Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rosie's Birthday Dinner.

I wanted to make something special and a little bit different for my birthday dinner. I decided on spanakopita, since I've always wanted to make it and I only just had it for the first time last Saturday when Mr. Hawthorne, Ticky, and I ordered it at Azar's , the Lebanese restaurant in Virginia beach.
I checked out a bunch of recipes for spanakopita online, many of which called for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, but in the end, since I didn't have either cottage or ricotta, I decided to make up my own recipe. Notice in my mise above, I have Puff Pastry. I got the puff pastry for my entree for this meal. Had I been thinking, I probably would've used Phyllo Sheets, but the puff pastry worked out just fine. My ingredients: puff pastry (1 sheet) spinach (I used 1/2 bag.) 1/2 onion, chopped 1/2 butter, melted 2 green onions, chopped parsley, chopped 3 eggs parmesan cheese feta cheese salt and pepper I prefer Il Villagio parmesan cheese and Olivia feta cheese. I just discovered the Olivia cheese and I like it very much. It's nowhere near as salty as the other fetas I've tried.
Be sure you wash your spinach thoroughly, even if it says on the package that it's been hydro-turbo-jet-washed. You don't want this to happen to you. I used Farmer's Market brand spinach this time, which claims to be "triple washed." (Not Fresh Express like last time.)
First, I sauteed the chopped onions in a combination of olive oil and butter for about a minute.
Then I added in about half the bag of spinach, tossed a bit, then cut the heat to low, covered and cooked about 5 minutes.
Or until it looked like this. Thinking back on it, I probably could have used the whole bag.
I seasoned the spinach mixture with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and let the mixture drain.
Before adding the eggs, I squeezed as much liquid as I could out of the spinach.
Next, I added in about 1/3 cup parmesan cheese ...
... and about 1/4 pound of the feta.
Align Center
Mix well, and ...
... stir in the chopped parsley.
Since I didn't use phyllo sheets, I rolled out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible.
I sliced the sheets into ribbons
about 2 1/2 inches wide and placed a spoonful of spinach mixture in the corner.
Then I folded up the dough like a flag, brushing with melted butter.
Placed the triangles on a greased baking sheet.
And baked in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until nicely browned, turning halfway through the baking time.
My spanakopita, fresh from the oven.
And boy does my kitchen smell good and buttery.
Light, flaky pastry.
I sprinkled parsley over top.
Oh my, but this is good.
Like biting into an airy, crunchy, flaky cloud filled with delicious spinach and cheese. I'll definitely be making this again. It's that good.
Now, for my entree - Pork Tenderloin en Croute. At Glowria's birthday party the other night, one of the best dishes was the pork tenderloin in pastry. I got the recipe from her house guest and made that last night for dinner. And, not surprisingly, it's one of Emeril's recipes.
First, I'm making the mushroom duxelles. I have: 1 pound mushrooms a few cloves garlic 2 shallots bunch of parsley wine salt and pepper
I processed the shrooms in my Cuisinart.
Then I had Mr. Hawthorne squeeze as much liquid out of the shrooms as he could - almost 1/2 cup mushroom joos from 1 pound of shrooms.
Here's everything ready to go: Clumps of minced mushrooms Minced garlic Minced shallots Chopped parsley Wine
I sauteed the shallots and the garlic for about a minute.
Then added in the mushrooms.
And cooked for about 10 - 15 minutes.
Then I added in about 1/2 cup of white wine and cooked about 5 more minutes until the wine evaporated.
I seasoned with salt and pepper, added the parsley, and let cool.
I seasoned my pork tenderloin (Still $2.99/pound at Harris Teeter.) with just salt and pepper simply because I have a problem with Emeril's essence.
Sear the meat evenly all over and let rest for 10 minutes.
I rolled out the puff pastry on a lightly floured
surface to about a 12 x 18 rectangle.
I slathered a thin layer of coarse grained mustard over the puff pastry ...
... then spread the mushroom duxelles over top.
The seared tenderloin went onto the pastry.
I rolled it up, and brushed with an egg wash. The tenderloin went into a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, then I turned it and cooked for another 10 minutes. The pastry still wasn't done and I was worried about overcooking the pork, since I couldn't check the internal temperature because my digital thermometer gave up the ghost yesterday. So, I set the oven to 300 degrees on broil and broiled for 5 minutes. Pastry still not browned. So I upped it to 350 and within 3 minutes, the crust was just a tad too brown in a few places.
And here's my tenderloin en croute.
So, it's a little too brown on top. Even Rosie isn't perfect all the time. I know. Sacre bleu! Who would'a thunk?
Now, I could have just shown you this perfect little section of the pastry and never mentioned about the blackened parts, but in the interest of total disclosure, I let you in on my dirty little secret. I showed you. And now, you know I'm just another kitchen hack and I burn stuff.
Here's our dinner: Perfectly cooked pork covered with mustard, mushroom, and puff pastry. One of the mistakes most people make with pork is they overcook it until it's gray, dried out, tough, and tasteless. I like my pork slightly pink. If you use a themometer, the temperature should be 160 degrees. I always take the pork out at about 150-155 since it keeps cooking, and you want to let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Excellent Spanakopita. Kale and Mustard Greens. Wonderful homemade applesauce. Happy Birthday to me, indeedy!


Marilyn said...

Looks yummy. I like how you put your initials on top of the puff pastry for the pork tenderloin.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

You get a prize for noticing.

Unknown said...

I thought the "RH" stood for Real Housewife.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Why yes, xmaskatie. I was going to keep this a secret for a while, but seems like you've let the cat out of the bag. Bravo has indeed contacted me and I'll be playing one of the Real Housewives of Dare County,
a new series they're getting ready to do a pilot of.

Hairball T. Hairball said...

Looks like great dinner.

Thanks for showing us the toasty bits on top. It is nice to know that even Rosie Hawthrone has her share of kitchen boo-boos! :)

Kathy said...

Rosie - howhowhow could your kitchen smell buttery when you were baking the spanakopita? The evil Pepperidge Farms puff pastry has nary a molecule of butter in it.

Next time I am at Trader Joe, immona get some real butter puff pastry and bring you a package. I've been wanting to try it.

I love your duxelles. It's one of my favorite things about you.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

From the buttery smelling chemicals in the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry?

And it was better than the Athens stuff.

And yes. Please bring me some Trader Joe's!

Meantime, I'll just make my own.
done it before and nothing beats it.