Greek recipe · pies · vegetarian

Tvorog Pie with Greek Horiatiko Pastry

Horiatiko fillo

My sister came back from her Greek trip some weeks ago and brought us gostintsy (souvenirs) from the sunny country. We now have our stock of oregano refilled and I have new Greek books which will help get me through the winter. And there was this herby olive oil from Corfu as well:

Horiatiko fillo

That was a good excuse to make one of my favourite things when it comes to savoury and comfort food – pies. A successful marriage between Russian fresh cheese filling and elastic Greek pastry made with olive oil was it, and as I had no Greek alcohol required for it too, I used some (pseudo) Russian vodka. The pastry recipe comes from Dina Nikolaou, Greek chef who travels around Greece and then presents the region from the gastronomic side of life on TV. The great thing about this pastry is that it doesn’t need lots of time to rise – it actually only rests half an hour in the fridge and then the yeast makes its magic right in the oven, rising the pastry just enough to be soft and not enough to get all soggy! Teleio!

Horiatiko fillo

1 year ago – Orange and David Gilmour

2 years ago – An Autumn Day in Lappeenranta, Finland

3 years ago – Bread-therapy for a Tired Traveller

4 years ago – Autumn Colours and Karelia

5 years ago – Creamy Peach Tart and Kitchen Reborn

Tvorog Pie with Greek Horiatiko Pastry (pastry recipe adapted from Village Pastry with Olive Oil, Horiatiko fillo me elaiolado / Χωριάτικο φύλλο, με ελαιόλαδο from dinanikolaou.gr) will make a Greek-size pie with a soft filling and just enough pastry (I know I’ve said this about so many pies but you just can’t keep yourself from saying this when you taste it!).

Ingredients:

for the pastry (enough for 2 big pies):

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 ml or about 3 Tbs olive oil (I had to add some water too)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 30 ml milk (mine was 2.5% fat)
  • 8-10 g fresh yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup (100 ml) lukewarm water (I used 1.5 tsp active dry yeast instead)
  • 2 1/2 Tbs tsipouro or ouzo (well, I had to go for vodka!)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the filling (enough for half of the pastry recipe):

  • 500 g 5% fat cottage cheese / quark (tvorog) – might as well be feta or brynza or a mixture
  • leftover mashed potatoes (optional but good)
  • some grated hard cheese
  • 2 small eggs
  • fresh herbs like spring onion, coriander and parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano and seasoning like khmeli-suneli

Procedure:

First, make the pastry: Place fluffed flour in a big bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in olive oil, beaten egg, milk, yeast with the water it was dissolved in, tsipouro / ouzo / vodka and add salt and pepper. Knead lightly with your hands until you get soft and flexible dough. (Here I had to add a bit more water cause my 500 g of flour seemed like a lot for the indicated amount of liquid). Divide the dough into 2 equal parts, wrap in plastic foil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes (I left them there for more than an hour).

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Mix all the filling ingredients (a good idea would be to add all except eggs and try it for salt) and put aside.

Now you can proceed with assembling the pie: Take one piece of the pastry and roll it out finely on a floured surface (I used only one piece of the dough both for the bottom and the top layers). It should be larger than the baking dish you’ll be using so that the borders are covered too. Place it onto your greased / laid with parchment paper baking dish. Roll out the second piece (or the leftovers from trimming the overhanging edges, which I did) to the very size of your baking dish – this will be the top layer.

Place the filling evenly on top of the bottom pastry layer and cover it with the top layer, pinching the edges. Don’t forget to cut slits in the top layer to help escape the steam (and occasional cheese liquid).

Bake in the preheated to 200 ‘C oven for about 30 minutes. The pie should start getting brown on the top (the top layer got browned faster than I expected so keep an eye on it).

Horiatiko fillo

Remarks: You will get more pastry than you would need for a very big pie (I baked my pie in the biggest cast iron pan we have, greased). I’m keeping my second half wrapped in the freezer for future comfort-food pies.

Horiatiko fillo

Result: The pastry is just perfectly elastic and keeps shape nicely – it also rolls out easily after its rest in the fridge. The filling was a bit too bland to be called Greek, so I would suggest adding either more salt or a different kind of cheese like the salty feta or brynza (super-salty brine cheese) or at least making it 50/50 with the cottage cheese.

