Monday, 20 August 2012

Tiropita - Greek Cheese Pies

There is Spanakopita which is Spinach and Feta or Tiropita which is just cheese. You can make Tiropita with just straight feta or if you find it too salty you can make it with equal amounts of ricotta and feta.
I like it with just feta. 

"The Dad" was here visiting and he loves this so I made it for him. He comes from northern Greece and they just call this Pita in his family. Big Pete wouldn't eat this if you paid him. All I can say is there ain't no accounting for taste! That boy just don't get it. This stuff is delicious.

 I normally make little phyllo triangles because I like the flaky phyllo to cheese ratio but, "The Dad" likes it as a pie and not just the normal thickness of cheese, he likes it with lots of cheese. I just folded over the bottom layer of phyllo and made it twice as thick as normal.

 You can make it any way you like it, full tray, half tray or individual triangles.

 When I eat Tiropita I always think of my dear friends Mary Ann and George and parties in their backyard with a million relatives and a million trays of good food! Thanks Mary Ann for making this always taste so much better because of my memories.

You will need:

2 pkgs (400 grams) feta cheese = 2 1/2 cups crumbled
2 eggs
1/4 tsp ground fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp lemon zest
10 sheets of phyllo dough
1/2 stick butter - melted

optional use equal parts of ricotta cheese and feta

Step 1: buy the best quality feta you can. I always say that the feta imported from Greece is far superior in texture and taste in my opinion. I also could not find any so I had to use a Canadian one (I will find a good gourmet market in my new town soon! I miss Lepp Farm Market so much) Crumble the feta with your fingers and add the eggs, lemon zest and freshly ground nutmeg.

Step 2: I have used a 9 x 13 inch (quarter sheet) pan that I have lined with parchment paper for easy removal and so I don't have to cut the Tiropita in the pan and scratch it. I take a thawed (read box for instructions) sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Fold over the sheet and brush with more butter. I repeat with 5 sheets which makes 10 layers. I like this size of sheet pan because it fits a folded piece of phyllo almost perfectly. Normally I would spoon on the filling and then top with 5 more buttered sheets. The Dad wanted his pie thick so instead I just spooned the filling on half and folded it over like a big turnover.

If you want to make triangles cut the phyllo into long strips horizontally and then place a small amount of cheese on one edge and fold like a flag. I also like to wrap each triangle in 2 buttered sheets of phyllo so the filling stays contained nicely when baking. I also love the triangles because you can fill then and freeze them for a later date.

Step 3: brush with more melted butter and bake at 350 degrees F until browned nicely. Approx 30 minutes but watch it to be sure.

It's delicious served warm and it can be stored in the fridge covered for a few days. To get the phyllo flaky again just reheat for a few minutes in the oven and it gets to be good as freshly baked.

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