Vegetarian Chile Relleno Casserole

Chile Rellano | Leni & Viv

I love new experiences. Branching out. Discovering new tastes. Savoring each bite. I love that moment… You know that moment when something new, something exciting hits your taste buds and a part of your brain you didn’t know existed comes alive and the world just seems that much brighter, that much crisper. I do love those moments. But I don’t know if they’d be half as rewarding if it weren’t for those other moments–the ones in which you sink back into your favorite chair, grab the remote, turn on a rerun of your favorite show, and begin devouring mouthfuls of a dish you’ve been eating since childhood. I guess you’d call those comfort food moments.

Vegetarian Chile Relleno Casserole | Leni & Viv

This is definitely one of the latter. I’ve been having this Chile Relleno Casserole since the days when I wore Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tank tops. But back to things I’d like to remember: namely, the eclectic range of comfort food dishes I had growing up. By “eclectic comfort food” I mean dishes that may have originated in different parts of the world, but have since become Americanized, a process that usually involves turning various exotic dishes into casseroles and adding lots of cheese (none of which is a bad thing in my book). All of them remind me of warm childhood moments. Most of them have a glorious simplicity. A good many of them have generous amounts of cheese. Spanakopita. Macaroni & Cheese. Egg & Cheese Souffle. Chicken pot roast. And Chile Relleno.

Chile Relleno Casserole | Leni & Viv

It’s easy enough to make. Big enough for a whole family. And yet, convenient as it is, I get the feeling that that’s not why I keep coming back to it. Rather I think it has more to do with the name itself: comfort food. When life gets a bit too crazy, when the bad things in the world seem to overwhelm the good, when it feels as if I’ve lost my footing, I come back to these old favorites. And for at least one moment, everything seems to be alright. It’s those moments that prepare me for the rest of life. For lack of a better phrase, they recharge my batteries, and get me itching for more exciting adventures in culinary wonderlands.

 

Chile Relleno Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28 oz) can whole jalapenos, drained, halved, and seeded
  • 2 (7 oz) cans whole green chilies, drained, halved and seeded
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated, separated
  • 2 1/2 cups jalapeno-jack cheese, grated, separated
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 1/4 cups evaporated milk
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 (6 0z) cans tomato paste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Whisk egg yolks, evaporated milk and flour into a medium bowl.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks in a large bowl. Place 1/3 of egg mixture over egg whites. Fold in. Place next 1/3 of egg yolk mixture and fold. Place last 1/3 and fold again.

Place 1/2 of jalapenos and 1/2 of green chilies, equally spaced on top of cooking spray in baking dish. Top with 2 cups of cheddar cheese.

Place the other 1/2 o the jalapenos and green chilies, spaced equally over cheddar cheese. Top with 2 cups of jalapeno-jack cheese.

Mix the rest of the 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of jalapeno-jack cheese together in a small bowl.

Place all of egg white/yolk mixture on top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until top is golden brown, springs back to touch and custard is completely set.

Remove from oven and top with all of the tomato paste and sprinkle with the cheeses.

Return to oven 10-20 minutes, until cheeses are melted and bubbling.

Serves 6-8

 

California High Tea: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Arugula

High Tea Cucumber Sandwiches | Leni & Viv

One of our favorite traditions here at Leni & Viv is high tea. Once upon a time we used to take my mom to the Rose Garden Tea Room at the Huntington Library for her birthday and/or Mother’s Day. (The Huntington Library, it turns out, was founded by Henry Huntington who was distantly related to Grandma Viv, whose maiden name was… you guessed it: Huntington. That’s a story for another day, though). Although we love the Huntington, at some point we realized the interminable, traffic-clogged drives were superfluous; we could make our own high tea. And that’s precisely what we did.

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches | Leni & Viv

After a few years of organizing our own, I’ve come to learn a few things: first, nobody likes their tea brewed the same way; second, nobody likes the same sandwiches; and third, nobody ever eats all the sandwiches. Oh, and doing it properly is as time-consuming as driving on the 405 freeway, albeit far more enjoyable.

