Sweet simple sumptuous scones

A week late but I found the perfect “I don’t have time for this” sheet pan recipe.

The good news is it’s been another hectic week that meant I also didn’t have a lot of time to make something this week either; the bad news is, well, it’s been another hectic week. Please someone older than me tell me that life gets less stressful eventually.

Since I’m doubtful that someone will reach out to me, I’ll take solace in the fact that simple sumptuous scones exist and help make life worth living.

Lavender scone ingredients.

Lavender and lemon combine to make the perfect airy, floral, summery breakfast.

And as I might have mentioned, they’re fairly simple.

I’m not super picky when it comes to scones, and one of my favorites is Betty Crocker’s, but these had a nice fluffy texture that made it almost cake-like, while not really having more sugar than any other scone. They were a delight, and I’m absolutely sure I’ll make them again. I might even try to change it up and use different flavors, like my favorite raspberry and white chocolate chip.

Three quick notes:

  • The recipe calls for 2 sheet pans. I almost didn’t but decided to trust the recipe, especially since it’s from the the typically trustworthy Epicurious, and I’m glad I did. The scones don’t look so big but they expand, so use 2 sheet pans or bake in batches.
  • It also suggests serving with store-bought lemon curd. While lemon curd is a treat and does go well with the scones, lavender is such a subtle flavor that the lemon tends to overpower it, especially when lemon zest is already in the scones. So, use with that warning or feel free to pass if you love lavender.
  • Lavender made sound hard to come by, but my favorite spice shop Allspice in Des Moines has lavender flowers, and they ship if you can’t get to Iowa’s capital. And, if you don’t want to include them, I’m sure they’d be OK without it, if less exciting.
So delicious they help make bad days better.

Did I mention these were simple and amazing? OK, here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for light kneading
  • ¾ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. dried lavender buds (recipe called for 1 t., but like I said, subtle; I also sprinkled just a few on top of each scone for plating purposes and for a bit more taste, but you do you)
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 ½ sticks butter (preferably unsalted), cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 c. buttermilk, plus more for brushing (2-4 T.)
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 T. demerara sugar, or granulated sugar, for topping
  • Lemon curd, optional and to taste

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees, and arrange racks on upper and lower thirds of oven. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the 3 c. flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter, using two knives, your fingers, or a pastry blender. Stir in the lemon zest.

Make a well in the dried ingredients and add the buttermilk and vanilla.

Stir slowly to mix. I found a fork worked really well.

Once a shaggy dough forms, turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead until the dough forms together.

Use your hands to pat into an about 10-inch by 6-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then cut each square into four squares. Cut each square into two triangles, so you have 16 triangles of dough.

Divide the triangles between the prepared baking sheets. Brush with the buttermilk and then sprinkle with the additional sugar.

Bake until scones are golden, about 13 to 15 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature with lemon curd, if desired.

 

Everything sucks about these everything bagel crackers

I’ve been wanting to make this week’s recipe for a few years now, ever since I spent a year making breads. Somehow these crackers never made the cut, but I’ve saved the link to the recipe for a time when I had the chance to make them.

Of course, I’ve had opportunities but when you like to make food as much as I do, the list of things you wish to make — while still making time for old favorites — is quite long.

But, still, these are everything bagel crackers. Everything bagels were my first and favorite bagel love.

Everything bagel crackers ingredients. If you dare to make them.

If I’m only getting a single bagel, it will be an everything bagel (with a plain shmear, if you’re wondering). If I’m getting a dozen, a quarter to half of them will be everything. Almost all of the remainder will be one of the toppings from an everything bagel — poppy seed, sesame seed, garlic, maybe onion. I might make an addition of an asiago.

Point is, it’s a little weird I haven’t made these crackers yet.

So, even though I didn’t have a lot of time this week, I love to make bread and I thought this was the perfect week to finally whip together this treat.

It didn’t go well from the start, which should have been a sign.

Most of it was my fault. I had to go get some ingredients so I got off to a late start; it went more slowly than I had anticipated; I misread the directions slightly so I got even more flustered; and it made more of a mess in our already messy kitchen than I had hoped.

But not all hope was lost. After all, these were topped with “everything.” It’d all work out.

And initial signs indicated it’d be OK. The first few that crisped at the edges got taken out a little early while the rest baked, and after slight cooling, they tasted pretty good.

