Category: Cooking with Friends

Spanakopita – Remembering Spinach (CWF: Nadja and Esmee)

Spanakopita – Remembering Spinach (CWF: Nadja and Esmee)

Do you remember spinach? You know, that green superfood that kinda got pushed to the sidelines when foods like kale and chard started taking center stage as the new trendy superfood? Lucky for you I’m here to remind you how tasty spinach can be, that it’s still packed with a wealth of health benefits, and that there is a popular Greek dish called Spanakopita, or spinach pie, that will make you fall in love with spinach all over again.

I still remember the first time I tried spanakopita. It was in a charming Greek restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago called The Athenian Room. My college girlfriend (who happened to be Greek) worked there on the weekends, and it wasn’t long before the rest of us became frequent diners. The Athenian Room is famous for their Kalamata Greek Chicken, their signature dish, but for me it was their Spanakopita that had me going back.

Spanakopita is a very popular savory pastry pie in Greek cuisine. It’s made with very thin layers of phyllo dough that is filled with spinach, feta cheese, onions and fresh herbs, all perfectly baked to a lightly brown crust. It’s traditionally made in a large pan and eventually cut into square pie pieces, but I like to prepare mine in small individual triangle-shaped servings so that I can serve them either as a snack, an appetizer or a vegetarian meal.

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Entrecôte Steak Sauce – A Reason To Share (CWF: Albertien)

Entrecôte Steak Sauce – A Reason To Share (CWF: Albertien)

A few years ago my husband came back from a business trip in Paris and he couldn’t stop talking about a Parisian bistro called Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. The uniqueness about this place is that there is no menu. Aside from the dessert everyone in the restaurant is served the same single course menu: a walnut salad, an extra tender sirloin steak with its famous green sauce, and delicious golden thin-cut french fries. Just simply tell your waitress how you like your steak: blue, rare, medium or well done. That’s it…and moments later you will be served the most delicious steak-frites meal ever. What makes this place even more special is the feeling of home you get. Towards the end of your meal just as you are scraping off the last bit of the famous green sauce from your plate a waitress comes by to serve you seconds!

I eventually had the opportunity to dine at a Le Relais de l’Entrecôte restuarant, my first time being at the one located in the Village of Marylebone in London. I must admit it was pretty darn good, and what sets this menu apart from any other steak and fries dish is indeed their FAMOUS GREEN SAUCE. This sauce has well earned its title. It makes all the difference in the steak, even the french fries, and it can turn an ordinary steak and fries into a gourmet meal. My children loved it too, and I was happy to know there is a restaurant all 5 of us enjoy.

So back home, just like my husband after his Paris trip, I also couldn’t stop thinking about this bistro. I knew I needed to recreate this sauce. I wasn’t going to wait for the next time I was in Paris or London to have it again. When I started to do research on this sauce I wasn’t surprised to see many others out there also loved this sauce, and lucky for me they have already recreated their own version of this recipe. My search was made easy and I soon adapted a recipe that tastes just as good, arguably even better than the famous green sauce from Le Relais de l’Entrecôte itself.

Since today is Dutch-American Frirendship Day I invited my Dutch girlfriend, Albertien van Tilburg, to join me in my next MNSDK Cooking with Friends post. As she expressed a need for a recipe her whole family could enjoy, I immediately thought of the famous green sauce. To be honest I was never EVER going to post this recipe. It was that one secret recipe I was going to keep for myself, and for my family, but I thought this recipe is just way too good not to share, and certainly way too good not to share with a very special Dutch friend.

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE

Spring Rolls – The Magic Spell (CWF: Sylvia)

Spring Rolls – The Magic Spell (CWF: Sylvia)

I grew up calling them egg rolls, and then into my adult years started calling them spring rolls. I think somewhere in between I even called them summer rolls. I know there is a difference in the wrapping, filling, size, and whether they are fried or not, but which is for which? Does anybody know? I live in the Netherlands now and luckily the Dutch have just one name for it: Loempia. So that is what I call it nowadays.

Just a few weeks after we moved to the Netherlands it was soon Easter. My in-laws were coming to visit and not knowing what a typical Dutch Easter brunch was (after living here for 7 years I still don’t know) I decided that having égg’ rolls on the menu was a fun idea. So an idea was born, and the search for the best loempia recipe was on.

I did indeed eventually come up with the best loempia recipe. It was honestly one of the few things I knew how to cook at the time, and if you were going to have a prize recipe in your recipe index this one was sure to be it. Everyone loved it. I was proud and happy to see that friends and family enjoyed it. I think I brought it to every potluck, holiday party, and every other event we had where I needed to bring a dish. These loempias actually misled a lot of people into thinking I could cook.

This week my dear friend, Sylvia from Hackbarth Art, came over to help me make (and eat) my loempias for this blogpost and new segment, Cooking with Friends. When I sent her a text asking if she would be interested in taking part of this post it was only a matter of seconds before I got her response. That is how good these loempias are. It works like a magic spell. Make them yourself…and use the loempias to get what you want!

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE