Spinach and Feta Bread Pudding

Main Dishes | March 3, 2015 | By

imageOne thing I like to do when I have down time at work (which is not often nowadays) is search for quick and easy recipes. Titles like ” 7 Fifteen Minute Breakfasts You Must Try,” “One-Pot Meals Sure to Make Your Mouth Water,” or “5 Minute Dessert Hacks Better Than the Originals” are almost guarenteed a click from my mouse. I currently have probably 15 to 20 recipes bookmarked that I promised myself I would try. This is one of them: spinach and feta bread pudding.
I think I originally found this recipe under a title like “10 Easy Dinners Under 30 Minutes.” And though this recipe definitely takes more than 30 minutes if you count for the refrigeration time, I’ll forgive Food and Wine this once.
I love bread pudding if only for the fact that it’s so versatile. Not only can you make it with various types of bread — in fact last year I made a pretty tasty banana bread pudding for my boss’s birthday — you can add various mix-ins. And even though I love to experiment with dessert bread pudding, I never thought about making a savory bread pudding. So when Hailey came to visit a few weeks ago, I was super excited to try this savory dish.
The star of this dish is the feta so remember to use liberally. When mixed in the bread pudding, feta melts into a nice creamy, yet tangy, glue for the bread and spinach. When sprinkled on top, the feta browns and adds a slightly crunchy texture. This dish could really be called feta with bread and greens, and get along just fine.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did.

Cheers!

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Spinach and Feta Bread Pudding (lightly adapted from Food and Wine)

3 Tbsp. of Olive Oil

8 Ounces of Bread (approximately 1/2 loaf)

5 Ounces of Spinach (approximately 2/3 of a cup)

1/2 Cup of Crumbled Feta Cheese

2 Tsp. of Dijon Mustard

1/2 Tsp. of Lemon Zest

1 Tbsp. of Lemon Juice

6 Eggs, beaten

2 Cups of Whole Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Directions

Cut bread into cubes and spread over a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until dry. Let cool completely and then mix with the spinach and half the feta cheese. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with mustard, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add one egg at a time and beat until blended. Mix in the milk, salt and pepper. Pour the milk and egg mixture over the bread and spinach mixture, making sure to evenly soak the bread cubes. Transfer to a baking dish and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. (I refrigerated over night, but a couple hours should suffice). After you let the mixture sit, sprinkle the left over feta on top and bake for about 45 minutes, of until the bread pudding mixture starts to solidify. Bake for 5-10 more minutes afterwards, or until the feta crumbles start to brown.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings.

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Spinach Gnocchi With Kale-Basil Pesto

Main Dishes | March 13, 2014 | By

Spinach Gnocchi

So many things nowadays are associated with “green.” Green energy, green cars, going green, eating green, green with envy, given the green light, a green thumb … the list goes on. Hailey and I seem to be on a green kick too, more specifically, a green kale kick. A couple weeks ago after the gym, Hailey turned to me and invited me over to try her new kale pesto recipe. Now I love pesto and love love love pesto pastas, but usually avoid eating them due to the excess in carbs and oils. (Gone are the days where happily attended carb loading parties before the big swim meet. *sigh*).

This pesto is better than any other pestos because: 1) it’s homemade (you can’t beat that) 2) kale is packed with nutrients, 3) you control how much oil you use and therefore the fat content, and 4) it’s incredibly simple to make and store!

Sometimes a sauce is so good that you want to eat it  and nothing else. Sometimes, that doesn’t cut it. With such a great sauce, we didn’t think it was fair to serve it on anything but homemade pasta. Thus, we present our spinach-potato gnocchi recipe!

Cheers!

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Spinach Gnocchi (adapted slightly from De Standaard)

10 Potatoes, skinned

1 Clove of Garlic, minced

6 Oz Bag of Spinach

5-6 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

2 Eggs

¼ Cup Grated Parmesan

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Directions:

Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to just cover the potatoes. Set on a stove to boil for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Meanwhile using a hot medium-sized pan, saute the spinach with olive oil, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Once finished, let cool then squeeze the residual moisture from the spinach and chop into fine pieces. Set aside. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and place them in a large bowl. Now it’s time to mash. Mash your potatoes with the spinach, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Sounds like a delicious mashed potato recipe to me…. keep reading.

