Sunday, January 13, 2013

Koula's Spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie)

There's something about the combination of salty cheese, squishy spinach and crispy pastry that really starts the party for my tastebuds. It's so yum, and so Greek, and yay for me it's vegetarian!



Unlike my other attempts at preparing Greek pastry-based dishes, my efforts with spanakopita at home have been mildly successful. But mildly is not mind-blowingly. I'll leave that to the spanakopita expert, my aunt Koula.

Here is her recipe for a great big tray of spanakopita, fit for a tastebud party, or any party at all.



Koula's Spanakopita


Ingredients

1kg frozen chopped spinach
2 bunches of spring onions, finely chopped
4 leeks, finely chopped
200g feta cheese, crumbled
300g ricotta cheese, roughly chopped
80g parmesan cheese, grated
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons semolina
8 sheets of filo pastry
1 large sheet of puff pastry (to cover baking dish)
200g melted butter for brushing pastry

Method

Preheat fan-forced oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Slowly defrost and heat up the frozen spinach in a large pot with the lid on. You will probably need a larger pot than the one Koula used – she struggled to keep the mixture from overflowing once the other ingredients were added!

Meanwhile, in a separate pan fry the spring onions and leeks on low heat until softened. Add onion mixture to spinach and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat.



Combine the cheeses in a large bowl and mix well by cutting through cheeses with a spatula or fork. Add cheese mixture to spinach and onion mixture and mix thoroughly.




Add semolina to the mixture – this is to help absorb some of the liquid from the spinanch.



Add eggs and combine well.



Lay 8 sheets of filo pastry in a large baking dish, brushing with melted butter between each sheet.



Pour the entire spinach mixture over the filo pastry. If you are using the gigantic Greek filo sheets, do what Koula does and fold the pastry over the mixture so it all fits snuggly in the baking dish. If you are in Australia our filo pastry sheets are smaller and should fit the baking dish you are using without the need to fold the pastry.



Ensure the spinach mixture is evenly distributed in the dish, fold the pastry over if using the giant Greek filo sheets, then carefully lay a sheet of puff pastry over the top.





Cut the puff pastry to define the portions of spanakopita, then brush the pastry surface with an egg wash made up of one egg and a teaspoon of brandy. Koula says the brandy takes away the smell of the egg.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.






Oh my god, this is so yum ... Thanks Koula!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Limnian Tale – New Look for the New Year

As you may have noticed, I've kept my promise to continue to post the stories, recipes and taverna reviews from our last trip to Limnos in July and August this year (oops, I mean last year. Is it really 2013 already?) There's also still an epic entry to come for our two-day adventure in Scotland which I'm really looking forward to detailing here.

You may have also noticed that A Limnian Tale now has a new look. I felt the bright blue background was a little overpowering and wanted to give the blog a more subtle overall look, to give more emphasis to the photos and make reading a little easier. I've also categorised each post with labels so specific topics of interest can be found on the blog. Let us know what you think of the new layout – we would love to hear from you.

It's been almost six months since Tony and I returned to Melbourne and we already have hopes to go back to Limnos again some time in August. Our favourite Greek island is always on our minds and time spent there with my dad becomes more cherished every year. However, a trip to Greece for us this year depends very much on our financial situation. Having recently been made redundant from my full-time job as a graphic designer, I've chosen to try freelancing for a while which of course means an unreliable income. And with Tony already an expert in unreliable-income living, we both have to wait and see if we can afford to go back to Limnos this year. Even more incentive to make the back-log of stories from 2012 last as long as possible!

In the meantime, we hope you'll continue to follow our Limnian adventures, both past and those still to come, and if you have a story of your own to tell about the island we all love, or you just want to say "hi", please drop us a line in the comments section.

Happy New Year everyone and ευτυχισμένο τον καινούργιο χρόνο!