Tiropita…for the love

                        Tiropita

Tiropita...for the love
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Greek
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
These little triangles of glory are a family favorite at Easter - but I make them just to share the love.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb feta, crumbled into small pieces
  • 12 oz cottage cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup finely chopped dill
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 lb filo pastry (also spelled phyllo)
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. About two hours before you're ready to start, take the filo from the freezer and set the box on the counter. Don't unwrap it just yet.
  2. Saute onions until translucent, then add in garlic and cook for two minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Slowly melt two sticks of butter and set aside.
  4. Crumble feta into a standing mixer bowl (or large bowl). Then add cottage cheese and mix well.
  5. To the feta mixture, add eggs and mix thoroughly. Then add onion mixture and mix well.
  6. Finally, add the mozzarella cheese and stir together until mixed well.
  7. Note: Once you add the raw eggs to the mixture, it's not a good idea to taste the until it's cooked. However, you need to add salt and pepper. Keep in mind the salt content in feta is different with every brand and every package. I generally use kosher salt and about 1 tsp or two grabs. Here's a tip I use if the feta is really salty - before I add any salt to the cheese mixture, I take a small dollop of the mixture and cook it in a frying pan. I taste it and correct accordingly.
  8. Play one layer of filo on a flat, clean surface with the shortest side directly in front of you. Brush it with melted butter (I have several small 1" and 2" paint brushes that I use for cooking)
  9. Fold the filo over on to itself in thirds. You should now have one, long column. Brush it with butter.
  10. Scoop a heaping, spoonful of cheese mixture on a corner of the filo nearest to you.
  11. Take the corner and fold it over the mixture to the other side of the column and form a triangle. Then, fold the triangle up, then across, then up, then across. Here's a little video to demonstrate: Click here
  12. Repeat, repeat, repeat
  13. Place the triangles on an ungreased cookie sheets covered in parchment paper and brush butter over the top.
  14. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool about five minutes before serving. Yields about 24 triangles.
  15. Note: Tiropita can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, unbaked. When ready to use, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake without prior thawing for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Notes
A few notes about filo: It's a very thin dough that dries out very quickly. Take it out of the freezer about two hours before you're ready to use it. Leave it in the box. When you're ready, take it out of the box and out of the cellophane wrapping. Gently remove the little waxy-like wrapping taped around the dough. Carefully lay the filo flat. Place the little waxy-like paper on top of it followed by a dry towel, followed by a damp towel. Only remove one piece at a time and keep the rest covered.

 

My New Favorite Things in the Kitchen

Several years ago, I was watching a program on HGTV about renovating kitchens. In one episode, a woman was sitting in a big, poofy chair reading a book in front of a fireplace – in the kitchen. The entire fireplace was surrounded with shelves filled with cookbooks. To this day, I get happy thinking about that woman and the happy place she created in her kitchen. It would be no surprise to anyone who actually knows me to hear that the kitchen is my happy place. And this year it got even happier with a few of my NEW favorite things.

eatyourbooks.com_medium EAT YOUR BOOKS: My cookbooks make me smile. And now, thanks to the brilliant mind of Jane Kelly, and the site Eat Your Books, I have found a way to utilize my cookbooks more efficiently. In addition to cookbooks, I also have a collection of food magazines that are neatly tucked away, in date order, in special boxes. Jane’s provided me with a way to access the recipes in the magazines without cutting the magazines to pieces or tagging the recipes with post-it notes. Needless to say I had a fun day taking all the color-coded tags off all the pages. I can; however, tag recipes and write notes in EYB so I can easily find the recipes again.

Here’s how the Eat Your Books site works. Once you register for an account, you begin entering your cookbooks and magazines on to your virtual bookshelf. Many, but not all, of the titles listed on the EYB site have been indexed. That means someone has gone through the cookbook and made an index of all the recipe names and the major ingredients. Let’s say you have a bucket of fennel and you want to find a few recipes that feature fennel. You could go searching through all your cookbooks and magazines (*sigh*) or you could login to EYB, go to your bookshelf, and type in the word “fennel” in the search box. A list of all the books and magazines on your shelf with fennel as an ingredient will appear. That’s how easy it is. You won’t find recipes…the search results will simply point you to the right place to look.

The annual membership for EYB is $25. Okay, that’s four cups of fancy coffee and it’s totally worth it. And, to sweeten the deal, EYB is now indexing recipe blogs, too. Trust me. If you have ten or more cookbooks, you’ll love this site. One more little, but not unimportant, item. Many of the indexed magazines have recipes online. That means you can put a magazine on your virtual bookshelf – that you don’t own – use it to meal plan, and then get directed to the online recipe. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Lastly, it’s a perfectly good reason to buy more cookbooks. Just sayin’.