Then, when I was putting them away, my spirits got totally crushed and I’ve vowed to get revenge on this recipe if it’s the last thing I do (OK, not really, I’m just feeling dramatic.).

The parchment paper lining, I thought, made for an easy way to wiggle the crackers into a Ziploc bag for safe storage.

But when I poured, all of the topping mix just came right off the crackers and sunk to the bottom of the bag.

The only thing that made them good sat in a layer so so so far away from the crackers. I could have saved the effort of brushing the crackers with oil and carefully sprinkling on the topping mix, and instead just dumped them on some plain wheat crackers.

A second batch was placed more carefully but it only salvaged a couple of poppy seeds. Plus, who wants to make crackers that have to stay right-side up for their toppings to stay on?

Ugh.

As for the crackers, they were merely OK. The salt stayed on, which meh. Mostly, I made it work by pouring the topping mix onto hummus and then scooping up everything hummus onto plain wheat crackers.

If you’re still brave enough to make this recipe after my rant, and not dissuaded, I do have two thoughts to make it work. First, mix the everything topping mixture *into* the cracker dough, or do most of it in the dough and sprinkle on some, and then *press* it into the dough with wax paper or more parchment paper. Second, just do it all on top, but *press* it into the dough.

Me, I’m just going to hit up an Einstein’s or make the mix and put it on something else.

They look pretty good, sure. But if you turn them upside down, that topping just slides right off.

Here’s what I did, mostly following a recipe from The Chew:

Ingredients

For the crackers

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 t. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 ¼ c. water
  • 5 ½ T. olive oil (plus more for brushing if you put the topping mix on top)

For the topping mix

  • 2 t. dried minced onion, or onion flakes
  • 2 t. dried minced garlic, or garlic flakes
  • 2 t. poppy seeds
  • 2 t. sesame seeds
  • 2 t. Kosher salt
  • 1 t. caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 t. fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 t. black sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Line two large rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar and salt. Stir in the oil and water. Mix together until well incorporated. (Add the topping mix here, if desired.) Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead to combine completely, without overworking the dough.

Divide the dough into three discs and cover two with plastic.

Roll one disc at a time to ⅛ inch thickness, and then cut into 2” pieces. (The recipe says to cut into triangles but TBH, I couldn’t figure out how to make discs make triangles of that size without a lot of effort. I thought at first cutting like a pizza but they were too big.)

Transfer the pieces to the parchment paper-lined sheet pan. (Here’s where I misread. The recipe has you do this in batches so you do one disc, bake, then the next disc. I missed that, but I’d rather get it done quicker by fitting it all on 2 sheet pans and baking at the same time.)

Repeat with the next two discs.

Just before baking, brush the triangles (or whatever) with oil and top with topping mix. PRESS into the dough.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until crispy.

Let cool completely, and try to enjoy!

Sausage “sandwich” is a simple, tasty meal

One of the best cookbooks I got when I was first learning to cook was a collection of recipes from the sides of boxes, cans, etc. It wasn’t fancy, but that’s sort of the point of those types of recipes. Sure, it’s product-related, but it also is usually a quick, easy way of putting together something edible.

Aside from the best vanilla cream pie recipe (from Argo and Kingsford’s corn starch packaging), one of my favorite recipes from the book is a sausage and vegetable mix wrapped in puff pastry. And I knew from when I started this blog that it would be one of the recipes for my sheet pan year.

Sausage puff pastry ingredients.

There was just one problem. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the cookbook.

I scoured all relevant sections, and nothing.

I started to think it was one of those invented memories, like “Shazaam.”

So, I did what any totally normal and sane person would do; I went through the g-d damn book page by pain-staking page to find it. And buried near the end of the sandwich section of all flippin’ places, I found the recipe I remembered from before.

While I might like to complain about the delay, it actually worked out pretty well because we had a nice hot Italian sausage from the farmer’s market from Lucky George Farm that worked perfectly with the recipe. And if I’d made it sooner, I wouldn’t have used this excellent meat.

It was every bit as good — OK, a little better, because did I mention the awesome sausage?! — as I remembered, even if I forgot one ingredient (oops!).

So yummy and it looks pretty to boot.

