Spanakópita + Tyropitákia = Spanakotyropitákia

Oh, don’t worry. I’ll explain the title in a minute.

Spanakotyropitákia

The 1990s was my decade for travel. Accompanied with my best friend, aka my Traveling Companion, we toured places that I had previously dreamt of visiting but never thought that I’d actually see in person. One such place was Greece. We arrived in Athens, spent the night, and then headed out into the Aegean for some island hopping. This trip had a little something for everyone: a modern-day metropolis; ruins of ancient civilizations; beautiful beaches; thriving nightlife; far too many picturesque settings to mention here; and the food. Oh, the glorious food!

As you know, my love of pasta knows no bounds, so, you can rest assured I had my fair share of pastitsio, with a little moussaka thrown in for good measure. Surely, my holiday in Greece would not have been complete unless I had my fill of lamb nor, for that matter, could I be expected to go from island to island without at least sampling the seafood — repeatedly. And I can assure you that any gyros bought from any street vendor anywhere on those islands will put to shame any gyros you can buy on this side of the Atlantic, hands down. Even so, Man does not munch on gyros alone and, since each island has its own wine, cheeses, olives, & olive oil, it would have been an insult had we not tasted them all, usually with a chunk of crusty bread.  Similarly, it was a surprise to learn that each island also prepared its own version of spanakópita, the Greek spinach pie. Now, I truly enjoy spinach pies and my family makes the Italian version of these tasty treats. (Called cacioni, you can see our recipe here and a recipe link supplied by my blogging friend from Le Marche, Mariano Pallottini, can be found here.) So, I needed no further encouragement to taste each island’s unique take on spanakópita. I soon learned that although the basics to each were the same (a spinach filling covered with phyllo dough) there was a surprising variety.

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The center of attention

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First off, some spanakópita were actually pies and each serving is a wedge just as if it were some fruit-filled dessert. Others were prepared on baking sheets and you’re served a rectangular piece like you would if it were baklava, only larger. Still others were prepared with individual servings in mind and could be self-contained, triangular or burrito-shaped pies. Beyond their form, the stuffing mixtures contained primarily the same ingredients but in differing proportions. Virtually all contained spinach, a little onion, lemon (either zest, juice, or both), dill, and a binding agent, eggs I presume. As you can well imagine, changing the amount of lemon zest or dill to be used can greatly affect the overall taste of the pie. In some cases, a little mint or parsley was also added to the filling, each adding their own distinct flavor to the mix. So, with so many variables at play, I never knew what I would be served when I choose spanakópita from a menu — and I enjoyed the surprise almost as much as the pie.

Normally, this is where I’d dive into the recipe but one more thing needs mentioning. One night, while on Mykonos, we asked our hotel proprietor for a local restaurant, a taberna, far from the tourist crowds. He obliged, sending us to a great little spot where, coincidentally, a family group was holding some sort of celebration, as I recall. It’s been some time since that evening and I’ve grown unsure of many of the specifics but I do remember 3 things: 1) we were sent ouzo shots from the management and the celebrants; 2) we ordered the house specialty, gardoubes, lamb offal that’s wrapped in caul fat and grilled; and, 3) we were sent ouzo shots from the management and celebrants. What does any of this have to do with spanakópita?

Beware of books bearing Greek’s …       recipes

Well, I was so impressed with the dish — or, in retrospect, was it the ouzo? — that I was determined to find out how to prepare it. To that end, I eventually located a cookbook that contained a recipe for a version of gardoubes and I immediately ordered it, sight unseen. Sadly, it was a bit of a disappointment. Originally written in Greek, the translation was apparently word-for-word, without considering context, rendering parts of some recipes nonsensical. Gardoubes was one of them. I decided that I wasn’t meant to make gardoubes and moved onto other things — but I kept the cookbook. Move ahead now, to a couple of weeks ago. I had just posted my instructions for making feta cheese and I had a fridge full of jars containing feta in brine. Growing tired of Greek salads, I decided to make spanakópita with feta added to the filling.

Thus began the Great Search of 2012. I’d not seen, let alone used, that recipe in years. More notes than formal recipe, I had scribbled them on a piece of paper as I watched a Greek woman prepare spanakópita on a cooking show, most probably broadcast on PBS. Well, midway into my search, I located the long-forgotten cookbook. I thought I had hit pay dirt. Why look any further when I had the “real deal” right here? Guess again. Its version of spanakópita was of the pie variety and didn’t contain any cheese. It did include a recipe for triangular-shaped pies but these were filled with cheese and called tyropitákia. They even had a lovely photo of the little triangles, so golden-brown and enticing. Also pictured with the tyropitákia was a platter of “cigars” that were phyllo dough wrapped around a filling of what looked to be spinach and cheese. In the caption, they were identified as spanakotyropitákia. What luck! I found exactly what I needed — except that I didn’t. Yes, the cookbook included a picture of spanakotyropitákia but not the recipe. I went through the book page-by-page, twice, to make sure. (And of course, there is no index nor glossary for the book either.) So, although I received a great title for today’s post, I was back to looking for my recipe.

It wasn’t very long after that I found my old recipe. It was pretty straight-forward  — just how complex can a few notes scribbled on a piece of paper be? — and easily adapted to include feta cheese.  The result was just what I had in mind. You’ll find these spanakotyropitákia have a pronounced lemon flavor, which I prefer. In fact, I’ve often been served spanakópita with a lemon slice/wedge as garnish. If, however, you’re unsure about the lemon flavoring, begin by adding the zest of a half-lemon to the spinach mixture. Taste it and let that determine whether to add the rest of the lemon’s zest. Use that tasting to also decide whether more dill is needed and if you want to add more feta. In short, taste the filling and let your palate be your guide as you make this recipe your own.

This all sounds well and good but what if you want more? You know. You can’t put your finger on it but you just crave more. Well, my advice is to check out Tanya’s recipe for Salmon Spanakópita. The name says it all.

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Spanakotyropitákia Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 20 oz (2 bags, 566g) leaf spinach
  • 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (1 tbsp dried dill weed may be substituted),  more to taste
  • 8 oz (225g) feta, crumbled
  • zest of  ½ to 1 whole lemon
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • phyllo (fillo) dough sheets

Directions

  1. Remove any large, thick stems from the spinach and coarsely chop the leaves.
  2. Over med-high heat in a large, non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach, season with salt & pepper, and sauté, turning the leaves frequently, until cooked. Remove from heat.
  4. Once cooled, place the pan’s contents in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as possible.
  5. Place semi-dried spinach into a large bowl, add feta, zest, and dill. Mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready for use. This may be done a day or two in advance.
  6. When ready to proceed, add an egg to the spinach and mix until well combined.
  7. Open and unfold a package of phyllo dough, remove one sheet, and cover the remaining sheets with a damp kitchen towel.
  8. Lay the sheet of dough on a clean work surface. Fold it, lengthwise, so that 1/3 or the sheet remains uncovered. Use a sharp knife to cut off that section and place it with the rest of the unused phyllo sheets.  (A & B, click on image to enlarge)
  9. Unfold the remaining 2/3 sheet and brush half of it with butter (C) before re-folding it lengthwise. Brush the entire length with butter. (D)
  10. Place 2 – 3 tbsp of spinach filling in the bottom corner of  the strip. (E) Fold the dough up and over to the side, creating a small triangle in the process. (F)
  11. Fold the triangle up and over to the side again, and do this repeatedly, as if folding a flag. (G) When you’ve reached the end, place the pie, seam-side down on a baking sheet (H), and repeat the process with a new phyllo sheet.
  12. After you’ve finished your 2nd pie, you will have two strips that resulted from trimming the previous two dough sheets. Lay one flat, brush it with butter, and then lay the 2nd on top of it. (I) Repeat steps 10 & 11 above.
  13. Once all of your triangles are filled and folded, you can either bake or freeze them.
    1. To bake: pre-heat oven to 375˚F (190˚C) . Brush each triangle with melted butter, place seam-side down on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
    2. To freeze: brush both sides of each triangle with butter, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, place the sheet in the freezer overnight, and then store for later use. To cook, follow baking instructions but allow an additional 10 minutes to bake.

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Notes

Work as quickly as possible when using phyllo dough. If the sheet dries. it will become unusable. Be sure to keep the rest covered with a damp kitchen towel until needed.