California High Tea | Leni & Viv

Indeed, these high teas are certainly a labor of love. But after the labor comes the reward of a true California high tea: sitting underneath a blue spring sky, watching sparkles of afternoon sunlight bounce off the rippling surface of the pool, listening to the buzz of the odd bee, eating all variety of deliciously homemade sandwiches and scones, drinking dainty cup after dainty cup of black tea splashed with cream, reminiscing about birthdays past and planning for birthdays future. And it’s then that I remember why, in spite all of the hassle and prep, I keep planning these high teas (besides the fact that no amount of labor or hassle is too much to say ‘thank you’ to the most giving, the most loving, and the most beautiful mom in the world).

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches | Leni & Viv

Having learned my lesson, I now make smaller portions of a greater variety of sandwiches. Over the next little while I’ll be posting recipes for some of those varieties of tea sandwiches and scones, starting with this classic (and my favorite), sliced cucumber tea sandwiches with goat cheese, cream cheese, and arugula.

 

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Note: If you’re hosting a big party, it might be best to double the portions.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 seedless cucumber
  • 1/2 package (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • Approx. 1/2 package (2-3 oz) goat cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup baby arugula leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 8 slices white bread

Directions:

Using a serrated knife, trim off the crusts of your bread. Set aside.

Use a mandoline (if you have one) to slice the cucumber as thinly as possible. Lay slices aside on a paper towel to absorb moisture.

Combine the softened cream cheese and the softened goat cheese in a small bowl. Stir until well mixed. Add the arugula and stir.

Spread a thin layer of the cheese mix on each slice of bread. Lay the cucumbers down in a single layer on 4 of the slices. Place the other four slices, cheese side down, over the cucumbers. Use your serrated knife to cut each sandwich in half diagonally. Cut in half diagonally once more. Each large sandwich should make four small sandwich wedges.

Serve immediately or place on a platter lined with damp paper towels, cover with more damp towels, place in the refrigerator and serve when ready.

Makes 16 sandwich wedges.

 

Leni’s No-Frills Parmesan Frittata

Grandma Leni's No-Frills Frittata | Leni & Viv

Breakfast is the hardest meal for me. Many are the mornings I stand in front of the refrigerator or pantry with a tilt to my head and a vacant look in my eye. I don’t know what it is: the hour, the choices, or the time crush, but it’s rare that something jumps out at and says, Eat me! Aside from my coffee, nothing seems appetizing that early in the morning. That being said, I usually gravitate toward eggs. Most often I settle for a fried egg on sourdough (which, by the way, is delicious if not exactly exciting). Recently, however, I rediscovered a breakfast treat my mom used to make while my sister and I were growing up: Parmesan frittata.

Grandma Leni's No-Frills, Parmesan Frittata | Leni & Viv

I asked her about it. Apparently she got the recipe from Grandma Leni, who as I’ve said a number of times before, was a busy woman. Like so many of us she was constantly trying to balance her work life and her home life, which is why she tended to go for the quick, prepackaged meals. There were exceptions, though. Exceptions such as her no-frills frittata. It’s simple–only two ingredients (if you don’t count the cooking spray)–and it’s quick; you can whip it up in an easy five minutes.

Grandma Leni's No-Frills Parmesan Frittata | Leni & Viv

Lately it’s made my usual morning routine a little tastier, not to mention a little easier. I like the Parmesan not only for the sharpness it adds but also for the fact that it’s pre-grated (at least the kind I get is). One less thing to prepare. A few more valuable minutes to spare.

 

Leni’s Parmesan Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Butter or cooking spray

Directions:

Heat small sauce pan to medium and butter/spray pan generously.

Beat eggs and Parmesan in a small bowl.

Pour into prepared pan. Cook without stirring until lightly browned. Carefully slip a spatula around frittata. Flip and cook until lightly browned and fully cooked.

Serves 1.

 

Thanks to David’s Tea and Snapguide

The other day a large package arrived at our doorstep. For a moment I was confused. I thought, I haven’t ordered anything recently! Then I saw the label and remembered: our black tea ice cream tutorial had been named as one of the winners of Snapguide’s “Think Outside the Mug” contest, sponsored by David’s Tea. Still, I was surprised at the sheer size of the box. I knew we’d won something but I wasn’t expecting all the wonderful goodies we’d get.

