Friday, June 27, 2008

Flavorful and Spicy Feta Preserves

Despite the terrible midwest floods, and the generally bad weather these past weeks, Mother Nature has been kind to Ames and my plants - especially my herbs. Earlier this year, I planted mint, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme. They are flourishing and fragrant right now. I have been liberally using them on pizzas, pitas, omelettes, and in curries and soups. I plan on bringing the herbs in for the winter, but I don’t think they’ll yield much during the cold months, so I will soon start picking them to dry and keep for using during the bleak Iowan winter.

Since the herbs were growing faster than I could use them up, I decided to use the excess herbs to make a Marinated Feta creation inspired by Jamie Oliver. So, I plucked a LOT of the herbs and dried them for two days – it’s surprising how much they shrink when they dry – I now completely sympathize with exorbitant dry-herb prices. And in 15 minutes yesterday, I whipped together a delightful bottle of spicy marinated feta cheese. It has to marinate for two weeks after which I will be able to use it – on toast, pitas, Greek salads, as a snack – anything.

It's delightfully easy to make it. Here's how:

Green Herbs – any combination – a handful.
Feta Cheese – 1 pound
Dried Red Peppers - 4 or 5
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – as required

1. Dry your herbs near any heat source. I placed them in my oven for two days. I used a handful – but they shrank to about three large pinchfuls, which was perfect.
2. Chop up the dried red peppers.
3. Spread the dried herbs and the chopped red peppers on a flat surface (I used my cutting board)
4. Break the feta cheese into large chunks. Lay these chunks on the spice-mix and roll around to coat the cheese well with the spices.
5. Pack the feta chunks tightly into a bottle. Throw any remaining herbs/pepper flakes into the bottle as well.
6. Pour olive oil into the bottle to cover completely – the tighter you pack the feta, the less oil you will use.
7. Let the feta, spices and oil marinate for two weeks to let the flavors infuse the oil and the cheese.

Once the mixture has marinated enough, you can refrigerate it. After you refrigerate the whole thing, the olive oil will thicken, and spreads delightfully, so in addition to the tasty marinated feta itself, you can use the flavored olive oil as a spread on toast etc. Enjoy!

P.S. On a completely different note, I watched The Kite Runner last night - based on Khaled Hosseini's 2003 book. I've been meaning to read the book, but decided to pick up the movie instead. It was an absolutely delightful movie. I highly recommend it. It has been a long time since I saw a movie so poingnant and beautiful. ~A.

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