As I learned during my recent trip, phyllo comes in different sized sheets. As a result, you may not need to trim off a third of each sheet as shown above. Just folding it in half may suffice.

By varying the width of the dough strips, you can change the size of the pies and, therefore, their intended use. Larger pies could be considered part of a light lunch, the perfect starter,  or an unusual side. Smaller pies make great appetizers and could even be served as one of many snacks on game-day.

Although I’m aware that these pies can be fried, I’ve never done it and I’m hesitant to advise doing so. As it is, I’m quite satisfied with the results when the pies are baked. If it ain’t broke …

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Home Again

I returned home this afternoon bearing Zia’s greetings to you all. Normally, when I’m with her, I show her a number of your blogs — but not this time. For some unknown reason, internet service in her area was even more abysmal than usual. Pictures wouldn’t download and even the simplest of tasks — hitting the “like” button — weren’t possible. This just means that there’ll be more for me to show her next time — and I’ve got dozens of your posts from the past week to read in the meantime.

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89 thoughts on “Spanakópita + Tyropitákia = Spanakotyropitákia

  1. I was wondering where you were and thinking how cyber-quiet you’ve been. If I’d had that many ouzos I would have needed someone to carry me home and I definitely would not have been able to remember what I ate. I love spinach triangles (that’s the vulgar Aussie name for them). i have made these often when I host parties and I serve these as part of a ‘pass-around’ menu. I have a few recipes, one includes dill and the other mint. Yours look very good. Love the image of the one broken in two xx

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    • Aw. Ya missed me? I hadn’t seen my Zia since last Fall and I couldn’t wait to get back. I’ll be making another trek next month sometime. I need refresher courses and new recipes for the blog!
      These spinach pies are great, aren’t they? I like having some on-hand in the freezer. They’re perfect for when people pop over unexpected.

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  2. We did indeed miss you! Hope you had a good week though. Now, this is a bit of a stunner isn´t it? As you know, I love this dish and I think the step by step photos are great. I´ve also eaten the cigar shaped ones – ooh the hours of fun you can have with a packet of filo pastry! Loved the story of your time in Greece…am surprised you can remember anything quite frankly after sampling the local ouzo…it´s dangerous stuff 😉 And a big thank you for the lovely mention.

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    • Thanks, Tanya, it was a great, pasta-filled visit! As much as i like these hand-held pies, i really want to try your recipe with salmon. Hmmm …. maybe use your stuffing to make hand-held pies. I cannot make a big pie for myself and these smaller ones can be frozen. I think I need to go back to the Test Kitchens, once the mozzarella testing is completed. 🙂

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        • That’ll be great, Tanya. While there, see if you can get citric acid crystals. They’re inexpensive and can be bought at some pharmacies, home-brewing supply shops, and on Amazon. They’ll be needed to make “American Mozzarella”, which is the first mozzarella we’ll be making. No need to buy a lot. We’ll only use a teaspoon at a time.

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    • Thank you, Roger, and I did check out your friend’s cookbook. It’s the real deal and I like that he’s included pages for a well-stocked cupboard and necessary spices. And just as I imagined — he is your friend, after all — the photography was very nicely done. A few of the photos make me want to buy the book just to find out what they are. I’ve saved it to my cookbook wish list, which means I’ll probably order it in a few weeks. Pretty crafty of Amazon to create wish lists like that. They’ll get me every time. 🙂

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    • “The cheese hounds’? They sound nasty and I’m glad you didn’t have to resort to that! Don’t worry about the title. I can pronounce the 1st part; I can come close with the 2nd; the 3rd is a mystery and I won’t even attempt it. But you’re right. They are good!

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  3. hmmm. I have a confession…I have never ventured into phyllo dough, but your recipe makes me want to try these…we make the spinach with the garlic and olive oil and than roll it into a bread dough but this looks so good. thanks John have to try this…Glad that you had a nice time visiting Zia. I know she must have enjoyed your company!

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    • I can so identify with your fears of phyllo, Maria. It’s been years since I made these so I approached them this time with a fair amount of trepidation. Once you get going, though, and get a rhythm, it’s not so bad — and I’m always expecting to “lose” a couple sheets in the process. One afternoon, Zia & I made a batch and she now has a nice supply in her freezer. And yes, we enjoyed each other’s company. 🙂

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  4. omg, John, another simple recipe that I could probably do…I freakin love spinach…loving the map…looks like more and more flying your freak flag, or should I say “fricassee” flag…good food rounds ’em up!