David's Tea Winnings

We got a beautiful (and much-needed) new Capresso H2O tea kettle, some Nordic mugs that come equipped with their own tea strainers, a thermos that comes with its own tea strainer (a brilliant idea), and also some creamed honey and samples of David’s loose leaf teas, not to mention a Snapguide t-shirt.

David's Tea Kettle

As soon as I got over ooing and awing at the kettles and mugs, I tried some of the tea. I had never tried David’s Tea before. My favorite so far is the “Secret Weapon,” a blend of white tea, almonds, licorice, and goji berries. I doubted at first. I tend to like my tea pure and unadulterated, but I was pleasantly surprised. No one flavor overpowered the other. The almonds added a nice touch. It was very smooth. In fact it was smoother than other white teas I’ve tried.

David's Tea

A big thank you to the people over at David’s Tea for the incredible goods. Also a big thank you to the wonderful people at Snapguide for hosting the contest.

Panna Cotta & Lemon Curd Eggs

Panna Cotta & Lemon Curd Easter Eggs

I’m late. I’ve been meaning to do an Easter post for a while, but somehow the time slipped by as it sometimes tends to do. It could be worse. There’s still a few weeks left until Holy Week. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s that close. Things have been hectic. My mind’s been elsewhere.

Panna Cotta & Lemon Curd Easter Eggs | Leni & Viv

We have a few Easter traditions. This is not one of them. Mom made these for the first time this year. We were having a nice chat over a cup of tea when the idea suddenly struck her: what about a panna cotta egg? I was taken aback. I wasn’t convinced. But that changed when I saw them and better yet, when I tasted them.

Panna Cotta & Lemon Curd Easter Eggs | Leni & Viv

It’s basically our version of a Cadbury egg, but significantly less sweet, which suits our tastes just fine. The tartness of the lemon curd compliments the light sweetness of the panna cotta. You can of course make them as big or small as you like (or as big or small as your mold). As you can see, the only molds we had were giant ones, but no one is complaining. The more panna cotta the better.

 

Panna Cotta & Lemon Curd Eggs

Ingredients:

For the Panna Cotta “Whites”:

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

For the Lemon Curd “Yolks”:

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

 

Directions:

Pour milk in a large, microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let stand for 5 minutes until softened. Microwave 1-2 minutes until gelatin dissolves.

Add sugar and stir until dissolved. You may need to microwave the mixtures a bit more (at 30 second intervals, checking and stirring after each 30-second interval).

Add cream and vanilla. Pour into egg molds. Refrigerate until set.

Combine all lemon curd ingredients except the mascarpone in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 2 minute intervals, stirring after each interval until curd thickens and coats the back of a spoon. It can take anywhere from 4-8 minutes, depending on the microwave.

Place plastic wrap on top of curd and refrigerate until set.

 

To assemble eggs:

Remove panna cotta egg “whites” from molds. Slice. And using a spoon remove a yolk-sized circle. Set aside.

Mix 6 tablespoons lemon curd with 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese to make the “yolk.” Place curd mixture into a pastry bag and fill the “yolk” center of the panna cotta “whites.”

Return to refrigerator to set.

Serves 4.

Portobello & Vegetable Chili

Vegetable Chili | Leni & Viv

Here at Leni & Viv we’ve always had a special place in our hearts for veggies. No one here is vegan. Or vegetarian for that matter. Nor are we on any special diets–gluten free, dairy free, etc. That being said, we try to keep it healthy. Don’t get me wrong: we love meat. We just don’t eat that much of it. True omnivores with an emphasis on the herbavorian side. I suppose that’s why our go-to chili is a vegetable chili.

Preparing our Vegetable Chili | Leni & Viv

It’s chock full of vegetables and Serrano chilies, which makes it not only ridiculously healthy, but also deliciously chunky and spicy, as true chili should be (being the spice fiend I am I could always use more, but we have to accommodate less resilient taste buds than mine own). It’s perfect for cold weather days or summer cook-offs. Portobellos add enough of a meaty texture without overpowering the other veggies (as meat can sometimes do in my humble opinion).

