Salted Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

I just wanted a bit of something decadent and these came to mind. I created a half batch but it can easily be doubled. You can freeze them for a perfect frozen bite when you get a hankering for a little something!…OK maybe you might want 2!

What you need:

Small Batch

  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese – room temperature
  • 1 egg – room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or pure extract- the paste is worth looking for!)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Crust

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar (or just regular sugar)
  • pinch of salt

*use a loaf pan used for baking a loaf of bread

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Full Batch

  • 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese – room temperature
  • 2 eggs – room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 2 heaping tbsp vanilla sugar
  • pinch of salt

*use a small brownie pan 7 x 11 or 8 x 8 square pan

  • 1 4 oz bar of dark chocolate (or 2 for full batch)
  • 1 tsp of coconut oil (or 2 for the full batch)
  • Maldon sea salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees F

Step 1: in a stand mixer place softened cream cheese – using the paddle attachment mix for a minute, then scrape the paddle and bowl to mix well and avoid lumps.

Step 2: add sugar and mix again for another minute, then scrape down bowl and paddle to avoid lumps. Add eggs, vanilla paste and cornstarch and mix again for 3 minutes -scraping  once to make sure it is a smooth mixture.

Step 3: in a large bowl add graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and pinch of salt. Mix with a wooden spoon.

Step 4: place parchment paper in the pan so that there is an overhang as you will be lifting the baked cheesecake out and onto a cutting board to slice. Press crust mix into the pan in an even layer.

Step 5: Pour cheesecake mix over crust and bake 30-35 minutes or until the centre is slightly wobbly – the parameter  will puff and get slightly browned. The centre should be only slightly wobbly – no longer liquid.

Step 6: let cool, then slice into small squares, mine were 1 inch approx. If you want to cut off the uneven edges you slices will be perfect. Use a large knife dipped in hot water and then dried on a tea towel -for each smooth cut. Place separated squares on a cookie rack over a sheet pan to scrape up extra chocolate.

Step 7: Melt dark chocolate bar or two (small batch big batch!) and 1 or 2 tsp of coconut oil – you can use a double boiler to melt chocolate or just do it in a microwave in 20 second increments until melted.

Step 8: pour slowly over the squares to coat as much as you like -reusing the excess. Let set for 20 minutes or so and then add a sprinkle of flaked sea salt. You can keep in the fridge or freeze them for a frozen 1 bite treat.

OK, I might just need 1 more!

Strawberry Cream No Bake Cheesecake

This is a cheesecake that you can make with any pureed fruit you like best. I made this one for a woman who said she didn’t like the texture of fruit in a dessert. I said what if I made it all smooth and pink and she said yes she would try it. She ate 2 big pieces and said it was great….she did however remove the big strawberries on top as I expected.

This is a great dessert that will feed a crowd but, it doesn’t keep long so enjoy a BIG  piece!

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs or vanilla wafers or Oreo crumbs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter or my choice of mild buttery extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 x 1 lbs containers of fresh strawberries- room temp
  • 2 x 8 oz packages of cream cheese – room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste (or pure extract)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 2 envelopes of non flavoured gelatin
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Step 1: brush a 9 inch springform pan with melted butter or olive oil.

Step 2:in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs with melted butter or my favorite mild buttery extra virgin olive oil and sugar. Mix to combine and press into bottom of springform pan evenly. I press into place with an ice cream scoop.

Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Remove to cool.

Step 4: Clean strawberries(leaving 12-15 berries for topping) and puree in a food processor to make a smooth puree, add 2 tbsp icing sugar and set aside.

Step 5: In a large bowl at room temperature cream cheese with sugar and vanilla paste. You can whisk it by hand or use a hand mixer to blend until smooth, Set aside.

Step 6: In another bowl whip cream to stiff peaks. You can do it by hand with a whisk or use a hand mixer. Set aside.

Step 7: Take 1/3 cup of pureed strawberries in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top – wait 1 minute, then mix and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Wait 1 minute to slightly cool then add the warm gelatin into the rest of the strawberries (do not wait until it is cool or it will turn into hard chunks and the mixture you are adding the gelatin to must not be too cold or it will turn into hard jelly when you try to mix in)

Step 8: Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mix and whisk until incorporated.

Step 9: Add the strawberries to the cream mix and mix well. Pour into the pan with the cooled crust.

Step 10: cover and place in fridge to set for 4-6 hours.

Step 11: whip the balance of the 1/2 cup of whipping cream with 2 tbsp icing sugar. Place cream on top of cake, place strawberries in a nice pattern as you like on top.

To serve run a, knife that has been heated under hot water to warm and then wiped dry with a clean cloth, around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan. Release spring and remove outer edge of pan. Slice each slice with a hot knife to make clean cuts.

Butternut Squash and Ricotta Ravioli with Pinenuts and Sage

This is delicious combination of Ricotta cheese and butternut squash served simply with good olive oil, some pine nuts and fresh sage leaves. If you do not have a ravioli form these can easy be made with a cookie cutter or even a glass to cut the ravioli. I have also added a bit of semolina to the dough to add some texture but you can make a smooth dough by using all flour and omitting the semolina or cornmeal. These can be frozen perfectly for a rainy day when you want something quick.

You will need:

  • 1 small butternut squash – roasted for 40 minutes – then pureed or squished- puree =1 3/4 cup
  • 1/3-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup ricotta (drained for 1 hour or pressed in a paper towel)
  • 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves (chopped fine)

Pasta Dough

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup semolina or fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water

Once ravioli cooked add to pan:

  • more best quality extra virgin olive oil finishing in pan (you could also add a bit of butter if you like)
  • few leaves of fresh sage
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh grated Parmesano Reggiano
  • a sprinkle of pine nuts (as much as you like or just a tbsp per serving)

Step 1: Take a small butternut squash and slice into a few large pieces. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and cover with foil. Roast at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on the size of the squash. You want the squash to be very soft once cooked. I don’t remove seeds or skin until the squash is cooked. I scoop out seeds (which you can roast and salt) and then scoop out the very soft flesh. I discard the skin.

Step 2: in a small bowl add the squash and puree easily with a fork. You do not want the squash too wet so roasting is better than boiling it. If you find the squash very wet you can press in a paper towel or clean tea towel. You are looking for an end product that is like a thick paste.

Step 3: add salt (mine is grey salt but, any kind you like is fine)

Step 4: add a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg.

Step 5: add the ricotta cheese and grated Parmesan cheese. If your ricotta is very wet you can drain it for 1 hour in a sieve or press in a cloth/ or paper towel to remove most of the water.  The squash has water in it and you do not want the filling too wet. You can also add more cheese!

Step 6: add about a tbsp of chopped sage leaves. Put in fridge while you make the pasta.

Step 7: add the pasta ingredients into a food processor. You can add the semolina or omit it entirely. If you omit it add the 1/4 cup equivalent in flour to the recipe. The “all flour” dough is a much smoother, fine dough.

Step 8: process until it starts to form a ball (maybe 15 seconds)

Step 9: take ball out of processor and with a bit of flour form a nice smooth ball. Knead it for a minute or two to get a nice smooth ball.

Step 10: wrap the dough and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Step 11: remove from fridge and cut ball in half and then each piece into 4 = 8 even pieces.

Step 12: flour each piece and start to run through the largest setting on a pasta roller (of course you can roll this by hand with a bit more effort!)

I run the dough through a few settings. You do not want it too thin or the filling will break open when cooking the ravioli.

Step 13: roll out 2 sheets and place one on the bottom of a generously floured ravioli form (I just got this one and I love it!) I used to make them by placing one sheet on the bottom and placing spoonfuls in the same kind of order then placing the next sheet on top and pressing in between and either cut with a knife to make squares or use a small glass to form round ravioli.

This press has a need form to make the ravioli.

Step 14: add a teaspoon of filling to each hole. I add a bit of water around each  by dipping my finger in a glass of water.

Step 15: place top sheet on ravioli and take a rolling pin to seal and cut each. I love the open bottom to this mold so you get nice fat ravioli. Remove excess dough around edges. Flip mold and knock on counter for ravioli to release from mold.

