Here’s another project that’s been brewing for a little while, one that I’m very excited and proud to share with you: I’ve partnered with 29th Street Publishing to launch my own new digital quarterly magazine for iOS devices, Feast by Lukas! The magazine’s first issue, Holiday, is now available in the iTunes app store. It’s free to download, and full access to the full first issue is just $3.99. An annual subscription, which includes four issues timed to coincide with seasonal feasts, is $13.99.
One thing I know about the internet is that it’s bursting at the seams with Content, and I’ve felt ambivalent about sending more of it out there—which one reason that posts are so sporadic here. As an avid consumer of that content myself, I found myself wishing for something more substantial—more curated, more tactile, and with a stronger first-person voice. The internet often leaves me wanting to engage with food writers in the same way that I engage with my favorite cookbooks: in the kitchen, yes, but also from my sofa and my bedside table just before I go to sleep.
Feast by Lukas swiftly fell into place the moment I started working on it. I love the quarterly format, and as a major proponent of the iPad in the kitchen, I love the iOS medium. This project allows me to offer you something more substantial than a series of blog posts, but that’s not as much of an investment as a book. The elegant, cook-friendly design that 29th Street Publishing created makes it just as easy to use on the counter as from the easy chair.
The first issue, Holiday, has all original vegetarian recipes, plus nice photos and an opening essay about my own struggle to get the holiday meal right among my friends and family. I’ve included some highlights from this issue in the photos with this post (left to right, top to bottom: Sparkling Rosemary-Citrus Sangria, Porcini Mushroom Pate, Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts, and Vegetarian Brown Ale Chili with Winter Squash). This holiday food will make for fun new additions to the table, but it falls in line with standard holiday flavor profiles and our seasonal thrill for indulgence. Forthcoming issues will follow in this format, with new recipes for familiar feasts and new ones, and each issue begins with an opening essay that offers reflections and tips, and helps to ease readers into their own feast. I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes, which fits right in there with the Thanksgiving spread, for Filo with Swiss Chard, Ricotta, and Mushrooms below (see second photo). You can also see in the free preview when you download the Feast by Lukas app.
Filo with Swiss Chard, Ricotta, and Mushrooms
(from Feast by Lukas: Holiday)
This gorgeous parcel is a perfect vegetarian main dish. It’s gone through a few iterations over the years, but it’s based originally on a recipe in Annie Sommerville’s terrific cookbook Fields of Greens. I serve it often at holiday dinners—or any kind of dinner party, really—and it’s always a hit because it’s so classically rich and filling, beautiful to behold, and keeps its meatlessness pretty quiet. For entertaining purposes, it’s a helpful dish to keep in your repertoire, since it can be made up to a day in advance, then put in the oven just before it’s time to eat. You can see the following recipe if you download the preview issue, but I thought I’d double post it here, too. You also can see this recipe in the free preview of Feast by Lukas.
Serves 6 to 8
2 bunches Swiss chard (about 1-1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces sliced mushrooms (crimini, button, shiitake, or a combination)
Scant 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
8 ounces ricotta (about 1 cup)
Zest of 1 lemon
9 filo sheets, 14-inches x 18-inches
4 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 ounces crumbled feta (about 1/2 cup)
1. Trim the stems from the chard and reserve half of them. Finely chop the reserved stems and roughly chop the leaves.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chard leaves, a big pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 or 4 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add a splash of water. Transfer the wilted greens to a colander to drain and cool. Grab the greens in handfuls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Finely chop the chard and set aside.
3. Wipe out the skillet, return it to the heat, and add another tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion, chopped chard stems, and a big pinch salt. Cook the onions and stems are until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Wipe out the skillet, and return it to the heat. Turn the heat up slightly, to medium-high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and then add the mushrooms and a big pinch of salt. Sauté the mushrooms until they release their juices and it begins to cook off, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and remaining garlic and stir until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon, and continue cooking until the pan is mostly dry. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the onion. Add the parsley and several grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
5. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat lightly. Whisk in the ricotta, then fold in the chard, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper.
Note: The next two steps sound complicated but they’re not. Essentially you’re simply brushing the centers of the layers of filo with melted butter, spreading the fillings inside, and wrapping the whole thing into a square-shaped parcel.
6. Unfold the filo on a cutting board and cover with a clean towel to prevent it from drying out. Spread a piece of parchment out on a work surface. Lay a sheet of filo on the parchment and, using a pastry brush, draw and fill an 8-inch by 8-inch square with the melted butter in the center. Lay another piece of filo over it, but rotated 90 degrees so that the rectangles criss-cross. Brush the same 8-inch square with butter. Lay another piece of filo over, rotating it 90 degrees, and brush the 8-inch square with butter. Repeat this process, rotating the filo sheets and brushing the butter, with 5 more pieces of the filo. Scoop the ricotta mixture into the center and then spread to cover the 8-inch square. Top with the mushroom-onion mixture, spreading evenly, then sprinkle with the feta.
7. Now, working layer by layer, use the exposed, excess filo to fold over back over the fillings and seal them up. Fold the top layer of filo over the filling and brush with butter, gently tugging at the filo so that the edges overlap and seal over the fillings, as if you’re wrapping a present. Repeat with remaining 7 layers. Lay the final, reserved sheet over the top so that you have a smooth, clean surface, and tuck the excess underneath the cake. Brush all over with what’s left of the butter. Slide the filo and parchment onto a baking sheet.
8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
9. Refrigerate for at least 10 to 15 minutes (and up to 1 day) to firm up the butter. Then, using a long, sharp knife, score the cake—by cutting only through the top filo sheets—into 8 wedges. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the filo is golden brown all over. Let stand for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, then slice into wedges and serve hot.