August – Chard Wrapped Greek Pie

August – Chard Wrapped Greek Pie

These wonderful savory cheesy treats are wrapped in chard leaves instead of pastry. Serve with a salad for lunch, or with some crisp toasts as an appetite teaser before dinner. You can make them ahead although they are better served warm. I recommend you assemble them and bake just before serving. The filling is made with yogurt, flavored with mint and basil. Served warm the pies are like a delicious fresh cheese.

The original idea came from an article in the NY Times food section. I modified the original recipe by using goat milk yogurt instead of cows milk, and basil instead of dill. Feel free to modify it back to the original.

The recipe is fashioned after a Greek pie which is wrapped in grape leaves, asmapita. According to Aglaia Kremezi, a well known Greed food writer, “pie” is the translation of the Greek term “pita” which can be used for al kinds of tarts and pies, whether or not they are wrapped in filo. I loved this low carbohydrate version.

Greek Pie Wrapped in Chard Leaves

  • 6 large chard leaves, washed, dried, ribs removed but left intact
  • 2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt, I used regular full fat goat milk yogurt and had to drain it
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil (or 2 teaspoons chopped dill)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal or rice flour
  • For garnish – a handful of lightly toasted pine nuts and Greek olives
Greek Pies wrapped in Chard Leaves

Greek Pies wrapped in Chard Leaves

  1. If using goat yogurt which is not Greek, drain the yogurt in a small mesh strainer for 2 hours before starting. This is not necessary if you are using regular full fat Greek yogurt.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the stems from the chard leaves and blanch them in the boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cool water, squeeze dry gently.
  3. Put the yogurt in a mixing bowl and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Mix in the garlic, scallions, mint, basil (or dill), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon zest and cornmeal (or rice flour).
  4. Brush 6 1-cup ramekins with olive oil. Line each ramekin with a chard leaf, allowing the edges to drape over the edge. Fill each leaf with 1/2 cup o the yogurt mixture. Fold the edges of the chard leaf back over the top and brush with olive oil. Place the ramekins on a baking dish.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
  6. Let cool slightly, then turn ramekins over onto a plate to unmold.
  7. To serve, unfold the top to expose the filling and garnish with pine nuts and additional chopped herbs.

    Chard Wrapped Greek Pies

    Chard Wrapped Greek Pies

August 2016 – In My Kitchen

August 2016 – In My Kitchen

“In My Kitchen” is a blogosphere party, first hosted by Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) and now hosted by Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef). Maureen is taking a short break over the summer to recover from surgery, please check back in September when the party returns. Meanwhile a few of us are continuing the tradition. My last “In My Kitchen” post was in June so this is really a two month catch-up.

I enjoy, virtually, reading about the new things that have happened in kitchens around the world during the past month.

Here is a quick tour of my own.

In my kitchen I have the first cucumbers of the season.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

To go along with the tomatoes.

The first garden tomatoes

The first garden tomatoes

The tomato plants were gifted to me by my friend, Linda Dutcher, in Fort Bragg. They are Siberian and cold adapted varieties and we enjoyed the first fruit a month ago, unheard of here in Northern California.

From a recent business trip to Seattle I brought back fresh Copper River Salmon.

Seattle, Pike's Place Market

Seattle, Pike’s Place Market

Flying Fish Market

Flying Fish Market

The Flying Fish is one of the best known fish stalls in the market, and amazingly one of the best (they often don’t coincide). And why do they call it Flying Fish you might ask? The fish mongers are known for throwing the fish over the heads of a crowd of watchers, to be safely caught and packaged for purchase.

Copper River Salmon

Copper River Salmon

The Copper River flows in the state of Alaska. Almost 300 miles in length, this wild rushing river empties into Prince William Sound at the town of Cordova. Salmon that originate in these pristine waters are challenged by its length and its strong, chill rapids. Consequently, Copper River salmon are strong, robust creatures with a healthy store of natural oils and body fat. These qualities make the salmon among the richest, tastiest fish in the world. Fortunately, fatty Copper River salmon is good for you, as it is loaded with Omega-3 oils. Unfortunately the season is very short, only a few weeks. It usually starts in mid-May and ends early in June. I picked up the salmon in early June at the end of a business trip. The market will package it in a cold pack for shipping on the airlines.

In my kitchen I have tuna pate. It’s a quick and wonderful recipe to know about since it uses only good quality tuna in olive oil, butter, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and a bit of cream. Spread it on crisp toast and serve it with good olives. Your guests will never guess it is tuna.

