Tag Archives: dill

O-pie!

22 Feb

Yesterday was GREEK-THEMED PIE NIGHT, which was probably my second-most fun pie experience. I love Greek food pretty much more than life, and maybe slightly more than Persian food. Greece is a wonderful country for pies, as I found out while living there two years ago. They love layering in particular, and of course stuffing vegetables into things. Here are some of the best:

  • spanakopita (σπανακοπιτα): spinach pie. Blanch about 3 pounds of spinach and mix with 2 chopped and caramelized onions and a big bunch of dill. Mix 1 pound of feta   (yup, a a pound of feta) with 3 eggs, then combine this with the greens mix. Season to taste. Butter a square pan and make layers: (1 sheet filo dough+brush of olive oil)x10, plop of cheesy spinach, repeat. End on a filo layer, and brush the top with some beaten egg to make it shiny. Bake at 200 C for about 25 minutes. This amount of filling will make about 2 medium pan-fulls, maybe enough for 10-15 people depending on how much you like spinach. These are the most filling creatures known to man though. When Sam HRB and I were Masters Cooks, we made something like 8 zillion spanakopitas one night. I don’t remember the exact quantity, but I know we bought enough spinach that I had to use a rolling suitcase to get it from the car to our building. Fortunately the spinach was cheap, so we could afford the $25 of feta squares. (It was enough for Sam to make the same face he did for six pounds of ginger, which was a great moment. Kind of like an “ohgodwhy” mixed with amazed fascination.) In Greece spanakopita is served both in slices and as individual dumplings, usually in a pasty/empanada shape.
  • tiropita (τυροπιτα): cheese pie. Basically the same as above, but with ricotta and no spinach. Some recipes recommend cinnamon, which sounds like a fine idea. You could even sass it up and add some other Greek cheeses.
  • moussaka (μουσακάς): mmmm. The best kind is with lamb, but without eggplant. I can’t really comment on the recipe as I’ve never made it, but it seems to be lasagna noodles layered with ground lamb, tomatoes, sometimes potatoes and zucchini, and topped with bechamel.
  • pastichio (παστιζιο): kind of the same as moussaka, but with more bechamel and macaroni instead of lasagna. More like a casserole.
  • dolmades (δολμαδες): the epitomic Greek dumpling: rice/lamb stuffed into grape leaves. I made the rice mixture on Sunday – after cooking rice and allowing to cool for about 10 minutes, add oregano, chopped mint, s+p to taste, and the juice of 1 lemon. One should then proceed to wrap the mixture in the leaves, but since I thought of this at the last minute I had none. Anna P told me it’s best to steal them from your nearby vineyard. Sadly, we can’t all live in Tuscany.
  • One can also make dolmades with cabbage leaves (lahanodolmades/λαχανοδολμαδες), or stuff the same mixture into zucchini with the seeds removed (kolokythakia/κολοκυθακια). Or into tomatoes, or peppers, or…
  • Oh wait, we can’t forget baklava, which is filo layered with nuts and honey.

Uh, so I believe I was going to tell you about my pie. I made a version of my Greek pasta – not actually Greek, but rather invented in Greece by my hungry room-mate and I after a market trip – with filo. I don’t know if anyone at TPS has ever bought as many zucchini as I did – 8, I think. Here it goes:

The veg: 8 zucchini, 5 smallish tomatoes and 1 can diced tomatoes, 5 red onions, 2 big handfuls spinach

The spice: s+p (fresh-ground is very important!), oregano, dill, ~100 grams feta, filo dough

The method: Slice the onions into rings and caramelize. Slice the zucchini into short spears and either roast or sautee. After removing about half the seeds, salt the tomatoes and blend them to small chunks; cook on the stove with salt until some of the liquid is gone. Blanch the spinach and set aside. When the tomato mush and the zucchini spears are almost ready, mix them together and add in the onions, spinach, and tomato paste. Add the oregano, dill, salt, and pepper to taste. Note that although it may taste ok now, the cheese really rounds of the dish. Feta adds a sort of coolness to all the warm vegetables – maybe that’s why a Greek salad tastes so good (cool with cool, warmed by tomatoes). Butter a pie pan and layer filo at the bottom as in a spanakopita. Add about an inch of vegetable mix, some crumbled feta, and then some more filo. Continue until you run out of vegetables; end on a filo layer and try to tuck it in at the corners.

Τα ρεστα: [This is a Greek phrase that means “the change”, but I always think of it as “the rest” as it’s spelled – as in, the rest of the work is complete, go have a rest with your full stomach.] I used olive oil to to cook everything in this meal instead of Flora. It makes things taste much more Mediterranean (accepting that the idea of Mediterranean food” was really only cemented 25 years ago, but that’s another story). Also, be sure to use either fresh or really, really good dried oregano. This is so important.

I have no further comments. It was delicious. The meal was supplemented by tzatziki, Laura J’s cucmbers and hummus and Greek salad, Anna P’s Greek yogurt dessert with honey and pine nuts, and Laura T’s bread.

 

UPDATE: I completely forgot about the cheese, which is UNACCEPTABLE. I tried to make saganaki by frying breaded slices of halloumi, but they just wouldn’t catch fire. Despite their inflammability, they were the highlight of the party. I originally made one slice per person but ended up using the rest of the block, which was devoured by the guests like the raptor scene in Jurassic Park.