On Saturday night we had a fun little party, I dubbed it the “come on spring!” fling. It was a fun night and distracted us a little from the fact that winter is lingering on seemingly forever. I am being a little dramatic because it has been snowing with a vengeance in our neck of Ohio as in other parts of the country. I was born during the month of December and maybe this is the reason that while others are lamenting the winter season, I usually embrace it. One year after a storm dropped 17 inches of snow in one day, I happily shoveled the drive alongside my husband. We strategically piled the snow in one area of our backyard which we later used for building a two person igloo. We were like two kids in a candy store! We crawled inside and then ate our breakfast, homemade egg sandwiches and piping hot coffee. It was a fun snow day! But this winter I feel a little different. Like most of those around me, I am ready for spring. In fact I am calling for it to hasten and hurry up its arrival, “Come on Spring!”, I am yelling! Start already! Thus the theme for our little party. It was a fun little distraction from reality. My chanting didn’t do much good because the next morning the snow was already falling while we were still laying in our comfy beds surrounded by heavenly down.
Still having the memories of the night before, I woke up happy, the snow could not change my mood. The party was a success and I had a great time getting everything ready. I purchased most of what I needed from a local and wonderful Italian grocer Rulli Bros; stocking up on a variety of olives, fire roasted red peppers, fresh mixed greens, and speciality meats and cheeses from their deli for mini sandwiches. My husband’s sister made mushrooms stuffed with spinach, feta and tomatoes. Another friend brought all that was needed for ice cream cones, just like the ones you would enjoy when the weather starts to turn warm. I have learned a few things over the years which have made throwing a party much less stressful. One thing is plan so you can enjoy it. I love to enlist the help of others. Everyone brings a little something. I also like to purchase good quality items to make up trays of veggies, olives, and sandwich fixings to lesson the prep work. I then have more time to focus on making one or two of my favorite recipes. All of this helps a ton and even cuts down on clean up. Over all these little tips leave more time for chatting, game playing and merriment for everyone including the host.
I did make one item for this spring themed party. Wonderful and a little indulgent, they are my spanakopita cigars. I hesitated sharing this recipe for Meatless Monday. While the recipe is technically “meatless”, it does contain a good amount of cheese and butter. The recipe though yields a large amount so the cheese and butter are spread out over 24 cigars. I am sharing it anyway, one lesson I learned is, “no matter what happens in the kitchen never apologize,” attributed to of course the great Julia Child. It is a good motto to live by and we know how she felt about butter! Of course the little cigars are tasty! While I am not going to apologize about the butter, I am going to try using an olive oil mister the next time I make these, which in reality isn’t that often. They are worth it at least once though, so do try this one out. If any of my readers do try use and use something other than butter I would love to hear their feedback.
I think two of these cigars would make a nice dinner or lunch with a large salad of mixed greens. Plus they make excellent appetizers, are easy and fun to make, and reheat the next day beautifully so other than the butter you can’t go wrong with this recipe. Try them for your next party. Below is the recipe for these tasty little guys, and for the first time I have a handy little video if my directions seem unclear. It’s a lot easier to show how to make these guys than describe it! Enjoy!
- 2 10-ounce packages frozen spinach de thawed
- 8 ounces feta cheese
- 1 pound fresh filo dough
- 3 vidalia onions
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 stick melted butter
- Thaw frozen spinach and once thawed drain and thoroughly squeeze out liquid. Set aside in medium sized mixing bowl.
- Finely dice onions and sauté in pan over medium high heat until caramelized.
- Place onions in mixing bowl with spinach and stir to combine.
- Crumble feta into spinach and onions.
- Season mixture with black pepper and nutmeg.
- Add zest of lemon and stir to combine.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Assemble cigars. Using one sheet of filo dough, visually divide the sheet into thirds and place approximately 1½ tbsp of filling at the bottom middle of the sheet, leaving a 1 inch border of filo at the bottom of the sheet.
- Using clean fingers shape the filling into the shape of a short cigar (there will be a large amount of filo on either side of the filling which will be folded over later)
- Working away from you fold the bottom of the filo over the filling and roll once.
- With a pastry brush butter the rolled sides on either side of the filling.
- Starting with the right side fold in the excess filo and repeat with the left side, just like folding a sheet of paper. It should now look like a long rectangle with the filling encapsulated within the filo at one end.
- Lightly butter the filo dough with pastry brush and working away from you roll up the cigar.
- Seal the end with butter and place on baking sheet.
- Continue until all filling is used, which should yield approximately 24 cigars.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees then using tongs flip cigars over and bake for 10 more minutes or until light to medium brown.