Portobello & Vegetable Chili | Leni & Viv

You can serve it with a whole host of garnishes, toppings, and sides — chopped cilantro, cheese, sour cream, black olives, chopped onions, and of course our Jalapeno Cornbread (recipe to come) — or you can be a purist and go all spartan.

 

Portobello & Vegetable Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 Serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3-4 Portobello mushrooms, stemmed, black membrane scooped out and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

Directions:

Spray a large pot with cooking spray on medium heat. Do not cover pot. Add and cook onions, carrots, celery, green and red bell peppers, and Serrano chilies, stirring occasionally until soft (about 3-5 minutes).

Add zucchini, corn, and Portobello mushrooms and cook until soft and mushrooms release their liquid (about 5-6 minutes).

Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper, and stir until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute).

Add crushed tomatoes. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce temperature to simmer and cook 40-45 minutes.

Serves 4-6

 

Autumn-in-Spring Apple Tart

Autumn in Spring Apple Tart | Leni & Viv

Autumn is my favorite season. Say the word and I start dreaming that I’m bundled in a warm sweater, a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, Tolstoy in my lap, looking out a window at the raindrops falling off red tile roofs and off the fire-red leaves of the Japanese Maple, the smell of warm apples — apple cider, apple strudel, apple tart — wafting up from the kitchen. Maybe that’s why I defied convention and made this autumn treat at the opening of spring, when an unseasonally gray sky appeared to remind me of a cooler time. Or maybe I just felt like apple tart.

Autumn-in-Spring Apple Tart | Leni & Viv

I might have committed a seasonal misdemeanor, but I did give a nod to spring by replacing the usual heavy dough with a lighter phyllo that was left over from the spanakopita. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with all that phyllo until I saw the pile of apples sitting in my fridge and felt the cold breeze come in off the ocean. Suddenly apple tart sounded like a good idea.

Autumn-in-Spring Apple Tart | Leni & Viv

It was. Light, crisp phyllo; sour apples; sweet filling; all topped with cinnamon. Warm and sweet enough for a cool night; light enough for a warm one. Hints of autumn on a spring day.

 

Autumn-in-Spring Apple Tart

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 pounds (approx. 4 large) apples of your choice
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  • 18 sheets phyllo dough
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 10 x 15 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Peel and thinly slice apples.

Melt butter, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Add apples and cook until apples release their juices, become soft, and juices become thick and a golden brown. Set aside.

Place 1 piece of phyllo dough in prepared pan, spray with cooking spray. Continue with 8 more pieces of phyllo, spraying each before placing another on top.

Top phyllo with apple mixture, spreading evenly.

Place 1 piece of phyllo on top of apple mixture. Spray and continue with 8 more pieces, spraying each before placing another on top.

Spray top with cooking spray.

Combine the 3 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle on top. Cut into squares (or triangles).

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Serves 10-12

Homemade Soft Parmesan Pretzels

Soft pretzels remind me of my teenagehood. Soft pretzels and cheese sauce. I have vague memories of a pre-movie ritual that involved shopping for faddishly superfluous clothes, talking of glorious futures with forever-friends, and eating soft, chewy, butter-infused, Parmesan-coated pretzels from Wetzel’s Pretzels.

Soft Parmesan Pretzel Recipe | Leni & Viv

So much has changed since then. The forever-friends are now sadly almost forgotten. The glorious futures never materialized. The faddish clothes exist only in embarrassingly incriminating photos. I barely recognize the old malls I used to frequent. Many of my favorite stores have gone away. New ones have come. Even the mannequins seem different these days, or perhaps I’m just becoming grumpily nostalgic. Surprisingly though, one thing remains: Wetzel’s Pretzels.

Soft Parmesan Pretzel Recipe | Leni & VivNot that I’ve been there since high school. Those wonderful pretzels seemed to have receded into the dusty back shelves of my memory along with everything and everyone else. My tastes have undergone a bit of a revolution since those mall-rat days. I tend to go lighter on the butter, heavier on the whole wheat; fewer nights at the theater, more in the comfort of my living room; more beer, less soda; more home-cooked, less store-bought. All of which is to say Wetzel’s Pretzels hasn’t been on my menu for years. But when I ran into a homemade, whole-wheat pretzel recipe over at Justine’s wonderful Cooking and Beer blog, I knew I’d have to take a crack at it.

