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pineapplepico4_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I hope all my American readers had a great Thanksgiving holiday last week! I had a few welcome days off to spend with family and one of the things I like best is shopping and cooking together. My son, in severe taco withdrawal after three months of college, helped me come up with this pico for chicken tacos but it would be equally good on fish – or just dipped straight up.

Find a nice fresh pineapple and you’ll have a batch of pico in just a few minutes. It is a little better the second day, and of course you can adjust the heat to your own preferences. Since it’s super-healthy, fresh, and gluten-free, it would be a great addition to a holiday potluck, and a way to wake up palates jaded from rich holiday foods.

Pineapple Pico de Gallo, Makes about 3 cups

  • One medium fresh pineapple, cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1 c. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 t. fresh ground ginger
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 T. sambal oelek (fresh ground chili paste) (or to taste)

Put the pineapple chunks in the food processor. Pulse five-six times until you start to approach crushed pineapple.

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Add the rest of the ingredients.

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Pulse three-four times until everything is roughly chopped. Give a stir to make sure there aren’t any large pieces left.

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Spoon into a serving dish and chill. Serve on tacos, grilled fish or chicken, or as-is with a bag of lime chips!

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Now that we’ve been all virtuous it’s time to get out the butter and start on our holiday cookies – in our next post!


Four years ago: Swedish Visiting Cake
Three years ago: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie
Two years ago: Pumpkin Gingerbread
One year ago: Orange Bites


spinachpie12_little-house-dunes

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


manoushe1_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Man’oushe is a Lebanese flatbread, spread with olive oil and the spice blend za’atar then cooked quickly on a stone or clay. Not that there’s anything wrong with pulling some pita bread out of a bag to have with your hummus or baba ghanoush, but there’s no comparison once you’ve had this beauty right off the heat. So find an excuse to have cocktails in the kitchen or around the grill while you slide these off the stone and onto the serving plate. It will smell wonderful, taste even better and you’ll feel like you’re giving Ina Garten a run for her money this summer.

It’s best to have a pizza stone or clay tile for this. Za’atar is available from most ethnic groceries, or online. Here’s an example. Start the dough about an hour before you’re ready to serve, and put the stone on to heat 20 minutes before cooking.

Man’oushe, Makes about eight 8″ flatbreads

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. za’tar

Warm the water and milk together to lukewarm. Add the sugar, yeast and olive oil.

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Then stir in the flour.

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Let rise until doubled and then knead smooth for two-three minutes. Put your baking stone on to heat. I set my oven at convection roast 450, but you could do this on the grill as well.

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Divide the dough into eight portions and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Give it a good drizzle of olive oil, and then brush the oil all over the top.

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Douse it with the spices.

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Sprinkle the stone with some semolina and slide on the first bread.

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Bake for about seven-eight minutes, until bubbly and well-browned.

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The bread tears easily and is perfect for sharing.

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But I ate a whole one by myself, right out of the oven. And I’m not sorry.

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Stored in plastic wrap these are still okay the next day if you reheat them in the oven (400 for five minutes). Don’t microwave, it makes them soggy.


Two years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
One year ago: Michigan Fruit Pie

arepa12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be working in some south-of-the-border recipes as we head toward Cinco de Mayo. Today I’m bringing you arepas. Now they might be street food in your neck of the woods, but should you not be that lucky the good news is – it’s easy to make your own.

You do need the special masa, pre-cooked cornmeal, which you can order online. Note: This is not to be confused with masa harina. It’s often called masarepa or just look for the bag marked P.A.N.

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I found it at my local Latino grocery, where the shopkeeper said most people prefer the Venezulean variety as opposed to the Colombian one. It comes in white cornmeal, yellow cornmeal and a sweetened variety. I’m using the plain white cornmeal.

You can cook these as patties, then split them for filling – or you can cook them filled with just about anything – cheese, refried beans, chopped veggies or meat. As you knead it the dough takes on a super-fun resilient texture that feels great when you work with it. These remind me very much of the fried cornmeal mush my grandma used to make, just in a different form. They’re gluten-free, easy, quick and delicious – and they’d make a terrific vegetarian entree.

Arepas, Makes about eight 3″ filled patties

  • 2 c. precooked cornmeal
  • 2 T. softened butter
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2-1/2 c. warm water
  • 1-1/2 c. filling ingredients (shredded cheese, refried beans, etc.)

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Combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Swirl the warm water in with your fingertips. As the dough starts to come together knead in the butter. Continue kneading for two minutes until you have a soft, bouncy dough.

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Assemble your filling ingredients. I’m using leftover fajita chicken, chopped fine, and cheese.

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Pat a round of dough out into a circle and add a dab of filling.

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Top it with another circle and pinch around the edges to seal.

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When you have all your patties formed, heat 2 T. of olive oil in a heavy skillet. (You also grill these.)

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Cook for about four-five minutes, until nicely browned. Then turn and do the other side.

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Serve these hot with salsa or another spicy sauce of your choice.

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Two years ago: Fresh Ginger Carrot Muffins
One year ago: Chicken Kiev with Farro Pilaf

moroccanapple3_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, finishing up the Moroccan menu today and then we’ll get down to the holiday baking! This grated carrot salad is bright, fresh and easy to love – packed with vitamins and a nice counterpoint to rich holiday foods. The apple burek is my variation of an individual m’hanncha, a Moroccan filo dessert shaped like a snail or a snake, depending on how you want to look at it. I made it as an alternative to a heavier apple pie. Aside from the sprinkling of powdered sugar, this apple burek is sweetened only by the apples and honey.

I’m combining these two because both recipes are so short.


 

Grated Carrot Salad, Makes six servings

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  • Five large well-flavored carrots (heirloom would be great here)
  • Two large navel oranges
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. cinnamon

Grate the carrots on a fine blade and put them in your serving dish.

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Segment the two oranges over the dish, so you catch any juice. If you are new to segmenting citrus, here’s how:

First, cut the top and bottom peel away, so it sits nicely. I like to use a serrated knife myself.

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Next, cut the sides away, following the curve of the fruit.

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Now, holding the fruit carefully in your palm, cut each segment loose.

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When you’re done you’ll have a stack of the membranes, like the pages of a book.

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In the bowl you will have lots of pretty segments.

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Toss the oranges and carrots with the lemon juice, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve well-chilled. This keeps several days.


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Apple Burek, Makes about five servings

  • Three fresh apples sliced, a mixture of varieties is good
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 package of filo dough
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 3 T. water
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Put the apples in a saucepan with 1 T. of water. Cook on medium-low until you have a thick, chunky applesauce.

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Stir in the cinnamon and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400. Beat the egg, melted butter and water together in a bowl and set aside.

Unwrap your filo and separate out three leaves, keeping the rest covered. Dab the sheets all over with the egg wash.

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Spoon out a line of apple filling near the bottom of the sheet.

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Roll the dough over the filling and continue rolling until you get to the end, adding more egg wash as necessary. Now you will have a long, cigarette shaped log with the filling in middle. Starting at one end, spiral the log around itself so you end up with a snail shape.

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Brush the end with more egg wash to seal it and move it to a greased baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon, serve warm or at room temperature.

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Two years ago: Apricot Ginger Biscotti
One year ago: Fruitcake 2.0

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by Heather Harris Brady

This a quick, easy recipe for a weekend side-dish that protein-packed yet vegetarian. It’s a pretty way to show off the little round Eight-Ball zucchini I have here, or you can use another shape.

Quinoa-Parmesan Stuffed Zucchini, Serves four as a side dish

  • Two large-size round zucchini
  • 6 oz. quinoa (any type is okay)
  • 3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. butter
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Split and hollow the zucchini, leaving a 1/2″ wall all around.

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Steam the cleaned halves, either in the microwave or in a bamboo steamer, until just tender (about 10 minutes in a bamboo steamer).

While the zucchini is cooking, cook the quinoa if you’re not using pre-cooked grain. Drain and toss it with the butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 (or not, and use the microwave to heat the stuffed squash through).

Combine the quinoa with the cheese, and stuff each shell, mounding the stuffing slightly.

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Place the stuffed squash in a buttered baking dish or microwavable dish. Heat through until the cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes in the oven.

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Serve hot, with a grinding of fresh pepper.
One year ago: Barbeque Sauce

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by Heather Harris Brady

Earlier this year in California I had an amazing plate of pasta – achini de pepe and crab in an alfredo sauce. It was all things it should be – thick, rich and luxurious at the point where it left rivulets of butter on the dish. But one can’t live like that every day, so when we got home I developed this recipe using the same ingredients but turning them into a bright summer salad with a lemon vinaigrette.

Summer Crab Salad, Serves eight as a side dish

  • Four ears of fresh sweet corn
  • 1/2 of a red pepper
  • 1/3 c. diced onion
  • 3/4 lb. of achini de pepe pasta
  • 2/3 c. shaved parmesan
  • Meat from one lb. of king crab legs

Vinaigrette

  • 2/3 c. olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Cracked pepper
  • Salt

Cook the pasta, drain and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Set aside.

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Cut the corn off the ears and set it aside.

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Saute the pepper and onion in a saucepan with 2 T. of olive oil on medium heat.

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When the pepper starts to soften, add the corn and cook it until crisp-tender – about 10 minutes.

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When the vegetables have cooled to room temperature, combine them with the pasta.

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Fold in the crab.

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Combine the oil and lemon juice in a separate bowl and whip well with a whisk. Add in the seasonings.

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Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and cheese.

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Adjust seasonings to taste. Chill thoroughly, at least three hours, before serving.

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This salad would be delicious as a stuffing for fresh tomatoes. Keep it cold at all times. And once in a while, if you feel like subbing in an alfredo sauce for the cheese and vinaigrette, your secret’s safe with me.

One year ago: Baby Back Ribs with Dry Rub

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by Heather Harris Brady

It’s salad time but I have to say I rarely buy dressings. I usually just settle for throwing together some kind of vinaigrette when I need one. However, one day I had a beautiful buttery leaf lettuce and a yen for Thousand Island. Most of the recipes I found called for mayo, another thing I never have. If I made my own I’d have the Uncooked Egg Problem, which I’d prefer to avoid. So, I reasoned, could I not make a dodgy sort of hollandaise and use that as a base?

Why yes, yes you can. If you have your own fresh eggs, so much the better.

Thousand Island Dressing, Makes about 1-1/3 cups

  • Two whole eggs and one egg yolk
  • 1/3 c. white wine
  • Cracked pepper
  • 1/3 c. olive oil

Seasonings to taste (amounts are a guideline):

  • 2 T. ketchup (storebought or my recipe)
  • 2 T. cocktail sauce
  • 2 t. asian hot chili sauce
  • 1/3 c. sweet relish
  • 2 T. minced red pepper
  • 1 t. worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Have your eggs and oil standing by. Beat the eggs together well. Reduce the wine and pepper over medium heat until the pan is nearly dry (au sec).

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Add the oil to the pan, and start whisking like mad as you drizzle in the egg.

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You should end up with something vaguely like a hollandaise. Let the pan cool to lukewarm and then whisk in the seasonings.

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Adjust the ratio until it pleases you. Then scoop it a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. If you leave it overnight so much the better, the flavors will blend more.

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Store the dressing in the refrigerator. Serve with any green salad. To frost your plates just rinse them quickly under cold water, shake off the excess and place them (unstacked) in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

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One year ago: Strawberry Shortcake

 

 

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is a nice spring risotto that you can adapt to whatever’s in season, just follow the basic technique. To make a true risotto you need short, fat Arborio rice, other rice just won’t give you the same creamy texture. If I can find at my mega-grocery in the wilds of northern Michigan I’m guessing bags of it are lurking somewhere nearby you as well. If not, you can easily find it online.

Since it’s wild onion (ramp) time here I threw some in for kicks. They look like this:

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You clean them and chop them like any fresh green onion.

Asparagus & Wild Mushroom Risotto, Serves four as a side or two as an entree

  • 1 c. Arborio rice
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, washed and cleaned with tough bottoms removed
  • 1 c. chopped wild or cultivated mushrooms
  • 1/3 c. chopped wild onions (or shallots)
  • 4-6 c. good-quality chicken stock
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Add 1 T. olive and 2 T. butter to a saucepan. Saute the mushrooms and onions until soft. Remove them and set them aside.

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Add the rice to the skillet (adding another tablespoon olive oil if you need it). Stir it around until it starts to get transparent.

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Add 2 c. of chicken stock.

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When it’s nearly all absorbed, add another cup. Then continue on adding stock by the 1/2 cup until the rice is al dente. Cut the asparagus stalks in half and toss the stalks on top of the rice.

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You could steam them separately but I’m kind of lazy, also, I aim for as few dirty dishes as possible. (And hey, it’s adding flavor, right?) When the stalks are al dente stir in the asparagus tips, mushrooms and onions.

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Fold in the cheese.

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Season to taste, serve hot. You could switch in vegetable stock for the chicken and increase the serving size for a nice vegetarian entree.

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One year ago: Baked Beans in a Beanpot

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by Heather Harris Brady

Spring has finally sprung in my neck of the woods and it’s time for morels (MORE-relles) and wild leeks. These are a seasonal delicacy, hard to cultivate and they retail for around $44/lb fresh.

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This is how they look before cooking. Most people just saute them in butter and call it a day but I thought I’d give you a fancier recipe that will dress up any type of mushroom. With the vol-u-vent shells it makes a pretty appetizer for a dinner party.

Wild Mushrooms Florentine, Serves 6 as an appetizer

  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms (these can be a mix or all one variety), cleaned and sliced
  • 1/3 c. diced wild leeks (ramps) or shallots
  • 1 pint light cream
  • 1 T. sherry or madeira
  • 1 T. white wine
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. baby leaf spinach
  • 1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan
  • Seasonings to taste
  • 1/2 sheet puff pastry
  • Egg wash made with one beaten egg and 1 T. water

Preheat the oven to 400. Mark the puff pastry into twelve even squares. Prick half of them all over with a fork, and cut smaller squares in the middle of the other six.

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Lay the pricked squares on a lightly greased cookie sheet and brush the edges with the egg wash.

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Top them with the six remaining squares. Make sure there is a clean cut on each side so they will rise evenly.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. While the shells are baking, saute the leeks in 1 t. butter and 1 T. olive oil.

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Add the mushrooms. I’m using a combination of morels and button mushrooms.

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Saute for about five minutes. Then add the sherry and the cream.

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Combine the cornstarch and white wine, stir until smooth. Stir it into the sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium, until it thickens slightly.  Add the spinach leaves.

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Place a puff pastry shell on each plate, sprinkle a pinch of parmesan into each shell  and fill them with a heaping spoonful of sauce.  Serve hot.

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One year ago: Apple Oat Bran Muffins

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