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    • Yes, Chris, this one you could do, too. You could, also, get some puff pastry and some fruit filling and use the same folding techniques to make turnovers. Yeah, that flag map is a bit of a surprise. I never thought that I’d get “hits” from some of the countries represented. You just never know …

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    • I cannot recommend a Greek holiday highly enough, David. I’ve been interested in archeology since I was a boy. Being able to walk around the Acropolis and the ruins at Knossos were dreams come true. I feel very lucky to have been able to do it.

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  5. Yay, you are back! Yay that you had a good time but yay for us to have you back! I will not pretend to know how to pronounce your title, but who cares what you call them – they are equally as scrumity when simply called spinach in phyllo – you can just say it with a posh accent. 😉
    Great step by step photos too.
    🙂 Mandy

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    • What a welcome! Thank you, Mandy. You’re so right. Call them whatever you like. They’re tasty and anyone can easily vary the ingredients a bit to suit your personal tastes.

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    • Phyllo does give the pies a really nice crispiness that no other dough can do. When I make these for myself, I always use the zest of an entire lemon. I realize, however, that not everyone loves lemon like I do — and apparently you, too. 🙂 That’s why I suggest that one start with half that amount of zest and taste before adding more. I hope you do try these and enjoy them as much as I do.

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  6. I too was wondering where you’d been … welcome back. I have always wanted to visit Greece, I love history and good food–Greece has both. 🙂 “wine, cheeses, olives, & olive oil” would keep me happily occupied and of course, you’d never want to turn any away and risk upsetting anyone. 😉 I like the light and airy texture of phyllo, though I do not eat it much. You did a great job with these.

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    • Thank you, Judy, for both the welcome and your kind words. As much as I enjoy Italian food, I thoroughly enjoyed every meal, snack, and tidbit that I ate during that trip. It was quite an experience and I hope you get the chance to get over there. You’ll love it!

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  7. Country internet is so inclement! Mine is doing that this morning too I have rebooted twice.. Love love love this recipe. i have put phyllo on my shopping list already.. once I have some of the feta, made to your recipe, in my kitchen we will be munching on these with spinach from the garden! Fantastic.. I am glad you had a good time with Zia and also glad that you are safely back and plugged in again! Cool today.. nice.. c

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    • Yes, this weekend’s internet problems were the worst ever. It’s almost criminal that whole areas of our country are being left behind like this. The internet is no longer a toy or hobby for the wealthy. Think of the business opportunities lost in rural areas because of a lack of quality internet service. Grrrr…..
      Yes, very cool today. Zia probably had to turn the heat on. It was getting cold when I left her. Hope you got some of this soaking rain. It hasn’t stopped all day, although now it’s just a sprinkle. I transplanted my few tomato plants before leaving and I used a couple handfuls of worm casings with each plantling. Each at least tripled in size during the week I was gone. Thank you for the tip! Have a great night, Celi!

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  8. Yay! You’re here! Relief! What a great way to start the morning. AND, I could HUG you for not just this recipe, but for the step by step photos with the phyllo. Um. Phyllo and I have had two messy fights in my kitchen in recent months. Phyllo won both times. It was ugly. Thanks to your detailed instructions, I can now make one of Hubby’s most favorite things to eat! And beat that darn phyllo. 🙂 I think your feta recipe needs to be tackled for this too! I can’t wait to try this recipe John. Thank you so much!

    Thank you, too, for a fabulous read with my tea this morning. I look forward to the stories you write as much as the recipes you share. You are, by far, one of my favorite writers. I just love this, and like every single other post you write John, it motivates and just flat out makes me happy. I mean it! I say it a lot, I know, but I mean it sincerely….

    Now, where’s that feta recipe of yours 🙂 ……

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    • Sarah, you’re too much! Your comments are always a welcome sight and I really do appreciate them. Thank you.
      Believe me, phyllo and I have done battle many times — and more than a fair share of the stuff has ended up wadded in a ball in the trash. Phyllo comes in more than one thickness. I didn’t know any better and always used #4. This time, I went to my Greek market — “my Greek market”, like I own the place! — and they had a selection of #4 and #7. Evidently, the higher the number the thicker the dough sheet. So, if given a choice, select #7. It’s still pretty thin but it is just thick enough to be a tad bit easier to use. I probably should amend the recipe above to include this info, eh?

