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Saturday, 2 February 2013

Spinach and Feta Pie

I have just spent another day touring Greenacre and sampling the delights of Middle eastern food.
I enjoyed some little pastries called borek, which is really the generic term for Turkish pastries that come in a variety of shapes from triangles, semicircles, cigars and squares. They are filled with cheese, herbs and greens and are made from phyllo, short crust, puff or the Turkish version of phyllo, yufka.
They are found all over the Mediterranean sea board countries and are called brik, boregi, empanada, pittas, pastillas and spanakopitta depending on their origin. All are delicious as a meal in themselves or as finger food for entertaining.
The day of food tasting reminded me of my travels to Greece and Turkey in my younger years. These yummy little parcels we ate all the time as they were so cheap and of course we had very little money.
We would hang outside the pastry shops and wait until they came out of the ovens and pounce on them devouring them in minutes.
I make this spinach and feta pie a lot, probably because it reminds me of those carefree days in the Greek Islands, when time stood still and we didn't have a thing to worry about !

My version is a large pie to feed the crowd as a meal. You can make the same recipe in small triangles or cigars shapes for party food. It is a bit of a fiddle but worth the effort. After you have made this a few times,you may find you like more of one cheese than the other, or a little more chives. I am sure mine is different every time I make it. Remove your phyllo pastry from freezer to fridge overnight to thaw.

250 grams feta cheese
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
80 grams ricotta cheese
1 egg 
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
500 grams spinach frozen or a bunch of fresh spinach
2 tablespoons  chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
pinch of nutmeg
10 sheets phyllo pastry
6 tablespoons melted butter

If using fresh spinach, chop and discard stems,  steam  until wilted and drain very well, squeeze excess water out. The same applies to frozen, after cooking the excess water must be squeezed out or your pie will be watery.
Mash the cheeses together and mix with all the other ingredients in a large bowl.
Cover the phyllo with a slightly damp tea towel, as you work, as it will dry out and become brittle.
Brush a sheet of the pastry with melted butter, and layer into the pie dish one at a time until you have five layers..
Fill the dish with the spinach and cheese mixture. Cover with five more layers of pastry buttering each as
you go. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in 175C oven until pastry is golden.

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