The first time I ever tried spanakopita I knew i was in love. Maybe it was the fact that it came from such a romantic and exotic land :Greece, or maybe it was the crispy skin encasing the oh-so- fragrant mixture of spinach, feta cheese and spices, but whatever it was that struck me down from the beginning has held me captive to this dish ever since. I adore spanakopita, and although it's not exactly fat free, I do try and indulge just a little as often as I can.

Yield: approximately 40 triangles
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds fresh baby spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound phyllo pastry sheets
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 3 minutes until soft. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute until the spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, remove from heat and place in a colander, and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside to cool. The filling needs to be cool and dry to prevent the phyllo from becoming soggy. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with feta, coriander, and nutmeg. Season, then fold in the cooled spinach mixture until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, brush 2 baking sheets with some melted butter. Unroll the phyllo dough and lay a sheet flat on a work surface. Take care to keep the phyllo covered with a damp, not wet, towel as you work to prevent drying out and becoming brittle. Brush the sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle evenly with some oregano and chives. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo, stacking on top of each other. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the sheets lengthwise into thirds to form 2 1/2-inch strips. Do this with all the sheets of dough.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of the layered phyllo strip. Fold the end at an angle over the filling to form a triangle. Continue to fold the triangle along the strip until you reach the end, like folding up a flag. Brush the top with butter and dust with Parmesan, place on prepared baking sheet, and cover while preparing the remaining pastries. Repeat until all the filling and phyllo strips are used up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the triangles are crisp and golden. Serve hot, warm or cold.
2009 Wienzer Krems Niederösterreich Grüner Veltliner
I had a nice white Santorini ready for this dish; Sandra likes to make it from scratch and sometime, when I'm single, I buy the frozen version from Costco. However, I opened the bottle only to discover it was oxidized. OK; backup plan. I always keep a bottle of Grüner Veltliner in my cellar. We love this wine. I met it the first time in its homeland: Austria, where I lived for 4 years. GV is the most prominent Austrian wine, and its white peppery profile makes it a vegetable friendly wine. It will work also with wine killer veggies like asparagus and artichokes, as well as shrimps and poultry.
Tasting Notes:
Pale straw color with green hues. The nose opens with dominant apricots, then sweet herbs and citrus comes from in the back door. Lemon driven palate that shows a nice minerality too. It also has an herbaceous profile along with white pepper and raw almond. Medium bodied and crisp, it lacks a bit of elegance and it finishes a bit short, but it's overall enjoyable (retail $8.99 - AVIN2231913518384).

So, I've been really having a great time with Nick Malgieri's book: "The Moderm Baker". I have been drooling over all his beautiful and really interesting recipes for both classic favorites and some obscure finds. I have been very interested in his olive oil pie crust and wanted to use one of his recipes that called for it. So, when I found the goat cheese and roasted red pepper recipe, I knew I had to try it! Not only was this dish divine, It was a marvelous light dinner that tasted really "special". Don't let the olive oil crust intimidate you-- it's really an easy dough to put together.

Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart

Adapted from "The Modern Baker," by Nick Malgieri
Makes one 10- or 11-inch tart (about 8 generous servings)
  • 4 medium red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic, cut into very thin slices
  • Olive Oil Dough for a 10- to 11-inch single crust (recipe follows)
  • 10 ounces mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled, at room temperature
  • 6 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
To roast the peppers, position an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler element and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the peppers on their sides on the lined baking sheet. Broil until their skins are charred on top, then use tongs to turn each pepper onto a second side. Repeat until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides and have collapsed. (Alternatively, use an outdoor gas grill set on medium and char the peppers right on the grill.)
Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. The peppers will steam as they begin to cool, and the skins will loosen on their own. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, place them in a colander and stem, peel and seed them. (Do not peel the peppers under running water or much of their flavor will be lost.) Return the peppers to the bowl as they are cleaned, and continue until all the peppers have been cleaned and seeded.
Place a layer of peppers in a medium shallow bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and drizzle on a scant amount of olive oil. Scatter a few of the garlic slices over the peppers. Repeat until you have layered all the peppers with the seasonings. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days. If you make the peppers more than a day before baking the tart, remove the garlic no more than 24 hours after adding it.
Lightly flour a work surface. If using a rectangular tart pan, press the Olive Oil Dough into a large square, turning it 90 degrees between presses. Roll out the dough on the floured surface, rolling away from you, until the dough is large enough to cover the tart pan bottom and come up the sides. (Add a bit of flour to the work surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking as you work.) Use the rolling pin to sever the dough at the pan's edge, then use your thumb and forefinger to press in and down at the same time to form the top edge of the tart crust.
When ready to bake, set an oven rack on the lowest level of the oven; preheat to 375 degrees.
Sprinkle the unbaked tart crust with half of the goat cheese, then cover the cheese with a layer of the marinated peppers, overlapping them slightly if necessary to make them fit (make sure the garlic has been discarded). Repeat with the remaining cheese and peppers, ending with peppers on top.
Whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper to taste and the parsley in a large measuring cup with a spout; slowly and carefully pour the mixture into the crust, distributing it evenly.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling has set and has nice color and the crust is baked through. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool.

Olive-Oil Dough
Makes enough dough for a 10- or 11-inch single-crust pie or tart
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix well.
Add the oil, egg, egg yolk and water. Pulse 4 or 5 times, then turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form it into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. (Overmixing may cause the oil to separate from the dough, making the dough hard to handle later on.)
Use immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to several days.
2008 Jean-Claude Debeaune Les Galopières Pouilly-Fuisse
Pouilly-Fuissé is one of the 5 communal appellation of the Mâconnais and it is considered the best. Its wines are made of 100% Chardonnay and they are normally aged in stainless steel tanks. However some producer choose to age a small quantity of the wine in oak barrel.
I choose this wine because the acidity will pair with the goat cheese and the smooth texture with the eggs. 

Tasting notes:
Light golden color. The nose is amazingly aromatic and one can detect ripe apple and white peaches just while pouring it into the glass. A swirl reveals notes of wet stones and white flowers. On the palate it is creamy and medium bodied. There is a lot of lemon, and its high acidity probably highlights this element. Apple and roasted almond provide a good support. With the increase of the temperature the nose becomes more aromatic, and I can't quit sticking my nose into the glass. The finish is lingering and carries a nice lemon aftertaste, but it is ruined by an unpleasant heat (retail $19.99 - AVIN0552706927766)