Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spanikopita, Citrus Glazed Chicken and Apple Ginger Cigars with a Honey Lime Drizzle

I really challenged myself with this one.  You know i am heavily influenced by all things for this one i designed a three course meal just to see if i could pull it off.  I am not lying...this was a challenge.  If any of you have ever worked with Phyllo know what i'm talking about.  I did however discover a great shortcut i will get to in a bit.  This meal starts with one of my abosolute favorite greek dishes...Spanikopita or spinach pie.  The sauteed spinach and creamy feta baked inside puff pastry just leaves me feeling kinda happy.  I treated it as an appetizer, but it can be served as an entree as well.  My main dish was Citrus Glazed Chicken over a fresh CousCous salad.  The dessert popped into my head this morning when i looked at the surplus of apples in our fruit bowl that i knew would soon be going to waste.  I knew i would be working with i figured why not re-interpret my favorite dessert....Baklava!  I combned the apple filling with ground ginger and cinnamon....rolled it up in phyllo and once it came out of the oven i hit it with a honey lime drizzle and chopped pecans. This was a really satisfying experience in the kitchen.  I love quick and easy, but there is alot to be said for slow and well thought out. 

What you will need:


20 sheets phyllo cut lengthwise and double for each piece
2 packs frozen chopped spinach
4 cloves chopped garlic
4 scallions chopped
1 egg
8 oz feta crumbles
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs olive oil

Heat up the olive oil and add the chopped spinach after wrapping in a towl and wringing out the excess moisture.  Add the scallions, garlic and spice.  Sautee for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.  Once cooled...add the feta and the egg.  Incorporate thouroughly.  The big secret i discovered in working with phyllo is using a spray butter substiture instead of trying to brush it with a pastry brush...alot less me.  Phyllo is very hard to work with....always keep it covered with wax paper and a damp towel when not using it or it will just dry out.  Lay out two sheets one on top of the other and cut it down the middle.  This will leave you with two 3 x 11 doubled sheets.  Spray liberally with the butter substitute and spoon a tsp of the spinach and feta mixture 1 inch from the end and then fold like a paper football...just like you used to do in high school.  In the end you will end up with about twenty of these little footballs.  The trick is also keeping these under a damp towel until ready for the oven.  Brush with butter and pop in a 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes.

Citrus Glazed Chicken:

juice and zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts

This chicken was uber easy and way flavorful.  I just mixed all the ingredients together and poured it over the chicken.  I let this marinate for about five hours.  The chicken really soaked up the citrus flavor while the citrus actually tenderized the it.  I grilled the chicken on the stove...allowed it to rest and served it sliced over my fresh couscous salad.  I finished it with a nice balsamic vinaigrette.

Apple Ginger Cigars:

3 small diced apples
1 tbs brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
10 sheets of phyllo cut lengthwise...yield is 20 pieces
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tbs honey
zest of 1 lime

Combine the diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger.  Allow this to set and begin to create it's own syrup.  When you are ready to put these together...drain off the syrup and it will be combined later with the honey and lime zest for the drizzle.  Take one sheet of phyllo and cut lengthwise.  Spray both pieces with butter and add a tsp or so of the apple mixture.  Simply roll these up and pinch the ends before brushing with butter.  They will go in a 350 degree oven for about a half our.  Once they have cooled drizzle them with the honey lime glaze and springle with the chopped nuts.

I am really proud of myself for pulling this one off.  The family really seemed to enjoy it...and i know i did.  This one is definately a commitment, but i say give it a worth it.  It was a great way to teach Cameron some new techniques while at the same time allowing her to experience another culture through their food....good times.

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