Strawberry Rose with Dark Chocolate Pudding

Strawberries — loved for their sweet taste and heart shape, have symbolized purity, perfection, love and passion throughout the ages. It is very common for us to give little thought to where our food comes from and the back breaking labor that it took to get it to our various parts of the country.

Travel can always be filed under the category ‘learning experience’. I find it so important to set oneself outside our ‘bubble’ to fully understand and not become complacent about the many things we take for granted.

Over the years, Brion and I have spent many holiday hours travelling along the Big Sur coast of California, USA. While there we would use Monterrey as our ‘home base’ and make little day trips to the surrounding area. Just inland from Monterrey is the agricultural jewel known as the Salinas Valley. This is one of the major valleys and most productive agricultural regions of California. Having a unique coastal environment with its western ocean exposure (less than 10 miles away) provides moderate temperatures year round. Warm sunny days and cool foggy nights are the perfect combination for growing strawberries.

I find myself going back to those years I was raised on the farm when we drive along looking at the fields of produce. I have often felt much appreciation and compassion for the farm workers standing, bent over in the heat of the blazing sun for hours tending these crops.

I have many memories of my own parents working long, hard hours to provide for us on our family farm. I am grateful to have learned to appreciate the efforts of others that make life good.

This STRAWBERRY ROSE with DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING  celebrates those wonderful Driscoll strawberries as well as satisfying the chocolate lover.

Strawberry Rose with Dark Chocolate Pudding
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Strawberry Rose with Dark Chocolate Pudding
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Chocolate Pudding
  1. Melt chocolate. Whisk together 1/2 cup milk & cornstarch. In a small saucepan, bring remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar, cocoa & salt just to a simmer over medium heat. Add cornstarch/milk mixture; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat & stir in melted chocolate & vanilla. Spoon into serving glasses. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill.
Topping
  1. Before serving, hull 16 strawberries by removing the green stem. Take 4 strawberries & cut the top of the strawberries off. These will be used as the center for the roses. For remaining strawberries, slice into 1/8" slices to use for the rose petals.
  2. Begin arranging the sliced strawberries around the pudding making sure the ends of the slices are facing out & extend slightly beyond the rim of the glass. After the first circle of strawberries is placed, begin making a second circle of strawberries but position slightly more forward toward the center of the glass. Continue with a third layer. Once finished, add the cut strawberry to the center & garnish with mint leaves.
Recipe Notes
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Brunch – Celebrating Mother’s Day

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

In the food service industry, brunch on Mother’s Day is huge. What better way is there to celebrate your mom then by taking her out of the kitchen on her day. As is the case with many culinary traditions, the origin of brunch is a bit hazy.

There are numerous theories, such as the English tradition of feasting after a hunt, or from the Catholic tradition of fasting before church and having a large meal after services. By 1930, ‘brunch’, that blend of breakfast and lunch had caught on in the United States. From some of the classic dishes restaurants offered such as eggs benedict,  brunch evolved into decadent spreads that even included morning cocktails.

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 39 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.

It is also with loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. To my sisters, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

In July 2016, I posted a blog entitled ‘Brunch in Thibery, France. It has some more brunch ideas for croissants, crepes and french toast you might like.

For today I have two brunch items in mind. One is BAKED EGGS IN PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM CAPS  and the other a SAVORY SALMON & DILL MUFFIN.  Enjoy your day!

Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Ingredients
Salmon/Dill Muffins
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
Servings:
Instructions
Salmon/Dill Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8-cup large muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder; add grated cheese, salmon & fresh dill. In a small bowl, beat together egg, milk & oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add wet ingredients, mix only until combined.
  3. Fill muffin cups half full; divide cream cheese between the 8 cups. Top with remaining batter to evenly fill cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done.
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove stalk from mushroom caps. Make sure mushrooms do not get cracked so the eggs & sauce leak out. Place mushrooms in a baking dish that will keep them from tipping. Divide pasta sauce between mushrooms & spread. Break an egg into each mushroom. Pour cream over the eggs, drizzling to try to cover the whole surface.
  2. Carefully place mushrooms in the oven for about 20 minutes. When eggs are almost set lay cheese slices on top & continue baking for another 5 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Cooking times can vary between ovens; watch eggs closely.
  • If you prefer, you can scrape out the mushroom 'gills' to make more room for the filling.
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Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks

Savored for centuries, crepes are popular not only throughout France but worldwide. Crepe making has evolved from being cooked on large cast- iron hot plates heated over a wood fire in a fireplace to pans or griddles that are gas or electrically heated.

Around the 12th century, buckwheat  was introduced to Brittany, France from the east. Buckwheat could thrive on the  desolate, rocky Breton moors and was high in fiber, protein and essential amino acids. At that point, all crepes were being made from buckwheat flour. White flour crepes appeared only at the turn of the 20th century when white flour became affordable.

Almost every country in the world has its own name and adaptation of crepes including Italian crespelle, Hungarian palacsintas,  Jewish blintzes, Scandinavian plattars,  Russian blini  and Greek kreps.

Although crepes are simple in concept, by creating fillings that are complex in flavors, takes this entree to a whole new level.

 On July 25/2016, I posted a blog featuring both sweet and savory crepes you might enjoy to read. For something different today, I made ‘crepe stacks’ which have a savory filling of my own ‘design’. Hope you find time to make some.

Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks
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Smoked Gouda cheese gives such a nice flavor to these crepes.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Savory Portobello & Pork Crepe Stacks
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Smoked Gouda cheese gives such a nice flavor to these crepes.
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Crepes
Gouda Sauce
Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Crepes
  1. In a large container with a cover, beat eggs well on medium speed. Gradually add dry ingredients alternately with milk & oil. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
Gouda Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; add flour while stirring for a couple of minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, chicken broth & spices. Add cheese; cook, stirring until cheese is melted. Set aside to cool slightly then place in food processor. Process until smooth & fluffy.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine water & seasonings. Add ground pork & mix well. In a skillet, saute mushroom slices in margarine; remove from skillet & set aside. Scramble fry pork until no longer pink. Spoon onto paper towels to drain. Add to Gouda sauce.
To Assemble:
  1. Place one crepe on each dinner plate. Top with slices of sauteed mushrooms & some pork/Gouda sauce. Repeat 3 more times on each plate. Garnish if you prefer. It may be necessary to reheat for a couple of minutes in the microwave before serving.
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European Easter Bread

The aroma of Easter bread baking certainly brings back precious childhood memories. What I recall about my mother’s Easter bread, was that it was a dense, mildly sweet & a very egg rich bread. It was always baked in round ‘cans’ and the taste was unforgettable.

Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread. Each one is different in some way, a mix of symbolism and satisfying taste. They represent a continuity of traditions from centuries past, including much earlier pre-Christian times. Often these rich, yeasted breads are made in symbolic shapes and are elaborately decorated.

Germany and Austria make several shapes such as : Osterzopf – Easter braid, Osterkranz – Easter wreath or crown, Osternester – Easter nests, Eierimnest – Easter egg nest, Striezel – stacked braided bread.

That being said, I couldn’t resist doing a little ‘version’ of my own. I started with my favorite sweet yeast bread, added some anise flavor and a cream cheese filling. So now you have German osterkranz, Italian panettone and Romanian pasca all in one beautiful EUROPEAN EASTER BREAD.

European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk yeast & sugar into lukewarm water; let stand about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt & anise seed. Combine egg mixture, melted butter & milk with yeast mixture.
  2. Add 4 CUPS flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic, about 5-6 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour if necessary.
  3. Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl & turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in bulk. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom & go up the sides of a 10" spring form pan. When dough has risen enough, cut into four pieces.
  4. On the parchment paper, press one piece of the dough into a circle measuring about 10" in diameter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed peel, leaving a gap at the edge. Press out second piece of the dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper, place it on top of the first layer & sprinkle with another 1/3 of mixed peel. Repeat with the third & fourth pieces of dough but do not sprinkle mixed peel on the final layer.
  5. Place a glass tumbler on top of the center of the dough circles. Cut dough into 16 segments, starting a the edge of the glass. Lift & twist them away from each other through 180 degrees. Lift & twist through 90 degrees so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process with all pairs of segments. Leave glass sitting on top at the center of the circle to form an indentation for the cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to to 325 F. In a bowl, place cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla; mix well. When bread has risen, remove glass & fill indentation with cheese mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Brush with honey/water glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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Pizza Memories

A number of years back, Brion and I decided we would like to seriously explore Rome ‘on foot‘. We rented a furnished apartment up in the hills of the northwest part of the city, by the Embassy residences. Each morning we would set out to travel the cobbled streets of Rome, checking out the art of Michelangelo, the sculptures of Bernini or wander through the ancient Roman ruins. In no other city can you see so much in a short space of time and yet merely scratch the surface. 