Here’s what I did, with said forgotten ingredient included as optional:

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm, if you wanted to know which box this originated from)
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1 ½ c. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 T. parsley, chopped
  • Flour, for rolling out pastry dough

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry at least 20 minutes, and up to overnight.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned (about 10 minutes), and then add the pepper and onion and cook until the vegetables are tender (another 5 minutes or so).

Remove from heat (pour out fat if there’s a lot but my meat was as lean as you’d want sausage), and add the tomato, if using, cheese, and parsley. Set aside.

Meanwhile, unfold and roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it reaches approximately 14 inches by 10 inches. Transfer the puff pastry to the lined sheet pan (I do this by rolling up the dough around my rolling pin and then unspooling).

Spread the sausage mixture along the 14 inch side, near the edge. Roll up along the long side, like you’re making a jelly roll (this is what the ingredients in the book say too!).

Pinch the dough together to seal and then curve into an oval or horseshoe shape. Cut the dough about halfway through every 1 ½ inches.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden, and enjoy!

Make friends happy with mini meatloaves

My friend David loves meatloaf, so I knew as soon as I saw a sheet pan meatloaf recipe that I would be making it this year and sharing with him on one of our regular gaming days.

This past week seemed as good a time as any, as we were in the midst of an epic battle that required comfort food. Plus, I like meatloaf too.

Sheet pan meatloaf ingredients.

The recipe technically comes from a random blog I came across — Strawberry Blondie Kitchen — but I just made my regular meatloaf recipe and divided it as she suggests and also paired it with the recommended potatoes and green beans.

So, like a lot of sheet pan recipes, particularly the dinners, this recipe can be adapted to preferences. I’m sharing my meatloaf recipe but if you have a favorite, feel free to make it to your tastes. Don’t like potatoes or green beans? Feel free to alter with something else.

It’s been fun to have these recipes be so adaptable, and that was especially the case this week.

As the recipe calls for dividing the meatloaf into 8 patties, it was easy enough to make it to particular tastes. One friend hates onions, so I separated one pattie before adding the grated onions. One friend didn’t want spice — I used Sriracha in place of ketchup — so his pattie just had cheese.

With little effort, I could make everyone happy and share my yummy meatloaf recipe.

*drool* meatloaf *drool*

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced or grated
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. dried parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • Sriracha, to taste (or ketchup)
  • 8 slices of sharp cheddar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil for coating
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 12 to 16 oz. potatoes, cut into quarters or eighths depending on size
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, milk, bread crumbs, onion, Worcestershire sauce, spices and herbs, and egg. I just use my hands to mash it all together, which also helps determine if more bread crumbs might be necessary.

Divide the meat mixture into 8 even amounts and then shape into patties. Place on one half of the baking sheet, and squirt on a bit of Sriracha and then top with the cheese slices.

On the other end, place the potatoes and green beans, and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatloaves are fully cooked and enjoy!

Mom recipes combine to make for delicious sheet pan dinner

So sue me, my first fish recipe comes too late for Lent. But I think this tilapia and asparagus dinner is delicious any time of year.

The recipes come from my mom, and as far as I know she doesn’t necessarily make them together; they just happen to combine the same flavor base that make them work well together. They also just happen to combine some of the best flavors out there — garlic, cayenne, butter, and olive oil. That’s right, two kinds of fat. Yummy!

Tilapia and asparagus sheet pan ingredients.

Mom gave me the tilapia recipe when I was first starting out to cook. Frozen tilapia isn’t overly expensive, it keeps, and this makes for an easy meal when you’re just starting to learn to cook. The asparagus recipe is a long time favorite, as it combines the above flavors with a good deep roasting that makes them impossible to resist. If I ever have any extra asparagus lying around, which is rare, this is how I make ‘em. So, it seemed obvious to combine them into one simple and healthy-ish meal.

Just add some stove-top grain dish, and you’ve got a full meal that tastes great.

So much yummy goodness.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 fillets tilapia (fresh is best but costly)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 T. butter, divided
  • 4 T. olive oil, divided
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced, divided (I was lazy and used the jarred stuff but whatever works)
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt, optional (I used salted butter so skipped it, but you may want to add more or definitely add some if you use unsalted butter)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove woody ends of asparagus, and spread out over about half the sheet pan. Top with half the olive oil, half the butter, and half the garlic. Sprinkle with cayenne if desired. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet pan. On the other half of the sheet pan, dot half the remaining butter and half the remaining olive oil on the sheet pan. Add the tilapia fillets on top. Top with the remaining butter and olive oil, and the garlic; sprinkle generously with cayenne pepper, to taste. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tilapia is cooked through.

Serve over a grain, spooning on the garlic, butter, oil mix as desired, and enjoy!

Racing the clock against brown rice

My health has been shite for the past month, and so I’ve been relying more heavily on fast and easy recipes, and also relatively healthy.

So, I was so pleased to come across a food blogger — Chelsea’s Messy Apron — who had a sheet pan recipe that met all of my qualifications. My only qualm was it didn’t leave enough leftovers for someone as ill and lazy as me, but that was more easily remedied than my chronic ailment.

It was so easy that I decided to have some fun — at least fun for me — by racing to see whether I could get the recipe ready in less time than it would take to make the brown rice I would serve with my chicken and vegetable meal.

Sheet pan balsamic chicken ingredients.

Alas, I did not, but the delays were my own. Mostly, my damn desire to double the recipe meant the chicken crowded the sheet pan and cooked more slowly. The side benefit was the veggies had a nice crisp to them.

Still, the recipe was a treat and one I’ll return to again.

The best part was the ease at which flavor was added. Balsamic vinegar and Italian dressing combined to form a marinade, coating and dipping sauce that worked wonderfully. Another benefit is that any veggie combination would work, so it works to clip up what’s in the fridge.

Next time, maybe though, I’ll spread it onto two sheet pans so I can beat the brown rice.

Quick, healthy, and most importantly, tasty. What’s not to love?

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into strips, or chicken tenders
  • 1 c. Italian dressing
  • ⅔ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 (12 oz.) packages broccoli florets
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ lb. baby carrots, halved
  • ½ t. basil
  • ½ t. oregano
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large, sided sheet pan (or sheet pans).

Mix together the balsamic vinegar and dressing. Pour a third of the mixture into a Ziploc bag with the chicken and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Split the remaining mixture into two bowls.

Place veggies on the sheet pan, and mix in the herbs, spices, and salt and pepper, as well as 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes while the chicken marinates.

When chicken is ready, move veggies to the side and place the strips in the center of the sheet pan. Brush a third of the marinade onto the chicken (and vegetables), and bake for another 15 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the meal with the remaining marinade/sauce and serve over rice or another grain, if desired. Enjoy!

First time for everything

The cookbook we got for Christmas, British chef Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients,” has some interesting ingredients and in the case of sheet pan-like recipes, an interesting choice of preparation dishes.

It’s kind of like that Eddie Izzard joke about the difference between American English and British English, only less funny. But it is fun to suss out the differences in British cuisine and American, and sometimes challenging.

Saffron rice ingredients. Thankfully, easy to find.

Mostly in the US it’s getting easier to find the ingredients (yay rogan josh curry!) or find substitutes (no double cream, no problem, just mix sour cream with cream). But I’ll admit I’ve been kind of stumped by his use of a “roasting tray.”

It seems quite a bit like a rimmed sheet pan, but as with this week’s recipe, it calls for cooking ingredients on the stove in the tray before baking. As far as I know my sheet pan shouldn’t be used the same and I wasn’t willing to risk ruining my main shtick to test it out.

Given this difference between British cooking and American cooking, I’m not sure it made a ton of sense to prepare this week’s meal on a sheet pan, but part of me just wanted to prove that it was possible to do it.

See, it was baked saffron rice, and I’ve never baked rice and wanted to see if it worked.

It maybe wasn’t practical but it did work and made a nice side dish for some lamb kofta. And because it wasn’t made like normal rice, it had a little more texture.

All in all, I think it was pretty worth it. And since it was only 5 ingredients (plus some pantry items), it was pretty easy. And tasty!

Baked rice, who’d have guessed?!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red onions, or 1 large
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 (5.3 oz.) container plain yogurt
  • 1 (2.8 oz.) tube of sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 ⅓ to 1 ½ c. white basmati rice (it actually calls for 300 grams, and I have a scale so I measured 300 grams, but for those that don’t, the Internet gave me a cup equivalent)
  • 1 to 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 ½ c. boiling water (again, this is 600 milliliters, which should be on a measuring cup, but just in case, this is the conversion)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the onions, and fry with olive oil in a large pan for about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, place half the saffron in the boiling water. In a small bowl, cover the remaining saffron with 1 T. boiling water, steep for a short while (he recommends 10 seconds, I did mine for minutes)  and then mix it with the yogurt. Set aside the yogurt mix.

