Kopanisti

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Last summer, my friend Katie and I were in Seattle for a conference and were trying to eat at as many Tom Douglas restaurants as we could. On one of his menus, we saw an item – Kopanisti – that piqued our curiosity. While we went on to order other things, I didn’t forget about the Kopanisti and did a little research on it as soon as I could. Evidently, Kopanisti is a Greek cheese that is salty and spicy and produced in Mykonos, Greece. While the cheese itself is hard to come by in the States, recipes abound for a dip called Kopanisti, which includes feta and roasted red peppers, whipped into a frenzy.

I thought the combination sounded great, so decided to work on my own version. Instead of roasted red bell peppers, I used a combination of piquillo peppers and peppadew peppers. Why the different peppers? Because I find typical jarred roasted red peppers frequently taste bitter and watery, and piquillo peppers have a lot more flavor. And have you had a peppadew pepper yet? Please do so as soon as possible. Oh, peppadew. How I love you. Peppadews are sweet and spicy and delicious and serve as the perfect counterpoint to the saltiness of the feta. These peppers, combined with feta and some cream cheese to bind it all together, make a truly addictive salty dip with a little sweet-hot kick. Serve the dip as is, with toasted pita chips or crostini, or try it the way I like it best – piped into adorable peppadew peppers for the perfect peppadew pepper popper. (Say that ten times fast!)

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Kopanisti

Ingredients:
8 oz. feta, chunked
4 oz. neufchatel, chunked
4 piquillo peppers
6 peppadew peppers

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
2. Process until the dip is smooth.
3. Serve and enjoy!

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Spicy Maple Glazed Pecans

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Pecans.  I have an abundance of them.  I made Maple Apple Pecan Granola with Dried Cranberries for the holidays this year and somehow ended up with LOTS of extra pecans.  Something had to be done.

Sweet tooth, meet pecans.

I had been wanting to perfect glazed nuts for some time (ever since my colleague, Georgia, made me some sweet and spicy walnuts!), so this seemed like the opportunity to go forth and glaze.  As I happened to have plenty of maple syrup in the fridge (also from the aforementioned Maple Apple Pecan Granola), I decided to use that as the sweetening base for my pecans.  So here is what I did.

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Spicy Maple Glazed Pecans
makes 3 cups

3 cups pecan halves
6 Tbsp maple syrup
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Spread the pecan halves evenly on a sheet pan, making sure that they are distributed in one layer.
3. Roast the pecans for 5 minutes.
4. While the pecans are roasting, combine all of the other ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to ensure that they are fully incorporated.
5. When the pecans are ready, add them to the bowl and stir to coat the pecans with the glaze.
6. Put parchment paper or a silpat liner on the sheet pan and spread the glazed pecans out, again making sure that they are distributed in one layer.
7. Pop the pecans back in the oven for 10 more minutes, stirring once halfway through.
8. Remove the pecans from the oven and use a fork to move the pecans from the sheet pan to another sheet of parchment (or another silpat liner) to cool.  They will be sticky!

Note:  It does take a while for the glaze to set.  You will know they are ready when the glaze is no longer glossy.

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alexandra's kitchen

mostly simple • sometimes fussy • always seasonal