Greek recipe · pies · vegetarian

Cheese Pie with Homemade Phyllo Pastry

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

Cheese. Crunchy pastry. Worth some effort that the traditional Greek phyllo pastry requires – as well as worth a short walk to get some Georgian cheese 🙂 It’s a coincidence that I found some flat suluguni cheese in our local ‘farmers” store (they say it is a blini type of suluguni and sell it in disks) – which looks just like the pastry before it’s rolled out into sheets.

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

I have been meaning to use this recipe for the Greek phyllo pastry since I saw the video on the Food Wishes blog (the videos are always enjoyable – even from the language side of it – fellow linguists will understand:) some time ago. And finally I did dare to make a cheese pie with it – a sort of tiropita.

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

I have to admit this recipe is not a very quick one but you’ll see the difference and you’ll like the result for sure. And moreover there’s the video so you just have no excuses not to make this phyllo pastry and use it for savoury or sweet pies like bougatsa or baklava (there’s another video on how to make baklava). Careful though – baklava is super nutritious and addictive!

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

Don’t get intimidated with the seemingly complicated recipe procedure – Chef John’s instructions will guide you through it and after several it-will-never-work-out-well moments you will master this pastry that they use in so many pies in Greece. Oh, Greece is the heaven for pie fans!

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

1 year ago – Official St Petersburg or Along Bolshaya Morskaya

2 years ago – Pear Croustade and Pane Tipo Altamura

3 years ago – From Sunny Greece to Autumn Leaves in St Pete

4 years ago – Plum Cakes from Italy and Austria

5 years ago – Shangi, Pies from the North and Urals

6 years ago – Ode to My Baboushka

Cheese Pie with Homemade Phyllo Pastry adapted from the hilarious foodwishes.blogspot.com will make an almost authentic Greek pie… well, at least you can imagine it is! Go to the link above to watch video instructions for the pastry (attention: requires some time and effort!). See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil – for some reason I thought it was 5 TABLEspoons 🙂
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar – our 10-year old vinegar from France gave too much of flavour
  • 3/4 cups warm water

filling:

  • about 300 g rubbery cheese, ideally – suluguni, if not – haloumi, grated / mashed
  • about 300 soft fresh cheese in light brine, ideally Feta, Imeretian or Adygea cheese, grated / mashed
  • salt with dried herbs, pepper

starch mixture:

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch – I had only potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Procedure:

Make the pastry: Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the center and pour in the oil, vinegar and the warm water plus the salt. Mix these ingredients with your fingers (not with someone’s else of course) in the bowl, then place on the surface and kneed into a smooth and soft ball, about 5 min. Roll the ball into a log and then back into a ball for several times. Wrap and leave to rest for at least 1 h at room temp.

Divide the dough into balls of 20 g (mine were about walnut size), cover the ones you are not using. Take 5 balls and roll each of these balls into a small disc, dust each of them really well (!) with the starch mixture and stack all 5 together. Then roll the stack out to about double the size, separate the discs (this will come with practice…), dust each disc again, re-stack them together in any order you like and roll out again into a sheet of pastry – the thinner the better.

Place one sheet of pastry between 2 sheets of parchment (reuse them in baking later), roll into a log (do not press), wrap in plastic (I placed them in a plastic bag) and leave in fridge / freezer if not using straight away.

When assembling your pie, use several sheets for the bottom layer and some more for the top layer (or even in-between layers, as in baklava). Drip olive oil over each 2nd sheet of pastry and do not forget to pre-cut the pie (do not cut through). Bake at 350’C for about 1 h (I did not have that much time so I switched the fan on at 180’C and reduced baking time to 30 min).

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

Remarks: Chef John says the recipe will make enough for about twenty sheets of pastry but I got 3 sheets with 5 layers + 1 sheet with 3 layers which was enough for a rather large though flat pie. I didn’t roll my pastry out too thin though. And yes, re-separating the discs of pastry is the most challenging part of the process, I only got the trick after rolling out and re-separating two stacks.  After all, phyllo means a leaf (or a sheet in this case)… Another remark, the cornstarch mixture makes a bit too much for this amount of pastry – I used the leftovers in a cake. Also, I used quite a small baking sheet so had to make rather thick borders – better avoid it, the pastry get too tough at the edges.

Result: Crusty-crunchy flat cheese pie. Do you need any more comments to persuade you to make it here and now? That’s what you are striving for – the crunchy outer layers of the pastry:

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

…and these layers that separate from each other on their own once baked:

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

…which are not that easy to separate before baking 🙂 Here is one of the stacks before rolling out:

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough

and before re-separating the discs:

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough

I was a bit late to photograph the entire pie – this is what was left next morning:

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough from foodwishes.blogspot.com

And yes, my blog has just turned 6!

This post goes to the Lunch / Dinner and Greek recipe collections where you will find many more Greek – and not only – pies.

G.

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.