Savoriesnsweets’ Blog

Archive for February 2009

My significant other has a few cookbooks among his many books. These cookbooks are fairly basic as they don’t have recipes that have lots of ingredients or complicated techniques. For Valentine’s Day, he made me his adaptation of the Mediterranean Spinach Roll. The recipe was from the cookbook, Mr. Food’s Old World Cooking Made Easy. It was a very delicious end product!

The cookbook lists the recipe as follows:
Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 envelope (from a 2 ounce box) onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten in its own dish
  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package) slightly thawed

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the drained spinach in a medium sized bowl.  Add the onion soup mix, feta cheese, and 1 egg and mix well.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry sheet into a 10 inch x 12 inch rectangle.
  4. Cut in half lengthwise and spread half the spinach mixture lengthwise along the center of each dough half.
  5. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, moisten the edges of the pastry dougn with some of the remaining beaten egg.
  6. Evenly fold the dough lengthwise over the spinach.
  7. Seal the edges of the dough tightly by pressing the seams together with the tines of a fork.
  8. Brush the tops of both spinach rolls with beaten egg.
  9. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
  10. Cool slightly before cutting into 1.5 inch slices.

This was the basic recipe and method that my significant other followed when he made this dish a few weeks ago.   It will make enough for two spinach rolls, but he only made one.  There were a few substitutions made however.  As he did not find puff pastry in the store he used the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls that he found in the freezer section.  Also, he used fresh spinach that he wilted first on the stove.  And, the best change was using more feta cheese.  I don’t know how much more he added, but it was very VERY good!  This recipe was very savory and delicious and I thought it could be a made a meal in and of itself.  And so, today I’m inspired to make a meal out of this basic dish.

Here is my adaptation of the Mediterranean Spinach Roll.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packages (10 ounces each) fresh spinach, wilted and drained
  • 1/2 envelope (from a 2 ounce box) onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten in its own dish
  • 1 cup of pitted kalamata olives
  • 3/4 pound of ground lamb
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • fresh pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp of olive oil or non-stick cooking spray
Ingredients

Ingredients

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wilt the fresh spinach over the stove and squeeze it to drain.
  3. Using one tsp of olive oil or non stick cooking spray, brown the chopped onion.
  4. Once the onions are translucent, add the garlic.
  5. Add the ground lamb, 2 tsp of oregano, a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Cook until brown. Drain.
    Note: I did not add much additional salt since the feta cheese and the olives will also add some salt when the mixture is complete.
  6. Place the drained spinach in a medium sized bowl.  Add the onion soup mix, feta cheese, chopped olives and 1 egg and mix well.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll out the crescent roll dough  into a 10 inch x 12 inch rectangle.
  8. Cut in half lengthwise and spread half the spinach mixture lengthwise along the center of each dough half.
  9. Spread the ground lamb over the spinach mixture.

    Spinach Mixture

    Spinach Mixture

  10. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, moisten the edges of the dough with some of the remaining beaten egg.
  11. Evenly fold the dough lengthwise over the spinach.
  12. Seal the edges of the dough tightly by pressing the seams together with the tines of a fork.
  13. Brush the tops of both spinach rolls with beaten egg.
    Spinach Roll Before Going in the Oven

    Spinach Roll Before Going in the Oven

    Note:  I OVERSTUFFED!!!  Next time, I think I will use less meat and spinach.

  14. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
  15. Cool slightly before cutting into 1.5 inch slices.
After Baking

After Baking

Sliced Roll

Sliced Roll

Spinach Serving

Spinach Serving

The final product was savory, filling and very tasty.  The seasoning was a bit too onion-y so I will get rid of the onion mix since I used fresh onion in the meat.  Also, next time I try this, I will mix the meat and the spinach mixture so that all the elements are more evenly distributed.  I may also try this with the puff pastry, if I can find it, or phyllo dough.  Overall, this was a good experiment, even though it was over stuffed.

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Every so often, I’ll have a burst of energy and a strong desire for something sweet.  I’ll start searching my cookbooks or combing the internet for a new recipe to try.  Tonight I tried two new recipes:  almond biscotti and brown sugar shortbread cookies.

Biscotti are really great, crunchy cookies that are baked twice to get their unique texture.  These cookies were very flavorful and crunchy.  I’m sure they will be even better tomorrow with my morning coffee!  I used a recipe from The Joy of Baking and it was easy to follow and helped me create these cookies in a relatively short time.  I think a sprinkle of powdered sugar would be a nice way to turn up the biscotti’s sweetness.  Or maybe dipping them in dark chocolate.  Here are some shots of the finished products!

Almond Biscotti

More Almond Biscotti!

As if 2 dozen biscotti weren’t enough, I decided to try my hand at shortbread.  That was not so good.  The recipe that I used from Recipe Matcher was simple to follow and very straightforward.  I had my oven set to 300 degrees F and it was preheated.  I put the cookies in for 20 minutes and nothing, they were still dough.  So I left then in for 5 more minutes.  Again, nada.  Another 5 minutes….nada.  So, this time I turned up the heat to 350 degrees and waited another 10 minutes.  The cookies were golden brown, but they weren’t very tasty.  Unfortunately, they were just very dry and crumbly and not even very sweet.

I’ve never made shortbread before, so I don’t know what I did wrong or if I should have left them in longer.  I do know that I had issues with my brown sugar.  I have yet to find a way to effectively store my brown sugar so that it doesn’t turn into a huge, dry block of sugar.  So, while I did start my recipe by beating room temperature butter, I had crumbly, dry brown sugar that I actually had to pound out to pulverize.  It wasn’t a pretty or fun task.  Maybe my dried out brown sugar was the problem?  I dont know.  I may try shortbread again another day, but for now, these cookies would probably only be good for crumbling over ice cream. Here’s some shots.