Once the onions are ready, stir in the tomato paste, rice, salt and pepper, and then pour on the saffron water. Bring to a boil, and then transfer to a large rimmed sheet pan (about 15 inches by 12 inches). Bake rice in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the water and fluffed up.

Spoon the yogurt mixture onto the rice, and enjoy!

Beware the Ides of March

Mid-March offers so many awesome opportunities for food, what with Pi(e) Day, the Ides of March, and St. Patty’s Day. I’ve made a key lime pie (green!) with a Pi symbol topping, and I’ve made Irish soda bread. Last year, I had it super easy, making salads and soups. Sure, the classic Caesar salad isn’t named for *that* Caesar but it’s a good excuse for an even better meal.

I didn’t have any good ideas this year, and then I happened on the perfect sheet pan recipe for the Ides. I scoured and found that Epicurious had a sheet pan Caesar salad that I could make just in time (well, almost) for March 15. It obviously wasn’t the traditional dish, but it did have about all the same ingredients — chicken, anchovies, lettuce, Parmesan, lemon juice, and croutons, or something very like them.

Sheet pan Caesar salad ingredients

I know those flavors aren’t for everyone, and the anchovies are likely to scare some people off, but believe me, there’s a reason this is a classic dish. The flavors meld into something truly unique and delicious. And that was no less true when it was deconstructed and put together on a sheet pan.

Even better, it took a little more than 30 minutes to bring together, which is great because I found this recipe with little time to spare for getting it together this week.

Wait, there’s still leftovers of this one. BRB.

Here’s what I did, following the recipe pretty closely:

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan
  • ½ c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 T. olive oil, divided
  • 2 T. chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided (I used the jarred stuff and didn’t measure exactly because I like garlic)
  • 2 hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise
  • 4 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, and chopped
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil. Season chicken with salt and pepper on prepared sheet, set aside. In a medium bowl, combine Parmesan, panko, 2 T. olive oil, parsley, half the garlic, and salt and pepper. Pat the mixture on top of the chicken breasts until used up. Place the chicken in the oven for about 10 minutes until the panko mixture starts to brown, and meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.

Drizzle romaine with remaining olive oil; sprinkle on the chopped garlic; and season with salt and pepper (I did this when the chicken came out of the oven but it does make for a less even mix, but it meant one less dish to do). Place lettuce on the sheet pan after 10 minutes and cook another 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the lettuce is brown at the edges.

Divide the chicken and lettuce among 4 plates (or 2 and 2 tupperware for leftovers). Top the lettuce with the anchovies, garnish with lemon slices for squeezing over the dish, and enjoy!

Thank god for a family of foodies

This year for Christmas we got a cooking utensil and a cookbook from my brother and his wife. They know us so well.

At first I wasn’t sure why a Jamie Oliver cookbook was the one my brother chose. But, of course, he is the type to read through a cookbook like a book, and therefore, understand cooking better. And this book is perfect for that.

It’s the British chef’s “5 Ingredients,” and as its name implies is cooking with just 5 ingredients (and OK, also 5 pantry items that you likely have lying around if you have this book, and full disclosure, we do). And because of that, it’s perfect for both its simplicity but also understanding how flavors interact and how to build from just 5 ingredients.

So far, we have only made a handful of things out of it, but every single one of them has been my new favorite dish.

This week’s recipe here is no exception.

It’s got 5 ingredients, plus two I added (one that’s optional and one that amends a hard-to-find item), and one pantry item (pepper, which I hope most people have in their pantry), and a bit of water. It took time only because it roasted potatoes, fennel and artichokes for a long time, and then had a cheesy cream sauce.

Vegetables covered in cream and oil, so you know it’s delicious

It’s pretty healthy, though I did add more of the unhealthy bits than Oliver’s original calls for. And other than the time, it takes just cutting potatoes and fennel for prep.

