Thursday, 26 July 2012

How to wreck boiling water - by Frere Cuisine

My second brother (I have three) called me the other day and asked, "Sister, is it possible to wreck boiling water?" Pause. "Hello?"

After assuring him I was still on the line, I asked him to clarify what he meant by wreck boiling water. He explained he has a new girlfriend and wanted to impress her with his (lack of) culinary skills and so decided to make her - yup, you guessed it - mac and cheese. From a box. While I turned my nose up in disdain whilst simultaneously holding the phone to my ear, and glad he could not see my face, I asked him, "So what happened?" He said he put the water on to boil, with the heat on max and walked away. He got distracted and promptly forgot about it and set off the smoke detector when the water had boiled down and scorched his saucepan. Oh dear.

"Well," I said, "Your first and only mistake was to walk out of the kitchen." He agreed. I asked him what he did for dinner that night and he said that he feigned that his stove was on the fritz and took her out instead. Nice work.

Maybe you can wreck boiling water. I didn't think it was possible. I guess it is true that some children inherit genes from their parents and some don't. Frere Cuisine definitely did not inherit the cooking gene as my mother, my grandmother and great grandmother is, and have been, excellent cooks and I learned from each of them. Obviously, he did not.

In dedication to my brother, here is a picture of inspiration.

In the end, I went to his place, made a bunch of food for him, put it in the freezer and wrote instructions on how to heat up. And yes, the instructions included not to walk out of the kitchen while heating up his dinner. ;)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Greek food is the best!

I love Greek food. It has got to be one of the best cuisines in the world in my books. So, for my husband's work BBQ last weekend, I made indvidual spanakopitas and Greek salad. It was a vegetarian theme, so I think this will fit the bill quite nicely. The only thing that will not be homemade is the phyllo. Too tedious for me on a hot day to spend in the kitchen making phyllo. Store bought will do me just fine. And of course I did not grow the spinach myself.

My mum gave me this recipe and I've used it for years. You will need two packages of chopped frozen spinach that is thawed and drained. Fresh spinach will not do in this recipe as there is too much water and the frozen spinach works quite nicely. You will need dried dill (about 2 tbsp. or to taste) and about a half pound of feta - depending on how much feta you like to put in. I like a lot! Makes it really tasty. You will also need one large onion chopped, and olive oil for the pan and extra for brushing the phyllo with. Sometimes I use butter for brushing the phyllo for extra flavour, but if you are watching calories, use the olive oil. And finallly two large eggs to bind it all together.

First, put your olive oil in the pan at heat it over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and saute until soft - about 6-8 minutes. Next, add your thawed and drained spinach and saute for another 6-8 mins until warmed through and mixed well with the onions. Remove from heat, add the dill, mix well and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, add the feta and two eggs and mix well.

During this whole time, make sure your phyllo is thawed and ready use. Lay the phyllo flat on a work surface (a cool surface works well like a marble slab) and take two to three sheets at a time and brush inbetween layers with olive oil or butter. Cut into 5-6 thick strips. Place about 1-2 tablespoons of mix onto phyllo strip and fold into a triangle. Fold either corner up to the opposite side and then again the other way and continue folding until the strip is used and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until your mix is used up.

Once your baking sheet is full, brush tops of triangles with olive oil or butter and place in a preheated oven at 400F for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on edges and tops. Serve immediately with tzatziki. Pair with greek salad, grilled chicken breast and a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. Either will pair nicely.