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by Heather Harris Brady

I’ve been experimenting a lot with whole grain flours lately, because I don’t want to settle for “wow, this is good for something healthy”. I’m going for “this is amazing”. So when I manage to hit that magical point I will share the recipes – like this one for whole grain pancakes. It’s based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine, but I’ve tinkered with it so it uses ingredients I’m more likely to have onhand.

One thing I’ve learned over the course of my trials is that you need to allow time for the grains to hydrate in order to get maximum fluffiness in the finished product. I hope you enjoy these pancakes as much as we do, they’ve become my new standard recipe. If you’d like to play around with this recipe I think grated apple would be a great addition to try.

Whole Grain Pancakes, Makes about 12 4″ pancakes

  • 2/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 c. low-fat milk + 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. light olive oil
  • 3/4 c. white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. spelt flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 large egg

Combine milk and oats in a small bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.

Pour the soaked oats and milk into a larger bowl. Add the egg, olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisk well.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well-combined.

The final texture should be close to very heavy cream.

Heat a griddle and grease it lightly with olive oil. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the griddle and watch for bubbles to appear all over the surface.

Flip the cakes and brown the other side. I usually poke the middle of each one with my finger, when they are springy they’re done.

I stack them so they stay warm.

Serve warm with butter, more syrup and fruit.

They cook up light and fluffy.

Put any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate.


Four years ago: Cream Scones
Three years ago: Key Lime Pie
Two years ago: Mixed Berry Pie
One year ago: Kerrygold Croissants


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by Heather Harris Brady

This recipe was inspired by the oat bran muffin recipe I have that I like so much. While these scones are whole grain, they are lighter and fluffier than many a coffeeshop scone. They are also very light on sugar.

Feel free to make substitutions or additions to the mix-ins, that’s part of the fun!

Everything Scones, Makes about 9 5″ scones

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 3/4 c. spelt flour
  • 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. regular all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal soaked in 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 2/3 c. whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the flours, baking powder and sugar in a food processor bowl. Add the butter.

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Process to crumbs. (You can cut this in if you don’t have a food processor.)

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Add the soaked oatmeal and all but 2 T. of the cream and process for 10 seconds. Let this mixture sit for five minutes, so the flour can absorb the liquid.

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Add the rest of the cream, vanilla and almond extract. The mixture will be sticky.

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Turn the dough into a bowl and fold in the chips, coconut and banana.

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Pat the dough into nine dollops on a greased baking pan. Sprinkle them with coconut if you like.

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Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly brown.

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Remove the baked scones to a rack to cool.

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See, light fluffy whole grain goodness!

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Goodness smeared with butter 😉

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These are large scones, so you can cut them in half to serve if you like. They keep nicely for a few days at room temperature, wrap and freeze for longer storage.

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by Heather Harris Brady

At this point we know there’s no escape. This next week is going to be miles of rough road, it’s going to call for coddling and coddling by definition calls for butter and cinnamon. Buckets of butter and cinnamon.

These cinnamon danish are based on one of my old guilty pleasures, the McDonald’s cinnamon danish. I don’t even think they sell them anymore and I haven’t had one in years. So I rebuilt it from memory and it’s pretty close! The pastry is flaky, the filling is loaded with cinnamon and the icing adds vanilla to the mix. I’m cutting some photos below to save length, but if you’re new to bread dough you can find mixing instructions and photos in one of my other bread recipes.

This does need to rise overnight, so start them the day before. you can cut this recipe in half if you like.

Cinnamon Danish, Makes about 30 3″ x 4″ Danish

For the dough

  • 4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 pkt. fast-rising yeast
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 12 T. butter (reserved, at room temp)

For the filling

  • 4 T. cinnamon
  • 1 c. fine bread crumbs
  • 1-1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 5 T. butter

For the glaze

  • 3 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 t. vanilla
  • 2-4 t. water

Make the dough:

Scald the water and milk together in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and 3 T. butter. Cool to lukewarm and stir in the egg, flour and yeast. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and knead it well, adding flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, until the dough is satiny and elastic. Wash and grease the bowl, put the dough back in, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight.

On baking day:

Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

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We’ll work with one half at a time. Roll one ball of dough out to 1/4″ thickness. Slice the reserved 12 T. of butter in half, and then take one half and cut it into halves lengthwise. Put it in the middle of the dough.

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Fold the dough over the butter, bringing the bottom up and the top down to flop over it.

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Yay! We’re laminating! Roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down.

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Repeat one more time: roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down. Wrap your now-laminated dough in plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge and repeat the process for the other dough ball.

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix to fine crumbs.

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Get the first ball of dough back out of the fridge. Roll it out to 1/4″ thick.

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Let it rest for a few minutes and then cut it into squares. (This waiting period keeps them from shrinking.)

