Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hearty Greens Pie

Despite the cold, icy weather, snow days and sickness, (not to mention the early Thanksgiving) we've gotten a lot of holiday fun in this season. I've never been big on Christmas, but having my son has made it a bit more twinkly. We go to local Christmas festivals, make cookies, read holiday books, and of course, trim a tree. Even still, we keep it pretty low key. The tree is usually a teeny tiny thing from our yard--there is a hillside with them sprouting out which we would clear anyway. I thought my son, now five, would request a larger one when we went to the hillside this year, but he picked one and wouldn't have anything else. I wonder if it had anything to do with reading A Charlie Brown Christmas this year (my very own copy from childhood). Presents are usually few, and we parents don't exchange them at all. I know more and more folks who are toning down their Christmas routine. Even cards have been nudged out of rotation. I feel it makes the season quieter and more intimate, but I know some people might disagree with me.

We do a lot of rich eating this time of year, and sweets are certainly everywhere. That's why we welcomed this onto our dinner table the other night. It was gone by the next afternoon. Chock full of so-good-for-you greens, and a light pastry made with olive oil, you can't help but to be completely fulfilled by a wedge of this pie. It's just as good cold the next day for breakfast or lunch. And then, maybe you can follow it with a few cookies or caramels from your holiday stash.

Hearty Greens Pie

I used this brilliant pie crust recipe from the NY Times. It comes together so nicely in the food processor, and it was a dream to roll out. You can't imagine how nice and flaky it was!

2 large bunches of greens
a good sized chunk of feta (around 8 ounces, give or take)
1 large onion
Fresh herbs
grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350. Have a glass pie dish at the ready. You can make the greens mixture while the dough is resting in the fridge.

Remove the tougher ribs and chop greens roughly. Blanch them in batches for a few minutes, then transfer to a food processor and chop them finely. Once you have them all in a large bowl let the mixture sit a few minutes, and you will see you can easily drain off some water. Press the mixture on the side of the bowl to get out as much water as possible.

After you do the greens, process the onion and herbs together finely, then sauté them in a good splash of olive oil in a large pan. Once they have become translucent, add the greens and toss gently. Heat them through and cook for about ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and crumble in the feta. Again, toss gently, because your pan should be quite full.

Roll out a circle for the bottom layer of the crust. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the bottom to soak up any moisture from the greens. Then add the greens; it should fill up the pie to the top. I think the amount of cheese depends on your taste; I added more at the end making a layer on top of the greens. Then I sprinkled more bread crumbs, and some parmesan. Cover with the top crust, make a few slits to let steam escape. I brushed my pie with buttermilk; an egg wash might have shined it up more.

Bake until crust is golden, about 50 minutes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cranberry Sauce Bread

My brain is a busy place. That's not to say I'm particularly smart. Just a "busy body," as my mother used to say. I'm forever talking to people in my head. Do you do the same thing? I talk to friends, I talk to strangers, I talk to this blog. I compose snippets and phrases too, but they often get swished around and lost, along with the conversations. Busy, busy, busy!

This week, I had some car problems. Actually, I have been having problems with my car for a while. When we drove we'd hear this sound my son and I have named the "boomerang sound." You can imagine it's not a sound you want your car to be making. I was finally able to bring the car in on Monday. On Tuesday, when it was supposed to be ready I found the wrong part had come in. Leaving me carless for the day. And I sort of had a hissy fit. On the phone with the garage. Which I am very embarrassed about and have since apologized for. The thing is, I was upset because I suddenly had SO MUCH to do. And having no car was SUCH an inconvenience. But, given a few adjustments, it's all worked out. What was I so busy with?

This morning, instead of driving to the bus stop, my son and I walked there. And we noticed all the frost covered everything in a fine fuzz, like a buck's antler. We hopped on our feet and blew plumes of steam from our mouths. We counted cars. Once he was on the bus, I walked back home and it was early. Enough time to clean the house, polish candlesticks, and bake this bread. It's perfect for an afternoon tea, not too sweet. It's a bright sunny day, crisp and cold. I might take a walk down the block and visit a friend if she's home. Bring her some of this bread. Take deep breaths.

Cranberry Sauce Bread
makes one small loaf

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8" loaf tin.

3 tablespoons of room temperature butter
1/2 cup of sugar (or 1/3 cup of honey)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg
1 cup of cranberry sauce

1 cup AP flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the butter and sugar together well. Add the cranberry sauce and egg; beat well. Blend flours, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Smooth into prepared pan (I like to sprinkle some coarse sugar on the top at this point), and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Note: You can add 1/2 cup of dried fruit (apricots or raisins would be nice) or 1/2 cup of nuts (pumpkin seeds or walnuts). I left it out because I am hoping my son will eat this, and he's not into a lot of texture. Sigh.