Rome is the real thing! So many of its legendary sites are the original article that to see them is to fulfill a lifelong dream. It’s this that raises the ‘goose pimples’; that feeling that the city really is as old as its seven hills, that in Rome, time and beauty are measured on an altogether grander scale.

We found it easy and relatively fast to get around the city by using the public transit system. We paid 18 euros for a 7-day pass which could be used as many times as you wished. Rome’s buses struggle to cope with the daily demand that is already well over its operating limits; battling their way through traffic and streets made impenetrable by cars double parked. To rent a car to see the sights of Rome would be an exercise in frustration or to say the least, taking your life in your hands. Best to spend a day and learn the ‘system’ and you’re set!

Rome is a city that bathes in a warm Mediterranean climate. During the month we spent there we experienced some great weather — 20-23 C with only one day of rain.

Of course when in Italy it would be unthinkable not to eat pizza during your stay. We discovered a small little pizza place close to our apartment. Once or twice a week we made a point of enjoying some ‘authentic pizza’. The two options generally available in the pizzerias are Roman  pizza (the paper thin, almost charred version) and Neapolitan  with the thicker crust. As for the toppings, there are unlimited choices. 

The pizza recipe I’d like to share today is one that is probably one that is more American/Canadian  then Roman  but nevertheless real good. I had adapted it from Pillsbury.com quite a few years ago.

 

Ranch Chicken & Bacon Pizza
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Ranch Chicken & Bacon Pizza
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Ingredients
Pizza Crust without Yeast
Servings:
Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. In a medium bowl, measure dry ingredients for pizza crust. Make a well in center & add milk. Stir until dough leaves the sides of the bowl. With buttered hands, gently knead 5-6 times. Spray or butter a 14-inch pizza pan; press dough evenly over bottom & up sides.
Pizza Toppings
  1. In microwave, bake the potato & slice thinly; slightly cook chopped onion. Crisply fry bacon & coarsely chop. Seed Roma tomato & chop along with cooked chicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread ranch dressing evenly over dough. Combine chesses; sprinkle half of the cheese over crust. Top with thinly sliced potato then remaining ingredients; ending with cheese.
  3. Bake 13 - 16 minutes or until crust is golden & cheese is melted.
Recipe Notes
  • If you are pressed for time, no worries, just use a purchased pizza crust to speed up the process.
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‘Retro’ Tuna/Salmon Pasta Bake

The 1950’s became the decade of casseroles. ‘One Pot’ meals have been around since mankind first invented cooking utensils but were rediscovered in the 1930’s.

Culinary habits of the 1950’s were practically defined by casseroles. The legendary ‘Tuna Noodle’ and ‘Green Bean’ casseroles, were the two that have endured the test of time and are still around today. Most others have faded away, largely because they simply weren’t that good.

One day when I was going through my mother’s little recipe file boxes, I happened to come across one such recipe. It appeared to be from the ‘Clover Leaf’ company. I vaguely recall her making it but decided to try it. I’m sure at that time, it was probably made with either tuna or salmon. I added a few extra spices just to ‘kick’ it up a notch and we really enjoyed it. As Brion put it, ‘great little comfort food meal’.

'Retro' Tuna/Salmon Pasta Bake
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Comfort food of yesteryear.
Servings
4
Servings
4
'Retro' Tuna/Salmon Pasta Bake
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Comfort food of yesteryear.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Boil macaroni. Place half of the macaroni in a buttered 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Add drained, flaked salmon (or tuna), peas, eggs & seasonings; cover with the rest of the macaroni.
  2. Combine soup, milk & salmon juice; pour over all. Top with cheese or breadcrumbs or a combo of both. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes.
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Glazed Mango Pinwheels

When you think of sticky rolls, yeast dough comes to mind. Yeast with its long, slow rise, adds that wonderful flavor to breads of all kinds. But there are always those times when you need a quick ‘homespun’ dessert. This is where we can turn to baking powder and baking soda, those little white powders baker’s simply can’t live without. 

I have always had a love for mangoes. In our part of the country they are quite expensive. Using the ‘individually quick frozen’ (IQF) mangoes seems to be the most economical way to buy them.

Adding a bit of cardamom spice to these Glazed Mango Pinwheels  gives them such a flavor boost. My blog photo shows them when they first came out of the oven. After you invert them on a platter that nice sticky glaze runs down the sides ….. yum!

Glazed Mango Pinwheels
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Old fashioned goodness with a new twist on sticky buns!
Servings
8
Servings
8
Glazed Mango Pinwheels
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Old fashioned goodness with a new twist on sticky buns!
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Syrup Glaze
Dough
Spread
Servings:
Instructions
Mangoes & Syrup
  1. Thaw & coarsely chop mangoes; toss with lemon juice; set aside. In a saucepan, combine syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then simmer 3 minutes; set aside.
Dough
  1. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt; cut in 1/2 cup margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add milk & mix lightly with a fork to make a stiff dough. Knead 10 seconds on a floured surface then roll out to a 12 x 10 -inch rectangle. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spread dough with 2 tbsp margarine; sprinkle with sugar & cardamom spice.
  2. Spread mango pieces over dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Roll up in a jelly roll fashion; cut into 8 slices. Place cut side down in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish, leaving space between rolls. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Reheat syrup glaze until hot then pour over & around pinwheels. Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes then invert onto serving platter.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer more glaze, nothing says you can't double that part. No doubt, they will probably be even better!
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Apricot Cream Coffeecake

In contrast to it’s name, coffeecake usually does not have any coffee in it but is most often served with coffee. This is a cake that was not invented by a pastry chef but rather evolved from a variety of different types of cakes. Said to have had it’s origin in Europe, coffeecake became famous in Germany, Scandinavia and Portugal. The Scandinavians were advocates of the coffee break and desired something sweet with their coffee, thus contributed to the evolution of this tasty cake.

By 1879, coffeecakes had become well known in America and became common place to most households. As time passed, the original recipe was being prepared with cheese, yogurt, sugared fruits, nuts and spices. The most preferred baking pan for this cake is the ‘bundt pan’. The hole in the center of the pan allows heavier batters to become cooked all the way through without any dough being left unbaked in the center.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake, sometimes called Russian Coffeecake, is one of the most delicious and poplar of all versions. Due to the fact that this dense cake is not overly sweet makes it ideal for breakfast, brunch, snacks as well as other informal occasions. The lactic acid in the sour cream results in a tender crumb as well as keeping the cake fresh longer while the fat contributes to the flavor and moistness. The slight tang of the sour cream underscores the velvety, buttery cake. With the batter being rather thick, it will support a heavy filling or streusel.

This is a cake with limitless possibilities. Personalize it to suit the occasion with fillings such as Apple Nut, Brown Sugar & Nuts, Cranberry Orange, Date or Fig. Of course, instead of a glaze you can always put some streusel in the bundt pan first, giving it a glorious look and taste when baked and inverted on a serving plate.

Today’s recipe combines the use of sour cream and cream cheese. The aroma when it comes out of the oven is heavenly not to mention the taste later.

Apricot Cream Coffeecake
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Servings
12-16
Servings
12-16
Apricot Cream Coffeecake
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Servings
12-16
Servings
12-16
Ingredients
Filling
Streusel (optional)
Coffeecake
Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese with apricot preserve until smooth; set aside.
Streusel
  1. If using streusel on top or inside, combine streusel ingredients well; set aside.
Coffeecake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly butter & flour a 12-cup bundt cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat sugar, margarine, vanilla & eggs at medium speed for 2 minutes. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; fold into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat on low speed for another minute.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the batter in pan; spread with 1/2 of the filling. Repeat 2 times. Bake 45 minutes or until tests done with a wooden pick. Remove from oven to a wire rack; cool for 20 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients while cake is cooling. Invert bundt pan onto serving plate & drizzle with glaze.
Recipe Notes
  • If you choose to use streusel, after buttering & flouring the pan, sprinkle streusel in the bottom which will essentially become the top of cake.
  • Or place some streusel on the bottom of pan & sprinkle some over each layer of filling. 
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Brownie Fudge Pudding

If you grew up in the 60’s, you probably remember ‘brownie fudge pudding’. Those wonderful pudding cakes every homemaker was making. The ultimate time saver because it could be mixed and baked all in the same dish.

Pudding cakes offer two treats in one. While baking, the cake portion rises to the top and a creamy pudding-like sauce forms on the bottom. They can also come in a variety of flavors and can even be made with fresh fruit. Adding fruit, such as blueberries or cherries, makes a pudding cake even better than a regular fruit cobbler in that it develops a thicker, richer sauce around the fruit than most cobblers would.

This dessert is relatively low in fat and it really isn’t necessary to add an extra topping, although ice cream or whipped cream are good. At the time my mother was making this dessert, it was only the chocolate version. It’s definitely one of those classic recipes that has never been forgotten.

Brownie Fudge Pudding
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Serving it parfait style adds a bit of elegance to this ordinary little pudding.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Brownie Fudge Pudding
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Serving it parfait style adds a bit of elegance to this ordinary little pudding.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In an 8 x 8 inch baking dish, combine first 5 ingredients. Add milk, margarine & walnuts; combine. Spread batter evenly in dish (batter will be stiff). Sprinkle brown sugar & 1/2 cup cocoa over batter.
  2. Pour boiling water over all & bake for about 40 minutes or until batter rises to the top & is baked through.
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Savoring Greece

January is kind of a different month — all the holiday hoopla is done for another year, in our part of the country its fairly cold, bringing on the winter ‘blaas’. I have numerous friends that say they find themselves feeling a bit ‘down’ at this time. That being said, It seemed the perfect time to be a ‘mental traveler”. I’d like to share an experience Brion & I had which was totally amazing.

Your day begins in central Greece. A misty fog blankets the Kalambaka Valley as the tour takes you to your morning destination.

Here, in the shadow of the Pindus Mountains and just beyond the town of Kalambaka, massive gray colored pinnacles rise out of the valley towards the sky. Over thousands of years, this landscape has been sculpted by wind and water into a strange and breathtaking sight. Perched miraculously on the tops of these pinnacles are monasteries. The area is called  METEORA   and literally means ‘columns in the sky’.

The sandstone peaks were first inhabited by Byzantine hermits in the 11th century, who clamored up the rocks to be alone with God. Though it is unknown how the first hermits reached the tops of these vertical rock faces, it is likely that pegs were hammered into tiny gaps in the rocks. Around 1382 the first monastery was built. By the 1500’s, 24 monasteries were built on these sheer cliffs, but by the 19th century most had fallen to ruin.

Because there were no steps, the main access to the monasteries was by means of a net that was hitched over a hook and hoisted up by rope and a hand cranked windlass to winch towers over hanging the chasm. Monks descended in nets or on a retractable rope ladders up to 40 meters long to the fertile valley below to grow grapes, corn and potatoes.

The natural rock buildings blend so evenly with the scenery, they are hard to spot at first. Only the red tile roofs give them away. Centuries of weather have caused natural streaking of the rock which acts as a camouflage. In the 1920’s, roads, pathways and stairs were built to make today’s remaining six monasteries more accessible as they are now largely dependent on tourist donations.

Inside the walls of these monasteries, life goes on as it has for more than 900 years. Wine is still made in giant oak vats where the monks climb in with bare feet to crush grapes. Most of the carpentry and masonry tools are hand made in the same style as their ancestors. Terracotta pots/bowls are fired by hand pumped bellows on a furnace. Traditional icons are painted using hand ground pigments bonded with egg yolk to make tempera paint that was common in the middle ages.

Among the existing monasteries is a convent called Saint Stephen’s that was built in 1798. The occupying nuns are courteous and friendly, but no visitor gets past them with bare shoulders or knees. Novices holding piles of blue aprons and capes meet the visitors at the gate. Anyone not meeting the exacting dress code must don the local sackcloth or be turned away.

To experience this rare geographical phenomenon is something you will not forget easily. If you have the opportunity be sure to take it. In the meantime I hope you have enjoyed this mental journey I have taken you on.

Now, in keeping with the food part of the blog, I made a savory  GREEK SPANAKOPITA PASTA  meal. Easy, quick and tasty.

Savory Greek Spanakopita Pasta
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Savory Greek Spanakopita Pasta
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Pasta
Servings:
Instructions
Pasta
  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain & set aside.
Cheese Sauce
  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until hot but not boiling. Combine flour & butter in another saucepan. Whisk until the mixture has gently bubbled for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour.
  2. Begin to add the hot milk to the flour mixture a little at a time while whisking vigorously. Continue to add the milk until it is fully incorporated. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens, 6-8 minutes ( it will resemble heavy cream). Crumble the feta cheese & add to hot sauce, whisking until smooth. Add dill & pepper; stir. Remove from heat & let cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Squeeze water from frozen, thawed spinach. Toss the pasta, cheese sauce, spinach, ricotta & garlic in a large bowl until well combined. Taste to see if any more salt & pepper is needed.
  4. Place in a casserole dish & top with Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese browns a little.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer to make this a day ahead of baking, cover well & refrigerate.
  • If you do not care for feta cheese you can substitute 285 grams of either Gorgonzola or mozzarella in place of the 140 grams of feta.
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