Tuna Pate

Tuna Pate

These are individual chard wrapped greek yogurt pies. The recipe came from the NY Times and I modified it by using goat milk yogurt. They were delicious warm beside a salad, spread on crisp toast. I will post the recipe soon.

Greek Pies wrapped in Chard

Greek Pies wrapped in Chard

In my kitchen I have a beautiful wood salad bowl found in a gallery in TN while visiting relatives.

Redwood Top to Cabinet and wooden salad bowl

Redwood Top to Cabinet and wooden salad bowl

In our second home, the Fort Bragg cabin, I have an entirely new kitchen. You can read more about it here.

After - Fridge and Range Wall

After – Fridge and Range Wall

And for those of you wondering “Where the heck is Fort Bragg anyway?” Here is a map. If you Google Fort Bragg you will probably come up with Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Is is much better known as it is the largest military base in the world and home to US Special Operations. Both places were named for the same person, Confederate general Braxton Bragg. However, he never actually set foot in Fort Bragg California. 1st Lt. Horatio G. Gibson established a military garrison prior to the civil war and named it for his former commanding officer Capt. Braxton Bragg, who later became a General in the Army of the Confederacy.[9] The official date of the establishment of the fort was June 11, 1857; and its purpose was to maintain order on the nearby Mendocino Indian Reservation near the Noyo River. It would be hard to imagine two more dramatically different cities. Fort Bragg California was a lumber town, the area has pristine redwood forests, now mostly second growth. But drive up the coast a bit to see truly dramatic first growth trees.

Fort Bragg, CA

Fort Bragg, CA

It’s a 3-4 mile drive from San Francisco with the opportunity to pass through the Anderson Valley wine growing region. Or, if you have longer, you can drive up the coast for breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean.

From my kitchen I can see “The Wall” that prevents interspecies war. They each have their own space and don’t dare look at each other.

The Wall

The Wall – Quinn and Lucy

And, I can watch the squirrel police on watch.

Quinn on squirrel duty

Quinn on squirrel duty

What is new in your kitchen this past month?

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

August – Fruit and Cucumber Salsa

I don’t think summer is the season for fancy cooking. It is the time for salads of all kinds, melon and prosciutto, yogurt with fresh fruit and berries, juicy sliced tomatoes, BBQ, veggies on the grill, and chilled wine. The spotlight should be on highlighting the glory of the best local and seasonal ingredients, cooked (or not cooked) with a few fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

That being said, sometimes the food needs a little embellishing. Maybe you are expecting company or it is a special holiday weekend. I want to introduce the idea of a fruit salsa to go with those amazing grilled dishes. We are all familiar with a tomato based salsa but peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and mangos all make excellent salsas. If you live in Hawaii or the tropics, pineapples are also a good choice (I don’t think they are worth eating elsewhere…sorry Dole).

fruit salsa

fruit salsa

Use whatever is freshest and perfectly ripe but not mushy. This is a very loose recipe but I will give some general directions. I think the essentials are sweet, crisp, spicy heat, sharpness, acid, and salt. In the salsa shown above the peaches provide sweet, the cucumber is crisp, the chilis are heat, the onion sharp, and lime juice acid.

Ingredients

  • Fresh fruit, cut into cubes – I used 4 peaches
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary and cubed to the same size
  • 1 – 2 hot chilis – seeded and cut into small cubes, I used 1 jalapeno and 1 small red chili
  • 1/2 red onion – chopped finely
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • salt to taste

Again this is a very flexible list. If you have a ripe avocado, add it. What about a mix of fruit? Watermelon with tomatoes is a winner. Apples would be good in the fall. Have some fresh basil on hand? Wonderful! Cilantro? Yum! Mint? Oh my! See what I mean?

Notice that there is no oil in this salsa? None is needed. It is a good way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables deliciously without any additional fat.

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

Peach and Cucumber Salsa

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #131, hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Su @ Su’s Healthy Living and Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to read the posts and join the party.

August – One Pan Chicken and Broccolini Dinner

August – One Pan Chicken and Broccolini Dinner

A one pan dinner is handy to have in your back pocket. This easy idea is based on one from Williams Sonoma, it’s perfect for a quick midweek dinner. Slice some good bread and cut some juicy summer tomatoes to serve alongside. In that one pan you roast chicken quarters to brown deliciousness, adding the broccolini for the last 10 to 15 minutes. The whole is flavored with roast garlic and spiced up with a hot pepper. Dinner is served!

