GREEK - Summer 2021 (Jul-Sept) Cuisine of the Quarter

By the way, brush frozen pies with melted butter or olive oil before baking.

Many people don’t know how much brushing with butter or oil improves an unbaked commercial filo pastry that gets baked at home.

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Good one! There’s a frozen tiropita that I buy at our local Greek store. I learned the hard way that it’s not as good if I don’t brush the top with a little olive oil before baking. Now I’m curious what brushing with butter or ghee would do.

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I’ve also made filo pies with other cheeses instead of feta. I made a leek and chevre pie that turned out very well. I have started using whatever cheese I have in the fridge, rather than keeping feta on hand.

I also made a non Greek Southern tomato pie (the type made with mayo and cheddar over tomatoes) with a grated local Halloumi and mayo topping last week.

Here is a Greek tomato pie for anyone who has a lot of tomatoes right now

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Using halloumi might get me to make that Southern tomato pie at last. Sometimes mixing ingredients from different cuisines works great! Yum.

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It has become a summer favourite in our house- good with cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere.

I cheat and don’t bother making a crust- just the filling and topping baked in a pyrex dish.

Could do a Greek version with mayo /feta/ kasseri/ oregano :wink:

My other hack is to bake the Spanakopita filling (one made with at least 3 eggs) without filo, and serve it as a frittata. Or add stale bread, to make it into a savoury bread pudding/strata.

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I discovered this when a local Greek cafe started importing all sorts of unusual phylo pastries from Greece (they were frozen for transport, thawed in house). In addition to spanokopita/tyropita, there were fillings like potato, leek and myzithra, chicken, tapenade–but something was missing until I started brushing them with butter before heating.

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Horto is any green, any greens go.

In many traditional Greek families , every meal has a plate of cooked horta, which are called horta- whether they are spinach, endive, arugula, dandelion, or a mix.

Crete, (also other parts of Greece) has some special wild greens - I will look up the name , which I’m forgetting.

Kale is more of a Northern Veg (esp Holland- a friend jokes that she left Holland because she hates kale), so it’s not that common in the traditional Greek kitchen, but Greek North Americans certainly have embraced it. Kale salads show up in a lot of TO Greek and Italian restos.

There is also a cabbage-filled pita, from northern Greece and Macedonia, which is tasty. Lahanopita.

Really, any filling goes. Filo is just a wrapper. :slight_smile:

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LOL, I don’t especially love kale but it is a frequent item in our CSA share. Sometimes I need to make it disappear. Greens pie uses up the biggest volume of green stuff of any recipe I know. Plus combining different types makes the pie taste better, to our palates.

I really appreciate the tips you’re sharing here!

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Have you tried roasted kale chips? I greatly dislike kale but I’ll eat those.

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We had way too much kale last summer (novice gardeners) - two great uses were Indian Saag (freezes well too, add paneer or lamb or chicken for a complete dish) and an all-purpose greens saute inspired by the NYT - barely a recipe, just saute with aromatics, add some broth/wine/vinegar: great as a side, but also as a base for pasta, beans, eggs, pie. Re eggs - kuku is also a great consumer of greens and herbs.

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Good thought. Greens pie/hortapita is my jam though, because I can use up different bunches of greens from the CSA. Usually I’m in a code red situation where I need to use about 7 to 8 cups of greens fast (volume after chopping and trimming, but before blanching).

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Made tyropitakia (cheese triangles) and tzatziki dip. Tyropitakia with 3 cheese: feta, ricotta and Romano mixed with egg wrapped in layered buttered filo. I used the recipe of Christos Sourligas’s My Big Fat Greek Cookbook.

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So neat and pretty!

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Both look scrumptious! Perfect.

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Those look so delicious @ernie_in_berkeley! Quintessentially Greek this time of year and through the fall. My late MIL used to stuff peppers, squash, tomatoes, onions - almost whatever was stuffable, and frequently. So good. I make them too, occasionally, but I have a favorite hack, actually. The Costco deli usually has stuffed peppers, ready to bake, and they’re very, very, good; sometimes they’re on a sales (coupon) rotation. They come in multi colored peppers, in six halves, sliced and stuffed horizontally. When I get them, I open a can (16 oz) tomato sauce, add about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, put over the peppers and top with mizithra cheese and Parmesan, covering with foil, and then bake. If it’s only for two, I’ll cook three halves, and freeze the other three. They freeze beautifully, and are so tasty for a quick meal.

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I’m not sure we have a deli at our local Costco. Are they frozen?

Yiayia used to stuff squash blossoms, too.

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No, they’re by the rotisserie chickens, along with various ready to eat salads, and take and bake entrees, like their enchiladas, pasta dishes, soups and so on. I don’t buy much of that stuff except the rotisserie chickens and stuffed peppers. The packs of roasted chicken rotisserie meat, off the bone is pretty good too, for soups and casseroles, had it at Sis-in-law’s house.

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I’ve been sautéeing a little onion and garlic in oil, then adding whatever greens I’ve picked from the garden, sautéeing until wilted.

Then drizzled with white balsamic (there are several Greek white balsamics available now, but the Italian and domestic ones work fine) or lemon.

I don’t blanche them first.

Tonight , it was callaloo, malabar spinach (a spinach-like veg that grows on a vine) and Portuguese kale. Last night, it was Swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, gai lan and Portuguese kale. My regular spinach hasn’t done well this year (0 leaves harvested so far)

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A couple Greek/Greekish meals to post; also, this time of year, eating lots of Greek salads too. First dinner was two racks of lamb ribs, grilled slowly. They look like burnt offerings, but were truly delicious - unctuous in their richness, and a delectable treat. Rich though! Doubled up on the statins lol :rofl::joy: Not pictured, to go with, we had a Greek salad, and potato packets on the grill. Next up was double cut lamb chops, green beans stewed with tomato and fettuccine, topped with browned butter and mizitjra cheese. A very decent wine to go with, serendipitously since I wasn’t familiar with that one before buying. Both meals eaten alfresco, by the thriving and fecund tomato plants. No ripe ones quite yet, except for tiny cherries.f




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Forgot to post the meze and wine that went with the lamb chop and pasta dinner. The pites were made for another previous dinner, and have been in the freezer. We have more too! We had both tiropita and spanakopita.


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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2