Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chris' Cooking Corner: Spanakopita

Okay, let's go crazy today! Here is a recipe that I have tried a few times to decent success. Try it out, see if you can improve upon it. have some fun. I demand that you have fun today! Demand I tell you! (I'm in a demanding mood today).

Anyway, the recipe today is Spanakopita or Spinich Pie. This recipe will feed about 4-6 people, prepare and cook time is about an hour. Here's the ingredient list:

2 8oz packages frozen Spinach, thawed
Some parsley, a couple sprigs of fresh or a couple of squirts from the tube stuff
8oz feta cheese, dry not in water or oil or any crap like that
Olive oil
1 egg
Some salt and pepper
1 package filo dough, or one pie crust (Make sure you follow the thawing directions to the letter if using filo, more on that later)
1 cup (two sticks) butter

And that's about it, not too much in the ingredients. If there's something you like of dislike, feel free to change it. The egg is for binding the mixture together, so if you know some other way (I'm looking at my vegan friends) use that. Don't be afraid of the feta cheese. It's not my favorite chesse, but it works well when melted. Also don't be afraid of the butter, it's for binding the layers of filo dough together, and can easily be dismissed.

Okay, so the original recipe I got this from called for 2 lbs of fresh spinach and called to wilt it down in a pan, but that's a whole lot of work so we start out by taking the two packages of thawed spinach and draining them of all thier juices. You can just do this a bit at a time with your hands. It's a little messy but kind of fun. (Make sure you wash your hands first!) Drain all the spinach and put it in a mixing bowl. Get a couple of cloves of garlic, more or less depending on how stinky you want your breath to be, cut them up pretty finely. (You can probably substitute with the pre-diced garlic in a jar, but this way's cooler). Mix the garlic in with the spinach. Then add the parsley. I used fresh parsely the first time I made this but parsleys kind of a pain in the ass to chop up and I ended up with more than I needed, so I switched to the parsley paste in tube that you can find in most grocery stores. It tasted the same and was much easier, so I recommend that. Put about half the tube into the mixing bowl with the spinach and garlic. Then add the feta. Make sure the feta you get is the dry kind, not in any kind of liquid. Yup, throw that in with the Spinach mix. Finally add some olive oil, because olive oil makes pretty much anything taste better and then add an egg to bind it all together. Add some salt and pepper to season, mix it all together and your spinach mixture is done.

Now the spinach mix is pretty basic and can be used a lot of different ways. You could put some cheese or breading on top, put in in a caserole dish and bake it for a few minutes and have a decent spinach dip. bake up some pita chips and you got a decent dish for entertaining. You could throw it in individual feta cups and make a nice appetizer, or throw it in an instant pie shell and have a decent Spinach pie. However, I was feeling adventurous, and decided to dip into the pool of filo dough, which turns out to be kind of a pain in the ass to use, but is pretty delicious. There are easier means of transporting the delicious spinach mix into your mouth, but filo is the traditional greek method, and I was going for more authentic greek. I will now explain the filo process.

As I have said, filo is a fickle bitch, so make sure you read the directions on the box on how to thaw it, because it is very important. Once the filo is thawed correctly and you have the spinach mix ready, it time to prepare your backing dish. Melt the butter in the microwave and get yourself a pastry brush. Get out your baking dish and apply a layer of butter to stop the finished product from sticking to the pan. Now, carefully, get your first layer of filo dough. Carefully is the watch word when dealing with filo, because the dough is not wafer thin, it's not paper thin, it's basically transparent. if you don't treat filo carefully it will rip on you and be just a general pain in the ass. Anyway, once you get the first layer off, once again, carefully (seriously, this thing is a pain in the ass) place it in the baking pan. Next, brush on some butter, get off the next layer of dough, and place start layering the dough. You're going to layer six sheets of the dough this way; place the sheet, brush on butter, place next sheet. rather rince repeat. Once you have the six sheets layers, you'll probably want to cut off any excess in the pan, basically just cut the stuff to fit your baking pan. Now that you have your bottom layer of filo down, get your Spinach mixture and spread it evenly across the filo. Once that is done, you're going to place six more sheets of filo on top of the mixture, buttering between layers as before. Once agian, six sheets of filo dough and you're done. Now that you have done this, swear mightily at the remaining sheets of filo, punch yourself for ever trying to use this infuriating material to begin with, and find whoever makes your baclava for you and kiss them for being able to use filo to make a delicious pastry.

I'm not kinding, filo is a pain in the ass to use, which is why I'm searching for a suitable replacement. I'm told there are individual filo cups you can buy, which seems the easiest solution. Try to use filo just once so you can say you've had the experience.

Once your baking pan is all set, place it in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. The filo should be light and crispy, and should hold together, but it never has for me. I may be doing something wrong. Anyway, it's the spinach that I'm really going for, and I have been complimented several times on how good it is. This isn't that difficult of a recipe, so give it a shot. If it doesn't turn out as good as I describe it, well then you must just be a shitty cook. It's not my fault. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment