Recipes inspired by India, Asia, Europe, Chicago and the Adirondacks, from the Official Reznicek-Guibord Family Cookbook.

May 21, 2005

Middle Eastern Spinach Pie

This recipe, based on a very tasty spinach pie offered at Chicago's Cedars of Lebanon restaurant, is a bit different from a typical Greek spanakopita in that it contains red bell peppers, lemon juice and cumin. Cedars' pie has also a firmer non-phyllo pita shell and no feta cheese, but I found this combination to be very good as well.
  • 1 package #4 phyllo dough sheets
  • 1-1/2 bags Trader Joe's frozen spinach (or 2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
  • 1 red pepper, dicely finely
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 raw egg
  • seasoned salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
Saute onion in olive oil, add garlic and cook just until warmed. Add spinach, red pepper, spices. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes until mixture looks dry. Remove from heat, cool 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, feta and egg, stir until blended. Divide phyllo sheets into equal two piles, and using half the mixture on each half of the box of phyllo, oil between each 2 sheets and roll up spinach mixture. Press roll gently to flatten, pierce top to allow steam to escape, and tuck the ends under. Brush top of roll generously with olive oil, and bake in 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown. Cool.

2 Ways to Revolutionize Your Baking Success

As in many ventures, in baking, the devil is usually truly in the details; if you've ever had trouble with baking recipes not "turning out" properly, consider these two measures that help insure both you and the people who wrote your recipe are on the same page.

One: invest in an oven thermometer. Unless you have a new stove with a known properly calibrated thermostat, chances are the temperature you've set your oven dial to may be somewhat different than its actual internal temperature. With many recipes this can make a difference in baking time, "rise," and the proper color of the finished product. These can be purchased for under $10, and will quickly pay for themselves in successfully baked items from your kitchen.

Two: consider purchasing a kitchen scale. Many cookbooks offer their recipes in both volume measure (cups and spoons) and weight (ounces or metric grams), and personally, I can say that whenever I've used a scale for baking, my recipes are more consistent and closer in results to the published recipe. With just a little practice, using a scale will become as easy as using cup measure - and measuring ingredients by weight guarantees you'll never have to account for how lightly or tightly you've packed dry ingredients into a measuring cup, or whether you've used a "level" or "heaping" scoop.