Step 16: toss in lots of flour and place on a plate or sheet to be frozen individually. Do not let them touch while freezing.

Step 17: once frozen put them in a Ziploc bag. They can be removed and boiled frozen right from the bag when you want to cook them.

Step 1: to cook: boil a few ravioli in salted water at a rolling boil. Wait until they float to the top and cook 1 minute. In a saute pan add a few tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. I used a lovely Tuscan variety called Viola Sincero which is a Moraiolo oil that is a nice medium oil with a nice peppery finish.

Step 2: add some buttery pine nuts and toast for a minute or two until just starting to brown. I keep the pine nuts in the freezer since nuts go rancid easily if left out. Add some fresh sage leaves. They will fry and get nicely crisp. Cook 1 minute.

Step 3: add your cooked ravioli to the pan and cook another minute.

Serve with a generous shaving of Parmesan or Pecorino and don’t forget the salt and pepper!

 

Orange Passion Fruit Rice Pudding for Two

I always find people are reluctant to make a dessert if there is just two people in the house. This is the simplest sweet treat that can easily be doubled if you have a bigger crowd. I love it topped with some fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey and (yes!) a drizzle of buttery mild extra virgin olive oil. If you have ever tried a supreme mild olive oil it has a velvety, fruity taste that perfectly cuts the sweet pudding……Just try it!! I also pour some on my breakfast oatmeal. Leftovers can be made into sweet risotto balls rolled in graham cracker crumbs…like a sweet rice donut.

You will need: for 2 people

  • 1/2 cup of arborio, carnaroli or bomba (risotto rice- short grained)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1% fat)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar (that’s just sugar infused with vanilla beans or you can use regular sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • another 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 ripe peach – peeled and sliced
  • a few pistachios – chopped (unsalted)
  • a drizzle of honey
  • a drizzle of a mild fruity olive oil like a Lorenzo Biancolilla …..if you dare! (don’t use cheap grocery store plain ol’ olive oil here)

Step 1: in a large pot add rice, salt, cinnamon and 1 1/2 cups milk. Let the milk just come to a boil (don’t walk away!) stir and then turn down to the lowest setting and cover. Leave for 10 minutes.

Step 2: remove lid and stir to loosen any rice from bottom of pot. It has to cook on very low to avoid burning. Add sugar, orange liqueur and another 1/2 cup of milk. Mix well to incorporate. Cover and continue to cook on very low for another 14 minutes until it looks like risotto. It should be creamy and thick and the rice should be tender.

Step 3: Place in individual bowls and serve this warm or room temp with some slices of peaches or mango and a scoop of a fresh passion fruit a drizzle of honey and a bit of some great olive oil.

Step 4:  if you have leftovers you can scoop into balls and roll in some graham cracker crumbs, dip in a whisked egg and another roll of crumbs, then fry in some mild fruity olive oil. They taste like a cinnamon rice donut ball.

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

When I was a kid there was a frozen treat called the Strawberry Shortcake which you could only get from the guy who drove around your neighbourhood on a bike with a freezer attached to it. You could always tell he was coming because he would jingle this row of bells which were located on his handlebars. They had these fake strawberry crumbles over the outside and I thought they were awesome. I decided to see if I could re-create them in my own home and found it is really quite simple with only 3 ingredients.

You will need:

  • 1 container of fresh strawberries
  • 1 pint of good quality vanilla ice cream
  • a few crushed shortbread cookies – store bought or homemade
  • some popsicle moulds and a blender

Step 1: gather all your ingredients. Crumble a few cookies. I just hit them with a bottle while they were in a ziploc bag. This makes it easy to dip the frozen popsicle in as well.  I used 3 cookies.

Step 2: finely chop a few strawberries which totals 1 cup of  chopped strawberries. Remove stems and place the balance of the container into a blender.

Step 3: blend the berries for a few seconds until they still have some consistency to them but, they are basically pureed.

Step 4: add the tub of ice cream and blend until smooth.