So, yeah, this is a good one. Here’s what I did to amend the original:

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. yellow potatoes, quartered or eighthed depending on size (His recipe was in grams)
  • 2 bulbs fennel, sliced thinly, and including the clean stalks
  • 1 jar (14 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, quartered (including the oil!)
  • 1 sprig rosemary (optional)
  • 1 c. heavy cream (the recipe called for double cream, which I think is thicker so I mixed in sour cream too)
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ⅔ c. grated Parmesan, divided
  • Pepper
  • 1 c. water

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the potatoes and fennel on a large, sided sheet pan (about 15 ½ x 12 inches). Add the quartered artichoke hearts and their oil. Season with rosemary and pepper. Pour over the water.

Cover the vegetable mix with olive oil and bake for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the heavy cream, sour cream and ½ the Parmesan cheese. When the vegetables have baked for an hour, remove the foil and dot the vegetables with the cream mixture, and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes until the cheese has browned. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

More, er, fun with phyllo dough

I was so excited for this week’s recipe. I freaking love spanakopita, but I’ve only ever enjoyed it store-bought because I was too afraid to mess with phyllo (or fillo) dough sheets, and I assumed they were really difficult.

So, I was relieved to find a Food Network recipe from Ina Garten that seemed like it would be fun and easy and had a pretty short prep time. Emphasis on seemed, because working with phyllo dough is a pain in the rear, to put it kindly.

Spanakopita ingredients

My first problem was that the spinach I had thawed in the fridge overnight was still not actually thawed. That meant I was already a bit rankled by the time I had to work with literally all 40 sheets of thin, fragile phyllo dough.

Here’s a brief synopsis of my thoughts while buttering and adding breadcrumbs atop each sheet. Well, almost each sheet, because I sometimes forgot the breadcrumbs, and OK, some sheets did stick together enough that I didn’t even try to separate them.

Thoughts:

  • Sheets 1-15: Oh god, oh god, oh god, and I’m less than one-quarter of the way through
  • Sheets 15-25: I got this, this isn’t so bad, oops I forgot breadcrumbs, oh well, I got this
  • Sheets 25-35: OK, this is getting old, getting the hang of it but starting to rush through, at least I’m over halfway
  • Sheets 35-40: F* it, whatever it takes to finish this up

Thankfully, the filling part, aside from the spinach snafu, was incredibly easy to piece together. And after what felt like hours but was probably actually less than one hour (I tried not to focus on the time), it was ready to go in the oven.

And, again, thankfully, the baking only took 12 minutes. After a brief cool down, and slicing, it was ready to eat, and I’ll be honest, it was heavenly. It was worth it, but also I’ll probably buy it more often than I take the effort make this delicious treat.

They really were so delicious, despite the pains of making them.

Here’s what I did, altering the recipe slightly:

Ingredients

  • ½ c. olive oil, plus more for coating the sheet pan
  • 1 bunch scallion, white and light green parts chopped
  • 2 (10 oz) boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 T. fresh dill (I used way more, but I love dill)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 40 sheets (1 box) of phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the fridge
  • 2 sticks butter, melted (I actually needed 2.5 so either brush lightly or, like me, admit you love butter more than is healthy)
  • ½ c. plain whole wheat breadcrumbs

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

(Here’s something I wish I’d done so adding it here for future use: Lay out the phyllo dough with a damp cloth underneath and on top on your work surface or a separate sheet pan. The ones that had been in the cloth longer worked more smoothly, and the original recipe just called for a damp cloth on top while you worked with the dough. I feel like the extra time while you prep the rest of the meal would help.)

Meanwhile, saute the scallions in the olive oil for about five minutes until soft. Set aside while you squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and then toss the drained spinach into a large bowl. Add the scallions, dill, eggs, feta, and salt and pepper, and stir until the eggs are beaten and the cheese is well mixed in.

Melt the butter in a small bowl, and place the breadcrumbs in a nearby small bowl.

Keeping the phyllo dough covered while you work, take one sheet of dough and brush it with butter. Top with a couple of pinches of bread crumbs. Repeat until you’ve used 10 sheets.

Then, place ¼ of the spinach mix along the long end of the dough sheets, like a fat and long sausage. Roll the spinach up in the dough to create a long baguette-like shape that’s about 1 to 2 inches thick.

Repeat until all the dough and all the spinach mix is used up so you have four baguette-like shapes. Place those filled dough pieces on a greased sheet pan that has edges.

Score the tops of the phyllo dough, and coat with butter one more time. (Yum!)

Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, cut along your scored edges, and enjoy little spanakopitas.