posted by SueFreeman 05-09-101 10:32 PM
Spanakopeta (Spinach Pie)
Recipes by chef..... Heather Nicolozakes
3-4 (10 ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, * see note
1 cup chopped onions, sauteed
1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
1 (16 oz) container of cottage cheese
1/2 lb crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup cream of wheat, *see note
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill (more or less to your taste)
1 lb box filo dough, thawed out
1/2 lb. Clarified butter, *see note
(can make this low fat by using all low fat products and egg beaters. Do not substitute butter though and do not use No-fat cream cheese, but you can use the 1/3 less)
Defrost and drain all water from spinach. It must be dry. Squeeze it in a towel or paper towels or cheesecloth or pan dry over low heat. But it must be dry.
Drain all cheeses of liquids that are formed on top as you open them. Not necessary to put them in colanders and drain them just pour off liquids on the tops.
Saute the onion and drain on paper towels.
Mix spinach with all the cheeses and onion. Mix well. Add eggs, cream of wheat and dill and mix again til well blended.
Grease a jelly roll pan with butter and line the pan with 10 sheets of filo, brushing each sheet with clarified butter. The filo will just fit in this pan with the exception of about 1/2 inch on one side. Just fold over and brush down. Alternating sides.
When done, spread spinach mixture over the top carefully and pull mixture from sides of pan so you can tuck down the top layers.
Top with sheets of filo on top brushing each one as you did below folding over the edge of the first 7 layers. On the rest of the layers just let it hang over the edges. Make sure all sheets are buttered well and smoothed down with the palm of your hand so it is laying flat as it can. It will puff up if it isn't. Butter the top layer very well.
When all 10 layers are on top then with a butter knife pick up the corner of one edge and tuck under the filo. Make sure all edges are buttered well. Sprinkle with water and rub in it. You don't want it watered down and soggy with water, but put your fingers in a bowl and sprinkle it over the filo a few times. This helps weight down the filo and keeps it from puffing up. If you use clairified butter this little water will not hurt it. It really does work!! Her grandmother sprinkled sesame seeds on top to hold it down, but sesame seeds are not Greek and some of the Greek Women complained.
Now you want to cut it in a dotted lines lengthwise with the tip of the knife. Don't cut through it in squares, but just dot it down. Then do the same across but do not cut into other cuts. So you want a square cut for each piece but not a complete cut from corner to corner. The filo will puff up and curl if you do. You will finish cutting the squares and cut all of it when it is done.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown. It will take at least 45 minutes. If it is getting too brown on top too quickly, move the rack down and turn down oven a little or the bottom will not be done properly.
Now if you like this recipe you can double the filling recipe and freeze that half to use later, just wrap it well.
You can also take the filo out of the box and cut in half before unrolling. Then unroll and fold up 1/3 of one sheet from bottom and using clairifed butter, butter the top half. Put a good T of filling or more in center and fold over in thirds. Then fold like flag making a triangle. Making sure you fold over and butter the top part to be even with triangle. Butter well and place in a jelly roll pan. If you place large end of triangle up against the edge of the pan you can put four pieces with the points touching and wide sides out making a square and get a whole sheet of them to bake.
OR... you can make a strudel out of the filling. Buttering and layering 4 sheets of filo and filling with filling down one end and rolling up. Butter well and place seam side down.
OR... get the little fluted filo cups and fill those and bake for appetizers.
You can freeze all these. Then bake frozen. Do not thaw out the filled filo before baking, but bake frozen. About 20 minutes in 350 oven. Baking times will differ but always bake at 350 in center of oven and when golden browned then it is done. To reheat one that is a leftover, put in 250 oven for 10 minutes until warm.
*Spinach: She said to use BIRDSEYE. It has no stems in it and is less bitter than other frozen spinach. You can buy cheaper brands but it is harder to cut because they add stems. She said she has tried them all and always goes back to this You can use fresh spinach, just wash and dry it well and chop it up.
*Cream of wheat: You can use small pearl tapioca or cream of rice cereal here too. But you have to drain everything pretty good so it isn't soggy and sometimes there isn't enough moisture for the tapioca and it stays harder than the cream of wheat.
*Clarified Butter: This is necessary. Do not use just plain melted butter but take the time to clarify it. There is a recipe for Ghee in the archives. It is easy to do. But if you use just plain melted butter the cream in the butter makes the filo soggy and not crispy and you don't get that even golden color that is so desirable.
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