Step 5: add the chopped fruit and stir with a spoon. You want the chunks to remain in the pink milkshake. Add half the cookie crumbles to the milkshake and fold in to incorporate. Leave the balance of cookies to dip in the frozen treat once you remove them from the moulds.

Step 6: pour into your favourite mould, add sticks and freeze.

Step 7: when you are pulling out the treat from the popsicle mould you should run the outside of the mould under hot water to slightly melt and loosen your popsicle. This slight melting also helps the cookies to stick to the outside. I just put the popsicle in the ziploc bag and press the cookies on the outside.

They are way better than the ones we ate as kids! Now if I can master the Creamsicle without it tasting artificial Big Pete will be very happy.

 

Ricotta and Spinach Gnudi

 

These gnudi are a ricotta and spinach Italian dumpling served with a simple tomato sauce. They are similar to a gnocchi but usually bigger and not with as much flour.

 

You will need:

 

  • 170 gr/6 oz bag of washed baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small cloves of garlic – chopped fine
  • 1 cup ricotta – drained at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt/pepper
  • a few gratings of fresh nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4-6 tbsp flour (depending on how wet the ricotta is you may need  a bit more)
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • your favourite tomato sauce
  • ,more Parmesan to serve

 

Step 1: Gather all your ingredients. Place ricotta cheese in a sieve to let water drain for at least 1 hour.

 

 

Step 2: in a large saute pan cook garlic in olive oil for 1 minute. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes until spinach is wilted and some of the water has cooked out.

 

 

Step 3: let cool then place in a paper towels to squeeze out as much water as you can. Chop fine.

 

 

Step 4: add chopped spinach, drained ricotta, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg yolks, 4 tbsp flour, breadcrumbs and mix well. If it is too wet add the additional flour.

 

 

Step 5: I used a small ice cream scoop to form balls or you can use two tablespoons.  Make a test ball to see if you have added enough flour. All ricotta is different, if you have one that is very wet you may need some additional flour to your mix to make sure your gnudi hold together when you boil them. I always do a test one to see if it holds together. Boil until the gnudi floats, then taste it and see if it is too soft or if it requires more salt and pepper. Then boil all your gnudi until they float.

 

 

Step 6: carefully remove gnudi from water and place in a large pan with 3-4 tbsp of great olive oil and saute for a few minutes.

 

 

Step 7: add your favourite sauce and cook 1 more minute. I make my sauce by add garlic, salt and pepper, fresh basil and olive oil to crushed tomatoes.

 

 

 

Step 8: serve with more grated Parmesan and fresh bread!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welsh Rarebit

 

 

This is a jacked up melted cheese with great big flavour from the beer, aged cheddar and mustard. You are going to love it. It can easily be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a few days. When you make a nice bowl of soup get out your cheese spread and make up a few slices of crunchy toast to go with it. Delish!!

 

 

You will need:

 

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sharp aged cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup beer (dark beer is preferred but any beer will work) or milk
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • sliced toasted bread

 

Step 1: gather all your ingredients. If you have a dark beer like Guinness use it.

 

 

I have added some of this smoked cheddar to my cheese mix for a bit of smoky flavour. You can use it or not.

 

 

Step 2: in a small sauce pan add butter, flour, mustard and Cayenne pepper. You can use Dijon if you don’t have dry mustard. Cook for 1 minute. Essentially you are creating a roux to thicken your cheese sauce.

 

 

Step 3: add beer or milk, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and let come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and add grated cheese. Slowly let the cheese melt into a thick sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool. You can even put it in fridge for a few days.

 

 

Step 4: if it gets thick or grainy after being in the fridge you can heat the mix on the stove for a few seconds to loosen or place in a microwave for 10 seconds. It will then be able to be spread.

 

 

Step 5: slice hearty bread into slices. Toast and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.

 

 

Step 6: spread on some of your cheese mix.

