Spanakopita

I have a friend that loves Greek food, I mean LOVE and she is Italian. I remember making individual triangle spanakopitas, from none other than Ina Garten, for a school project and a friend of ours did not want to eat it so he threw it out. Needless to say, she was quite sad about it. So this is for you Lauren!
If you happen to live in New York and travel to Astoria, where Greek food is prominent, you should check out Titan foods. It’s a Greek supermarket with every Greek food imaginable.

Spanakopita
Adapted from Food.com
The recipe for this spanakopita is different than that one I made before because I made it into a large pie, phyllo dough, filling, phyllo dough. I learned that this is the true way it is made from an authentic Greek person and from reading multiple recipes.
I took a shortcut when oiling the phyllo dough. I used cooking spray instead of brushing on extra virgin olive oil since it was so much easier. I also, (you don’t have to do this) added panko bread crumbs in between the layers with the olive oil to help separate the layers.

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All the lovely ingredients. Sadly the lighting was bad so I needed to use flash and I really don’t like to use flash.
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Spinach mixture with feta cheese!
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Spreading out the ingredients on the of the bottom layer of phyllo dough.
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Covering the filling with the remaining phyllo dough and sprinkling a little panko in between the layers.
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Look the flaky golden brown goodness!
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Yum! the spinach and feta cheese!
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Pastry :
1 lb country-style phyllo pastry (if you can’t get that, regular phyllo pastry will do)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Spinach Filling :
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs spinach, cleaned, tough stems removed (you can use frozen spinach)
6 spring onions, cleaned, sliced in 1/4 inch lengths
1 leek, white and tender part of green, cleaned, sliced in 1/4 inch lengths (if very large, slice leek in half lengthwise before slicing)
1 medium red onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup fresh dill, minced
1/2 – 1 lb (1-2 cups) feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and leek until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and saute until the leaves have wilted. Then remove the spinach mixture from the pan and drain out the water.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool somewhat. When cool enough to handle, finely chop the spinach and place in a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Lightly oil a 12 inch in diameter, metal baking pan (you can use a larger baking pan – you will just have a thinner pie, but don’t use a smaller one), or a 10 x 15 inch rectangular baking pan.

Add dill and feta cheese to the spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste (careful with the salt – the feta will add quite a bit of its own). Pour the eggs over and give a stir to combine well.

Open up the phyllo pastry and place on a work surface. If using the country style pastry proceed, if using the thinner phyllo; cover with a damp cloth. (Continue to cover the pastry sheets with the damp cloth each time you remove one as you prepare the pie.).

Layer the phyllo in the pan, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the pan, brushing each phyllo layer generously with olive oil.
Use up half the phyllo sheets (about 10 sheets) to make the bottom pastry layer, allowing excess pastry to drape over edge of pan.

Put the spinach mixture in and press the top down gently to smooth filling. Tuck in the pastry draping over the edges.
Repeat layering with the remaining phyllo, oiling each sheet generously.

Using a sharp knife, score the upper layers of pastry into the size pieces you will want to serve once the pie is baked- BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THROUGH BOTTOM PASTRY.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until it is golden brown.
Cool till just warm. Cut into serving pieces and serve either just warm or at room temperature. .

French apple tart

A Happy belated Mother’s Day!! I hope everyone celebrated with their loved ones.
Now I did not forget my blog I have just been busy studying and studying for yucky tests and sadly I still have more. But today, and yesterday, I am taking a break. So on with the baking! This French apple tart is a dainty simple dessert that I saw Ina Garten make on tv and my oh my did it look delicious!

French Apple Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten
Don’t have a food processor, not to worry. I use a knife and cut them into tiny pieces then add them into the flour.
I find that the water you need to add in the pastry dough is never enough. Add more water till the dough comes together and if you add too much water, put a bit more flour to make it less sticky and watery.
If you have some oddly shaped sliced apples don’t worry about it, just place it in the same pattern and if there are tiny spaces left on the pastry, just make your own shape out of the apple slices. No one will notice because they will be too busy enjoy it!
When making this I suggest you sprinkle the sugar at least one inch away from the border of the pastry because the sugar and apple juices will melt and burn the edges of the pastry. Burnt sugar tastes kind of good but its no fun trying to pry it off the baking sheet.
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Apples, apples, apples…I think I cut too many but its okay, more for me to work with.

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Rolled out that dough.

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Apples laid out nicely in a type of fish scale pattern. Sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter.

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Out of the oven and into my tummy.

Pastry dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar 1

2 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup ice water

Apples

4 Granny Smith apples

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, small diced

1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam

2 tablespoons  water

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices.  Sprinkle with the full 1/4 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper or foil. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.