out, though!

In any case, this recipe is quite unique, with a yeasted dough for a crust, topped with a layer of applesauce, and then a filling of macaroons and cottage cheese! It’s pictured below from the recipe page.
IMG_7356
I contacted my Dutch blogger friend Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet, to help me figure out what kind of macaroons the recipe listed. He recommended Italian amaretti cookies – for both the texture and almond flavor.

Although I should have listened to Stefan, when I was at recently at a Trader Joe’s I found these cookies, which are from Belgium. They’re spiced a little differently, but because I’ll never know what the cheesecake is really supposed to taste like, without the real macaroons, I figured it couldn’t hurt. But I decided to also use some almond extract for a more almond flavor.
IMG_7357

I ground up the cookies using a food processor. They’re quite pretty cookies.
IMG_7438

So here’s the recipe:
IMG_7505

Ghent Cheesecake

Crust:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup or 2 ounces butter, melted, cooled
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups flour
5 tablespoons applesauce

Filling:
2 eggs, separated
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup crushed macaroons, about 2 1/4 ounces
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds, about 1 ounce
1/4 cup vanilla sugar or 1/4 sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make crust, in a large bowl, stir yeast and sugar into water until dissolved. Stir in milk, egg, salt, and butter.

Beat in 1 cup flour until smooth. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.
IMG_7446
Stir in enough remaining flour to make a medium-stiff dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.


Butter a 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

Roll out dough to a 14-inch circle. Fit into buttered pan. Spread applesauce over bottom. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.


To make filling, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together egg yolks and cottage cheese; beat in macaroons, 2/3 cup sugar, almonds and vanilla sugar. (I used almond extract and vanilla extract.)

Fold in beaten egg whites. Spread mixture over applesauce. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden.

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake.
IMG_7473
I served fruit with it.
IMG_7486
The cheesecake filling is fantastic – you can taste the cookies, the cinnamon and almond flavors, plus it has a meringue-like texture.
IMG_7515
The crust isn’t my favorite part, however. It’s really like a pizza crust, even with the butter and milk.
IMG_7488
Perhaps there could have been some sugar and vanilla in the dough.

But it was fun to finally make this cheesecake. I’m now going to share with Ghent! (And his lovely wife!)
IMG_7522