Σπανακόπιτα / Spinach and Cheese Pie

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2 lb. fresh spinach, washed, dried, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions (about 10 small), white and light-green parts only, finely chopped
2 cups crumbled feta cheese (10 oz.)
1/2 cup finely grated Greek kefalotyri cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp Cavendars Greek Seasoning
1/2 tsp. sugar
Kosher or fine sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1/2 pound melted butter
1 pound phyllo pastry

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large saute pan, add the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes.

Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the scallions, along with the parsley, salt and pepper, seasonings and sugar. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cheeses and cook for another minute then remove from heat to cool. (This part can be done ahead and kept refrigerated).

Stir the beaten egg into the cooled spinach mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter.

Unroll the phyllo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out and become brittle. Using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo into 3 by 11 inch strips, and recover with the towel. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of phyllo with melted butter. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet and keeping them covered with a towel until all are ready to bake.

Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve hot. (These may be frozen before baking, layering waxed paper between layers of triangles to keep them from sticking. Bake frozen triangles an extra 10 minutes.)

Much easier variation: Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, and spread 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter. Spoon the spinach filling over the phyllo, then cover with 8 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each sheet. Score the top 3 sheets with a sharp knife. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is golden, let stand 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve warm.

Πιλάφι / Rice Pilaf

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1 c. UNCLE BEN’S® rice
3/4 stick butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cavendars Greek Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 c. chicken or beef broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a large skillet, melt butter. Saute onion, pepper and garlic until limp. Add rice and brown for 2-3 minutes. Add seasonings, broth and soy sauce. Let cook covered on medium low heat approximately 20 minutes. Do not keep stirring as rice will become mushy. Remove from heat and let rice sit for about 5 minutes. Stir and serve. Serves 4.

Τυρόπιτα / Tiropita

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6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound feta cheese
3 ounces grated Greek Kefalotiri cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
1 cup melted butter for brushing

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Gradually pour in the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon.

Add the salt and nutmeg, stirring occasionally, until mixture is bubbly and thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

Mash the feta cheese with a fork in a bowl and stir in the grated kefalotiri, beaten eggs, and parsley.

Pour in the hot white sauce slowly while whisking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Line the buttered baking dish with a sheet of phyllo dough and brush it with melted butter; keep the remaining phyllo sheets covered with plastic wrap while you work.

Repeat with half of the phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with butter, and letting them come up the sides of the baking dish. Pour in the cheese filling.

Lay the remaining pastry sheets on top of the filling, brushing each with butter.

Brush the top of the last sheet with butter and, with a sharp knife, score the top sheets into strips about 3 inches wide from one end of the baking dish to the other.

Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown and crisp, about 45 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut into squares and serve hot.

Μπακλαβά / Baklava

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I’m told that my baklava recipe is the best ever. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed in this delectable pastry.

1-16 ounce package of frozen phyllo dough
1 1/2 pounds pecans
1/2 pound almonds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 pounds melted butter

Syrup Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
10 whole cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

Finely chop nuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Let phyllo dough come to room temperature in its plastic bag. Carefully unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a slightly dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan. Brush thoroughly with melted butter. Repeat until you have 10 sheets layered. Sprinkle nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 8 – 10 sheets deep and brushed with butter.

Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows and then make the diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

Make honey syrup while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water with a stick of cinnamon, ten whole cloves, lemon juice and lemon zest until sugar is melted. Add honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove baklava from oven and immediately pour syrup over it, distributing evenly over the pan. Let cool.

Σπανακόπιτα / Spanakopita

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Σπανακόπιτα / Spanakopita

Yield: 60 triangles or 1 (9 by 13inch pan)

Ingredients
1/3 cup olive oil
2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Cavendars Greek Seasoning
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound filo pastry sheets

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan.

Sauté onions and garlic until wilted. Add sugar and Cavendars Greek seasoning

Add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes.

Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly.

Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of olive oil.

Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining olive oil.

Add the parsley, salt and pepper, and nutmeg

Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. (This part can be done ahead and kept refrigerated).

Stir the feta and as much beaten egg to moisten the cooled spinach mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter.

Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out and become brittle. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo into 3 by 11 inch strips, and recover with the towel. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of filo with melted butter. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet and keeping them covered with a towel until all are ready to bake.

Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve hot. (These may be frozen before baking, layering waxed paper between layers of triangles to keep them from sticking. Bake frozen triangles an extra 10 minutes.)

Variation: Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, and spread 6 sheets of filo, brushing each with butter, on the bottom. Spoon the spinach filling over the filo, then cover with 6 more sheets of filo, buttering each sheet. Score the top 3 sheets with a sharp knife. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is golden, let stand 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve warm.

Recipe by Opie.