Monday, May 3, 2010

Tyropitakia--Greek Cheese Pie

I'm sorry.  So very sorry.

I know I should feel ashamed for sharing this recipe with you; but I can't.  Because if I didn't share it with you then I would feel such guilt.  This is good.

Really, really good.

We just have to agree not to speak of this with people like cardiologists, aerobics teachers, and those really skinny soccer moms.  Agreed?

So this is another of my Mom's recipes.  Early in their marriage, my Mom and Dad were stationed in Greece.  My Mom fell in love with the food there.  Spanakopita (spinach pies) were one of her favorites, but I'm not big on cooked spinach.  These little darlings, though, make the heavens open so I can hear the angels sing.

(Just for the record, I'm saddened to say that the angels don't sing Bryan Adams.  But, it's beautiful none-the-less.)

This is a little more labor intensive than most of my recipes, but it is so worth it.  These would be fantabulous little appetizers to impress even the most high-falootin' guests you may have.  And your kids will love them too.  It's a win/win...unless you wanted leftovers, then you might be outta luck.

Here's the goods you need to gather:

8 ounces crumbled feta cheese, 8 ounces cottage cheese, 3 ounces cream cheese, 1-2 sticks of butter (I TOLD you I'm sorry!), 3 eggs, a handful of flat leaf parsley, a teaspoon of minced garlic, and a box of phyllo dough.

It's important that you let your dough thaw at room temperature for 2 hours before assembling the pies.  No, they do not thaw well in the freezer when you forget.  *Ahem* Not that I would know that for any particular reason. 

To make your filling you need to separate your eggs.  I know there are all sorts of ways to do it...feel free to use your favorite technique.  I prefer the lazy swap it back and forth between the shells method.

Put the whites into your mixer bowl.  You're going to beat the life out of these babies, so you'll want some horsepower behind that. 

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and form a stand up peak when you remove the beater.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, whip the egg yolks until they turn a creamy lemon color.  I used a whisk.  I'm tough like that.  And I'll only whine about my sore arm a little tomorrow.

When your yolks are whipped add the cheeses and incorporate well.

Then add your parsley (chopped coarsely) and the teaspoon of garlic.  Give it a good mix.

Finally, gently fold in your egg whites.  Now your filling is ready to go.

Let's talk phyllo dough.  Phyllo is a paper thin dough used often in Greek cooking.  Because of it's thin sheets, it will dry out quickly.  When working with phyllo, work with one piece of dough at a time and keep the rest covered.  I usually dampen a paper towel and place that and the plastic sheet it came rolled up in on top like this:

This will keep the dough you haven't used yet from drying out and getting crunchy.  We don't want crunchy...yet.  I'll admit, sometimes the thought of phyllo makes my palms a little sweaty, but I chalk that up to the time I set my oven on fire making baklava.  (Which was no fault of the phyllo--it was complete user error.  IF you ever make baklava...use a rimmed pan.  Trust me.  Honey and heating elements do not mix.)  The moral:  Don't fear the phyllo---it's really not that hard to use.

It will help a lot if you lay everything out ahead of time.  You'll need a good space to lay out your dough, a bowl with the melted butter and a pastry brush, your filling, dough, and a parchment covered baking sheet.

Lay a sheet of the dough out on your workspace.  Brush lightly with the melted butter.

Cut the dough lengthwise.  You can cut it into two strips for bigger pies or three strips for appetizer sized bites.

On one end (towards the corner) place a tablespoonful or so of the filling.  (Use a smaller amount for appetizer bites.) 

Fold the bottom left corner up to meet the top edge.

Now fold again using the inner edge as the fold line.

Keep going until you get to the end.  It's like the way you would properly fold a flag.

Give it a good brush of the butter and place on your parchment lined sheet with the rest of it's tasty friends.

Bake it at 325 for 20 minutes.  It will turn a lovely, scrumptious golden brown.

Serve these with some tzatziki dip for a great little appetizer, or heat one up for lunch when no one else is around.  This way you won't have to share!  Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy them!

Tyropitakia--Greek Cheese Pie

8 ounces feta cheese
8 ounces cottage cheese
3 ounces cream cheese
3 eggs
Handful of flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 box phyllo dough (you'll probably only use half), thawed

Separate eggs.  Whip egg whites until stiff.  In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy lemon colored.  Add the cheeses, garlic, and parsley to the yolks.  Stir to combine.  Fold egg whites into the yolk mixture.

Lay out one sheet of phyllo while keeping the rest covered.  Lightly brush with butter and cut in half or thirds lengthwise depending on the size of pie you want.  Place filling in one corner of the strip.  Fold, like a flag, until you reach the end.  Brush with butter and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 325 for 20 minutes until golden and crunchy.  Enjoy! :)


Foodessa said...

I'm not sorry you decided to share these with us ;0)
I love anything enveloped in phyllo.
I just finished making some lately...albeit a sweet version...yummy.
I took down your recipe...will certainly try it out. Cheese figures prominently in our household!
Thanks for sharing,

Robyn said...

OMG! I really want some of those now! However since I am feeling lazy I wish you lived next door so I could just come eat some of yours;)

Always excited when you share something cause I know it will be yummy!