Once the potatoes are  cool (this is important!), add eggs and stir vigorously. Add one cup of flour at a time until the potato mixture starts to resemble a wet dough. (*Tip: You should continue adding the flour ½ cup at a time until you can take some dough in your hands and roll it into a strand. Keep the flour handy to dust your hands every time the dough gets sticky). Taking a bit of the dough at a time, roll into into ½ inch in diameter strands and cut into 1 inch segments. Lay the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet and press down with a fork to create a design.

Kale Pesto

Kale-Basil Pesto

1 Cup Fresh Basil

1 Cup Rainbow Kale

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Shaved Parmesan Cheese

3 Cloves Garlic, peeled

Directions:

 Place all ingredients in a food processor (we used a NutriBullet) and blend until paste consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container.

Pasta Assembly:

Set a large pot half-full of water on the stove. Once boiling, place the gnocchi in the water (they will sink to the bottom). Once they rise to the water’s surface, they are done. Drain and toss with pesto and extra parmesan.

Serves 8-10.

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Bi Bim Bap

Main Dishes | March 6, 2014 | By

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I don’t know how i made it to my mid-twenties without a name… a Korean name that is. As the story goes, my grandfather was so excited for the birth of my older brother (the first grandbaby, first male, born in the Year of the Dragon, etc.), he decided to name my brother. When I pop up on the scene thirteen months later, the excitement for grandbabies seemed to have fizzled and I remained nameless. While in my teens, I even prodded once about my lack of a Korean name, only to receive a response from my mom like, “How about we name you after your (significantly) younger cousin. Her name is pretty.” … Thanks Mom.

Imagine how much easier Korean classes would have been with a “proper” Korean name.

“What’s your name?”

“Cathy.”

“Uhhhh….. How do you spell that?”

“C-A-T-H-Y”

“Uhhhh….Ermmmm …. spelled out ‘KAH-SHEE in Hangul.’”

There’s no hope.

Though I joke about being the nameless one in the family, my Mom recently made it up to me, choosing to name me after one of my aunts — a name that means goodness and beauty. Got to love Mom.

In a recent visit home, I got my mom to teach me how to make a Korean staple: Bi Bim Bap. Loosely (according to Mom, very loosely) translating to “things to mix with rice,” this dish is definitely one of my favorites. Even though it’s become quite popular in LA, I wanted to learn how to make the authentic, Korean version (as opposed to the “KAH-SHEE” version). Little did I know that it’s incredibly simple to make! We used ingredients we had on hand or could easily grab from the garden. The best part is that you can put almost any Korean side dish in your bowl, mix it in and it WILL STILL TASTE AMAZING. I hope you enjoy my adventures into authentic Korean cuisine.

Cheers!
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Bi Bim Bap

3-4 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

2 Cups of Brown Rice, cooked

1 Cup of Spinach, rinsed

1 Carrot

2 Eggs, separated

Sesame Seeds

Sesame Oil

Red Pepper Paste (gochujang)

Toasted Sea Weed (optional)

Salt and Pepper To Taste

Directions:

Pre-Preparation:

Place mushrooms in a glass of water and set aside to soak. Using a vegetable slicer (or a sharp knife), cut the carrot into strips and set aside. Separate the egg yokes from the whites and beat each with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. Divide cooked rice between your two bowls. Set aside.

Cooking and Assembly:

Meanwhile, place a medium-sized pot half-full of water on the stove. Once boiling, blanch the spinach. For those of you who don’t know what blanching means (me), you only want to dip the spinach in the boiling water until the leaves wilt. Set in a strainer and once cool, squeeze out the extra water. Season with 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Cut the spinach into 2 inch segments and add to your rice bowl.

By this time, your mushrooms should be re-hydrated.* Remove from water, squeeze to remove excess water and cut in slices. In a hot, oiled pan, saute mushrooms and add to your rice and spinach. Using the same pan, saute your carrots. I prefer my carrots slightly under-cooked to preserve the crunch factor. Add to your rice bowl.

In a clean pan, cook your egg whites just like a pancake.** Once cooked, slice and add to your rice bowl. Do the same with your egg yokes. Top with sea weed slices, extra sesame seeds and red pepper paste. Mix and enjoy!

Makes two servings.

*When I asked my mom if fresh mushrooms could be substituted, she answered with a flat-out no.

**Note that it is important that your pan is clean and extremely hot for your egg pancakes to cook properly.

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