Spanakopita Quiche

Originally appeared in the Clemson Area Food Exchange newsletter, Edited by Ellie Sharp

The bounty of spring brings to mind eggs, greens, and dairy! I know everybody is making quiche and frittata these days, but I wanted to introduce something that’s a little different: spanakopita-inspired quiche! This rich and savory dish brings Greek flavors to your table any time of day, and takes full advantage of local ingredients. You will need to purchase a few items from the store, but it’s more than worth it!

If you’ve never worked with phyllo dough before, you can find it in the freezer section next to puff pastry and pie dough shells. Make sure to thaw it the night before so it’s ready to go when you are ready to cook. Phyllo dough can be finicky: it dries out quickly and the super-thin sheets make it a blessing and a curse — difficult to work with but a joy to eat. For this recipe, it doesn’t need to be perfect, and tearing will add to the rustic plating, but do make sure you take the time to prep your ingredients and work space so that you can twork quickly once you unwrap the dough.

A note about equipment. I used a 10-inch springform pan so that I could remove the “collar” or side of the pan for a pretty presentation. This is totally not necessary and this recipe will work in a regular 9 inch pie pan! However, if you do use a 10-inch springform pan, I do recommend adding 2 more eggs (for a total of 6 eggs) as it’s a bit bigger and fills out nicer. I made the recipe both ways with equal success. 

Ingredients

  • ½ package of phyllo dough
  • 4 TB. butter, melted
  • 1 TB butter or cooking oil of choice
  • 1 package of large scallions/spring onions, diced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb greens – I used a combination of swiss chard and spinach to mix it up
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • S & P
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped herbs – dill, parsley, oregano, chives are all good choices
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Defrost phyllo dough in the fridge the night before. Take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while you start prepping the quiche filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400. 
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter/heat oil and add onions. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Start adding greens in batches, stirring to wilt and incorporate. Continue adding until all greens are cooked down, reserving one small handful of spinach leaves for the top. 
  5. While this happens, you can whisk eggs in a bowl with the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
  6. When all greens have wilted down, season the skillet with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. Turn the heat off, taste and adjust seasonings. 
  7. Set up your phyllo dough station. Unwrap phyllo dough and set next to melted butter with a brush. Using your preferred quiche pan, brush the insides with melted butter. Start by removing one phyllo sheet and covering the bottom of the pan. Brush lightly with butter. Place another sheet down in the other direction to cover the bottom thoroughly and brush with butter. Now, work on draping the sheets of dough over the pan. Brush each lightly with butter, and continue draping the sheets of dough to cover the sides and bottom of the pan while creating a large overhang on the outside of the pan. If you need to walk away or notice your phyllo dough drying out very quickly, you can cover it with a very lightly damp dish towel that will help! I used roughly 15-20 sheets of phyllo dough. I still had some leftover that I wrapped up for another use. 
  8. Next, spread the greens over the dough, spreading out in an equal layer. Top with whisked eggs/milk. Finally, top with crumbled feta cheese.
  9. Fold the hanging dough on top of the quiche. You may have to crinkle it a bit to make sure you can visually see the greens in the center. Drizzle remaining butter all over the top of the phyllo.
  10. Bake the quiche at 400 for about 35 minutes until the dough is browned and crunchy and the eggs are set (if it jiggles in the center, the eggs may need another minute or two)! 

Root Vegetable Pot Pie

A rich and hearty pot pie is perfect for the season’s cooler tempsMake the most of earthy veggies with this tender main course that suits the season all winter long. Yogurt adds moisture and texture to the flaky crust while the decadent filling guarantees second servings. Try with a simple side salad.

Recipe originally posted on CAFE newsletter, edited by Ellie Sharp

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs each rutabaga, turnips, and sweet potatoes, cut into a ½ inch dice
  • 1 lb each carrots (sliced), Brussels sprouts (halved and tough outer leaves removed if necessary)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (~2TB)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 rosemary stalks, leaves minced

Leek Bechamel

  • Olive oil to sauté leeks
  • 1 bunch of leeks, halved, washed, and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper

Yogurt Dough (adapted from Nourishing Traditions)

  • 1 cup yogurt (goat yogurt OR kefir would be an excellent local choice here!)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 ½ cups flour (whole wheat is an excellent choice here as the yogurt tenderizes and softens the whole wheat and produces a stellar flavor and texture. A spelt flour version is pictured below.)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • Egg wash/melted butter for cooking

Directions:

Make yogurt dough:

  1. Cream together butter and yogurt in stand mixer with paddle attachment.
  2. Add flour and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. Split into two. You only need half this the dough for the recipe. Freeze the other half for the next time you make pot pie, pasties, etc.
  4. You can use immediately or set aside to allow the yogurt to soak the whole grains to increase nutritional absorption!

Roast veggies:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. On a sheet pan with a Silpat mat/parchment/foil, combine rutabaga, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Add 1 TB of olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper and half the rosemary. Flip vegetable halfway through. Roast for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.
  3. On another sheet pan add carrots and Brussels sprouts. Add oil, salt and pepper, rosemary.  Roast for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Set vegetables aside or add to your pie pan. You might have more vegetables than needed. They make an excellent topping to fresh greens, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette the next day for lunch. 
  5. Reduce oven to 375.

Make bechamel:

  1. Sauté leeks in olive oil over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes until leeks are translucent. Season with salt, pepper, minced garlic.
  2. Add butter. When melted, sprinkle flour over and combine. Let flour cook for 2 minutes.
  3. With a whisk, add milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition.
  4. Allow the bechamel to cook for another minute and make sure everything is combined. Turn off heat.