Soft Parmesan Pretzel Recipe | Leni & Viv

It was an exciting adventure. I used Justine’s ingredients, including the whole-wheat flour (which worked beautifully), but made the dough my usual way and cut the recipe in half (I was only making them for myself plus one, so four was plenty). Once they were boiled I sprinkled them with Parmesan instead of salt because if one thing hasn’t changed it’s my love for soft, chewy dough coated in Parmesan cheese.

Soft Parmesan Pretzels | Leni & Viv

I wasn’t expecting much. It was, after all, my first time making pretzels. Indeed, the first time around they were good albeit lacking that special something. They were also unsightly—I hadn’t yet mastered the art of rolling and twisting. A little tweaking and the second time around I hit pay dirt—they were airily light, soft, chewy, and deliciously Parmesany. What sent them over the top, though, was Justine’s spicy beer cheese sauce. Head over to the Cooking and Beer site to get the recipe. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

 

Soft Parmesan Pretzels

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ tsp active yeast
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (more if needed)
  • ½ cup whole wheat (more if needed)
  • Canola oil or cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • 1 tbsp cold water (for egg wash)

 

Directions:

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine lukewarm water, granulated sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast begins to bubble and foam (if it doesn’t foam your yeast isn’t active and you’ll have to get a new package).

In the bowl of your stand mixture, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, sea salt, and flour. Pour the wet ingredients (your yeast mix) into the dry ingredients (your flour mix). Use your stand mixer’s paddle and a low setting to stir gently until ingredients are well mixed.

Attach your stand mixer’s dough hook and knead dough for 5-6 minutes or until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour in small increments until it forms a tacky ball.

Turn your oven on to 400 degrees for four minutes to warm it up. In the meantime lightly coat a large bowl with canola oil or cooking spray. Once you’ve formed your dough into a ball, place it into the bowl and roll it around until all sides are evenly coated with the oil or spray. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in the warmed oven (but make sure it’s turned off). Let the dough rise for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and place it on your work surface.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpats. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring 4-6 cups of water to a rolling boil.

In a small bowl, beat your egg and add 1 tbsp of cold water to make an egg wash. Set aside.

While you’re waiting for the oven to heat and the water to boil, cut your dough lengthwise into four equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into long, thin ropes (about a forearm’s length). Create a U-shape with the rolled dough. Cross one end over the other end twice, until it looks like a little knot. Flip the ends down toward the bottom of the U. Press or pinch the crossed ends into the bottom of the dough to seal. (See the picture collage above if you need help).

Once your water is boiling and your pretzels are formed, add the baking soda to your water in small increments (gently so it doesn’t boil over or splash you). Using a slotted spoon, add your pretzels one or two at a time and boil for 30-45 seconds or until pretzels are nicely puffed up to size. Remove the pretzels and place gently on your prepared baking sheet.

Brush your pretzels with the prepared egg wash until well-coated and then sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Bake the pretzels at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until they are brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5-10 minutes more.

Makes 4 pretzels.

 

Spicy Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos

Back when we made our improvised shrimp tacos I promised I’d post our favorite fish taco recipe. I’ve finally made good on that promise. Not only that but I managed to post it in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos | Leni & Viv

Ok, so we’ve never actually made these fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo, but that’s only because May 5 is a certain anonymous someone’s birthday and a certain anonymous someone doesn’t like tacos… particularly fish tacos. For us they’re more of a Lenten treat than anything else. I only thought of posting the tacos for Cinco de Mayo when another anonymous someone looked at them and said, “Oh that’s cute! They look like the Mexican flag!” Of course I pretended that was exactly my intention.

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos | Leni & Viv

It wasn’t. Actually I don’t know what my intention was. It was late. I was hungry. There were people over. I hadn’t planned on taking photos that evening. I threw the ingredients on the tortillas without thinking and then snapped off a few photos only to find out that I’d unintentionally made little Mexican flags. Unfortunately once you see it you can’t unsee it. Hence the Cinco de Mayo post.