Horiatiko fillo

When you take the pie out of the oven, the pastry is all smooth at first but then these nice cracks appear on the surface patricularly when you cut your huge slices. And the top of this pie is also crunchy, oraia!

Horiatiko fillo

To make your life even more comfortable and cozy in this cold season (we’ve somehow skipped the autumn here and headed straight into oh-no winter, you just read some Moomin stories!

This post goes to country-specific recipes and Lunch / Dinner suggestions where you will find more Greek / Greek-inspired pies.

G.

bread · Greek recipe · pies · vegetarian

Greek: Grandma’s Cheese Pies and Homemade Village Bread

(Greek) Grandma's Cheese

I’ve got two Greek recipes to share with you: cheese pies and bread. Both recipes call for whole-wheat flour which in Greece is not that very common unless you really turn to home or rather village cooking. And that’s exactly what I like in cooking – let’s walk on the rustic side of it!

(Greek) Grandma's Cheese

1 year ago – Italian Sourdough Bread with Potatoes and Herbs

2 years ago – Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough or We Need Sun Here

3 years ago – Thessaloniki

4 years ago – Mangoes and Rye to Welcome Spring

(Greek) Grandma’s Cheese Pies or Tiropitakia tis giagias (Τυροπιτάκια της γιαγιάς) translated and adapted from bettyscuisine.blogspot.com will make lots of pies with rubbery cheese filling – a Greek version of hand pies. Beware (:) the entire recipe will make about 40 big pies! I halved the recipe and yet got about 2 trays of pies 🙂 See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg whole-wheat flour
  • 1 Greek yogurt case – was not sure about the volume so added about a cup for 500 g flour, using a mixture of milk and kefir
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil + added salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 700 g Feta, crumbled with a fork – I used a 250 g pack of 5% fat tvorog (cottage cheese) + 290g Adygea cheese (for all three fillings) + fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Second filling was some cooked millet and third – Adygea cheese + green onions, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper

(Greek) Grandma's Cheese

Procedure:

Mix flour with yogurt (I would suggest adjusting the amount of liquid accordingly), soda, eggs and oil. Knead well and divide into pieces (I also let the dough rest about 20 minutes which made it softer). Roll each piece into a round disk and place a spoonful of the filling on one side. Cover the filling with the other side of the disk and pinch the edges. You should get crescent-shaped pies (I also tried other shapes, see remarks). Place the pies on a greased baking tray (I used a silicon mat) and bake at 200 ‘C for 20 minutes (before baking I sprinkled the pies with some water).

(Greek) Grandma's Cheese

Remarks: My pies took exactly 20 minutes to bake – no matter what shape I used. First I thought about making small pies just like pelmeni (or Russian ravioli) but soon got tired of all the rolling, cutting and pinching, so made medium-small pies with the rest of the dough. And I should really warn you that we’re dealing here with a truly Greek recipe that will feed all your relatives! 🙂 So I would suggest making only half of the dough recipe or you might end up with no filling! Even with half of the dough I still had to invent more filling options thus adding fresh herbs (rosemary was good!) and using both cottage cheese and soft white cheese.

(Greek) Grandma's Cheese

Result: I tried the smaller pies right out of the oven – they were hot (apparently) and rather rubbery with all the soft cheese inside. If you’re using real Feta (lucky you!) I bet your pies will be quite salty and won’t need any special spicy twist to them (the dough might seem a bit bland even with the added salt). You can serve these as a starter – or if you make them big as the author suggests, they can become your lunch or dinner! 

(Greek) Grandma's Cheese

***

Homemade Village Bread

I’m still looking forward to finding that very recipe which will result in the super soft and super whole-wheat rustic bread I ate almost each day at the free (!) student canteen in Thessaloniki. Gosh, even my parents remember it! 🙂 I guess the thing was in the flour which was rough but yet gave that wonderful flavour to the bread. And it was soft too – with a crunchy crust. Oh, that bread was perfect… So here’s what I call the Greek size:

Homemade Village Bread

Homemade Village Bread or Khoriatiko psomi spitiko viologiko (Χωριάτικο ψωμί σπιτικό βιολογικό) translated and adapted from www.sintagespareas.gr will make a huge flagrant bread with super soft crumb and yet all those healthy bran bits inside. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg ‘village’ flour (whole wheat) – made a mixture of whole wheat + all purpose + wheat and rye bran + some oats for the topping
  • 2 packages of instant dried yeast – used less
  • 500 ml lukewarm water – had to use more
  • 1 shot of olive oil (Greek, please!)
  • 2 tsp salt

Procedure:

In a big plastic bowl (not necessarily🙂 mix all the flour with the yeast. Add salt and gradually pour in the lukewarm water, mixing well with your hands (yep, that’s how you do it!). Knead vigorously so that it becomes soft. Cover the bowl with a towel and a blanket (I just used plastic). Leave the dough to double in size in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Then add the oil and knead well again. Place the dough in a greased and floured baking pan (preferably a large thick non-stick pan or tray). Slash the surface (I also brushed it with olive oil + sprinkled oats). Preheat the oven to 180 ‘C for 10 minutes, place the bread on the middle rack and bake it for about an hour (I had to move it to the lower rack at the end and baked just 55 min.).

When the bread is ready, take it out of the oven and out of the pan and leave it on a rack so that it gets rid of all the moisture inside.

Homemade Village Bread

Remarks: With all its Greek dimensions the bread did bake through! However, if you’re not planning to gobble this entire loaf at once (which you will surely do if you try just a bit!) and would prefer to freeze a part of it, I would suggest baking two loaves out of this recipe. I eventually cut the bread in – still – huge pieces and froze them. Beware of the burning top – I had to move the pan to the lower rack as the oats started burning and the voluminous top was menacing to reach the upper heater.

Homemade Village Bread

Result: The crumb is really very soft – and crumbly while the crust is… you get it, crusty! :). It’s hard to slice this bread properly – but I’m sure you will manage without perfect slices! This bread won’t keep well because a). you will eat it fast no matter how huge it is and b). the crumb has lots of moisture in it.

Homemade Village Bread

Hope I’ve given you a desire to bake some nice rustic Greek food. Ideal at the end of the winter (let’s hope we’re getting there soon!).

This post goes to Lunch / Dinner, Leavened Bread and Greek recipe collections.

In neverending search for wonderful food, always yours,

G.

Italian recipe · no-dough · vegetarian

Involtini di Melanzane

new job

Autumn. Veggies. New job. More veggies and kefir. Tea, tea, tea. New people, new tasks. Seems like I normally change jobs in autumn, already somewhat a habit of mine:) Walking in shorts on September 1st – something new too! Please, autumn, do linger some more!

Involtini di Melanzane from www.greenkitchenstories.com

A year ago – Gulf of Finland and Neva River

Two years ago – Franconian Wood Oven Bread in Regular Oven

Three years ago – Pita, Sourdough Pizza and Stewed Aubergines

Involtini di Melanzane or Aubergine Rolls adapted from www.greenkitchenstories.com will make peppery aubergine rolls à l’italienne with a hidden – Greek – ingredient… For the entire recipe please visit the link above.

My changes:

I had just a bit of canned tomatoes so I had to add water to the tomato sauce. However it was ok! Used couscous instead of bulgur and added some salt. Instead of Feta used Adygea cheese. Had no capers so skipped these. For the topping used hard cheese and no pistachios – cause I forgot about them.

Baked the rolls at 190 on the upper shelf.

Involtini di Melanzane from www.greenkitchenstories.com

The hidden ingredients from Greece in this Italian dish – Feta (here subbed by Adygea cheese) and pistachios, right from the Aegina island! I won’t say that you can immediately tell that there are pistachios in the filling (they get quite soft after baking) but they surely add some special flavour to this dish!

Involtini di Melanzane from www.greenkitchenstories.com

Remarks: Do not skip the tomato sauce – mine was definitely too scanty for the amount of rolls this recipe produced. It adds some extra… Italianism to this dish! Serve the rolls with some salad to balance the spiciness.

Result: Garlicky-peppery vegetarian rolls with thick filling (which won’t escape – that’s nice!) and tasty tomato sauce. Something to bring change to your veggie dishes portfolio!

***

Two more shots from my new job. It’s an old mansion in the center of St Petersburg, right close to the most incredible place in St Petersburg:

new job

And following a nice tradition of working at places resembling Hermitage, this mansion has at least three very authentic-looking halls and a marble staircase. More photos to come!

new job

Adding this recipe to my collections of country-specific dishes and those for lunch / dinner.

More recent veggie recipes here and here.

G.

Greek recipe · pies · vegetarian

Yet Another Tasty Cheese Pie from Greece

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

Sometimes it seems this blog of mine is either about travelling or Greek recipes… And just to prove the latter here’s yet another post on a tasty cheese pie from Greece! And a very successful recipe indeed. For which I luckily bought some very close-to-the-original version of Suluguni, the famous Georgian cheese. Here’s how its texture should be – you should be able to shred it into strands like this:

Suluguni

I can really sing hymns to Suluguni – and all great cheese in general… Talking about this particular one (which was made in Belarus actually, our stable provider of cheese here) I didn’t even grate it, I just separated the ‘strands’ and added them to the filling. Which also contained some grated zucchini / courgettes and spring onions. A spring-time recipe!

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

A year ago – Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

Two years ago – St Petersburg the Great Part 2

Three years ago – Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter

Almiri Kolokithopita or Savory Zucchini Cheese Pie (Αλμυρή κολοκυθόπιτα) translated and adapted from www.sintagespareas.gr will make a really tasty layered pie which holds its shape. I’m giving you the original recipe for a large Greek family 🙂 although I halved it when I baked my pie. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

For the pastry

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oil – I guess here you’re just obliged to use Greek olive oil, which I did
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt – I used less to make the pastry more neutral

For the filling

  • 1 kg zucchini / courgettes
  • 2 spring onions or 1 onion
  • 1 Tbs bread crumbs – I used semolina instead
  • 250 g Feta – I used Suluguni which is completely NOT like Feta but…
  • some anthotiroused about same amount of Adygea cheese (soft white cheese, you can use cottage cheese or fresh cheese)
  • 2 eggs – I used 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • fresh fennel and dill – herbs are always good in a cheese pie but I added instead salt and mixed ground peppers

Procedure:

Rub the flour with the oil so that you get crumbs. Dissolve the salt in the water and add to the flour + oil mixture. (Before rolling out I put my pastry in the fridge for some time). Roll out 5 sheets of pastry (use some flour to roll out very thin sheets which you can also extend by holding each one and stretching gently. I rolled sheet by sheet, not all at once).

Grate / chop the onions and grate the zucchini / courgettes, then finely chop dill and fennel. Mix everything together and squeeze to drain the extra juices (I drained the grated zucchini before adding to the rest of the filling ingredients).

Beat the eggs and bread crumbs (I used semolina), and add to the mixture above.

Grease the baking sheet (I halved the recipe and used a sheet which is 1/2 of my oven rack + lined it with parchment paper). First place two sheets of the pastry onto the bottom (they do not have to be perfectly equal, you can always stretch the top one to the size of the bottom one) and spread half of the filling on top. Place one sheet over the filling and spread the rest of the filling on top. Finish by the last two pastry sheets. Brush with some oil and water (I rubbed the top with oil and then with some water – using my fingers. Then I also cut – but not through – the pie into slices which simplified the slicing later on. I also pinched the edges and lifted them a bit to create a ‘closed’ pie).
Bake at 180 ‘C (which in my case was about 40 minutes with temperature over 180 ‘C to quicken up the process + for some minutes I switched on the fan option and lowered the temp).

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

Remarks: I halved the recipe and still got a laaaarge pie. But don’t be mislead by the appearance – the pie is doomed to disappear very fast! I think adding grated zucchini (courgettes) is the best choice for a zucchini pie as they merge with the cheese perfectly! I would add more salt next time, I guess the zucchini just absorbed all the salt. But be careful with real Feta, it’s salty enough. Some remarks on the pastry – it’s easy to make, rather neutral in taste and if you roll it out accordingly, will contribute to the overall pastry-filling balance. It was a bit thick at the edges but it’s always is!

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

I liked how the Suluguni cheese popped up through the pre-cut pastry and melted:

Almiri Kolokithopita  from www.sintagespareas.gr

Result: My father who’s completely not vegetarian was slicing away this pie in a very carnivorous manner 🙂 I mean, he liked it! I think that this extra dough layer in the middle + the amalgamated cheese and zucchinis make this pie a very tasty dish for your lunch or dinner! I can only imagine how much saltier and also flavourful it would be with the authentic Greek Feta…

The photos were made the next morning so what you see is tsssss a cold pie from the fridge 🙂 I bet there was none in the evening after I left home!

More – tasty – cheese pie recipes here. Adding this recipe to my Greek collection too.

