I have really loved my time at home over the past two weeks. It is always great to be able to spend time with family after months of seeing one another only on a computer screen over iChat or Skype. While it is wonderful to have technology that is advanced enough so we can see the faces of our loved ones no matter where in the world we are, still, nothing takes the place of being within arms reach of your family and friends. This morning we enjoyed some face-to-face time with my parents and sister over a delicious New Year’s Day brunch.
I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart for iPad application, which is pretty amazing. The concept is similar to spanakopita. The original recipe calls for feta cheese, which would be fantastic. I didn’t have feta so I used shredded Romano instead. It was good but lacking in the tang that feta has in contrast to the creamy ricotta. Another change I made was the use of frozen spinach rather than fresh. It saved a little time since I didn’t need to cut the leaves. If you decide to make this with frozen spinach, be sure to squeeze out as much of the water as possible by putting the spinach in several layers of paper towels or in a dish towel. Squeeze over the sink until a small amount of water comes out.
The ricotta and egg mixture is covered with 3 layers of phyllo dough and each layer is brushed with clarified butter.
After just 5 minutes, these delicious pockets are done and ready to be eaten! The light, crisp phyllo is the perfect addition to the creamy cheese and velvety egg yolk.
This was the perfect way to begin the first day of 2011 and the last day of our time in Minnesota. Tomorrow we fly back to Tokyo. Time always moves so quickly…
Phyllo Squares with Baked Egg, Spinach and Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 6 servings
8 oz. frozen spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
7 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter
6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Thaw the spinach according to package directions and make sure to squeeze the water out as much as possible, although a small amount of water is fine. Set the spinach aside in a small bowl. While you are thawing the spinach, clarify the butter by placing it in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat the butter until the solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Keep a close eye on the butter to make sure it doesn’t cook too quickly to get too hot. Use a coffee filter to strain out the solids from the butter. Keep the clarified butter and a pastry brush close by.
3. In another bowl, combine the ricotta and Romano. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the spinach and stir to combine. Stir in 1 of the eggs.
4. Brush a baking sheet with clarified butter. Place one layer of phyllo dough on the baking sheet and brush it with butter as well. Repeat with two more layers so have 3 sheets of dough as a base. Keep a damp towel over the dough you are not using as you work- it gets difficult to work with if its too dry.
5. Evenly space 6 scoops of the spinach mixture on the phyllo dough. Use a spoon to make a shallow well in the mixture. With the remaining 6 eggs, separate the yolks from the whites keeping the whites for later use. Carefully place a yolk in each of the spinach scoops. Gently whisk the egg whites and brush the top of the ricotta lightly.
6. Carefully place another layer of phyllo over the spinach and egg. Gently press down around the mixture lightly sealing the top layer to the bottom layer. Brush the phyllo with clarified butter. Repeat with 2 more layers so you have three total on the top.
7. Use a pastry cutter or pizza cutter to cut around the mixture, making 6 squares. Bake for 5 or 6 minutes until lightly brown and still soft in the middle. Serve right away!