Magnificent Spinach Pie-Recipe and How-to-Video

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Slice of Spinach Pie is flaky, cheesy and vibrant with fresh spinach.

This recipe has created a lot of talk amongst my friends! It’s a sure fire crowd pleaser, that you can make ahead if you are entertaining. The marvel is it’s great hot right out of the oven, room temp, as a cold leftover or reheated. The controversy amongst my Greek friends has been that it doesn’t use frozen, defrosted, wrung out spinach. Oh please!  Would the Enlightened Cook use such a thing? No, no, no. I use 2 heads of fresh spinach and not that stuff you get in a bag either. Manufacturers use gas to make the spinach resist decomposing as it should when packaged in plastic. I go for whole, fresh heads of spinach and carefully wash all the sand out myself.

Eggs and Greek feta cheese add a rich creaminess.


So here you go!  Video and Recipe pdf:

Had any good Sodium Tripolyphospate lately?

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If summer fare means eating lighter for you as it does for so many of us, you may have involuntarily ingested sodium tripolyphosphate. Many packaging plants “wash” shrimp and scallops in the harmful chemical before freezing. It gives the manufacturer the safety of killing every living bacteria (excuse me, but some of those are actually useful), so they’re not liable there. In the process, they’ve bleached away the delicate flavor those lovely crustaceans.

It seems the solution is often the same: shop in a health food market that understands you don’t want to ingest a industrial chemicals. There you are likely to pay more per pound, but in reality it probably works out just the same as purchasing untreated goods because the sodium tripolyphosphate makes foods retain water. If for instance Whole Foods is charging $8.99 for shrimp and more downscale market is charging $5.99, it could be without the additional water retention in the treated shrimp, you are getting just as much actual shrimp  spending $8.99 per pound.

Other sources of this harmful chemical with which you may come in contact are–are you ready for this— household cleaners.

Wikipedia says:

STPP is a solid inorganic compound used in a large variety of household cleaning products, mainly as a builder, but also in human foodstuffs, animal feeds, industrial cleaning processes and ceramics manufacture. STPP is widely used in regular and compact laundry detergents and automatic dishwashing detergents (in powder, liquid, gel and/or tablet form), toilet cleaners….

Food Applications: It is common in food production. In foods, STPP is used to retain moisture. Many governments regulate the quantities allowed in foods, as it can substantially increase the sale weight of seafood in particular.

Many people find STPP to add an unpleasant taste to food, particularly delicate seafood. The taste tends to be slightly sharp and soapy and is particularly detectable in mild-tasting foods. The increased water holding properties can also lead to a more diluted flavor in the food.

Toxitcokinetics and acute toxicity: Polyphosphates are hydrolyzed into smaller units (orthophosphates) in the gut before absorption, which may induce a metabolic acidosis[citation needed]. The acute toxicity of polyphosphates is low, as the lowest LD50 after oral administration is > 1,000 mg/kg body weight

The Casual Octopus

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Another fabulous food photo from amazing photographer, Kevin Gregory. I’d like to wrestle with that one!

Tools ‹ The Enlightened Cook — WordPress

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Tools ‹ The Enlightened Cook — WordPress.

Start Cooking Classes with Marlon Braccia!

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Clams with Rice Noodles in a Spicy Seafood Broth

While I work on my cookbook, I’m offering cooking classes in Los Angeles. No experience required! All you need is the desire to create something wonderful in the kitchen (or on the BBQ grill), that tastes good and is good for you! Send a comment from the blog if you’d like to hone cooking skills. In just a few lessons, you’ll impress your friends and dazzle your palette!

First we’ll figure out if you’re at the how to boil water level or an experienced cook. Then we’ll figure out what kind of dishes you’d like to create. Focus on food for entertaining, increasing your low-fat, high protein intake, getting really creative with vegetables or fabulous desserts that won’t bust your calorie count. Group classes or private lessons welcome. Send a comment thru the blog for more information.

Fresh Corn Relish! Perfect BBQ salad

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Fresh Corn Salsa

3 ears corn

3 large leeks

2 blood oranges

3 T. rice vinegar (preferred) or white vinegar

1 t. raw sugar or unprocessed honey

3 sprigs fresh mint – minced.

2 scallions chopped

salt and fresh coarse-ground black pepper to taste

Select a pot large that will easily hold the leeks and corn, and pour in a few inches of water.  Put in a steamer insert, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and trimming off all the tough green parts.  Wash the leeks under running water, being careful to remove all the mud that can collect between the layers. Chop the leeks into 1/8” slices and immediately add to the steamer to give them a head start cooking.  Strip the corn of its husk and silk and add the whole ears to the steamer, which should be steaming by now.  Steam the leeks with the corn for five minutes more on a medium-high heat with the lid on.

Peel off the skin and white pith of the oranges down to the flesh with a paring knife over a deep bowl, retaining the juice. Then cut the orange sections out as close to the membrane as possible, allowing them to drop in the bowl below. Then cut each orange section in half. When all the sections are cut out, squeeze the remaining membrane to extract the rest of the juice into the bowl.

Discard the mint stems and mince only the leaves. Chop the scallions into 1/4” pieces. Add the mint and scallions to the bowl of oranges, plus the vinegar, honey or raw sugar, salt & pepper. Mix with fork to dissolve the honey or raw sugar evenly into the dressing.

After allowing the corn to cool a bit, firmly hold one end of the cob resting it vertically on a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife in a downward motion to strip off the corn kernels. Scrape the cob with the blade of the knife to release its milk. Add the milk and the corn kernels to the bowl. Add the softened leeks and mix all ingredients thoroughly. Marinate the mixture for several hours or preferably overnight.  Serve chilled.

Kudzu the Superfood

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Valerie recently inquired about one ingredient in the hummus recipe, and I’m glad she did. It’s the latest in my personal list of superfoods.

Valerie said:  Just curious how did you came upon kudzu? I live in the South, where kudzu grows wild and everywhere. In fact, people saw if you stand still too long in the South it will grow on you. My friend feeds it to his chickens. I have seen it on menus, but never tried it or looked into the nutritional or healing value. Can you elaborate?

So here is a bit of info about kudzu, which is sometimes spelled kuzu.

Kudzo is an interesting substance for sure. Yes, I am aware that it is the bane of many Southerner’s existence because of it’s fast-growing vine’s ability to overtake a landscape. It’s the root that has the curative powers, as most macrobiotic folks can tell you. As my friend Nigel said when he introduced me to it with his raspberry dessert, “You can make pudding out of anything with it.”

Ground into a powder, the root looks and acts much like the more common thickening agents, corn starch, arrowroot powder and agar agar. Kudzu is about double the cost, but it’s properties as an immune and digestive strengthener impressive and well-documented in traditional medicinal texts.

I hide it in everything I can now: salad dressings, sauces, soups, potato salad– you name it. It’s available on-line and in health food stores.

To use it, add it to cold liquid first to avoid lumps, just as you would corn starch or arrowroot or agar agar. As for the taste, really isn’t any, especially if cooked a bit. Recently, I made an Asian noodle and shellfish dish with some vegetables, spices and stock. My guest left some of the sauce in the bowl, only because he assumed a sauce so rich was surely to be buttery. It was kudzu.I’m going to experiment using it in pie fillings instead of all those cholesterol-laden egg yolks! It should also make up for the extra liquid I encounter when I substitute my favorite sweetener, agave syrup, in recipes that call for sugar.

If anyone out there has experience with kudzu, would you please chime in??