Thursday, October 18, 2012

Homemade Spanakopitas

Cooking the same few dishes over and over again gets boring after a while, so every once in a while, I challenge myself to try a new dish. Recently, I've been trying to learn a dish or two from various cuisines. I was feeling like Greek food.

Spanakopitas are one of my favourite hors d'oeuvres so that's what I went with.

I made mine roughly based on a recipe found here.

125mL vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped finely
250g frozen spinach (I used fresh) - thawed, drained and squeezed dry
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp plain flour
125g feta cheese, crumbled
4 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1 box phyllo pastry (I used puff pastry), thawed

1. Prep ingredients:
Chop up fresh dill and onions.

This was my first time cooking with dill and my only prior experience with it was in dill pickle chips. The whole time I was chopping the dill, all I could think of was how soft and fluffy it was, and that my fingers were going to smell like dill pickle chips.

Blanch, drain and squeeze dry spinach.

The recipe called for frozen spinach, which I didn't have, so I had a look around the internet and found that frozen spinach is blanched before it's frozen. Then I had to figure out how to blanch spinach.

I spent the next little while blanching spinach. Honestly, this was the one part of the recipe (I read through multiple recipes before I actually make a new food) that held me back from making it for so long but it was such an easy technique! Who knew!

In case you're ever wondering, this is what 250g of spinach looks like after it has been blanched, drained and squeezed out. Yum.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir onions until softened. 

3. Mix in spinach, dill and flour. It took a little effort to coax the spinach ball out of its shape but eventually, all the ingredients were mixed together. 

4. Mix in feta cheese, eggs, salt and pepper.
At this point, I my thinking cap was functioning in high gear and I got my own ideas of how things should be. I regularly deviate from recipe directions and almost never follow a recipe to the letter. It's a character flaw.

Anyway, I looked at the contents of my pan and thought, "hey, that isn't what the filling normally looks like!" and that's when I decided to make use of that immersion blender I bought a year ago to make baby food for Caleb. I gave the ingredients a quick whiz.

Then, I whizzed some more until everything was the consistency of baby food, warmed it back up on the stove, and then mixed in the feta, egg, salt and pepper.

Tip: It's a good idea to actually crumble the feta before you toss it in. Makes life a little easier.

5. Lay out a sheet of puff pastry and cut into 16 squares.
I didn't have phyllo pastry that the recipe called for, but I did have puff pastry so I cut each sheet into small squares.

Just take a butter knife and slide it down the middle in half, then half the halves. Turn 90 degrees and repeat. Extremely mathematical.

6. Spoon filling into the middle of each square and close.
That's when I realized the whole whizzing bit might not have been a good idea. Had I not blended my spinach into a green smoothie, it wouldn't have been so runny (aka too wet to spoon onto the pastry). But since I had, and there was no going back so I stuck the pan back onto my stove and cooked the mix a bit, hoping to set it.

Once that was done, I spooned filling onto each square, folded each into a triangle and pressed the edges close.

Repeat this 87 times.

Bake at 180C for 25 minutes (original recipe says 45-60minutes).

Then, voila! Spanakopitas!

Next time, instead of blending my filling into a puree, I'll try chopping my onions and spinach smaller. The whole reason I decided to blend was because I thought the pieces looked too big.
Looking back on the original recipe, I think I'll definitely use puff pastry again instead of phyllo pastry. Phyllo pastry is too finicky for me. The puff pastry was easy to work with and it turned out well.

When I was about half way through making these lovely triangles, Andrew wandered down and asked what we were having for breakfast the next morning. I looked down at the dozens of spanakopitas laid out in front of me. He suggested that maybe that would be too many to have for breakfast so I froze them on the baking sheets as they were made and transferred them to a container when they were solid.

Then, voila! Homemade frozen hors d'oeuvres!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...