Friday, February 18, 2011


Tune into WCNC's midday programming from 11 am - noon each day and you'll find me cooking on air LIVE the second Thursday of each month.

Then, I appear the third satruday or sunday on WBTV's The Morning Show to share a seasonal recieps once again.

For February, on WCNC I prepared a wonderfully delicious Classic Italian Lasagna, similar to the recipe I've featured in my Food, Wine and Conversations of Italy Cooking Classes.
On WBTV, I've prepared on of my favorite hors d'oeuvre recipes - spanekopeta.
Both recipes are here witht he links to the video and some photos too - hope you enjoy....firs the lasagna recipes and then scrolldown for the spanekopeta.

For the very best lasagna results, I suggested using fresh sheets of pasta, available locaaly in Charlotte at Pasta & Provisions on Providence Road.

Ingredients for the spanekopeta are available at any grocery story but made even better with the additon of local goat or feta cheese from Charlotte's own Bosky Acres - buy some this weekend at the Yorkmont Road Regional Farmers' market or the Matthews Community Farmers' Market.

Meatless Lasagna Classica
From Charlotte Culinary Expert Heidi Billotto

As seen on WCNC's Charlotte Today Feb 10,2011
Click here to see the video

2 carrots, finely minced
2 stalks of celery, finely minced
½ red onion, finely minced
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ cup hearty red wine ( optional)
6 cans diced or whole tomatoes, with liquid, mashed
About ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, shredded ( or cut in a chiffonade)

Heat the olive oil for a minute ro so in the bootm of a large sauce pan. Add the minced carrots, celery and onion. This veggie mixture is called a mirepoix and it will be what flavors the sauce. Add the dried oregano to the mirepoix and saute until the veggies are very tender. Add the wine and allow it to reduce until almost no liquid is in the pan. Add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, and continue to cook for 30 minutes or so. Add the shredded basil leaves and adjust seasonings to taste.

For the Besciamella:
2 sticks of butter
½ gallon whole milk
2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
ground nutmeg (pinch)
salt to taste
½ cup of all-purpose flour

Bring to a boil, but be careful not to let the milk flow over pot. In a large pot, melt butter and add olive oil. Add flour sifting it into the pot and stir vigorously. Cook on medium heat until mixture turns golden brown. Then pour in milk (all at once) and add a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Stir constantly so the mixture thickens but doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Set aside and let cool. If necessary, add more hot milk or hot water, in case the sauce is too thick.

Assembling the Lasagna:
2 lbs fresh pasta sheets from pasta and Provisions
2-3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

In a wide pan, at least 4” deep, pour both Marinara sauce and Besciamella at the bottom to cover the entire surface. Add a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Then cover with sheets of pasta. On 2nd layer: pour Marinara sauce to cover all sheets of pasta, then sprinkle Parmesan cheese over entire surface. Add another layer of pasta. 3rd layer: cover with Besciamella, then add another layer of pasta. Continue alternating Marinara with Parm + Pasta layer + Besciamella until reaching top of pan. Allow about a half inch ofspace formt he to layer to the top of the side of the pan. The last layer should have both Bolognese and Besciamella, covered with an abundant dose of grated cheese.
Place in preheated oven (375 degrees) for about 40 minutes or until top surface is slightly browned and crispy. Take out and let cool. Cut into single portions and serve, but don’t forget that lasagna is even better the next day!

SPANEKOPETA and Variations
Recipes by Culinary Expert Heidi Billotto

As seen on WBTV’s The Morning Show with Kristin Miranda
Saturday Feb 19, 2011

Click here to view video

2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
½ lb. feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. dill weed
1 pkg. phyllo dough, defrosted
1 lb. butter
Defrost spinach and squeeze dry. Combine with cheeses, eggs and dill weed. Spread phyllo on your work surface two sheets at a time. Spread liberally with butter. Cut dough into 6 strips. Place a ball of the spinach filling at the bottom of each strip and roll the phyllo up and around the spinach as if you were folding a flag (or making a paper football). Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so until nicely browned.
Freeze before baking if you would like. To bake, Bring back to room temperature and then bake according to recipe directions.

Variations – stuff with this sausage and sun dried tomato mix in place of the spinach:
1 roasted red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, thin sliced
½ lb. ground sausage, uncooked
¼ cup minced spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. dried oregano leaves
1 cup shredded or crumbled white cheddar
2 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley leaves, minced
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, blending well. Fill phyllo dough as directed above. Brush finished rolls with a bit of butter and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake as directed above.

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