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Monday
Aug122013

Flavorful Potato Veggie Frittata

Flavorful Potato Veggie Frittata

I’m in love with this frittata! I’ve made them once or twice before, but they never really thrilled me. This one does. Last week, Billy wanted “some kind of eggs” with mushrooms and tomatoes. Um, okay… That could end up being very boring. But not this way! Trying to avoid another boring frittata, I’ve added diced potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, and also some thyme, tarragon and garlic. It’s so full of flavor! Season at each cooking step and you can’t get anything but lots of flavor.

Flavorful Potato Veggie Frittata

I’m working against the clock here, but if I finish this post today, this will be a great recipe for Meatless Monday.

This frittata is made in a 9 x 13 inch pan. You know what that means. Leftovers! I can vouch for this being just as delicious the next day. It could also mean that this recipe is good for when you need to feed more than a few people. I cut ours into eight squares. You could certainly cut them smaller if you were putting them out for a brunch buffet or even a holiday breakfast.

Now let’s get to the recipe. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. This “recipe” is a guideline. I love it as is, but if you absolutely hate one of the ingredients, go ahead and substitute something else. No big deal! If you’re adding in a watery vegetable, it’s a good idea to sauté it first and get the extra liquid out so you don’t have a watery frittata. Do you want to add some sausage, ham or bacon? Be my guest! In fact, those would be wonderful additions. Want to switch cheeses? Do it! No matter how you make it, it’s a hearty meal.

Flavorful Potato Veggie Frittata

Flavorful Potato Veggie Frittata
Makes a 9 x 13 pan

12-15 small potatoes, diced in about 1/2 inch chunks
Olive oil, for sautéing vegetables
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound sliced baby Portabella mushrooms (or your favorite)
5-6 green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
6 -7 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large garlic clove, minced
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of dried tarragon
1 dozen large eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup half and half
Crumbled feta cheese, enough to sprinkle over the entire frittata (I used the better part of a 12 oz container. Because I love cheeeese.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil, lightly grease, and set aside.

Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a skillet that has a lid on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and sprinkle in some salt and pepper to season them. Let them sit without stirring for a few minutes to let them get brown on the bottoms. Sauté for about 5 minutes total, reduce heat and cover for about 3 minutes, then stir and give them about 3 more minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally.

When the potatoes are done, pour them in the prepared 9 x 13 pan, spreading them all over.

In the same skillet, add a little more oil and then add the mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes, garlic, a couple pinches salt and pepper, the thyme and the tarragon. Cook until the vegetables are cooked down, about 8-10 minutes or so. When they're done, pour them over the potatoes in the pan. Again, try to get some everywhere in the pan so you get some in every bite.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, parmesan cheese, half and half, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Whisk it all up well! Pour over the vegetables and potatoes in the pan. Top with feta cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. It's done when you stick a knife in the center and it comes out clean. Mine was done at 40 minutes, so start checking then.

Flavorful Potato Veggie Frittata

Friday
Mar252011

Spinach and Feta Pie, and Food Snobbery

Spinach and Feta Pie

Aside from being addicted to muffins, chocolate, the flavor combo of raspberry and lime, and well…lots of other foods, I’m also addicted to spinach and feta. Wrap it up in crispy, flaky phyllo, and I could eat it every single day. I’ve been in love with it since I was a kid. And lucky me, there’s a Greek Festival in my city that takes place during my birthday week every single year. Can you guess what I ask for? Yes! Spanakopita. You have to get there early, too. Seems it’s usually the first thing to sell out, so I’m not alone in my addiction. Luckily, Billy is a morning person--so he usually gets there first thing--and can live to tell about it. Those crowds are wild!

Before I go on, I’d like to address something that’s been bothering me lately. Food snobbery.

*Begin Rant* It’s everywhere, it seems. And let me clarify--I’m all for using whole foods and avoiding processed foods whenever possible. One step further-if you can use organic foods, that’s even better! But…that’s not always feasible. Ask the single mom of 3 kids that’s working two jobs to make ends meet why she isn’t buying (more expensive) organic foods. Ask her why she may take a couple of shortcuts (and used a processed item or two) when making dinner. I’ll bet she’d give you an earful of “why.” Ask the man who supports his family and just lost his job the same questions. Then maybe ask the people working like dogs all day long, and schlepping their kids around afterschool and evenings, why they don’t have the energy to plant a garden. While gardening is amazing and rewarding, it’s a LOT of work. There’s also an initial investment when you start a garden-you need plants or seeds, and all of the supplies that go along with that. Yeah, seeds are cheaper, but you still need planting supplies. Could be that maybe some people can’t afford that. It’s a sad but true fact. Then there are the folks that live in inner cities or apartments that don’t have any space for a garden at all. This article from my friend Lisa also explains this point very well.

So. This leads me to food world snobbery.

Have we gotten so snobby that one can’t even accept a spin on an original idea? We’d all be eating the same things if no one ever said “Hey, I like your idea! What if I change it up a little by adding this or that?” Why do some feel the need to knock you down because they think they know better? Isn’t it more tactful to say “Wow, that looks great! Maybe next time, you’d like to try it the way it’s done in (insert geographical location)--here’s my recipe for it.” It’s good to be adventurous and try new things. Adapting is good, folks.

Believe it or not, I was (very recently--like this week) accused of misrepresenting a culture’s street food on my blog. Seriously? Seriously. A few clicks and you can tell what recipe/post got someone’s pants in a wad. Wow. Uptight much? I even stated in the post (oops, now I’ve gone and given you the link!) that I couldn’t vouch for authenticity. And yet, this person jumped on it literally two seconds after I tweeted the post link. Yes-it was nearly the next tweet in Twitter’s timeline. Funny, because out of all the people I follow on Twitter, I knew that if anyone would say something, it would be this person. I was right! “Must have a list of links--at the ready! So I can set these poor, starving people straight!” Excuse me while I roll my eyes once again.

One of Julia Child’s favorite things was getting a hot dog from Costco. It’s true! Julia wasn’t a food snob. And yet--some food bloggers think they can scoff and condescend if you don’t meet their standards. The condescension is what gets me the most annoyed. I don’t need cheese from an ancient breed of exceptional goats that only reside in the farthest reaches of the smallest village in the highest peaks of the Swiss Alps. Trader Joe’s will do just fine. and in a pinch? I’ll go to the regular grocery store. Gasp! My chocolate doesn’t need to be handcrafted from the worn hands of an ancient chocolate master that grows cocoa beans on ancient blessed cocoa bean lands. I’m perfectly fine with Ghirardelli.

Get the pole out of you know where and lighten up, please. You may find life and eating to be more fun and fulfilling. You might also gain some new friends! Check out this article. The James Beard Foundation has added a humor category to it’s annual awards. Apparently some food writers think it cheapens culinary journalism. Excuse me?! How backward is it to think that humor is a bad thing? I’ll never understand that kind of thinking.

As far as the post that earned me the “misrepresenting a Greek street food” tweet--does everything need to be corrected to suit someone’s opinion of  how it should be? This person also said he had to “set me straight” in Greek cuisine. Really? Oh, thank you for gracing me with your golden touch. Not. In fact, don’t touch me at all. Is a Spinach and Feta pizza not a spin on Spanakopita? Some guy or girl making pizza somewhere probably said “Wow, spinach and feta is a classic combo--let’s try it on pizza!” And one of my favorite pizzas was born on that day.

These spins on classic dishes may not be perfect or authentic, but you know what? It’s good, home cooked food and it’s delicious and it’s appreciated by the family. So who cares if a food snob doesn’t like it? I don’t. Not anymore. They’re not sitting at my table. *End Rant*

Spinach and Feta Pie

Spinach and Feta Pie

a take on this recipe from BBC GoodFood
makes 2 pies, but you can cut it in half to make just 1

6 (10 oz) bags fresh spinach
2 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 eggs, beaten well
1 1/2 cups cooked, diced mushrooms
1 box frozen Phyllo dough
melted butter and olive oil, for brushing between dough layers

Heat the oven to 350. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the spinach, covering with a few tablespoons of water. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes, until wilted. Remove from pan and continue until you've used all of the spinach. Set in a colander to drain.

When the spinach is cool enough to handle, again, working in batches, place the spinach in a clean tea towel, and squeeze out as much water as you can. There will be a lot, but get the spinach as dry as possible. Roughly chop the spinach and place it in a medium bowl.

To the spinach, add the feta, dill, lemon juice, eggs and mushrooms. Mix well, set aside.

