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Archive for May 14, 2014

GIFT: Grilling Vegetables Basket

Are you guesting on Memorial Day or holding your own shindig?

If it’s the former, and you don’t have an assigned dish to bring, here’s a fresh idea:

Instead of a bottle of wine or a pan of brownies, how about a basket of freshly picked vegetables? Your hosts will have something to grill and enjoy after the party food is gone.

Melissa’s, purveyor of premium produce, has put together a barbecue gift basket of Anaheim chiles, Asian eggplant, red or yellow bell peppers, chayote squash, elephant garlic, fennel, cipolline or Maui onions, plantains and portobello mushrooms.

The idea is to provide better versions of standard grilling favorites, plus something new. (When was the last time you grilled fennel or plantains?)

 

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A gift for your barbecue hosts. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

 

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Fun skewers that circle the plate. Photo
courtesy Charcoal Companion.

 

The Melissa’s gift basket also includes:

  • A set of four circle kabobs.
  • A grilling basket to keep cut veggies from falling into the fire.
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    The price is $64.99 on Melissas.com.
     
    Send it as a Memorial Day gift for dear friends and family, or a thank-you gift to your Memorial Day hosts.

    You can put your own basket together by going to the best produce market in town and picking out unusual versions of family favorites (Asian eggplant instead of conventional Italian eggplant, for example).

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Egg-spressions

    May is National Egg Month. How many of these egg-spressions do you use?

    This content was developed by Dictionary.com, one of our favorite resources for words and word fun.

    Egghead

    This term entered English as a reference to a bald person. But it gained traction in the 1952 presidential campaign as a pejorative term for “intellectual,” used to describe Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson (who was bald) and his followers. Stevenson responded cheekily, “Via ovum cranium difficilis est,” roughly translated as “the way of the egghead is hard.”
     
    Egg Someone On

    This expression, meaning “to incite or urge; encourage,” has nothing to do with eggs. Instead, it derive from the Old Norse word eggja with a similar verbal meaning.
     
    Egg Sucker

    A flatterer or sycophant.
     
    Go Suck An Egg

    American slang, meaning “get lost.”

     

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    Originally, “egghead” referred to a bald person. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.

     

     

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    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Photo
    by Andrea Kratzenberg | SXC.

     

    Have Egg On One’s Face

    This expression conveys humiliation or embarrassment, resulting from having said or done something foolish or unwise. It came into usage in the mid-1900s, and its origins are uncertain. One theory is that it evolved from teenage slang, and that it referenced a messy manner of eating that might leave food around one’s mouth.
     
    Lay An Egg

    This expression means to be unsuccessful, especially in front of an audience. Its origins are obscure, but its association with failure had been firmly established in the lexicon by the early to mid-1900s, as evidenced by Variety magazine’s famous headline from October 30, 1929, the day after the stock market crash: “Wall St. Lays an Egg.”

     
    Nest Egg

    This phrase been around since the late 1500s. When it entered English, it referred to an actual egg placed in a nest to induce a hen to continue laying eggs; it was often used in figurative contexts to refer to an object used as a decoy or an inducement. Today, it refers to money saved for emergencies, retirement, etc.

     

    Put All One’s Eggs In One Basket

    English speakers have been using this turn of phrase, if not heeding its wisdom, since the mid-1600s. This idiomatic expression means to venture all of something that one possesses in a single enterprise. It is often used in negative constructions, such as “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” to caution against the risk of such behavior.

     
    Teach Your Grandmother To Suck Eggs

    This curious expression emerged in the 1700s, meaning to presume to teach someone something that he or she knows already (i.e., elders know more than their juniors imagine). Its first recorded use was Henry Fielding’s “Tom Jones,” published in 1749.
     
    Walk On Eggs

    This expression means to walk or act very cautiously, especially so as not to offend or upset anyone. The expression first appeared in the 1740s as “trod upon eggs.” By the mid-1800s, people were walking on eggshells in addition to eggs. Around 1990 this changed, and the expressions “walking on eggshells” skyrocketed in use, while “walking on eggs” waned in popularity.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Spanakopita, Greek Spinach Pie

    One way to get people to eat more spinach is to serve spanakopita, the delicious Greek feta-and-spinach pastry in flaky phyllo (also spelled fillo or filo) dough.

    A good filling comprises not just spinach and crumbled feta cheese, but leeks, dill and parsley. It’s the leeks and lots of fresh dill and parsley, plus nutmeg, that make homemade spanakopita so much more flavorful than diner and deli versions. (We like nutmeg so much, we double the amount.)

    While spanakopita is typically layered in a large pan from which individual servings are cut, it can be rolled into individual triangles—more elegant but more labor intensive.

    In Greece, spanakopita is usually eaten as a snack. In the U.S., it makes an attractive first course, a light lunch with a salad or a dinner entrée for vegetarians.

    Because it can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature, we like to serve spanakopita at parties, picnics and cook-outs as well. We’re making a tray of it as our contribution to upcoming Memorial Day festivities.

     

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    Spanakopita is one of our favorite ways to enjoy spinach. Photo courtesy Kontos Foods.

     
    Here’s the personal recipe of Chef Demetrios Haralambatos, executive chef at Kontos Foods, a producer of traditional Mediterranean foods:

    RECIPE: SPANKOPITA (SPINACH PIE)

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds spinach, steamed, squeezed, chopped, and drained (or frozen spinach, fully thawed)
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped or 1/4 cup green onion (scallion), chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for brushing pastry
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough
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    spanakopita-tray-kontos-230

    Delicious party, picnic and cook-out fare.
    Photo courtesy Kontos Foods.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX together the spinach, feta, dill, parsley, leeks, eggs, salt and pepper.

    2. BRUSH the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking pan with olive oil.

    3. PLACE a sheet of phyllo in the pan; brush lightly with olive oil. Use kitchen scissors to trim the phyllo to fit. Repeat until you have 6 layers, lightly brushing each layer with olive oil.

    4. PLACE the spinach and greens mixture on top of the 6 layers of phyllo, in an even layer. Flatten with a spatula. To create a “top” for the spinach pie, layer another six pieces of phyllo on top of the spinach mixture, brushing each layer with olive oil as you go.

    5. BAKE for 30-50 minutes at 350°F, until golden brown.

     

    Variations

  • Add chopped hard-boiled eggs to the filling.
  • Use puff pastry instead of phyllo.
  • Use kale instead of spinach, or a mixture; or a combination of spinach, leeks, chard and sorrel (a blend that is popular in rural Greece).
  • Subsitute tofu instead of feta for a vegan filling.
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    ABOUT SPANAKOPITA

    Spanakopita (spa-na-KOE-pee-tah), a Greek savory snack pastry, is a member of the burek family of savory baked or fried filled pastries. The name means spinach pie.

    Burek pastries are typically made with paper-thin phyllo dough or a thicker, calzone-like dough. They can also be made with puff pastry.

    The pastries are filled with cheese, egg, minced meat or vegetables. This style of pastry is believed to have been invented in the early era of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922), in what is now modern Turkey.

      

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