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  9. I love this recipe for spanakyp.. tryptospan.. takiopita… Lol… (cut and paste used here) Spanakotyropitákia! There! I can’t wait to try these (like all of your recipes). Your trip to Greece must have been wonderful, I hope to get there some day myself. I was finishing your sentence in my mind.. when you wrote: “In short, taste the filling..” and I was sure you were going to write “again and again until all that’s left to do is lick the spoon” 🙂 I’m glad you had a wonderful little holiday and happy to see you back online:) xo Smidge

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    • Ha! I only printed it once myself and then copied & pasted it throughout the post — and I still haven’t attempted to say the name aloud. You know me too well, Barb. I was raiding that spinach filling right up until I added the raw egg. The combo of lemon zest, dill, and spinach is an irresistible one for me. Thanks, Barb, for leaving another great comment and for your welcoming words.

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  10. Yum. That’s all I need to say. Your baked phyllo triangles look gorgeous and make me want to eat them right now, even though I had a good breakfast. What could be better than spinach and feta and lemon and dill? I am a little afraid of phyllo and so I make various fakes out of pie crust, wonton wrappers, etc, but someday I’ll get my courage up and use the real deal — maybe the Daring Bakers will put me up to it.

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    • Thank you, Sharyn. As I mentioned to Sarah moments ago, I’ve had my problems with phyllo, too. This time, though, I learned that phyllo comes in varying thickness. The larger the number, the thicker the dough sheet. I used #7 for this post and it was easier to work with. Still, we’re talking about phyllo dough sheets and no matter the number, they are all very, very thin.

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  11. Welcome back! I did catch a comment on your last post indicating you would be visiting Zia and out of town, otherwise I would’ve worried! Glad it was a good visit. Thanks for bringing back my memories of Greece, always a favorite. Somehow when you’re there, the ouzo doesn’t seem as potent as it actually is…and did you try raki? I began to crave spanako-whatever when I saw Tanya’s post and now I REALLY want to make some. Yours looks wonderful and delicious, and perfect for this time of year.

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    • Thank you, Betsy, it’s good to be back — if I ever get caught up here, that is.
      So you were in Greece, too? Did you tour the mainland or the islands, or both? I loved every minute of it. What a vacation!
      This recipe makes a good dozen pies, depending upon the amount of filling you place into each one. That’s perfect for me. Being single, i can freeze them and cook as many as needed whenever I like. It’s nice have such a great treat in the freezer.
      Whether you make mine or Tanya’s, I hope you enjoy them as much as she & I do. 🙂

      I forgot to mention the raki. I do remember trying it when we were in Chania on Crete. It reminded me of anisette and I’m not much of a fan of either, I’m afraid. Ouzo, though, was a different story completely!

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      • Both, but mainly islands. We were there for 2 1/2 weeks on our honeymoon. It was early spring and the winds were too high to island hop by boat, plus it was during Easter so we couldn’t go as many places because transportation was limited, but that turned out to be a blessing. We were on Santorini for 5 days, Mykonos/Delos for 2 days, 8 days in Crete, Athens for 3 days. I loved every minute of it, too, and adored the food everywhere we went! Crete is one of my favorite places I’ve been to in the world, and I’d love to go back to Greece someday and see (and eat) more of it.

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        • We always did our traveling at summer’s end, Betsy, timing our tour so that we would arrive just before the resorts closed. We got very good rates, the weather was still warm enough to take advantage of the beaches, and the tourist crowds were all but gone. A couple times we were the only guests in the hotel. Talk about good service! Like you, I’d love to go back and eat my way across Greece again.

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  12. Excellent – coincidentally I have made thousands of those. I worked for a catering company in the US and all the referrals we got wanted the same food they’d had at some other banquet/dinner – this was the very favourite, I made 50 – 100 every other day!

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    • Where was ya when I needed ya, MD? It seemed to take me forever to get going. Just as I seemed to have found my rhythm, I ran out of filling. It’s been too many years since I last made them and it was like starting all over again. I cannot imagine making thousands of them, though. Surely, somewhere in Dante’s “Inferno”, is mention of a level in Hell where spanakópita is made by hapless souls using defective phyllo sheets. 🙂

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  13. “Man does not munch on gyros ” but he does apparently live on ouzo 🙂
    A great post John. I’ve had the good fortune of having visited Greece a number of times over the years, I just love it – from the gyros to the ouzo to the pies! I like your addition of lemon I’m going to try that out the next time I make these, I love making them for parties of picnics so easy. and the Turkish versions are Borek – the cigar shaped ones. YUM !!!

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    • Isn’t Greece incredible? I, too, was in Turkey (Istanbul & Ephesus) but don’t recall having any Borek. I feel very fortunate to have visited some of the places that I’ve seen. Have you blogged your recipe(s) for these pies? I’d be very interested in seeing and trying them. I’m already going to make Tanya’s recipe with salmon. That, too, sounds delicious!

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        • Thanks, Claire. I, too, would so love to go back to Greece one day. It was such a wonderful holiday. I checked out your recipe for borek and they sound very tasty, too. I even googled how to make Haloumi. It is surprisingly simple, in light of my experience with feta & mozzarella. Still, I think I’m about at my limit with cheese making. If I start making any more, I’ll need to move nearer to a dairy farm. I’m growing tired of the raised eyebrows at the grocery checkout as I unload a cart with nothing in it but whole milk, buttermilk, yogurt, half-and-half, and heavy cream. 🙂

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  14. With my English and my no Greek, I not going to try to write the name of your marvelous dish (not even copy and paste), but it looks so so delicious, enticing … 😉
    I loved the story behind the recipe and the quest for “THE RECIPE”, I also loved the step by step pics you offered to us, now I just need to try these at home to see if I love the flavor too (but we all know the answer to that question…)
    Have a lovely day John 🙂

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    • I don’t know how to pronounce it wither, Giovanna, and haven’t even tried. 🙂
      I really do need to pull together all of my old recipes and put them into my Mac. I’ve got quite a few already stored but, as I’m finding out, there are many more to get sorted and re-written.
      I hope you try these, Giovanna, and enjoy them as much as I do. Thank you and have a great day, too.

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  15. Your spinach look tasty. Everyone in my family loves spinach, can’t wait to make this for them. Haven’t found baby artichoks yet, still looking. Thank you for sharing.

    BE ENCOURAGE! BE BLESSED!

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    • How does swiss chard sound to you? Any better? That’s the primary ingredient in the filling for my family’s cacioni, our “spinach pie”. In fact, I’m sure you could use just about any green leafy vegetable you prefer in the filling. Just be sure to precook it and drain it very, very well. Good luck and, if you do make some with a different filling, please come back to tell us how it went. I’d be very interested to hear your news. 🙂

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  16. Welcome back. Everyone missed you. AND your comments. I think the daily stats were down a bit, what with the holiday weekend and no Chicago John comments.
    These look great and your step by step with the pesky phyllo make it possible for the enthusiastic novice. And a terrific shot of “just about to take another bite of the scrumptious filling and crust”!
    I loved the description of the ouzo shots and then another round! Sounds like a memorable trip.
    I know you and Zia enjoyed being together. Spotty internet connection can be so frustrating but also a relief if it just can’t be gotten no matter what and you don’t check to see if it is working.
    Thanks for all your comments on the blogs. I know I am the worst in the acknowledgement department but do appreciate your making time to write.

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    • Thanks, Ruth, for the nice welcome! I had a wonderful time with Zia and her neighbors. I’ve no idea why the internet service was so bad but, like you mentioned, once I gave up trying to get through, my visit improved greatly.
      No matter what you call them, spinach pies are a tasty treat and I still can’t resist ordering one when I’m in a Greek restaurant. It’s great having some in the freezer. 🙂
      Thank you, too, for acknowledging the comments I’ve left on your blogs. I enjoy your photography and get a kick out of seeing where Flat Ruthie ends up. She is one well-travelled flat, that’s for sure.

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  17. I’m sure you had a very special visit with your Zia. Does she know how many of us think fondly of her? You probably tell her, but I wonder if she really knows how she has added to our imaginations through your family stories. And of course, recipes! This is one of my favorites…and it hardly needs to be said that I’ve never made it myself. LOL! You have made it about as simple as one could for such a great taste, so although phyllo does intimidate me a bit, I am sure I could get the hang of it! I don’t care what it’s called, I always know what we’re talking about when someone references “those little spinach triangles.” And I can hardly imagine how much feta you have! But there’s nothing better! Debra

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    • Yes, Debra, I make sure Zia is well aware of your well wishes. This time, though, because of the internet service problems, it was mostly by word-of-mouth. I just couldn’t get but a couple posts to download properly. I brought feta with me, too. We had it in our salads and one afternoon we made spanakotyropitákia. She now has a supply of the pies in her freezer, too. All in all, it was a great visit and I can’t wait to get back there next month. Thank you for always dropping by to comment, Debra. 🙂

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  18. Welcome back! Ahhhh spanakop….a rose by any other name…
    I love this dish and make it regularly. I’ve even blogged about it! I don’t think my recipe has the lemon but you know it will the next time (I still have a dozen or so in the freezer from my last marathon).
    Your trip to Greece sounds incredible. I’d love to travel there and see all the ancient ruins that I studied at University…one day!

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    • Thanks, Eva, for the welcome! I just checked out your recipe for the pies. It sounds very good, especially adding zucchini to the mix.

      Considering how much you enjoyed, Morocco, I’m sure you would thoroughly enjoy Greece. I’m a tactile person. Being able to walk up to and touch the Parthenon and the Palace on Knossos were thrills beyond description. And, as I mentioned, the food. I was in heaven! I do hope that you & JT can get over there one day soon. 🙂

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  19. Oh, yum! (But the Ouzo story makes my head hurt…)
    And, as acouple of others have said, THANK YOU for the clear, step-by-step directions for using the phyllo…I’ve never had any success with it. The first time I bought some (years ago) I confused it with puff pastry. You can imagine the disappointment…

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    • Hello, Marie. I’m not going to lie and claim that I didn’t have problems with phyllo. No, I tossed a few sheets but, luckily, I had just enough stuffing that I had a few sheets to spare. And it does get easier. It’s been years since I made them and made one batch for the post and another again with Zia. The batch with Zia went much more smoothly. It just takes practice. 🙂

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  20. What a great post. Loved the story of your travels and the hunt for this recipe! This reminds me that I haven’t made spanokopita in years, in fact not since I was in my twenties. I made a huge batch of them for a party, and I must say I’m impressed now that my young self took on such an ambitious project! Thanks for reminding me of this!

    I love the tip about freezing them. It would be great to take some to the cottage to heat up for dinner with a salad made with offerings from the local farm stand.

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    • Thanks, Mar. I give you credit for tackling these pies as a young cook — and for a party, no less. That takes courage! Funny you mention a salad made from a farm stand’s offerings. Since returning home, all I’ve thought about is buying baby salad greens from the farmers market early Saturday morning. Lunch that day will be a spanakotyropitákia with a nice salad. The only thing better than having these pies in the freezer is having these pies in the freezer and an open farmers market nearby. YAY! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kay. Good to see you out & about again! Glad you like coming here. I really enjoy the sights & collections you provide us on your site. It’s a treat of a different kind!

      Like

  21. I thought you were going to post a recipe for making phyllo dough also. Just kidding.
    Like you idea of adding lemon zest to the filling. I may even add lemon zest to my stir-fry spinach, thanks for giving me the idea.

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  22. Wow, what a journey, John, to get that perfect recipe! It seems like it was completely worth it, though – these look absolutely mouth-watering. (And welcome back!)

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    • Thank you, Courtney. I really do like spinach pies and still order them whenever I’m in a Greek restaurant. Agreed, it was a bit of a hassle getting to the recipe but, for my tastes, it was well worth it. 🙂

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    • Thank you for dropping by. It sounds like you need to make yourself some pies. If you can’t make ’em, find a Greek market. They’re sure to have some either fresh or in the freezer section. Soon you’ll have all that your hands can handle.

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  23. I love spinach pies! My in’laws are Armenian and they use to make it homemade but now we just buy them at the restaurant or buy them at….don’t laugh….we buy them at Costo! LOL They do sell a great tasting spinach pie, forgot the name brand but are amazing. I will have to try to make these soon, my mother in law is in town the next few weeks!