 

 

Broil for a minute (watch it!! or it will burn)

 

 

eat right away!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herb and Ricotta Ravioli

 

This recipe is for my friends Mary Ann and Gina who think making pasta is too difficult. It does take a bit of time but, honestly the effort is so worth it when you enjoy these delicious little pasta pillows filled with ricotta ad herbs and served simply with some olive oil, a handful of pine nuts, a sprinkle of spinach and finally a fresh grating of Parmesano Reggiano!! Come on you know you want to eat this!!

 

 

You will need:

 

  • 500 grams of ricotta – drained for 1-2 hours in fridge
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat parsley (Italian parsley)
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • salt/pepper to taste

Pasta

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (all purpose or 00)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

 

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3-4 tbsp exceptional olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced thinly
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • fresh grated Parmesan

 

 

 

 

Step 1: drain your ricotta for 1-2 hours in the fridge. Discard liquid.

 

 

 

Step 2: place ricotta in a large bowl. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped herbs (makes about 1/4 cup once chopped) garlic and egg yolk.

 

 

 

 

Step 3: grate Parmesan and add to bowl with breadcrumbs and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir to combine. If you find it too wet add a bit more Parmesan or breadcrumbs. You don’t want the filling too wet. Place in fridge while you make pasta.

 

sorry terrible picture!

 

Step 4: in a food processor add eggs, flour, olive oil and salt. Process until it just starts to turn into a ball (less than 1 minute)  Remove and knead with your hands to form a ball. Cover in plastic and let rest for at least 1 hour on counter.

 

 

Step 5: sprinkle some flour over your dough and cut into 4 pieces, then each of those into half so that you have 8 equal pieces of dough. Flatten each piece in some flour and then roll out 2 pieces at the time. Leave the others under your plastic wrap.

 

 

Step 6: roll out 2 sheets.  I use an attachment on my KitchenAid mixer but you can use a crank roller or even a rolling pin. I get my sheets to number 6 which is a few from the end. I don’t want them so thin that the sheets will tear while cooking and fall apart.

 

 

Step 7: place a small teaspoon of filling on one sheet leaving room so that you can cut out your ravioli with a cookie cutter or even a glass or cup. I take a small cup and fill with water and dip my finger in the water and run a wet edge around the area to be sealed on each ravioli. I then place the second sheet on top and carefully seal allowing all the excess air out before making the final seal. I do this around each ravioli using my fingers and also the base of my palm. Once sealed I use the cutter to cut out ravioli. Place them on a floured cookie sheet, coating each in flour. I will take all the extra ravioli and freeze on the cookie sheet and then once frozen toss in a Ziploc bag.

 

 

Step 8: to prepare either fresh or frozen. Add to salted boiling water. Allow the ravioli to float to the top and then cook 1-2 more minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and place directly into your pan.

 

 

Step 9: in a hot pan add exceptional extra virgin olive oil along with 2 sliced garlic cloves,  a handful of pine nuts and spinach. Cook on medium heat for a minute or two. Add your ravioli and cook another minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Serve with another fresh drizzle of good olive oil and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 

HEAVENLY!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zeppole

 

 

Zeppole are like a cream puff filled like a cannoli. The dough is very similar to making cream puffs or eclairs but they are fried like a donuts and filled with a cheese and chocolate filling. These do not hold well and are best eaten as soon as they are made. They are definitely a special treat.

 

 

You will need:

 

 

Zeppole dough

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tbsp butter (1 stick)
  • 3 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • fruity olive oil to fry

 

Filling

  • 1 cup ricotta – drained 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 tsp Amaretto liqueur (or any orange liqueur)
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped chocolate
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

 

 

 

Step 1: make filling. In a small bowl add ricotta, mascarpone, Amaretto or orange liqueur like Cointreau. Add icing sugar, chopped chocolate and finely zested orange and lemon. Mix and leave in fridge while making dough.

 

 

Step 2: gather all your ingredients for the pastry. In a large pan add butter, sugar and water. Melt the butter over a medium heat. Let mix come to a boil then remove from heat and add flour and salt. Stir until combined and return to heat for 4-5 minutes. Stir constantly while on heat.

 

Step 3: remove from heat and add eggs one at a time mixing well after each. It will seem like it is not going to come together and then it just does.