Assemble:

  1. Place vegetables in pie pan.
  2. Top with bechamel and stir to combine. Taste and add more seasoning if needed! Set aside.
  3. Roll dough (easier if slightly chilled) out on countertop, make sure you have enough to cover pie pan. 
  4. Cover the pie with dough. Press dough onto pie pan using fork, crimping edges or your fingers to press down. Create vents on top allowing steam to escape during cooking process.
  5. Brush with egg wash or melted butter to help brown.
  6. Cook at 375 for 30-40 until crust is browned and delicious looking!

The romantic baker

The other day I got up early to rise a batch of bread. My daughter, who is 8, heard me and joined me at the kitchen counter in the early hours of the morning while everyone else was asleep. We scooped and weighed flour, measured water and sourdough starter, and she began mixing the dough with her hands. After a few turns, she looked up at me and said, “It’s just so cool that flour and water become the yummy loaves that I love so much!” And I think that means I win at parenting? Just kidding – but seriously, it was a good moment.

Usually when I’m baking it’s in the early morning hours or the late night and I’m alone. I turn off my podcasts and listen to the rhythmic sounds of the kneading, slapping, and folding dough. I’m in my body. And then, often, I slip into my mind. My favorite daydream is one where I assume the mindset of my kids at their height of play and pretend I’m a famous alchemist mixing things and transforming them. Because isn’t bread the simplest and most magical alchemy in our world today? Flour + water + salt + hands = delicious sustenance. 

The granolas that I concoct are the same thing. While I start with a base recipe, I create flavors and re-create memories. A favorite drink? A childhood memory? It comes down to seasonal ingredients paired with complementary spices and textures.  When my love affair with cooking began, I always said I’m not a baker. Baking requires precision, which I don’t exactly excel at. Cooking is my artistic and creative expression to the world. Some of us use a canvas, some of us use words, images, etc. To be an artist is to “tinker” – a smidge of this, handful of that, pinches here and there. Going off the roadmap and letting yourself be led by the senses is what drew me to cooking. And after years of baking bread, I’ve found this also in baking. While I do start by measuring my ingredients, a truly good loaf of bread is in the sight, feel, touch of creating it. I add more water or more flour because of the way the loaf looks based on my touch, based on my senses.Ideas, but also feelings and memories, form the flavor profile that go into making a batch of granola.

And finally, cakes – oh the cakes! I never thought I’d really enjoy baking cakes and I do have a certain approach to cake baking: I pay particular attention to ingredients often using whole grain flours to create texture and flavor in the base. But my mind is always turning on how I can incorporate an herb or a vegetable. How can I blend the flavors blooming all around me on the farm to create unique flavors that you may never have experienced in cake form. And the cakes I bake for people? So much of my love of them goes into that cake I bake for them. I often recall a meal, dessert, or a drink we shared together. I think about the things they love and I try to fold it into the cake batter or frosting. I love creating cakes for people, rather than the baking itself. 

So, my point? While baking is a science, I prefer to think of it as a love affair. It allows me to connect with my body, my mind, my spirit, and my heart – and for a moment, someone else, too. 

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The best breakfast muffins

Breakfast is something I perpetually have to plan for. I am not a morning person, so the thought of getting up earlier than I have to to cook eggs and bacon, well that’s a nice thought and all, but it will never happen during the week. And trying to get a really healthy, homemade breakfast in fast, can be difficult.

Our standards are homemade yogurt with toppings (jam/honey/fruit, nuts, granola, etc.), homemade bread with almond butter, jam, or cinnamon butter and honey, overnight steel cut oats, smoothies (almond butter, banana, and milk is our fave!), and muffins. I have gotten in the habit of making a batch of muffins on Sunday and then freezing them. We take them out in the morning and throw them in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute and enjoy hot, homemade muffins for breakfast.


This is by far, the best, most nutritious recipe I have tried. It only has 1/4 cup of brown sugar. It uses both oats and whole wheat flour AND it’s just a template so you can add whatever your heart desires. The only downside is that the recipe does take some preparation. It calls for the oats to be soaked in buttermilk (or soured milk) for an hour before cooking time. This requires some planning, but the rest of the recipe comes together in 5 minutes. 



So far, I have made fresh blueberry muffins and raspberry-almond muffins. It’s rhubarb season, so really looking forward to picking up a few stalks and throwing in some cardomam for the next batch. If you try this recipe, let me know what flavor combinations you try or even ones that sound good! I have been dreaming of the following combinations:

  • Fresh blueberries and ground ginger
  • Raspberries and vanilla bean
  • Rhubarb and cardamom
  • Grated carrots and raisins
  • Diced apple, extra cinnamon, and walnuts
  • Peaches
  • Frozen or fresh cherries and chocolate chips
The best breakfast muffins
Adapted from here.



Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buttermilk (OR alternatively 1 cup milk with 1 tspn. lemon juice of white vinegar added and let sit for 5 minutes before proceeding)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not the quick kind)
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly (I want to try replacing this with coconut oil too!)
  • 1 tspn. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 TB flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tspn. salt
  • 1 tspn. baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn. baking soda
  • 1/4 tspn. nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tspn. cinnamon
  • Add-ins of your choice

Directions:

  1. Combine milk and oats in a large bowl and let stand one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and line with cupcake papers.
  3. Crack the egg into the oats; add brown sugar and mix to combine. Stir in melted butter and vanilla.
  4. Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Gently fold into batter, taking care no to over mix.
  5. Sprinkle add-ins and additional flavorings and combine gently.
  6. Spoon into muffin tins. 
  7. Bake until light brown on top and muffins spring back when gently touched, about 10-12 minutes. This will take longer is you use fresh or frozen fruit additions.
  8. Remove and enjoy!

* I keep a few out fresh but then I fit 9 into a large, freezer ziploc bag and throw it into the freezer. Pop in the microwave for 30 seconds in the morning and enjoy a tasty, warm muffin for an easy breakfast!