Or is this blog all about travelling and pies? 🙂 Not exactly true, cause a sweet recipe is coming soon!

G.

Greek recipe · pies · vegetarian

Greek Spinach and Cheese Double Rolls

With each new Greek recipe I post here my blog seems to become a more Greek rather than post-Soviet blog : ) But I just cannot resist the heartiness and the comfort of the Greek cuisine! Me speaking Greek language has opened to me so many variations on the same good old theme – a Greek pie.

Spinach Cheese Rolls from www.argiro.gr

One of my favourite parts of Greek cuisine is the multitude of various pies with all sorts of pastries and fillings. And to think that I only make those pies that do not have meat in them or do not require the pastry I cannot make (or too lazy to do that) myself?

Spinach Cheese Rolls from www.argiro.gr

Fairly recently I’ve posted a Greek recipe of a Spinach Cheese Pie with Cornmeal Crust which is an unusual thing even for the rich versatile Greek cuisine. This time I would like to share with you yet another Greek pie also made with spinach and cheese but the filling is wrapped in a more conventional type of pastry.

A year ago – Cheesy Potato and Leek Bake with Sourdough Bread

Two years ago – Autumnal Comfort Sweet Treats

Three years ago – An Easy Bread and A Not That Easy Bread

Spanakotiropita se Rolla or Spinach Cheese Rolls (Σπανακοτυρόπιτα σε ρολά) adapted, translated and posted here with the kind permission of Argiro from www.argiro.gr will make two huge or three-four medium rolls with tasty pastry and salty filling. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 600 g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs vinegar – I used Greek red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • water, about 2 cups – I used less
  • 4 Tbs butter or margarine, melted

For the filling:

  • 1 kg spinachI used a bit less of frozen spinach which I defrosted and cooked in its liquid a bit
  • 10 spring onions with the green parts – I used less
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 2 eggs – I decided to leave them out
  • 500 g Feta – I had just a bit of real Feta left from this recipe so had to add 2 blocks of 5% fat cottage cheese (tvorog)
  • 100 g hard cheese (originally Kefalotiri)
  • salt – I also added the Georgian mix called Khmeli-suneli and some Provence herbs
  • freshly ground black pepper

Procedure

Making the pastry: In a bowl place the flour, salt, olive oil, vinegar and then add the water bit by bit, kneading the pastry until it doesn’t stick to hands and is very pliable. Divide the pastry into ten small balls. Roll each ball out on a floured surface to a size of a fruit plate. When you have the first 5 circles, brush one with the melted butter, cover with the next one, butter this one too and go on like this until you get to the fifth circle. Do not grease this one. Place the five circles in a dish and cover it. Proceed with the remaining 5 balls. Place both piles in the fridge for 1 hour so that the butter is chilled and the result is almost that of a sfogliata pastry (=puff pastry).

Now to the filling: Clean, wash and finely chop the spinach (I used frozen spinach that I cooked in its liquid), place it in a bowl, adding the finely chopped spring onions. Add 1 tsp salt and knead the mixture so that it releases the liquid (I did not do that). Leave it for ten minuted. Squeeze the mixture with your hands to drain it completely. Place it back in a bowl and add dill and beaten eggs (I didn’t add eggs). Add the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper and mix well (I couldn’t help seasoning the mixture with some herbs).

Assembling and baking: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the filling in four. Roll out the first pile into a large rectangular of the same size as your baking sheet. Place tablespoons of filling along both long sides of the pastry. Roll each side up to the middle until the two stick together. Transfer this double roll onto the baking sheet (I rolled the pastry on the paper already). Do the same with the second pile. Brush the rolls with some butter, sprinkle with water (and some sesame seeds if you wish). Bake on the bottom rack for about 1 hour and 15 minutes till it browns nicely (my roll took just about an hour and I placed it on the middle rack).

Spinach Cheese Rolls from www.argiro.gr

Remarks: I did not bake all the rolls at once, I put the remaining half of the pastry in the fridge wrapped in plastic and the filling too. The next day I added some cooked corn groats to the leftover feeling (don’t kill me for that!) and made two smaller pies. One of them was only half-vegetarian as I filled one side of the roll with minced meat for my Father.

Spinach Cheese Rolls from www.argiro.gr

Result: The perfect comfort food for me. Oh that flaky pastry and that salty soft filling… Be careful with the salt though if your Feta is a real one. And of course all the sesame seeds will eventually fall off but who cares!

Recently made this good-looking Pistachio-Walnut Sourdough Bread with my rye sourdough culture – no hope that I will taste it though as I will soon be travelling again and I left it at my parents’ place unguarded… 🙂

G.

Greek recipe · leftovers · pies

Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus and… Spanacouscous!

Before I continue with my post-Chelyabinsk travelling photos and thoughts here’s a recipe I tried back in August. It’s a traditional Greek dish from the mountainous region called Epirus and it’s perfect for vegetarians. And it looks like this pie is gluten-free too! Moreover, if you have some leftover rice or even cooked buckwheat groats on hand, why not adding it to the greens to make it more substantial for your meat-eating friends? And if you curious about Spanacouscous, we will come to it at the end of the post.

Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus from www.dinanikolaou.gr

I haven’t contacted the author but I hope that my translation is not a bad way to popularize Greek cuisine! =) I have never tried this one in Greece, on the contrary cornmeal seemed to be quite not that very present in Thessaloniki or on the islands. Some people call this pie made with the seasonal greens blatsaria μπλατσαριά, others batsaria μπατσαριά and some batsina μπατσίνα. We will call it Cornmeal greens pie.

Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus from www.dinanikolaou.gr

One year ago – Autumn Leaves and Karelian Pies

Two years ago – Khachapuri, I’m addicted!

Three years ago – My Sourdough Adventures, a New Start

Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus (Μπλατσαριά με καλαμποκάλευρο (Ήπειρος)) translated and adapted from www.dinanikolaou.gr will make an unusual salty dish with greens in between chewy cornmeal layers. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients

For the cornmeal batter:

  • 320 g finely ground cornmeal – I used a bit less
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 Tbs olive oil (Greek, of course)
  • 420 g lukewarm water – I added around 400

For the filling:

  • 1 kg greens from the market, something seasonal like radishes (and here come some names of the Greek greens I have never heard of like Mediterranean hartwort and Chervil), cleaned and finely chopped – I defrosted 800 g of spinach + added fresh sage, sorrel and even leftover cooked buckwheat groats
  • 3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 bunch of dill or fennel, finely chopped – I used dill
  • 300 g of Feta, crumbled – you might have heard of our reaction to EU sanctions, so I used 350 g of Adygea cheese instead
  • 1/2 cup olive oil – I used pumpkin seed oil
  • salt, freshly ground pepper – I also added some Georgian herb mix called Khmeli-Suneli

Procedure

For the filling: Place all the greens plus salt and pepper in a bowl and mix for 4-5 minutes, working the mixture well with your hands, until they get all seasoned. Leave the mixture for 20 minutes aside and then drain from the liquid. Add the onions, the egg, dill or fennel, Feta and olive oil and mix everything well.

For the cornmeal batter: In a big bowl place the cornmeal and make a well in the center, then add the eggs, salt and oil. Mix well with a wooden spoon and gradually add the lukewarm water, mixing continuously, until you get a rather thick batter (you might not need all the water).

Bake the pie: Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grease well the bottom and the sides of a round 32 cm baking dish. Pour half of the batter inside and level it out with a spoon. Put the greens filling on top and level it out too. Add 1 cup of lukewarm water to the remaining cornmeal batter (I added 100 ml) and drop tablespoons of it on top of the filling. Put the dish on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until a golden crunchy crust creates on top of the pie.

Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus from www.dinanikolaou.gr

Remarks: I did not a very crunchy crust as you can see from the photos. Also the colour was rather yellow than golden but I guess I just should have baked it some minutes longer. I added some leftover buckwheat groat (grechka as we call it in Russia) and I think it added some… body to the filling. It did not alter the taste though.

Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus from www.dinanikolaou.gr

Result: The taste might appear weird at first – with all this cornmeal and greens… But this is exactly what this Greek pie is famous and loved for – the combination of the crunchy cornmeal crust with mashy greens. You could almost mistake this pie for an omelet with its yellow cornmeal top. I liked how the greens peeped through the sunny crust! Oh that was back in August…

Blatsaria me kalambokalevro or Cornmeal Greens Pie from Epirus from www.dinanikolaou.gr

 ***

This month I was more lucky with Feta. Shhhh… I found some real GREEK Feta in a supermarket… Won’t tell you the name of the shop so that it doesn’t get fined and shut down for selling cheese from EU in Russia! Guess how glad I was to sample the real Feta with sheep’s milk, oh-oh. Why do we only have super salty Bulgarianbrynzalike cheese around?