Shortbread Cookies

Short Bread 2I noticed right away the flecks of the brown sugar that were not properly mixed because they were too big.  I also noticed they had an odd consistency.  Some of the lessons I’ve learned from this is that I NEED to learn how to store brown sugar properly and I need to find a different recipe for shortbread cookies.

I’ve heard of Carbonara from friends and of course, from watching Food Network, but I’ve never had it. Today, I decided to try to make it. I basically just used what I had on hand, so I don’t think it’s a very traditional carbonara but it was still delicious! It was rich and creamy with a bit of salt and heat. It was very basic.  And it was interesting to have the salty from the cheese and some sweet going on from the maple flavor.

I used maple bacon and cooked it until it was very crisp. On the next burner I was cooking some linguine. I then took out the bacon, chopped it and deglazed the pan with about 1/3c of white wine. While that was going on, I beat 3 eggs with a 1/2c of parmesan cheese, some dried parsley flakes (like I said, I used what was on hand) and red pepper flakes. I then set that aside. I put my pasta in the pan, added the bacon again and then added the egg mixture while I mixed it all together over a low flame. The result, pictured below, was super yummy!  I thoroughly enjoyed making and eating this dish and I wondered how I’ve gone through life without ever having carbonara?

Carbonara

Carbonara

Of course, after such a savory meal, I had to make some dessert. I decided to make something simple, again using what I had on hand.  I made one of my favorite cookies, Snickerdoodles.  I got the recipe from this site and it was simple, easy to follow and tunrs out some soft, sweet, delicious cookies.  Here are my yummy Snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

As usual, I’ve drawn inspiration to cook after hearing someone talk about a dish I’ve never had before.  I was watching a talk show and the guest was talking about making Cassoulet.  This dish basically seems to be some beans slow cooked in the fat of some meats.  You can also add some other vegetables and a cooking liquid.  During this attempt, I am basically using things I have around the house as  I’m hungry and not interested in a trip to the market in the middle of the day.

Here are my ingredients:

half package of maple bacon

3 links of polish kielbasa

3 cups of red beans (Use dry beans that you have soaked for a while before.)

1/2 cup of red onion, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

a bunch of parsley tied together

1/3 cup of cognac

1 28ounce can of crushed tomatoes

2 tsps of salt

3 tsps of cumin

2 tsps of garlic powder

2 tsps of onion powder

My method

1.  Cut the bacon into cubes. Cut the sausage lengthwise in half and then cut them into half-circles.

2.  Cook the bacon and sausage until brown.

3.  Add the cognac and let the alcohol cook off.  Use your large kitchen spoon to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.

4.  Add your soaked beans.

5.  Add the tomatoes.  Fill the can with water and add that to the pot too.

6. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

7.  Bring it all to a boil.

Here is my mixture all boiling together.

Cassoulet on the stove

Cassoulet on the stove

8. Once it is all boiling, cover the pot and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour.

Here is my cassoulet after it’s out of the oven.

Cassoulet out of the oven

Cassoulet out of the oven

I then placed a nice serving on an oven-safe dish and topped it with a mixture of grated parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and a few dabs of butter.  I put them in the oven to brown and form a nice crust.  Here’s the final product.

Finished Cassoulet

Finished Cassoulet

This dish is hearty, smoky, and delicious!  The crust adds a nice variation in texture and the maple flavor of the bacon adds some sweetness to the dish!  I think I’m going to try this one again! yum! 🙂

As I’m in between jobs right now, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen trying new things.  Today, I noticed we had some overly ripe bananas so I decided to make some banana bread.  I used this recipe from Simply Recipes.  The bread was yummy and delicious.  It was very full of banana flavor, moist inside and had a nice crust on the outside.  It was also sweet, but not overly sweet.    I do think I have to adjust the cooking time for my oven as it was a little burnt around the edges.  I know this isn’t ideal, but I actually happen to like the crust that formed and that bit of crunch.  Here’s some pictures of my day’s project.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Sliced Banana Bread

Sliced Banana Bread

Please pardon the not-so-great photos.  I’m using my blackberry for the time being, since my digital camera broke! 😦

Usually most people go out for Valentine’s Day either for dinner or a show or movie or both. This year, my significant other decided to cook a delicious meal for me! He made a chicken francaise and a pastry stuffed with spinach on the side. It was delicious! But best of all, he made it all on his own from start to finish! This occasion also marked my birthday, since it was earlier this week. This was truly the best gift! He also gave me some lovely flowers that almost looked hand-painted.

On Saturday, I decided to do some baking of my own and try my hand at baking bread. I didn’t have my cookbooks, so I just looked up basic recipes online. I also didn’t have a mixer so I did all the mixing and kneading by hand. The first loaf was a plain white loaf. This one was dense and crusty. It was a heavy bread but it was still savory. The next was a nice olive loaf. The bread was lighter and softer. It was also MUCH tastier with the addition of chopped olives and some dried thyme. I think I’m definitely going to make the olive loaf again! Have a look at the baking I did over the weekend.

Valentine's Day Flowers

Valentine's Day Flowers

oliveloaf2

Olive Loaf

Plain Loaf

Plain Loaf

Welcome to Savories and Sweets! I’ve created this blog to chronicle my different culinary adventures. I’m about to turn my passion for food and cooking into a career. It is my hope that this blog will be a forum where I can share recipes and photos of my culinary adventures. I also hope this blog will serve as a tool to help me meet other foodies and chefs throughout the world! Happy eating and cooking all! 🙂