The first cook book I ever bought was "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest" by Mollie Katzen. I was 20 and about to leave home for the first time, embarking on my cross Canada trek to art school. What I loved about this book then, as I do now, are the whimsical drawings that accompany every recipe. The fine details Molly designed on every cauliflower and walnut and asparagus spear are I'm sure what attracted me to this book in the first place. Her rendering of basil leaves is immaculate! I grew up in a house where meat was served at almost every meal, and being the cash strapped student, I knew that would not be the case in my new digs. Needless to say this book came in very handy! I made mayo for the first time, and pesto and hummus, and amazing enchiladas. Me and my roommates would flip through and plan dinner parties around the recipes. Though I do recall one night when someone made a casserole of apples and sauerkraut that did not go over very well. Um, no. This book has travelled with me to and fro and I still like to go back to it once in awhile. I have this thing about books, (and even more so, recipes) that when I see them and re-read them I'm transported a little back in time. What I wouldn't give to cook for my old roommate again, and have one of our epic dinner parties; surrounded by candle-lit friendly faces and red wine. And lots and lots of laughter.
This pizza is my favourite thing in the whole entire book. It does call for spinach, but since I developed an allergy to spinach about ten years ago ( I think I was eating too much of it and my body revolted!), I used Swiss Chard, and it turned out perfectly delicious. I did cut back a little on the butter, but not the cheese. I gotta have cheese! The phyllo crust is crispy and buttery, and holds up well to the earthiness of the chard. Feta and mozzarella and pesto bring it all together and the tomatoes (please use the on-the-vine kind) round it out perfectly. A lovely vegetarian meal indeed.
Mollie Katzen's Greek Pizza
1/2 lb phyllo pastry (about half the box)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp crushed basil and oregano, each
juice from one lemon
1 lb fresh spinach or Swiss chard, cleaned and stemmed and chopped. OR 1 10oz package of frozen spinach.
1/4 cup pesto (optional)
lots of fresh ground pepper
smattering of coarse salt
1 lb grated mozzarella
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and melted butter. Set aside.
In a large skillet, cook the onions and garlic with the salt in 2 tbsp olive oil, until onions are clear and soft. Add herbs and lemon juice, stir well. Add the greens and cook on fairly high heat until they cook down and all the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the pesto, if using.
On a large buttered bake sheet, brush one sheet with melted butter and olive oil mixture. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo. Brush the top of the stack with the oil/butter mixture. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the greens mixture to the phyllo. Spread evenly, leaving a 1/2 inch border of pastry. Sprinkle on the feta and half the mozzarella. Dredge the tomatoes in the bread crumbs, and arrange these on top of the pizza. Toss the remaining mozza over the tomatoes. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
I'm curious. What was the first cook book you ever bought for yourself?