Spanacouscous with Feta

In some earlier posts I shared with you my improvised vegetarian dishes – usually some baked or steamed veggies plus some grains or pasta. And cheese. Oh yes. This time I got something that I’ve christened Spanacouscous as it reminded me of Spanakorizo from Thessaloniki (a post on this city is coming!). It doesn’t necessarily look super sophisticated – and, well, it should not as it’s so easy. Here’s what I did:

Spanacouscous with (Real) Feta improvised by me will make a  combination of soup-like greens with salty cheese.

Ingredients

  • fresh / frozen spinach
  • some carrots
  • couscous
  • Feta or some salty white cheese (if you’re less lucky)
  • dried oregano
  • seasonings, salt

Procedure

I usually cook my veggies in water boiling in a pan under a cover (so they’re partially steamed I guess), adding some olive oil if I like to and salt plus some seasonings. When they are half ready I add some couscous as it cooks fast and absorbs the excess water. It usually ‘eats’ the salt too but don’t overdo the salt here – you will add the salty cheese later. I cover the pan and leave it on low heat for some time. Then I add some herbs like dried oregano and crumble some Feta on top. Dead easy.

Spanacouscous with Feta

Result: You will get a spoon of greens with a bite of Feta =) Also the sweetness of carrots comes in contrast to the salty cheese.

Lots of posts crowding and waiting for the turn in my Drafts. But where shall I start?!

P.S. I have a neighbour who laughs loudly almost every evening at the same time. Same time same laugh. I wonder if you can laugh on a schedule?

G.

Greek recipe · pies · vegetarian

Spanakopita and Mediterranean Vegetable Millefeuille

August is running fast towards September, the light has changed, the rain has  and the weather is far from that heat wave we had just a couple of days ago.  It’s been raining today, there was some lightning and thunder and then just a minute later there was this blind rain as we call it in Russia – it just ignores the sun and pours down anyway 🙂

Mediterranean Vegetable and Mint Pesto Millefeuilles from kopiaste.org

This mid-August post is dedicated to a couple of Greek vegetarian recipes, so please welcome the first of them, bringing the Mediterranean flavours to your table wherever you are:

Mediterranean Vegetable and Mint Pesto Millefeuilles from kopiaste.org

A year ago – tasty sourdough mini rolls in Summer Goes On with Sourdough Mini-Rolls

Two years ago – baked potatoes the Greek way and a creamy apple tart starring in Pommes. Pommes de Terre too

It’s a pity there’s no recipe for this first dish available online anymore as the author, Ivy, has removed it from her blog, kopiaste.org. I do respect and support Ivy’s idea of inciting people to purchase her recipe book instead cause they are really nice! I’ve tried quite a number of them and some of them I shared with you on this blog  – check these Πατάτες Λεμονάτες (Patates Lemonates or Lemony Potatoes) and Gigantes Plaki sto Fourno (Giant Baked Beans).

Mediterranean Vegetable and Mint Pesto Millefeuilles from kopiaste.org

Mediterranean Vegetable and (Mint) Pesto Millefeuille adapted from kopiaste.org will make a pie-like dish with an unusual double salty cheese crust and spicy garlic-y ‘pesto’ and vegetable filling. I will not reproduce the recipe here, will just share with you the way I did the recipe:

As with several other Greek recipes made recently (here and here and here) I omitted potatoes and add 0.5 kg aubergines instead which went well with the courgettes. As for the mint pesto which is placed in between the veggie layers I blended fresh coriander + onions + garlic + spring onions + pumpkin seed oil – so no mint but still good! Instead of 2 peeled tomatoes I used tomato sauce which anyway needed using.

The batter which will then become the double crust of this vegetable pie is made of various types of Greek soft white cheese. I had none so I had to ‘borrow’ some white brine cheese from the Greek neighbours (Serbia) which also gave me some whey (to substitute milk). To this I added the usual Adygea cheese, which seem to have become the multi-purpose cheese destined to substitute everything from mozzarella to Feta in Russia!

Mediterranean Vegetable and Mint Pesto Millefeuilles from kopiaste.org

Remarks: From my experience I would suggest adding salt to the veggies as well, probably rub them with some salt, cause if you do not get the pesto with your bite, the veggies seem a bit bland.

