Fine cuisine in a romantic setting is a classic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. You can create that special scene right at home. Decorate with brilliant Aegean blue and crisp white. Provide some mellow Bouzouki instrumental music. And take the time to treat your sweetie to a spectacular, homemade Greek dinner, cannabinated as much or as little as you want.
A bit of San Francisco medical cannabis history first. The showpiece dish for this Greek meal is a cannabinated spanakopita I developed in the ‘90s for the Medical Cannabis Delivery Service (MCDS) based in the Castro District of SF. From a ground floor apartment on Ford Street passed on to MCDS by activist Brownie Mary after she became too ill to continue baking her famous magical brownies, the staff zipped around the Castro and the Tenderloin on bikes mostly, delivering cannabis medicine to AIDS and cancer patients. Along with baggies of medicinal nugs, we honored Brownie Mary by offering cannabis foods to help patients keep their weight and strength up.
Others baked the sweet stuff. I specialized in nutritious main dishes, especially individual servings of spanakopita. These butter-rich pastries delivered calories, vitamins, fiber, cannabis and all-around delight to tempt the most reluctant palate. MCDS operated in the Castro both before and after passage of Prop. 215 in 1996. The MCDS director chose to shut down the operation and burn the organization’s records in 1998 when the federal attacks on cannabis dispensaries got too hot.
The star of this romantic Greek feast was once a gift of life to many. If you don’t know Brownie Mary’s story, check out her entry on Wikipedia. You’ll find out why San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan called her “the Florence Nightingale of the Medical Marijuana Movement.”
Note: Phyllo is very gluten-heavy. This dish cannot be made gluten-free. All ingredients can be organic, if you wish.
Don’t let phyllo scare you! Though you can literally see through these pastry sheets, they are quite sturdy if you thaw them properly (see package directions) and keep the stack covered with a damp towel while you are working. Assemble everything you’ll need and organize your workspace before opening the phyllo package. Like fine cannabis, air is not its friend.
What you’ll get ready will be melted butter, the spinach/cannabis/ feta filling, the pan and the phyllo.
Butter: Gently melt 2 sticks (½ pound) of butter or blend equal parts melted butter and good quality olive oil (healthier option). Of course, these fats can be cannabinated too. It’s up to you. But, I’m using my original recipe here. Have a pastry brush handy and keep the butter warm.
Filling: Lightly sauté 1 cup of chopped onion. Finely grind (I use a coffee grinder) 2 ounces of dry, cooking grade cannabis leaf, twigs removed. Steam two packages of frozen spinach until thawed, not cooked; blend with cannabis and set aside. Mix in a large bowl: 2 cups cottage cheese, the sautéed onion, 2 tbsp., all-purpose flour, 1½ tsp., ground oregano, 12-15 chopped fresh basil leaves, 3 tbsp. of olive oil, ½ tsp. of salt, pepper to taste, 4 large eggs, and 2 cups crumbled feta cheese. Fold in the green blend.
Pan (lasagna style): Brush the inside of a 9” x 13” pan with the butter or butter/olive oil blend. (Single pastries): One or more cookie sheets, not buttered.
Phyllo: Lightly dampen a clean, cotton dishtowel. Slide the rolled up phyllo onto a large, flat, clean space. Gently unroll and unfold flat; cover entirely with the damp towel.
Position everything as a mini- assembly line.
For lasagna style – organize the space so you can lay single sheets of phyllo in the 9×13 pan (they will be bigger than the pan, so fold them in) and butter each one, adding another and another till you have a stack of 7 well-buttered phyllo sheets in the pan. Generally, it’s best to cover the unused phyllo between sheets too. Spread half of the filling on top. Repeat with 7 more sheets. Spread the rest of the filling. Cover with the remaining buttered sheets, using the last sheet to tuck in the corners so the surface looks nice. Butter the top liberally and thoroughly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, about 45 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces. Each serving will contain about 4½ grams of leaf.
The single pastries aren’t as daunting as they may seem. Very elegant, once you relax and get the hang of it. Butter a single sheet, laid out vertically. Cut the next sheet in half, long way/short way, it doesn’t matter; just make sure you position it in the middle of the full sheet. Place ½ cup filling (no more!) 2-3” up from the bottom edge, center, of the sheets. Loosely fold the pastry sheets up from the bottom over the filling, butter, roll again, butter.
Fold each side in over the filling, buttering each. Gently roll up and place on a cookie sheet. Leave several inches between pastries. Butter the tops when the pan is full. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, about 35 minutes. Folding loosely enough is the trick to this recipe. You’ve got to leave some expanding room in the pastry package or it will split in the oven. One package of phyllo will make 14 pastries, delivering 4 grams of leaf per serving.
By The Way – shaped right, a single pastry fits perfectly in a snack size baggie. That’s how I used to package them. You can place some artfully on a beautiful platter instead.
Make a Greek salad with cannabinated olive oil. Serve some previously infused ouzo (see general instructions on page 24 of the October Emerald Magazine). Indulge and savor. Later, serve in bowls or on willing skin of
lover. Here’s dessert….
Greek Yoghurt with Honeyed Walnuts
(Sorry, not cannabinated)
Heat oven to 180 degrees. Toast 1½ cups of walnut halves for 7-8 minutes. While hot, drizzle with honey and let cool. Blend 2½ cups of Greek yoghurt with ¾ tsp. of vanilla extract and ¼ cup honey. Divide into 4 or 5 bowls. Spoon walnuts over yoghurt. Sprinkle on ground cinnamon, if desired. A cool and simple dessert after that rich meal.
If you want to serve this on your lover, best to let the yoghurt come to room temperature first!