You can do this in one larger pan or pie plates, but I use 2 (9 inch) cake pans. Follow the directions for using Phyllo that are on the box. Basically, you're going to layer in sheets of the dough, leaving some overhanging the sides of the pan. Continue going all around the pan a few times--so three turns of the pan = 3 layers of sheets. Use the olive oil whisked with the melted butter to brush between the layers. Make sure you've got enough butter set aside for this. Don't start the recipe with only half a stick of butter in the fridge. Plan on at least one, mixed with a fair amount of oil. I didn't measure, just eyeballed and added till I had enough.

Divide the filling between the two pans, and then fold up the edges of the overhanging dough to cover the filling. Add a couple more sheets of dough to the top if you need to. I just loosely dropped a couple sheets over the top of each pie. Brush the tops with the oil/butter mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes, until nicely golden brown on top.

  • A note about working with the Phyllo: I'm guessing some "experts" will say I'm wrong here, but yeah, it's a bit of a pain to work with. Every now and again I get a roll of it that simply won't cooperate. Follow the directions on the box as far as covering it with plastic and damp towels while you work. And if a few sheets fall apart? Don't sweat it! Just layer as best as you can, and fill in any spots with more dough. I think it's impossible to make Phyllo look bad after it's cooked. Any repairs that you make before baking won't show up when it's fully baked.
  • I like to serve this with a green salad, tossed with tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers, along with this feta vinaigrette.
  • Now, of course you don’t need to make two pies. When I’m doing something like this dish that may be a bit of a pain (working with Phyllo, hehe) I like to make extra and get it all done at once. The cold leftovers are amazing, too! This makes great picnic food, as well.
  • Feel free to leave out the mushrooms if you like. I’ve also made this with the sundried tomatoes and that’s fantastic, too.
  • This would be a lovely addition to any holiday table. Easter will be here before you know it!

Enjoy! Even if it isn’t authentic, it’s damn good. Winking smile

Spinach and Feta Pie



Thursday
Jul082010

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Peppers

Mediterranean stuffed peppers

Do you remember your mom’s stuffed peppers?  I do.  I was just a kid and wouldn’t touch the peppers.  No way!  I loved the filling, though--and it was so simple.  Tomatoes, rice, ground beef, seasonings…I loved that part!  My mom gave me a pass and let me skip the peppers without a big showdown, thank goodness!  She used green bell peppers, which are good in some things, like sausage and peppers, but to eat them stuffed--they’re just too “green pepperish.”  Do you know what I mean?  Bitter. 

In fact, growing up, my mom always bought green peppers.  Were red bells not very common then?  I have no idea!  Red bells are just green bells that have been allowed to ripen--were growers too impatient back then?  In my opinion, green pepper overwhelms most dishes.  I know--a lot of you will probably disagree, but red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are so much sweeter.  We even love them raw!  Plus, they’re good for you:

  • They’re great sources of Vitamins C, A, B6 and Folic Acid
  • They contain Beta-Carotene and Lycopene
  • These are all good things that do good things for you!
  • Eat some peppers today.  (That’s my PSA for the day.)

I saw these stuffed peppers in the June edition of BBC’s Good Food magazine.  It’s one of my all time favorite food mags.   Every single issue I have is “well read” and full of dog eared pages and a few cooking spills.  Living in the US, it’s a bit pricier to buy here, but it’s well worth it.  It’s a large magazine--and I dare you to look at one issue and not find ten recipes you want to try immediately.

The original recipe uses couscous as the base for the stuffing.  I opted for quinoa.  Haven’t tried quinoa yet?  You should!  Why?  Quinoa is all at once creamy, a little chewy, tastes sort of nutty--and is so good for you:

  • It’s related to leafy greens, like powerhouses spinach and Swiss Chard.
  • Quinoa is an ancient “grain,” and once referred to as “the gold of the Incas.”
  • It’s high in protein and contains “complete protein,” which means it has all 9 essential amino acids.
  • Quinoa's a good source of magnesium and riboflavin, reported to help with easing migraines.
  • It’s a good source of manganese and copper, two minerals very important in superoxide dismutase enzyme, which is an antioxidant.
  • There’s 12 grams of dietary fiber in 1 cup of quinoa.

