Saturday, 22 May 2010
I've always loved this word. Say it again. Spanakotiropita! And again! Spanakotiropita! Woo-hoo!
I'm quite fond of the actual thing as well. And it's something I've wanted to make for a long while.
Spotting feuilles de brik (really thin North African sheets of pastry) in the supermarket earlier in the week was all I needed.
I knew I had spinach at home, as well as feta, so I didn't get anything else. When I got home, I dug out Diane Kochilas' The Glorious Foods of Greece, a cookbook I've had for about 8 years, and never made anything from, despite the best of intentions. Why I didn't reach for Vefa's Kitchen is something that only crossed my mind half-way through cooking this evening. Who knows?
Brik, however, isn't quite filo pastry.
And Peter eating half the pack of spinach for lunch when I was out wasn't what I had expected.
Nor was the fact that Diane didn't actually have a recipe for ... say it again... Spanakotiropita! in her book.
However, I browsed through, and came up with a recipe for Scallion and Feta Pie (Kremmydopita). I then headed off to the supermarket again, with nothing more in my head than the fact that I needed more spinach and some spring onions. Needless to say, I didn't come home with the "2 pounds scallions or spring onions" the recipe required when I had a look at it this evening. Nor did I have 1 pound Greek feta cheese, nor 1 pound myzithra cheese.
I did have, however, 1 1/2 packs of spinach, a pack of rocket (300g each, I think), 2 packs of 220g each of not-feta, i.e. feta-like cheese made with 100% sheep's milk but not in Greece, 5 spring onions, and assorted other bits and pieces.
Thus, my take on Not Really Spanakotiropita!
- 1 pack of brik containing 10 sheets
- 2 x 220 g pack of "feta" (maybe a bit too much. One and a half packs would have been better.), chopped
- 5 spring onions with lots of green tops
- (about) 1 cup milk
- 300 g rocket
- 450 g (approx) young spinach
- the greens from the radishes that I'd also bought- very satisfying, that as I've always hated throwing them away!
- 4 large eggs
- lots of butter
- pepper, salt
Chop the spring onions, greens and bulb and all. Soften in a frying pan with some of the butter. After a few minutes, when beginning to wilt, add the spinach, cook until wilted. My frying pan wouldn't take all the greens in one go, otherwise I'd have had them all in- so I then cooked the rocket and radish leaves in the same pan, then tipped the first batch back in, added the milk, freshly-ground black pepper, and cooked that for about 5 minutes.
Tipped it all into a bowl, left to cool for a few minutes (would you believe I was also making strawberry and rhubarb jam at the same time?), then add the beaten eggs and the chopped "feta".
Then, working fast, as all the books tell you too, I layered the brik in a dish (actually the lid of my Pyrex chicken roaster), brushing each layer with some melted butter, keeping the rest covered with a damp (clean) dishtowel. Ms. Kochilas' recipe had 12 sheets, I only had 10, it didn't really matter, did it? I layered 5, making sure that there was enough overhang to fold over, then put in my filling (I should have mixed it a bit better- there were bits where it was mostly cheese, and other places where it was mostly greens), then layered the remaining five over the top, brushing them with more butter.
Into the oven at 190C for 50 minutes. Of course, at 50 minutes, I decided to leave it another 5, and then my jam jelled (well, I took the sugar thermometer off the side and put it in the middle and found that I was well above jelling temperature, argh!), so I had to jar that in a hurry. But I turned the oven off and opened the door on the way past, after it had been in for about an hour.
Verdict: Well, there isn't much left. It was yummy. Even Peter liked it enough to say that I should make it again. Not twenty times a year, he hastened to specify, but again.
As I pointed out- now that brik is available, I can make all sorts of fillings... If only I could find ground lamb! I think I need to find a good halal butcher.