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    • I’m pretty much a newcomer to Costco and have to admit that I’m surprised at some of the quality items that I’ve come across. Their olive oil is highly regarded. They’ve a nice selection of cheeses, including bufalo mozzarella. And if I’m making brodetto or a seafood pasta with clams and/or mussels, I’ll head there and save a few dollars. Now, I’m going to look for spinach pies, too. Thanks for the heads-up, Lisa. 🙂

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  24. John this just looks fantastic! I love spinach pies – especially with feta. And the lemon sounds wonderful. I’d totally go for zest and juice. I’m not too big on dill, but hints of it, I don’t mind. I’d love to get to Greece someday. It’s definitely on my list of places to visit. Until then…this recipe and Greektown will have to suffice. 🙂

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    • Kristy, I don’t doubt that there’s at least one European holiday in your family’s future. The SousChefs may be a bit young for it now but, if they’re going to be successful restauranteurs, they’re going to need the exposure to Italian, French, & Greek cuisines. Going to Little Italy or Greektown just won’t do it for them.

      (Pssst. I’m trying to lay the groundwork for your future attempt to claim said trips as business write-offs.)

      Yes, as you can see, my recipe is lacking that authentic touch, the kind that only a trip to Greece could supply. 😉

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  25. Last Christmas I bought some frozen Spanakotyropitákia from the supermarket and enjoyed them. I think next time I will try making them – I am sure they will taste even better. I appreciate all your photos detailing how to make them.

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    • I may have written the title but the only pronunciation that I’m sure of is the first of the three. Ya know, Jed, just this evening, I sad to my Zia that it had been too too long since I’ve been over there. I need to get back.

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    • The best thing aobut these, Kathryn, is that they freeze so well. A few hours spent one afternoon and you’ve got spanakópita whenever you want. You can’t beat it!

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  26. Ha ha! I love the story about the book. Translations here can be atrocious! Now they’ve discovered Google translator they’ve moved on to a whole different level! My favourite one was when I was little, watching a tv show (always subtitles here, no dubbing thank goodness) and a character shouted “Duck” when someone threw something at someone else. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Subs read duck as in quack quack. Mum and I laughed all through the rest of the show! I mean, didn’t they even wonder what a bird had to do with anything at that point?? Glad you enjoyed the visit!

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    • “Duck!” Too funny! I have an Italian cookbook with translation errors, too. The difference, though, is that I can ask my Zia what she thinks they meant. I have no Greek speaking friend or relatives to help me with this Greek cookbook.
      That trip to Greece and the Islands was one of my favorites. We were treated royally wherever we went, saw sights that I’d only dreamt I’d ever see, and ate some fantastic food. I’d go back in a heartbeat if I could.

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  27. While I love spanakópita, I love your story of the ouzo and gardoubes more. I remember buying téquila shots for another table back and forth one night. Festive, memorable, and ill-advised unless someone’s willing to hold your hair for you while the alcohol takes its revenge later on lol. And you can never have enough lemon 🙂

    You know, out of curiousity I googled gardoubes and came across two sites that referred to what sounds like your dish but with different spellings, gardoumia and garthoubes. I’ve included the links here if you’re still having a craving. Very fascinating although somewhat labor intensive. I used to dislike tripe cuz it was too chewy for me until my neighborhood trattoria served it as a small plate simmered with tomatoes and white beans. So tender and delicious. Too bad “offal” sounds like “awful” cuz it can taste great.

    This one has a family recipe with a great personal story
    http://www.organicallycooked.com/2009/07/gardoumia-koilidakia.html

    And this one has a little video tutorial on how to wash the intestines
    http://mygreekrecipes.com/index.php/en/garthoubes-lamb-offar-wrapped-with-intestines

    Wow. That was a lot of text!

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    • Thanks, Cam, for your comments and research. I checked out both sites and we were served gardoubes that were grilled and wrapped in caul fat, a thin membrane. It certainly would make the preparation easier than having to deal with intestines. You’re right, though, the preparation is still a bit of a commitment beginning with finding the ingredients. I guess I’ll just have to go back to Greece to have some. “)
      I’ve posted my family’s method of preparing tripa, trippa, you can see it HERE if you’re interested.

      Like

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