This weekend, I'll be attending the 3rd Annual Friendster. While it may sound like the name of a defunct social network, it's actually an Easter potluck with my degenerate group of friends. Last year's bounty was quite interesting -- from my homemade spinach bread and raspberry French macarons to a bag of McGangBangs. Yes, you read that correctly.
This year, I'll be making one of my family's favorite Easter treats: spanakopita and tiropita, or Greek spinach and cheese pies.
Layers of crisp, buttery phyllo dough are filled with garlic-studded spinach and tangy feta cheese, or creamy ricotta, crumbled feta and eggs. These pastries make the perfect springtime treat and are super easy to make for a crowd.
Ingredients yields about 30 triangles
To make filling:
Heat one half tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and spinach, cooking until spinach is wilted, about two minutes. Remove from pan and let cool slightly then use a towel or mesh strainer to squeeze excess liquid.
Heat another one half tbsp oil in the skillet and add chopped mint and scallions. Cook for two to three minutes until softened. Add in drained spinach and season with paprika, salt and pepper. Let cook for another two to three minutes. Remove from pan and let cool. Once cooled, mix with egg and crumbled feta until well combined.
To form triangles:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking sheet with butter.
Unroll phyllo sheets and cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out. Remove one sheet and arrange onto a clean work surface with a long side nearest you (while working, keep the remaining sheets covered with a towel). Brush the sheet lightly with butter. Top with another sheet and brush with butter once more.
Using a sharp knife, cut the buttered phyllo stack lengthwise to form six strips (about 12-by-2 3/4 inches each).
Drop a heaping teaspoon of filling onto one of the bottom corners of each strip. Fold phyllo over filling, enclosing to form a triangle. Continue folding upward, folding the strip over itself to maintain triangle shape (like folding up a flag). Repeat the process to make six triangles, then repeat entire process until all the filling is done.
Place the triangles, seam side down, onto baking sheet and brush tops with butter. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden-brown and crisp. Serve hot.
Can be made up to three days ahead of time: Just form the pastry triangles and freeze, but do not bake until day of.
Tiropita yields about 30 triangles
To make the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add in feta, parmesan and ricotta cheeses and the zest of 1 lemon. Season with pepper to taste. Add up to two tbsp of flour to thicken mixture as needed.
To form triangles: Follow the same process of filling, folding and baking as directed above.