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos | Leni & Viv

It was a fortuitous mistake. These are perfect for a Cinco de Mayo feast. Just marinate the fish ahead of time, grill it, throw on your favorite toppings and serve it with your favorite pale lager. The marinated fish is light, flaky, and incredibly flavorful–anything but fishy. The chili coleslaw adds a spicy touch. You can add as much or little toppings as you like (as you can tell, I love my tacos stuffed with heaps of good stuff; call me a glutton if you must). Best of all you can make them into little Mexcian flags and tell everyone it was your brilliant idea.

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos | Leni & Viv

Someday I’ll post our guacamole recipe, but in the meantime I did include the recipe for our favorite spicy coleslaw. You can also get the recipe for our favorite salsa over at our shrimp taco post. Combine the marinated fish with our favorite salsa, favorite coleslaw, and favorite guacamole, and it’s no wonder these have become such a favorite that we often have them in the middle of winter (not that our winter is exactly frigid).

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Halibut, thickly sliced
  • 3 Jalapeno chilies, sliced, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped finely
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 8.5 oz bag prepared colseslaw
  • 4-6 corn or flour tortillas

Directions:

Toss together fish, jalapeno chilies, cilantro, lemon juice and canola oil into a Ziploc bag. Place in refrigerator for 4-6 hours to marinate.

Mix mayo, yogurt, and chipotle chili powder in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator until needed.

Heat the grill on medium high heat (we used a Foreman grill at 375 degrees). Grill halibut meat until done, 5-7 minutes per side.

Mix chili mayonnaise with coleslaw in medium bowl.

Heat corn or flour tortillas and assemble tacos.

Serves 4-6

Homemade Spanakopita

I’m told it’s spring, but it already feels like summer. Sometimes it feel as if it’s perpetually summer here in Southern California. The days are warm. The skies are clear blue with a dash of haze. The sun is hot. The rolling hills that surround our valley usually start to turn brown around this time, when the warming sun dries up what moisture is left from the winter rains, but because of the recent drought they barely managed to turn green in the first place. Now they’re only lightly sprinkled with dusty shades of green.

Homemade Spanakopita Recipe | Leni & Viv

Many people who’ve moved here from elsewhere (and many natives) love these early summerlike days, but I’m not one of them. It gets boring. I always miss the cool hiatus that winter brings, not to mention the rain. We got precious little this year and I’m still hoping for a miracle shower or two.

Homemade Spanakopita | Leni & Viv

Of course complaining won’t change the fact and, anyway, I suppose few people ever truly appreciate what they have. There are, after all, good things about our climate. It is nice to able to walk and play outside year-round. It’s also nice to bring out those light dinners–comfort food for those warm days. These days it may not be hot enough for a cold dish, but it certainly is warm enough for a light, vegetarian entrée like our favorite Spanakopita.

Homemade Spanakopita | Leni & Viv

I’ve heard that the Greeks eat Spanakopita as a light snack. I can’t say we’ve ever followed their example. We usually have it as a main course with a side of Greek salad, although I’m sure it would make a great snack or a great side for that matter. If you’ve never tried it you have no idea what you’re missing. It’s simple but tasty. The creamy, spinachy inside that practically melts in your mouth; the subtle crisp of the baked phyllo; the sharp, salty touch of the feta: it all adds up to a light, savory meal for a warmish day.

Spanakopita

Ingredients:

  • 2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 18 sheets phyllo dough

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 10 x 15 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium size bowl combine spinach, eggs, cottage cheese, and feta. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour, tarragon, and pepper. Cook for 1-3 minutes. Add milk all at once, whisking until smooth. Continue to cook roux until thick. Remove from heat.

Add about 1 cup of roux to spinach mixture to temper. Stir all of the spinach mixture into the roux until well blended. Set aside.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo into prepared pan. Spray with cooking spray. Continue adding 1 sheet at a time, then spraying, until you have layered 9 sheets of phyllo. Spread all of the spinach/roux mixture evenly over the phyllo. Place the 9 remaining phyllo sheets on top of spinach/roux mixture, one at a time, spraying each piece with cooking spray. Cut into squares or triangles.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 10-12