Result: Something different, I should say! I mean, this cheese crust which has just a couple of tablespoons of flour in it is quite a find! The pie will eventually fall apart when you try to cut it in smaller pieces but with every bite you’ll get cheese, veggies and garlicky pesto. No juices from veggies hanging around at the bottom of the dish thanks to sautéing.

You can see the layers of the ‘pie’ clearer in this photo:

Mediterranean Vegetable and Mint Pesto Millefeuilles from kopiaste.org

***

And there’s more! Enjoy the Mediterranean / Greek flavours with this enormous spinach pie, so very traditional in the rich Greek cuisine, a true treasure for the vegetarians! Greece was the place I actually tried spinach for the first time – and they do know how to make it ‘play’ with the other ingredients transforming it from a bland greenish plant into the chewy comforting food.

Spanakopita from www.toarkoudi.gr

The trick of this pie’s pastry is the added orange juice (and flesh from the orange, if you’re more lucky with fresh oranges than I was), you will certainly feel it when you take the pie out of the oven! The Greeks always eat spinach with some lemon juice, so I guess this addition of a citric acid is somewhat typical. And of course giant dark black olives from the Halkidiki region in Greece (where Thessaloniki is) is a must for this pie!

Spanakopita from www.toarkoudi.gr

This pie is huge, really. Very Greek : ) So please invite your friends and make a Greek party! Also check another spinach pie recipe from the same source, Hortopita me Spanaki (Greek Spinach Pie) which I made back in February.

Spanakopita from www.toarkoudi.gr

Σπανακόπιτα (Spanakopita) or Greek Spinach Pie with Whole Wheat Pastry adapted and translated from www.toarkoudi.gr will make a large pie with salty green-y filling wrapped in the pastry with tangy orange flavour. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

for the pastry:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose glour
  • juice and flesh from 3-5 orangesI used plain orange juice
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • baking powder
  • olive oil – Greek, please!
  • water

for the filling:

  • ½ kg fresh spinach I used 400g frozen spinach + added some wheat bran to suck in the juices
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 fresh onionsI used 2 big onions
  • ½ bunch of fresh coriander
  • ½ bunch of fresh dill – I used fresh basil + dried lemon balm (aka balm mint or Melissa)
  • ½ bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2-3 eggs – I used 2
  • 2 leeks – I used sorrel
  • nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper
  • milk – didn’t find the use in the recipe, probably to brush the crust?

extra, if you want to add some cheese:

  • 50 g low-fat Feta – I used Adygea cheese, for the lack of both
  • 50 g grated hard myzithra

Procedure:

Mix the whole wheat flour with the all purpose flour, add some salt, a bit of olive oil and the baking powder. Add freshly squeezed orange juice, making sure that you add the flesh too.  Knead with one hand, adding either extra flour or water with the other, as needed. You should get elastic homogenous dough. Leave the dough covered for one hour in the fridge.

Sauté onions in a little bit of oil, add the leeks (I opted for the fresh sorrel from our dacha), spinach (I didn’t defrost the spinach), parsley and half of the coriander leaves. Leave the greens to cool and drain them (that was tricky, but I guess I got rid of most of the juices by sautéing already). Transfer to a bowl, add the rest of the coriander, the eggs, dill, nutmeg (Greeks do love adding nutmeg or how about cinnamon to meat, which is very weird for the Russian cuisine), salt and pepper and, optionally (but really great!) the soft white cheese.

Roll half of the dough out and place it on a greased oven-proof dish. Add the filling and cover it with the second half of the dough (also rolled out to match the size of the pan – I used a round pan lined with parchment paper). Bake at 180 C’ for 45 minutes to 1 hour (it took my oven 45 minutes to get the top crust golden brown).

IMG_0151

Remarks: Although this recipes also uses sautéing to take away the juices, the pastry gets soggy and less crunchy after keeping the pie in the fridge. At the same time, the spinach filling really gets so infused with its own juices that the pie becomes even more … spinach-y!

Result: An impressive large Greek-size pie with lots of spinach in each portion! Do add some white cheese, I think this pie gets even better with it.

Even more Greek recipes can be found under ‘Greece’ on this page.

P.S. Just tried an Italian recipe using aubergines – will share it with you if I get the chance to take a photo! : )

G.