LEMON LOVE AND OLIVE OIL - March 2022 Cookbook of the Month




This recipe is written to serve a crowd. It makes two 9X13-inch baking dishes worth of food. We are not a crowd - there are just two of us at Casa de Mel (well, not including the cats), so I halved the recipe. All the veg (squash [I used yellow], onion, eggplant, bell pepper, potatoes, garlic, cherry tomatoes) are cut up and put in a large bowl. They are tossed with grated tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. The recipe specifies “a lot of salt,” and I think that’s a good instruction, as a lot of cooks would tend to undersalt this. The baking pan (or pans, if you are making a full recipe) are covered with foil and baked for 40 minutes at 350F. Tip: anytime you bake anything with acid in it, such as tomato or lemon, covered with foil, it’s a good idea to rub the side of the foil that will be facing the food with oil. Otherwise, when you remove the dish from the oven, you might find holes in your foil and bits of aluminum dotting your food. So, yeah, I oil my foil. After the covered bake, the heat goes up to 400 and the dish is baked uncovered for another 30-40 minutes. I forgot to set the timer immediately after uncovering and turning up the heat, so when I realized that I guesstimated the time and set the timer for 30 minutes, figuring it had already been 10.

The veg come out perfectly soft, flavors melded, and just lovely, assuming you’ve seasoned them well. Eggplant is always a veg where I love it if it is cooked a certain way, and I hate it if it is cottony. No issues here. I feel like the covered, then uncovered instruction in this recipe is exactly what was missing from the biftekia recipe that I reported on above.



I love fennel, so this recipe was calling my name. @Valadelphia has already described the process. I did use a mandoline to cut the fennel. Used golden raisins. Unlike the almond pesto for that pasta dish I reported, this pistachio dressing did get thick and mayo-like. So this worked as kind of an alternative slaw, as promised in the headnote. I have to admit I didn’t have any raw pistachios, so I used roasted and salted ones, and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again. We were very happy with this salad!


Another remarkable simple but tasty salad, making me wonder why I don’t eat more kale salads.
The title is pretty much the recipe–massage some kale with olive oil and lemon (she does seem to go heavy on lemon, which I like, but be wary), add chopped dill, feta, and pumpkin and sesame seeds.
kale and beans


I cook beans, a lot, but I have never been able to get gigantes right. They always either turn to mush or end up under-cooked. I can’t say this was a total success, but I now know what to do–bake them! Soaked beans (definitely overnight–they go from wrinkly to smooth) are mixed with onion (called for red, I had yellow), garlic, olive oil, and canned tomato (puree or not is okay), then covered with water a couple inches in a shallow dutch onion. I halved the recipe so should have started checking them before three hours. I still find those bean skins unappealing–I wonder if gigantes are related to favas–and this was too much tomato for me, but I feel confident I can cook gigantes right the next time, at last.

kale and beans


Hey everyone, we have a nomination thread for April up here:
April 2022 COTM Nominations


I don’t own this book so I’ll be mining everyone’s posts for ideas, but in the meantime I thought I would call your attention to one of HO’s themed threads, Cuisine of the Quarter. We focused on Greek last year - here’s a link to the thread if anyone is interested in taking a look for further inspiration. I’ll add a link to this cookbook to the COTQ thread as well. GREEK - Summer 2021 (Jul-Sept) Cuisine of the Quarter

In the meantime, keep up the great cooking, HOs!


Thank you. For some reason I was getting hung up on the idea of the blistered raisins needed to be pickled and ended up confusing myself.

Hi Mel,
Thanks for getting this started.
Just something to consider…
COTM may get more traffic if it is all on one thread.
I know for finding a recipe that one wants to post under (because they also made that dish) that may be a nightmare.
However, I’m not sure how many users actually click on all the individual links vs the most popular one?

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These are easy enough for 4-year-olds to make, but as you can see, Batman went a little heavy on the milk in Dad’s frappe. The recipe makes 1 serving: in a jar with a lid (or blender) mix 1 tsp instant coffee and 2 tsps sugar. Add a splash of water to dissolve. Then add 3/4 cup water, put on the lid and shake the jar. You will get a foam on the top. Pour that over ice and add milk to taste. Delicious!


Olunia, it is currently all one thread, right here. But if someone has already reported on a dish you’re reporting on, posting as a reply really does help everyone. We get to see all the reports on one recipe in one place.

It looks different here on HO, but I think we will get used to it.

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Happy to see this report. I wasn’t really excited by the idea of dill and kale together, but I will give it a try.

This looks incredibly delicious. I plan to make it this coming week. The roasted pistachios seem like a very minor modification to me, but I love the tone of your confession. :smiley:


As you can see, I made this as a child’s snack and I did not measure anything. Just some sliced apples, drizzled with Greek honey, dusted with cinnamon, and topped with some fleur de sel. Tasted nice but I wouldn’t make it again.

Can I just say how pleasant it is to post these reports on this interface? It’s so smooth, the pictures look better, and it’s easy to do from my phone, which was not the case with CH.



Mel has already described the process. I would say that my pesto was somewhere between watery and milky, but it all worked out when mixed with the spaghetti. I too was frustrated by the Batali problem and decided to add the garnishes in the photo. I would say the best bites were the ones that had some chunks of toasted almond.

Regarding the lemon: for me, 1/3 cup of lemon juice came from 1.5 lemons, not three. Along with the zest of 2 lemons, this was already very lemony, so I think 3 lemons would be over the top.

This is supposed to be a vegan dish but I felt some parmesan was needed to round out the lemon and it helped a lot.

I thought this was okay, but I’ve realized that I don’t like “al limone” pasta. I should have served this with a salad, but I didn’t, and it was all fine.


PP, yes I understand that it is all on one post currently and I think that that may be a good thing.
I was replying to Mel’s post upthread where she mentioned possibly going back to multiple threads is all.

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I’m super excited by the possibilities opened up by this one! It’s another super simple combo—sauté scallions (I used a leek), spinach, and dill, drain and cool, add feta and egg. I had one bunch of spinach (calls for one pound), so I just eyeballed everything and used less than one egg. No liquid drained from my cooked spinach, even when I pressed on it, and the egg made it look considerably wet, but the texture of the filling was fine.
The challenge of course was the phyllo. After the first one cracked, I was a bit more rough with the rest, and ended up with successful spirals. I placed the phyllo on a towel, and used that to start the roll. You roll it tight and then make the spiral. I also used more than two tablespoons of filling per pie, more like four. I ended up with four pies instead of six, but that is because I used less spinach. The rolls are brushed with olive oil (I added sesame seeds like in the pics—it is not in the recipe) and baked about 30 minutes. These were delicious, except my quibble with the phyllo.
I have dabbled with phyllo over the years, but I usually just curse it. This method was much easier, but I need some tips from phyllo experts. I was using a silicone brush for applying the oil to the layers (three), and next time I’ll use a natural brush for more coverage. My phyllo ended up too thick and dry, so I’m wondering, did I use too little olive oil? Also, since it was thick, should I try doing two layers? I need a phyllo primer.
This is deceptively easy other than getting the phyllo texture just right. It will be great with all kinds of greens and herbs (sorrel is one I’ll use next time).


Thanks for your input @Olunia. I think there are pros and cons either way. I think you get a greater sense of cooking as a group with fewer threads or just one thread. And sometimes over on CH we would break a book into too many threads and you would have threads with very few posts. On the other hand, the concern with just doing a single thread per book is that if participation is high, the thread could get unwieldy. I’m hoping by the time I need to set up next month’s reporting thread or threads, the answer will be more clear. But I definitely do want to hear the opinion of all our posters.


I haven’t looked at the recipe, and I don’t have the book. I make a lot of things with phyllo. That looks like the thicker village style phyllo, and I’m guessing 3 layers of the thinner phyllo would be plenty in a spiral. I would think 2 sheets of village-style, and possibly 1 sheet is enough, because it will be rolled like a snake before you twist it into a snail/spiral shape.

The thicker phyllo is more popular in northern style savoury pies in my experience. My family always uses the thinner phyllo. The thinner phyllo is also easier to find. I’d have to go to a Greek or a Turkish market to get the thicker type.

I keep a damp tea towel or damp paper towel over my phyllo except for the phyllo I’m rolling at the moment. Any phyllo I won’t be using is rolled up in wax paper and then into a plastic bag, and refrigerated or frozen for another use.

I use melted butter and a pastry brush, either silicone or a traditional bristle brush , and am fairly generous when I brush it on. Olive oil works, but if you don’t have issues with butter, butter is better.

If you use a brush to apply oil or butter between layers, dotting the oil/butter sparingly works best. The oil /butter that is the top coat should be a little more generous, and even so the pastry browns evenly.

I took a screenshot of 2 phyllo pies I made , brushed with butter. Tourtière filling in the triangles, leek pie in the square dish.

If you have purchased ready-to- bake phyllo pies or burek, brushing them with butter before baking improves them.

Imported from Cyprus,
frozen commercial leek burek from Farm Boy in Ontario , brushed with butter before baking.


I am using the brand https://fillofactory.com/product/organic-fillo-dough/, which seems very thin, but the website calls it a “medium weight.” I’m going to try this again with two sheets and more oil/butter and hope that solves it. This was so close to being amazing, just too much phyllo in my finished product.