The always handsome Chef Joey! (and talented, too!)
By Chef Joey
Well, Labor Day has come and gone. Worcester was kissed by a Tornado – and not the sports team! Now we have another “Whirlwind”: Election Time!
Back in the day we got postcards and they always brought a smile to your face with quick quips about how the trip is going, or to remind us about an appointment. This time of year they are flying around like letters from Hogwart’s academy. They are all very impressive and full of information about the candidate’s hopes and dreams – let’s hope whoever wins is not a candiDONT! … They also invite us to political gatherings, which involve food – albeit an evening pasta party, afternoon cookout or a pot luck dinner.
Then, after all is said and done, post election – there is another party after the polls close, mainly snack food and appetizers.
Originating from the French word, “Hors d’oeuvre,” literally means “After work.” They are food, usually served before the main course(s) of a meal, and typically smaller than main dishes, and often meant to be eaten by hand (with minimal use of silverware).
There is a plethora of things you can make! Recently, when I was cooking at my Shelter Island location, we were having a Labor Day Party and closing the restaurant for the season and, being a Thai restaurant, I wanted to make things seem more Asian and use up all the food items we had.
So I created “Asian Hummus-like dip.” Made from fava beans, 5 spice powder garlic, Thai basil and Oil.
It was incredible and so easy! I’ll give you the break down to make it with a few other items that are quick simple and delicious! I fried Wonton wrappers for the “Scoop” (have to avoid the silverware!), but pita crisps or even fresh pita will work, too.
Other fast, tasty items are Bruschetta – traditionally diced tomato garlic basil with dressing on a toasted baguette slice – Cold Cuts gingerly arranged with small slices of the mini pumpernickel bread – Deviled Eggs (add Dijon mustard for a zing) – Smoked salmon, with a dollop of sour cream on a cracker garnish with a sprig of dill – Pigs in a blanket are a hit with kids, tiny cocktail hotdogs rolled with a strip of puff pastry (freezer section of your market) – and my favorite Spanakopita – Spinach triangles wrapped in filo (recipe to follow).
Pita bread’s origins, by the way, are Greek. Traditionally a soft, slightly leavened flat bread made from wheat flour and baked. It is used in many Mediterranean, Balkan and Middle Eastern cuisines and resembles other slightly leavened flatbreads such as Iranian nan-e barbari, South Asian flatbreads and Central Asian naan, and the ever popular pizza crust. Over the years the making of the filo dough make for a fancier presentation versus travelling food back in the day.
Now for the recipes: Joey’s Spanakopita
1 large bag baby spinach, ¼ cup Feta cheese, 3 Eggs, 2 sticks Butter 2 tbsp Oil, olive is best and one package of fresh filo for best results. I’m not going to tell you where to buy it but there are 2 places on Pleasant St in Worcester that can accommodate – Just sayin’. So In a food processor add the baby spinach leaves, feta and the 3 eggs blend – I do this for the apps because it makes them smooth and easy to eat.
Melt one stick of butter and add the oil and stir – you will need a pastry brush to spread this on the filo. Open up the filo and cover with a clean cloth take one sheet out, place it horizontally and paint it with butter. Then cut it into 6 or 7 strips (3 if you want lunch size ones).
Take a teaspoon and place 1 teaspoon (or more if making bigger slices) approximately 1 inch from the bottom. Take one corner from the bottom left and fold a triangle to the right side. Then take the right side and fold it over – like folding a flag. Place on parchment paper because it keeps your cookie sheet clean …
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for about 10 to 15 minutes until golden and puffy and egg is cooked. It seems lengthy but it’s not and goes fast once you get the knack!
For the Lima bean Hummus spread – One large can of lima beans ¾ drained – 2 cloves garlic – 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder and 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing (no Kidding!) put everything except the dressing in the blender – as it is blending add the dressing and watch out for splashes – when the consistency gets smooth enough – you are done!
A pinch of salt may be needed, depending on the dressing you used. Have fun and REMEMBER TO VOTE in November!!!