So you see?  This dish is a nutritional powerhouse!  The recipe will make a bit more stuffing than you need for the peppers, but the leftovers make a nice light lunch the next day.  Also, measurements aren’t exact for the add-ins, so go ahead and eyeball those to your taste.  The original recipe uses pine nuts, which were nowhere to be found at TJ’s that day, so pistachios agreed to be stunt doubles.

herbed feta

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Peppers
adapted from BBC Good Food
serves 3

1 each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, halved, seeds and membranes removed (leave stems on)
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
Vegetable or chicken broth (for cooking the quinoa in--I needed 3 cups)
1/2 cup pistachios (this is approximate-you can add more if you like), lightly toasted
1/2-3/4 cup black olives, roughly chopped
Feta cheese (about 3/4 cup, divided) (I used an herbed feta from Trader Joe's)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded (stack leaves, roll them up, and slice across for ribbons)

Heat oven to 400.
Rinse your quinoa and prepare according to package directions--using your choice of broth in place of water.

Place the prepared peppers on a plate and microwave on medium for about 5 minutes, until slightly soft.
Place them on a baking tray, open side facing up.

When the quinoa is done, stir in the remaining ingredients, leaving some of the feta aside to sprinkle over the top of the peppers.
Stuff the peppers--really pack them full, you'll have more than enough stuffing!
Top with the rest of the feta.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the feta looks browned and delicious.
Serve with a nice green salad, if you like.

These aren’t your mom’s stuffed peppers!  Well, not my mom’s, anyway.  If old school stuffed peppers make your spine tingle--in a not so good way, give these a try! 

Mediterranean stuffed peppers

Monday
Apr262010

I think it’s time for Chickpea and Feta Salad

Chickpea-feta-salad

Gosh, I was looking back at my last few posts, and I realized…that’s a lot of sweets!  Someone may get the wrong idea about what we’ve been eating.  We have, in fact, been eating very well, thanks to the current issue of Vegetarian Times.  My favorite magazine for easy, healthy and delicious recipes!

So…a couple of Saturday’s ago, my husband and I had a smoked meat-apalooza.   I know, I know…what were we thinking?  I’ll tell you what we were thinking.  MEAT!  Simple enough.  We have an amazing authentic barbeque place here in the city, and they were calling our name.  It’s true, they were!  We had…pulled pork, brisket, chicken, ribs, cornbread and sides.   The whole meaty deal.  It. Was. Awesome!  Aaaand then reality hit, and I was up most of that night with a stomach ache.  Ugh.

When Monday rolled around, I needed to make my grocery list and meal plan for the week.  Sometimes, I love doing that.  Other times?  I hate it!  I just want to hit the store and buy whatever I feel like.  But I find that when I do that, I come home with things we don’t need, or shouldn’t have--you know the deal.  I have to plan meals.  Have to. 

Chickpea-feta-salad-2

Do you guys have a system for that?  I always wonder if I’m just silly and a bit too uptight about it.  We need a plan.  Especially since we eat so many fresh veggies and fruit!  I need to keep track of what I bought the fresh stuff for, so we can be sure to use it before all it’s going to feed are the two compost bins out back!  I decide what we’re having for the week, add my ingredients to the list (which is a notebook), and then list out the individual dishes in the back of the book so I remember them.  What do you guys do?

So!  I needed a meal plan last Monday, and I needed it fast.  Hello, Vegetarian Times!  The current issue has this great article called “By special request…”  Basically, a reader wanted a way to shorten her time at the grocery store.  Their response was five recipes that all had the same five essential ingredients in common.   The five ingredients?

  1. Diced tomatoes
  2. Leeks
  3. Chickpeas (dried or canned)
  4. Baby spinach
  5. Red bell peppers

With these ingredients, plus other basic things that are easy to find or that you may already have, you can make five different recipes.  As a bonus, each one can be made in 30 minutes or fewer!

  Chickpea-feta-salad-4 

 

You may be asking, “With all the same ingredients, won’t that be boring?”  My honest answer?  No!  We’ve had three so far, and each one has been very different than the last.   We’ve loved each of these, and I‘m pretty sure we’ll be happy with the last two.  They have ingredients that we love, so how can we go wrong?  I’ll start with this one, and then follow up with the other four.

About the salad.  I didn’t think that the lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic drizzle would be enough to flavor this salad.  Amazingly, it was!  It was actually addicting.  I wanted more, like an endlessly filling bowl of salad from Hogwarts!  It’s everything you want in a main dish salad.  Great flavor, cold, crunchy…just so good.  I didn’t have sunflower seeds to top it with but we use Aurora Salad Fixin’s, which are even better!  Also, an optional ingredient is diced canned tomatoes.  I just can’t bring myself to add those to a salad, so I used grape tomatoes.

Chickpea and Feta Salad
Serves 8

2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced leek (white part only) or red onion
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
2 medium carrots, julienned (about 1 cup)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds or other crunchy salad topping
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2" ribbons
3/4 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle over the top

In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and oil.
Stir in the leek, add salt and pepper if you'd like, and set aside.
Take a small pile of spinach leaves, stack them up, roll them up,  and then slice across to make strips.  Continue until you've done all the spinach leaves.
In a large bowl, combine spinach, chickpeas, carrots, bell pepper and sunflower seeds or other crunchy topping.
Stir in the leek mixture and toss well to combine. 
Divide romaine among serving plates and top with chickpea mixture.
Add tomatoes.
Garnish each salad with feta and Balsamic.

Notes:

  • Would I make this again?  Yes!  Going to have it again this week, in fact.
  • It’s everything I like in a main dish salad--crunchy, packed with stuff, hearty and filling.
  • I use canned chickpeas in this dish.
  • It’s wonderful as is, but it’s salad--they’re versatile!  Something you don’t like? Replace it with something you do like.
  • After eating these dishes all week, I can almost hear our bodies saying “Meat? What meat?”

Chickpea-feta-salad-3

 

Saturday
Apr052008

Tuna Orzo Salad, and My Continuing Love Affair with Chickpeas

 

Just look at those gorgeous colors and those delicious chickpeas!

I love chickpeas. I really do. They make the most delicious hummus, they're wonderful roasted in the oven for a great snack, and they go well in so many things, like stews, salads, and chili. And over at Vicarious Foodie, they're starring in Spaghetti alla Ceci! That looks amazing, doesn't it? If you haven't tried them yet, you should grab a can the next time you're out shopping. Try them--they're not mushy, like beans--they have a nice texture and an earthy, slightly nutty flavor.

Here are a few facts on chickpeas, as seen on FoodReference.com.

__________________________________________________________________________

 

CHICKPEA

Chick pea and garbanzo bean are 2 names for the same thing (Cicer arietinum) a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae). They are also called ceci (Italy), Egyptian pea, gram, Kichererbse (Germany), and revithia (Greece).

Garbanzo is the name used in Spanish speaking countries. The English name chickpea comes from the French chiche, which comes from the Latin cicer.

Garbanzo Beans or chickpeas are the most widely consumed legume in the world. Originating in the Middle East, they have a firm texture with a flavor somewhere between chestnuts and walnuts. Garbanzo beans are usually pale yellow in color. In India there are red, black, and brown chickpeas.

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans have 361 calories per 100g, and are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, phosphorus, calcium and iron.


___________________________________________________________________

 

This brings me to today's recipe. It's Tuna Orzo Salad, which happens to be a Rachael Ray recipe. Now, I'm not a huge fan of her recipes or her shows, but I do love her magazine. It's full of great ideas and articles, and guest authors that also have wonderful ideas and recipes. This one is from her magazine, and we love it. It's makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner.

It's such a pretty salad, too, with all of the jewel tones from the ingredients. There's the purple shade of the red onions, the juicy orange (or red or yellow) peppers, the green basil, the cherry red grape tomatoes, and of course, the silky chickpeas.



I've actually had this recipe photographed and ready to go for a while, but you guys know how it it is--you photograph so much stuff, then you have all these things ready to post, and not enough time to post them all. And besides, it's in the stars today, with Vicarious Foodie showcasing chickpeas, and with Deborah at Taste and Tell in day 5 of her 7 Days with Rachael Ray series. Whether you like RR or not, she does have a lot of good, basic ideas that can be tweaked and added to. For this particular recipe, I don't change a thing, except for drizzling some white balsamic vinegar over our salad.

Tuna Orzo Salad

3 c chicken broth
1 cup orzo
1/4 c red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 (6 oz) cans olive oil packed tuna, drained and oil reserved
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
half a red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
white balsamic vinegar, for drizzling over

Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan and add the orzo. Cook until al dente, then drain and cool slightly.
In a large bowl, season the vinegar with salt and pepper and mix until the salt dissolves.
Whisk in the reserved oil from the tuna, then add the orzo and toss to mix.
Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers, onion, onion and basil to the orzo mixture.
Break up the tuna and add that and the feta to the salad, then serve.

Top with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar.