Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Dinner

It was a good Christmas this year -- church on the Eve was as beautiful and magical as ever, I enjoyed gorgeous weather, good food, and a great movie with my friend Ann during the day, made the family phone calls, and then pulled a kick-ass dinner out of my freezer and knocked the day out of the park:

(loosely based on The Cheese Factory Restaurant Cookbook's recipe for "Spanikopita"):
Yield: one 9X13 pan, 6 or so servings

2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
zest of one lemon
1 pound feta, crumbled
3 pounds cooked/chopped spinach, thawed if frozen and squeezed dry
2 cups chopped onion and 1 minced clove garlic, sauteed in a drizzle of olive oil until soft

Lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the cream, nutmeg, basil, oregano, dill, salt, pepper, cayenne, and lemon zest. Fold in the cheese, spinach, and onion/garlic mixture until well-blended.

1 pound filo, thawed completely (you won't use quite the entire package)
1 stick butter, melted

1. Cut the filo to fit the size of your 9X13 baking dish. Reserve the scraps for another use, or just toss them. Spray a kitchen towel with water and use to cover the filo while you are working. Continue to mist the towel as needed to keep the dough from drying out during the assembly process.
2. Brush the inside of your baking dish well with butter, Add two filo, brushing the top sheet with butter. Continue layering filo, buttering every-other, until you have about a dozen sheets in the pan. You can lay the sheets flat in the bottom, or build up the sides making sort of a "crust." Either system works well -- just whatever you prefer.
3. Add the filling to the baking dish, spreading evenly.
4. Continue layering filo on top of the filling, brushing each sheet of dough with butter this time. until you use up all of the dough. Cut the pie into squares -- either a 3X3 grid or a 3X4 grid, depending on how large of servings you want.
5. At this point you can cover the pie with foil and freeze until you are ready to bake it, or stick the thing directly in a preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered. Bake until deep golden brown, about 40 minutes for a fresh pie, or much longer -- about an hour and a half? -- if you are baking from frozen. (Put the frozen pie in a cold oven and turn the heat on so you don't crack your baking dish! Cover a frozen pie for about the first hour, and then uncover for the last 30 minutes or so, so the whole thing doesn't dry out during the long bake.) Allow the pie to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before re-cutting the squares and serving!

Hope you had a fantastic holiday!
(P.S. I got to have lefse for dessert, too!)

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