Agvolemono The Phenomenal Greek Soup Perfect For Citrus Season

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If you’re in California or Florida, you’ve probably got friends with a bumper crop of citrus. My friend Howard brought me 10 sensation pink grapefruits from his tree in Palm Springs. Magnificent Meyer lemons came through Greg, who got them from a mutual friend, Les, who has a lemon tree that fruits profusely.

So here’s a unique and wonderful thing to do with those lemons, because they won’t last forever without spoiling. I first had it a a Greek friend’s house and it blew me away. It’s easy, but there is one trick you’ve got to get right. Temper the egg and lemon mixture with hot chicken stock and don’t boil it or you’ve got scrambled egg in chicken soup, not the fabulous, phenomenal––

Agvolemono Soup

8 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked rice (optional)
4 eggs, separated
6 or more T lemon juice
salt and white or black pepper to taste

Prepare 2 cups of rice according to directions on the package.

Heat chicken stock to a simmer. Remove from heat and keep warm while preparing agvolemono sauce.

With an electric hand mixer or wire wisk, beat 4 egg whites until foamy in a large bowl. Add yolks and beat well for 2 minutes more, then gradually mix in the lemon juice. Beating constantly, temper the mixture by very slowly incorporating hot chicken stock into the lemon-egg mixture, slowly and one ladle at a time until four cups have been added. (Adding the hot stock too quickly will curdle the eggs instead of creating a velvety texture.) Then slowly reverse the process; stirring the remaining chicken stock in the pot constantly, slowly transferring the lemon/egg/ broth mixture from the bowl to the pot.

Add the cooked rice, and gently reheat the soup on a very low heat, being sure not to boil it. Remove the pot from heat and let sit 5 minutes before serving. Very finely ground pepper and salt are optional. Serve with lemon wedges and buttered toast.

Magnificent Spinach Pie

Entertaining, Good Info, Recipes, Superfoods 2 Comments »

EC Blog Posts

1/20/10

Spanakopita: Magnificent Spinach Pie

See video at bottom of post!

Spinach Pie

If 3 Greeks are any indicator this crowd pleaser recipe is one worth saving for generations to come! I guarantee it will be the freshest, most vibrant, bursting with goodness and flavor spinach pie you’ve ever had.

Greek #1: Gratefully, my close friend’s sister gave me her grandmother’s recipe, though I quickly baulked at the instruction to use thawed, frozen, wrung out spinach. Blasting I said I was quite sure “the ancient Greeks did not use frozen spinach” and commented that the recipe was probably created in the 1950′s when using frozen vegetables was commonplace. I openly vowed to augment and improve it with more wholesome ingredients, which frankly did not go over very well. Yet I remained determined to apply the same holistic sensibilities I do to each of my recipe and created an updated, vibrant recipe that’s worthy of inclusion in my upcoming book!

Greek #2: My client, Paul from Professorit.com, hired me to host a bunch of cooking segments.  Not realizing he was of Greek decent and had probably had countless spanakopita made for him by family members, I planned to make the spinach pie in one of our video segments. Several friends had already flipped for this nutrient-packed recipe, so I remained confident. At 11pm, we wrapped the shoot and he tasted it. Low and behold, he said it was “the best spinach pie” he’d ever had! Eureka!! I was vindicated!!

Greek #3:  Jason, who is a student through my yoga DVDs is standing by now for this recipe.  Originally from Cyprus, his entire family are apt to be discerning tasters.  So Jason, this is for you.  Sincere hopes you and your family enjoy it as much as my friends and I have.

Spanakopita: Magnificent Spinach Pie

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach (approx. 1 bunch)
2 T (approx. 20 fresh mint leaves)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
8 oz feta cheese
2 eggs
8 sheets of filo dough
1 T butter
¾ t sea salt
½ t fresh ground black pepper to taste
¾ T + 1t sesame seeds
¼ t poppy seeds

Defrost the filo dough at room temperature for 30 minutes without removing the plastic wrapper.

Place a pie plate or shallow casserole dish in the oven and set to 375º.

Snap off the large stems as you wash the fresh spinach thoroughly in a colander with cold water, removing all the sand. Gently pat the spinach leaves very dry with a cotton dishcloth.

Remove the heated pie plate to a heat safe surface like a wooden cutting board and quickly add ½T butter to the heated pie plate. When the butter melts, spread it evenly around the bottom, sides and over the lip of the plate with a pastry brush or paper towel. Place 4 sheets of filo dough in the pie plate. If the plate is round, cut overhanging edges off with a scissor, retaining an extra ½” all the way around so the crust does not shrink smaller than the plate. Retain any cut pieces. Prick the filo dough with a fork so it doesn’t puff up while baking and return the plate to the oven. Allow it to bake for approximately 10 minutes. When the dough becomes very crisp, but not yet brown, remove it from the oven. Place the remaining ½T of butter in a small ramekin or oven-safe cup to melt in the hot oven for the top of the pie.

Beat Eggs

Beat Eggs In A Large Bowl

As the filo bakes, beat eggs in the bottom of a large bowl.  Finely chop the parsley and mint. Use the parsley stems, but discard the mint stems. Add spinach to the pile and continue to chop coarsely to large 1” pieces. Add the chopped ingredients to the bowl and crumble the feta into ½” pieces over it with your hands.  Add the salt, pepper and ¾T of the sesame seeds. Lightly toss the ingredients until well mixed, being careful not to crush the spinach.

Spinach, Feta and Egg Mixture

Spinach, Feta and Egg Mixture

Blind Baked Filo with Spinach Mixture

Blind Baked Filo with Spinach Mixture

Lightly place a mound of the spinach mixture into the pie plate or casserole dish, on top of the cooked filo dough.  Nudge the mixture with a fork toward sidewalls of the baking dish.

Spinach Pie with top filo layer

Spinach Pie with top filo layer

Place any reserved scraps of filo dough in an even layer on top of the spinach. Cover these with four un-separated sheets of filo dough. Trim with a scissor leaving ¾” of dough all the way around the dish.  Carefully tuck the raw filo under the lip of the cooked under layer of filo for a neat and finished edge. Remove the melted butter from the oven and brush the top layer with it, especially around the edges.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds and remaining sesame seeds on top of the buttered filo dough and return the pie dish to the oven.

The finished pie

The finished pie

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until well browned. If the top crust is browning too quickly, place a sheet of aluminum foil across the top. Ovens vary, so after check periodically for doneness after 30 minutes baking time.

Slice of Spinach Pie

Photos and text Copyright 2008-2010 Marlon Braccia