One Pan Chicken with Broccolini and Lemon

One Pan Chicken with Broccolini and Lemon

One Pan Chicken with Broccolini, Lemon and Garlic

Ingredients

  • 4 whole chicken legs
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a knife
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bunches broccolini, trimmed
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 fresh red chili, thinly sliced

Method

  1. Position a rack in the upper third of your oven and pre-heat to 500 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken legs, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, the salt and pepper. Turn to coat well with the seasonings.
  3. Arrange on a non-stick sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, trim the broccolini by rinsing and cutting the ends. If any stems are thicker than 1/2 inch, cut them in half lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss together the broccolini, lemon, chili and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with additional salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and arrange the broccolini around the chicken. Continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through and the broccolini is crisp-tender. That will be about 10-15 additional minutes.
  6. Serve immediately, garnishing with additional lemon slices if desired.
Chicken with Broccolini

Chicken with Broccolini

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #131, hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Su @ Su’s Healthy Living and Laura @ Feast Wisely. Click on the link to read the posts and join the party.

August – Fort Bragg Remodel Finished!

August – Fort Bragg Remodel Finished!

I love the results of the remodel of our vacation cabin in Fort Bragg, CA! It turned out even better than we had hoped. The entire house looks brighter and larger with the new flooring, but the biggest changes are in the kitchen and bathroom.

Yes, my blog is about cooking and gardening; but also it’s a record of change. Changes in your home ripple and have an effect on your life and mental state. A change in your immediate environment changes you as well. A revamped (even cleaning out your cupboards, pantry and fridge) kitchen will make a difference in your life. That difference may include what is prepared in your kitchen, who comes to dinner, and the general mood of the cook. But it could be bigger. Experts have found that a messy and unorganized kitchen promotes overeating. Think about it, it’s stressful and feels out of control. And if you’re stressed you are much more likely to reach for the chips or the cookies. Ok, enough with the lecture.

Bear with me while I first talk about the new bathroom, but feel free to jump directly to the kitchen.

The “old” bathroom had a sunken tub and a clear glass window immediately to the right of the front door, necessitating a privacy screen. This picture of the front of the house is a little dark and it’s hard to see. I took this one the first week we had the house. It’s amazing how much bigger the bushes have grown over the past four years.

Fort Bragg "old" Front

Fort Bragg “old” front as it looked when purchased

The new window is frosted, it lets in tons of light but gives privacy to the person taking a shower. We wanted a large walk-in shower with a flat entry and frameless shower doors, you can see how much light that new window lets into the room. Increasing the size of the shower meant that we needed to move the toilet and reduce the size of the vanity. We purchased a dark blue molded glass sink from our friend John Lewis at his yearly seconds sale and found a small piece of marble at a close-out sale.

First, here is the “old” bathroom:

Fort Bragg "old" Bathroom with Sunken Tub

Fort Bragg “old” Bathroom with Sunken Tub and Privacy Screen

Fort Bragg "old" Bathroom Vanity and Sink

Fort Bragg “old” Bathroom Vanity and Sink

New Vanity and Sink

New Vanity and Sink

New Shower Window From the Inside

New Shower Window From the Inside

And we have a new front door as well as the new bathroom window.

New Front Door and Bathroom Window

New Front Door and Bathroom Window

Ok, it’s time to show the finished kitchen. Some of you may have already seen some pictures. The sliding glass door off the kitchen has now been replaced with a French door.

IMG_4728

Kitchen

Kitchen

Center Island

Center Island

Center Island

Center Island

Remember that raw redwood board?

Old Growth Redwood

Old Growth Redwood

Here it is on the finished cabinet.

Redwood Top to Cabinet

Redwood Top to Cabinet

 

Wood is so amazing!

If anyone in Fort Bragg, CA is considering a remodel, I am happy to share the names and give recommendations for the appliance store, custom window/shower glass store; not to mention our painter, cabinet maker, and contractor. We are extremely happy with the quality of their work and found them very professional to work with.

But you can’t have our contractor until we complete phase II, an addition on the back of the house.

The Architectural and Engineering Plans - Phase II

The Architectural and Engineering Plans – Phase II

Thank you everyone for your encouragement and comments along the journey!