Strangely enough, after coming back from Oslo, I found myself reminiscing Greece. One of the things unique to Greek cuisine is the Spanakitiropita, or more commonly known as Spanakopita, which is a spinach and feta cheese pie. There are proper better recipes out there but here’s how I did mine, as little tarts.
Stuff you’ll need:
- 3 eggs
- 200g of feta
- 75g of cheddar
- a bag of prewashed spinach leaves
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- olive oil
- a box of filo pastry
- a 12-hole shallow muffin tray
- First things first, get everything ready. Preheat the oven to 200°C, boil about 2 pints of water, get a pot on the hob on low heat.
- Next, into the mixing bowl, crack the eggs and dump in the cheeses. Add the lemon zest and dried oregano as well. Pepper goes in as well. Stir about and stop before it’s all smooth. In this case, chunky is pretty good.
- When the water has boiled, empty the bag of spinach into the pot on the hob, then pour the boiling water in, just enough to wilt all the spinach leaves. Add a sprinkle of salt and toss about. The leaves should wilt in about 40 seconds or less. Once wilted, turn off the hob and drain the spinach leaves. Add them to the mixing bowl and mix everything about.
- Get your muffin tray ready. Then, on a board, lay out a layer of filo pastry from the box. Half it lengthways and sideways so you get four individual pieces. Drizzle olive oil and pat each of them so they are coated evenly. Sprinkle paprika over the pieces. Layer each of them atop each other. Don’t worry if they’re broken here and there. Once done, lay it in a well of your muffin tray. Repeat for all 12 holes; you should only need 12 layers of filo pastry then.
- Fill the wells of filo with the spinach and cheese filling, or with spanakitiro. Pardon my urge to speak Greek. Wrap the little tarts up erratically.
- Pop them into the bottom rack of the oven. Welcome the Aroma Fairies into your kitchen.
- Take those babies out when they’re golden brown and let them rest for about 10 minutes or so, while you salivate.
- Wait some more if you want. If not, DIG IN.
There are a couple of things that are absolutely necessary in a couscous dish, especially if you’re making one ‘cos you crave the rich flavour of the brilliant Mediterranean. Oregano and Cumin are essential. Unfortunately, I had a craving and had no cumin powder of any sort. But here are the ingredients I used to satisfy the craving as best as I could:
- Onions, preferably red.
- Mushrooms, just because.
- Balsamic vinegar, for ZING.
- Garlic, for wholesomeness.
- Parsley, for healthy colour.
- Oregano, essential.
- Sage, as a pathetic substitute for Cumin.
- Tomato puree, for lush redness.
Roasted root vegetables like aubergines or cucumbers would’ve been lovely. Bell peppers even. But I really had to make do with what I had in the fridge and great thing I had Asparagus and Greek Feta to save the day.
With no idea what to have for dinner tonight, I scampered in and around some food blogs. (Okay, actually just one.) And I saw SOUVLAKI. Eating that nearly everyday for TEN days in Greece, I thought I’d be pretty damn sick of it. Funny enough, tonight I desired that aroma and flavour.
So I made a checklist:
- Beef – Checked
- Oregano – Checked
- Dill – Not checked
- Skewers – Not checked
- Flatbread – Not checked
- Yoghurt – Not checked
- Garlic – Checked
- Cucumber – Not checked
- Red Onions – Not checked
Well, with practically nothing on that checklist, I made a couple of substitutes and came up with this:
Terrible and yellow, I know. I was desperate (and lazy).
Besides, it tasted GOOD.
Today, I choose option #4.
1. Piperies Yemistes
2. Psari a la Spetsiota
3. Scorthalia Salata
4. All of the Above
1. Piperies Yemistes (Stuffed Peppers)
- The sweet yet peppery twang of the capsicums merging completely with grainy rice, earthy with the taste of mushrooms and onions
- And the flowery aroma of sage and thyme
- With the occasional treat of bittersweet charred bits of vegetable
2. Psari a la Spetsiota (Baked Fish “Greek Island”)
- The sour and savoury created by the tease of white wine and vinegar
- The playful wholeness of rosemary and garlic – a match made in heaven
- How your teeth sinks into each bite, greeting a crisp crunch of breadcrumbs, followed by a plunge into the tender white fish
3. Scorthalia Salata (Garlic Sauce Salad)
- All of the flavours above appropriately punctuated by nutty wild rocket leaves and clean watercress, sitting in a sour garlic peanut sauce.
Where their powers combined, a time machine was created; I am transported back to Santorini in Greece.