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If you want to be proper make an egg wash by beating an egg with 1 T. of water. We’ll use this to seal the edges as we fill. Take a square and add a tablespoon of filling to the center.

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Bring opposite corners up to the middle and seal them with egg wash or press them.

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Turn the danish seam side down onto a greased cookie sheet. Keep going until you’re done! It will be worth it, trust me.

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When the danish have nearly doubled in bulk take a sharp knife and make three slits across the top to show off that pretty filling.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, until flaky and golden brown.

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Make the glaze while the danish are baking. Stir together the sugar and vanilla, and drizzle in water as needed for the proper pouring consistency.

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Lay the baked danish on a cooling rack and drizzle glaze over them contentedly, taking in deep healing breaths of the cinnamon steam as you go. You will immediately feel better.

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You will feel better yet when you take a bite.

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Four years ago: Calzones
Three years ago: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Two years ago: Chocolate Sheet Cake
One year ago: Sugarfree Apple Butter


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by Heather Harris Brady

You might think that you need a special pan or one of those spectacular large griddles to make crepes – you don’t. You just need a really good non-stick pan with rounded sides and flat bottom – and some patience. Because no matter what, the first few crepes are going to be something less than perfect.

But keep going! A couple crepes in, things will get better. By the end you’ll feel like a pro. In my experience it’s the same story, every time. The good news is, even the ones that aren’t as pretty are still delicious. Just roll them up, cover them in fruit and add a dollop of cream if you feel fancy.

This recipe (my stand-by from The Joy of Cooking 1975 Ed.) doubles easily, and while I used peaches because they are in-season and gorgeous, any fruit will work. If you can start this batter three hours ahead and let it sit in the fridge, so much the better – but in the pics below I only let it side for 30 minutes.

Peach Crepes, Makes four servings

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. double acting baking powder
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 t. vanilla or 1/2 t. grated lemon rind
  • 4 c. chopped sugared fruit
  • Cream topping
    • 1 pint heavy cream
    • 1 T. sugar
    • 2 T. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
    • 1 t. vanilla

Break the eggs in a bowl and beat well. Beat in the milk, water, and vanilla.

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Add the dry ingredients and beat. If there are lumps just leave them be. Set the batter aside. (Refrigerate if you’re going to let it sit for longer than 30 minutes.)

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While you’re waiting you can prep the cream topping. (I forgot to take pictures of this part.) Beat the heavy cream to soft peaks, beat in the sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until smooth and whipped. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to plate.

When you’re ready to cook the crepes put your pan on to medium heat and lightly grease it with olive oil. Measure out 1/4 c. of batter.

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Pour it in the pan and quickly swirl it around to cover the bottom in a very thin layer.

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When the edges start too look dry flip it over.

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Stack the cooked crepes on a plate as you go.

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To plate, roll two crepes up on each plate.

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Top each set with a cup of fruit and a nice dollop of the cream.

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These are nice for brunch or dessert. If you make the crepes ahead of time it would only take a few minutes to plate it all up.

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Three years ago: Fresh Peach Pie
Two years ago: Apricot Crostata
One year ago: No-Bake Chocolate Torte


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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s not often that I find myself with extra cinnamon rolls, they’re something of a hot commodity in these parts. However, I overbaked just a wee bit for the open house and well, there they were. Dried out a bit, but perfect for this brunch dish. It’s quick, easy and you can mix it up the night before.

Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding, About 8 generous servings

  • 2-1/2 c. milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 8-10 cinnamon rolls (at least a day old, the drier the better)

Slice the rolls in half horizontally and layer them in a buttered 8″ baking pan.

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Combine the rest of the ingredients and beat well.

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Pour the custard over the sliced rolls and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least overnight and up to one day.

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Preheat the oven to 375. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center is set.

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Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

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I served it with fresh berries and the sugar, but it would be a really nice grownup dessert with a whiskey sauce.

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by Heather Harris-Brady

Last weekend was graduation party #1 – a group of close friends for dinner and a board game tournament night. It was a big success, but with a dozen teenagers I was worried about having enough food. As I told my son, it’s the way of my people to worry about having enough food. Seriously, running out of food is probably our worst nightmare.

So, even with a taco buffet and four different kinds of mini-desserts I felt like I needed more. I needed a big batch of Mexican sweet bread. If you buy this at a Mexican grocery you probably know them as conchas. The commercial variety tend to be drier inside, and great for dunking in coffee. The homemade ones are tender and delicious, with a fine crumb.

This recipe comes from My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson. We’ve tried different recipes, but the topping has never been quite right until we found this one. You want a topping that is crunchy, and spreads out while baking – but not too much. When you are mixing the dough, think of how we did the brioche earlier. That’s the technique.

You have to start these the day before, but if you time it right your house will be blanketed in a heavenly combination of cinnamon and vanilla right when your guests arrive.

Mexican Sweet Bread (Conchas), Makes about 24 4″ conchas

For the bread:

  • 1-1/4 c. whole milk (I used evaporated milk.)
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 3/4 c. soft butter

For the topping:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. soft butter
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon

Scald the milk and cool to room temperature. Add the sugar and the eggs.

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Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast.

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Add the flour and put on the dough hook.

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Mix until you get an elastic dough, about four minutes.

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Add the butter, four tablespoons at a time, and beat until the dough comes back together. It might take a while but keep going. Eventually you’ll end up with a shiny elastic dough.

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Let it rise until doubled.

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Then flip it over, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, when you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and make the topping.

Combine everything but the flavorings in a mixing bowl and beat well. Conchas typically have a bright topping so I divided mine in half. I flavored one half with vanilla and added three drops of yellow food coloring.

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I kneaded cinnamon into the other half.

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Turn the dough out.

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You can flour the surface lightly, but the dough isn’t very sticky at this point. Grease your baking sheets and divide the dough into golf-balls.

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Divide the topping into large gumballs and flatten them in your palms. Put one on each roll.

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Score them with a knife or a concha stamp. (I use an Ateco stamp.)

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Let them rise until doubled and bake 35-40 minutes.

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The topping will get crackly, and inside…

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Is a beautiful fine-grain. These reheat and freeze well. Store leftovers wrapped at room temperature for up to three days.


Three years ago: Hot Fudge Sauce
Two years ago: Aebelskiver
One year ago: Chocolate Quinoa Scones


croissants23_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I’ve attempted croissants a few other times and I’ve always been disappointed. But I decided to give them another go, thanks to the beautiful cookbook I got for Christmas – The Art of French Pastry. Apparently a large part of the problem is that I had been using American butter, which has a higher water content compared to European butter.

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You can use Plugra but I found that Kerrygold also works. (This isn’t a sponsored post, I just happened to buy it because it was on sale – probably for St. Patrick’s Day.)

This is a two-day project – good for a cool weekend, so if you start tomorrow you can have fresh croissants for Sunday brunch. To save room I’m not giving you instructions for the poolish temperatures, because most yeast is flexible and most houses are warm enough these days that rising dough isn’t a problem.

Kerrygold Croissants, Makes about 10 large croissants

Poolish

  • 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. minus 1 t. water, lukewarm
  • 1-3/4 t. dry yeast

Dough

  • 1-3/4 c. plus 1 T. bread flour
  • 2-1/2 T. granulated sugar
  • Scant 1/4 c. water
  • 2 medium eggs, well beaten
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 oz. European style butter (82% fat)
  • 5-3/10 oz. European style butter (82% fat) – set aside

Make the poolish. Combine the yeast and and the water in a dish. Cover with the flour and let stand until you see cracks in surface.

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Combine the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl and put on the dough hook. Stir for a minute or so on medium, make sure all the dry flour from the bottom gets picked up.

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Then mix for another 45 seconds.

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Set the dough in a cool-lish place to rise.

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Let the dough double in bulk.

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Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it and put it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

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Take 5-1/3 oz. of butter, cool but pliable and position it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap over the top.

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Roll the butter out to a 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Chill it for 20 minutes.

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Roll the chilled dough out to a 10″ x 20″ rectangle. Position the butter on the left side. Fold the right side of the dough over to completely cover the butter.

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Roll 1: Roll the dough back out to a 8″ x 20″ rectangle. Work quickly, and make sure the dough doesn’t stick to the counter.

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Fold 1: Fold the right side to the middle and then fold the left over, like so. Brush off the extra flour.

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Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put the book into the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Repeat roll 1 and fold 1.

Day Two

Take the chilled dough book out of the refrigerator. Repeat roll 1 and fold 1 for the last time.

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Roll it out into a rectangle about 10″ x 20″.

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See the layers of butter and dough?

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Cut the dough into 10 V shapes, give them a tug to stretch them out, and roll them up starting with the wide end.

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Let rise for 90 minutes on a greased cookie sheet. You can add an egg wash if you like, but I think it seals the flakiness down a bit.

Preheat the oven to 375 and bake until brown.

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These are best fresh, but will keep several days at room temperature if covered.


Three years ago: Cream Scones
Two years ago: Dulce de Leche Banana Cake
One year ago: Spring Lemon Cookies


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by Heather Harris Brady

This is a great recipe from The Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. I made a small change, adding a cinnamon swirl batter under the apples. It’s quick and easy to make but it looks very finished, it would be great to take to a brunch or tea. It also keeps well, if you like to bake things ahead for company.

You can use a deep-dish pie pan or a deep springform pan. Look for well-flavored baking apples to use in this recipe. I used Jonamacs.

Danish Apple Cake, Makes one 9″ cake – eight generous servings

  • 1/2 c. softened butter
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 3 baking apples, peeled, split in half and cored (let stand in acidulated water)
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 2 T. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Cream well.

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Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

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Then alternately add the milk and the flour in two parts, beating well between each addition.

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Spread 3/4 of the batter in a greased, 9″ deep dish pie dish.

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Stir the cinnamon in the remaining batter and spread it across the top. Slice each apple half not quite through in 1/4″ slices (Hasselbeck-style).

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Press the apples cut side down on top of the batter.

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Brush them with the entire surface with the melted butter, then evenly sprinkle it with the sugar.

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Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the center is cooked through.

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This has a great flavor and a texture that is somewhere between a dessert cake and a coffeecake.

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It keeps well at room temperature and slices nicely for serving.

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Three years ago: Chocolate Pudding
Two years ago: Austrian Carnival Doughnuts
One year ago: Bran Muffins


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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve had this recipe in the back of my mind for years. When I first read it, in my vintage 1959 copy of The Blueberry Hill cookbook by Elsie Masterston, it jumped out at me. The ingredient list was simple, which leaves space for magic to happen – as writer types say. And magic they are – rising triple or even quadruple in size to puffs of buttery crumb under a veil of more butter and cinnamon sugar.

I made these last Sunday morning for my valentines, and I spread the batter in cute little mini-doughnut pans. If you don’t have those mini-muffin pans would work.

French Breakfast Puffs Blueberry Hill, Makes about 24 mini puffs

  • 1/3 c. soft butter (softened to the consistency of mayo)
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 6 T. melted butter
  • Cinnamon sugar: 1/2 c. granulated sugar mixed with 1 t. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the butter, sugar and egg in a mixer bowl.

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Stir the flour and baking powder together.

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Beat the egg, butter and sugar together well.

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Alternate adding the flour mixture with the milk, 1/3 of each at a time. Beat well after each addition, until its all incorporated.

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Add the vanilla and beat for another minute to a thick creamy batter.

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Grease your baking tin and add the batter. As you can see these little muffin tins are barely 1/2 full.

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Put them in the oven and bake about 20-25 minutes. You might want to watch because it’s pretty amazing – this tin below is the baked version of the above!

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Have your butter and sugar standing by when you take them out of the oven. Loosen the cakes and dunk them, one side at a time, in the butter and then in the sugar.

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Take them straight to the table for a few minutes of silent bliss. The outside is buttery and slightly crunchy from the sugar, while the inside is light and velvety.

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I covered a few in chocolate just to see what would happen. They were, as one might expect, good that way too.

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These aren’t meant to keep, so make them close to breakfast or teatime and invite some friends if you need someone to save you from eating them all. I have teenagers, so… there wasn’t a crumb to be had even 10 minutes later.

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Three years ago: Champagne Sabayon
Two years ago: Chard Quiche
One year ago: Buttermilk Cupcakes


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by Heather Harris Brady

I was in Greektown recently and it reminded me that’s it’s been a long time since I made a spinach pie, so when I saw the large boxes of spinach on sale I pounced on them. This is a great meatless entree in larger portions, and a lovely appetizer in smaller slices.

Spanakopita – Greek Spinach Pie, Makes one 8″ pie (about eight servings)

  • 11 oz.  baby spinach
  • 1/2 c. minced onion
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t. dill weed
  • 6 oz. feta cheese (I used the tomato/basil flavor)
  • 10 oz. cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 20 sheets of filo dough
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash the spinach.

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Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and add the fresh spinach. Saute for two-three minutes, tossing, until it’s wilted and bright green.

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Transfer the spinach to a bowl and add the seasonings.

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Then the cheeses. If you prefer a drier filling you can drain the cottage cheese ahead of time.

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Beat the eggs, pour them over the top and mix it all together.

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Lightly grease your pie dish and drape four filo sheets over the top. Brush them with butter and drape four more sheets over that layer, in the opposite direction. Brush those with butter and lay two more sheets over the middle of the dish.

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Pour in the filling.

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Fold the filo edges over the filling and lay two more sheets over the top. Tuck in all the edges and brush it all with butter.

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Continue layering two sheets at a top, brushing each set with butter, until you’ve used them all.

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Put the pie in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until the center is set.

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If the outside is browning too much for your liking you can finish it off in the microwave.

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Cut into wedges and serve hot or warm.

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Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. Rewarm them in the oven if you want to preserve maximum crispness.


Three years ago: Gougeres
Two years ago: Brown Butter & Sea Salt Rice Krispie Treats
One year ago: Burmese Chicken Soup


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My Favorite Movies/Shows – Food Related

  • Chef's Table (!)
  • Chocolat
  • Chef
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Hundred Foot Journey
  • Ratatouille
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • Master Chef (NPR)
  • Julia's Kitchen (NPR)
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