 

 

Step 4: finally add zest and mix well. heat oil.

 

 

Step 5: oil should be 350 degrees Fan or should bubble when dough is added. I used a large pot and added a few inches of oil to come halfway up the zeppole. I used a small ice cream scoop and made small balls. Fry until browned.

 

 

Step 6: place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and let cool until you can handle them. They should be light and full of holes like an eclair.

 

 

Step 7: slice and add some filling and dust with icing/powdered sugar and eat!!

 

YUM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spanakopita

 

Spanakopita is a Greek Spinach and Feta pie. You can make it into individual triangles or in a large pie which is perfect for serving a large crowd. It can be eaten hot or room temperature. My husband loves it so I made some and I also froze some to have ready whenever he has a hankering for  some more.

 

You will need:

  • 2 x 500gram bags of chopped spinach – thawed and squeezed to remove moisture
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – I used Lucero Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 oz/ 600 gr. = 1.3 pounds feta cheese -buy Greek Feta if you can get it (it is better!)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 lemon juiced plus 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • freshly grated pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or more for brushing phyllo
  • 8 sheets phyllo pastry for pie- more for individual triangles (thaw according to directions)

 

 

Step 1: take 2 bags of frozen spinach, thaw and drain over a sieve. In paper towels or a clean tea towel squeeze the spinach of as much water as possible. Place in a large bowl.

 

 

 

Step 2: in a food processor add onions and garlic and puree until finely diced. In a small saute pan cook onions and garlic for 5 minutes in some good quality olive oil. I have used Lucero Koroneiki which is a typical olive found in Greece although this lovely oil is from California. I normally find Greek olive oil very mild but, I love this one from Lucero because it has a bit more flavour than the typical.

 

 

Step 3: add spring onions, parsley (flat Italian is always better than curly leaf) dill, and feta blocks. Process until crumbled.

 

 

Step 4: add cheese and herbs to bowl with drained/squeezed spinach. Add eggs, ricotta cheese, your cooked onions and garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and some freshly grated nutmeg. Mix well to combine.

 

Step 5: in a medium sized pyrex/glass baking dish brush bottom and sides with olive oil. I have used a smaller pyrex dish just because I wanted to make both a pie and triangles with my mix however, if you just wanted to make the pie (which is the easiest method and much faster than triangles!) use a larger baking dish. The perfect sized dish/tray is the size of a sheet of phyllo dough (pronounced FEE-LOW not FY-LOW) folded in half. This way you place half an open sheet of dough on your pan, brush with oil and fold perfectly in place, then brush again etc. I used 4 sheets for the bottom, folded in half which equals 8 layers of phyllo dough on the bottom.

 

 

Step 6: add a generous layer of your spinach filling. Add some fresh cracked pepper to the top (you wont need any salt since the feta is salty.

 

 

 

Step 7: repeat the process again with the next 4 layers of phyllo. Place a half a sheet over the filling, brush with oil, fold, brush with oil. Place another sheet over and repeat until you have placed the last four which will equal another 8 layers. You can trim the edges to make a nice looking tray (and of course if you use the larger pan which fits perfectly you will not need to trim)

 

 

Step 8: you can freeze 10 minutes and then carefully slice with a sharp knife into pieces ( this needs to be done before baking- you can re-slice after baking – IMPORTANT! you need to pre-slice) I try not to press down too hard or avoid tearing the phyllo. At this stage you can freeze the whole thing or bake in a 350 F. oven until browned and flaky approximately 30 minutes (but watch it towards the end to avoid burning)

 

 

If you are making triangles then slice plyllo dough into 3 evenly divided strips (lengthwise) (keep unused strips covered  with a slightly damp cloth to avoid drying out. Take one strip and brush lightly with olive oil. Place a few tbsp of filling on one edge. Fold as you would fold a flag, from side to side. Seal with olive oil. Place on a tray and freeze completely separated or bake right away until flaky, approximately 15 minutes.

 

 

Eat while hot or warm to enjoy pastry at its flakiest. It will get soft over time but, you can always reheat in the oven slightly to get the pastry flaky again.