finecooking

FINE COOKING: One of the magazines I really enjoy reading is Fine Cooking. It’s my “go to” magazine for figuring out different ways to use one ingredient. For example, in one issue, they show you how to use carrots as a side dish for Thanksgiving – six different ways. I have hardcopy going back quite a few years, but they’re in a box in the basement so I could make room for more cookbooks. Several months ago, I bought a DVD recipe archive of Fine Cooking magazines going back to the first issue in 1994. The DVD offers lots of little extras like search functions, tips, and more. And, for less than the cost of a subscription, you can get each new year on DVD, too. But, I couldn’t stop there. Keep in mind that Fine Cooking is indexed on EYB, not all 17 years, but it’ll happen. I took the time to convert all the issues to PDF and uploaded them on to my number one favorite thing in the kitchen…

ipad_image

APPLE iPAD: It’s changed my cooking experience. I’ve now stopped subscribing to magazines in hardcopy. I read them on my iPad using Zinio or some other app, or I upload them to iBooks, or I search recipes in magazines on my bookshelf using EYB. I’m still waiting for the Lucky Peach magazine app to get out of the lab and on to my iPad – the first issue was a thing of beauty. There are several apps available for cooks in the App store, but I find I have such a great variety available on my bookshelf that I rarely need to look elsewhere. And, I also have quite a few eCookbooks, too.  I rarely have excessive “downtime” in my life, but when a moment occurs where I’m waiting in a doctor’s office, at the airport, getting my oil changed, or I can’t sleep at night, I simply pull out my iPad and read a magazine or a book, my Bible, or plan a meal.

In addition to all my print resources, I also have a very large database of recipes. I’ve recently migrated them off of recipe software to Google Docs where I can now access them from anywhere using my iPad. Well, almost anywhere. I’m still waiting for Google to make an really good app to access docs. In the meantime, I use an app I don’t really like, but it works.

I use my iPad outside of the kitchen, too. It keeps the kids entertained for hours, I stalk people on facebook and twitter, I read books and blogs, and I get all the news I need in a 9.5″x7.31″ space.

Maybe one day you’ll find me sitting in front of a fireplace in my kitchen reading a cookbook. Meanwhile, my NEW favorite things make me happier in the kitchen. Well, my knives do, too. Okay, and my cookware. Hmmm…and my food processor. I do love my hand blender. Then there’s the food mill. Did I mention my knives?

A Taste of Shanghai

KQEDRichardW How happy am I? I finished reading Richard Wong’s, Modern Asian Flavors: A Taste of Shanghai (Chronicle Books, San Francisco: 2005). Richard Wong is the founder and owner of chinablue. On the culinary page of the chinablue sight, you’ll find a selection of Wong’s sauces and glazes. In his cookbook, you’ll find recipes for Shanghainese sauces, too. Wong says, “Each sauce in the chapter is based on an original recipe for a Shanghainese dish as cooked by my family for generations.” Did you know that Shanghainese don’t cook with garlic? Oh, but I digress. The sauces are base flavors for all the dishes that follow. Add a little oil to the Tangy Ginger Sauce (pg. 30) and you have a salad dressing. Add some sparkling water and you have a refreshing spritzer. I love this concept. Once you master the sauces, you’re on your way. The sauce recipes are really simple but bursting with flavor.ModernAsianFlavors

In the Soup and Salad chapter, I loved the authentic Chinese Chicken Salad (pg.64) recipe. The Spicy Stuffed Bell Peppers (pg.71) with turkey and mushrooms and the tasty Red Pepper Sauce look delicious. I can almost taste the flavors. The Barbecued Pork Short Ribs (pg.81) are marinated and basted with Sweet Scallion Sauce (pg.33), which is also used on the Sweet Scallion Shrimp (pg.93). I love this. The Sweet and Sour Rice (pg.116) has a simple list of ingredients. The notes say, “This salad has an innocently addictive, clean, sweet, and tart flavor.” Yummy! It looks fantastic. You won’t want to miss Chinese Spaghetti (pg.125) made with chunks of pork and tofu, and a delicious list of ingredients.

chinablue The Dessert chapter is AMAZING! I’m not kidding. And, as I often say, I’m not a dessert person. But c’mon. These recipes are lovely. Tangy Ginger Bananas (pg.130) or in the summer, peaches and nectarines, and in the fall, apples and pears. Peach Wonton Crisps (pg.133) are beautiful and tasty. Sweet Anise Custard (pg.136) brings out the Greek in me. And, tada, Strawberry-Lemon Tapioca (pg.139). Now that’s dessert.

Richard Wong filled this cookbook with joy, a love for life, and a celebration of flavors from Shanghai. Noel Barnhurst’s food images are  beautiful and brings the food to life. A lovely combination. Thank you, Mr Wong. I hear the bell ringing!

Chef Jeff Cooks

chefjeffcooks If I had to choose between working in a kitchen for Gordon Ramsay or Jeff Henderson, I’d have a very difficult time making that choice – for many reasons. Ramsay is a kitchen king, a wealth of knowledge, a food god. Henderson is a teacher, a coach, a mentor. Now if Thomas Keller was a choice, well, don’t be silly. My bags are packed.

In 2008, Caressa and I faithfully watched The Chef Jeff Project on the Food Network. In the show, Chef Henderson puts six at-risk youth to work at his catering company to help turn their lives around. The show was quite a learning experience and I gained a great deal of respect for Chef Henderson. He understands how to motivate people, to make them want more out of life, and he inspires people to do better in all areas of their lives.

When I saw this book on the shelf at my local book store, Chef Jeff Cooks: In the Kitchen with America’s Inspirational New Culinary Star, by Jeff Henderson (Simon & Schuster, New York: 2008), I eagerly took the cookbook home. After paying for it. :)

Here’s a bit of what Chef Henderson says in the Introduction:

This is not just a cookbook; it’s a testimonial to my desire to succeed and inspire lives. It’s also a tribute to those who have been instrumental in shaping who I am today. I found my way into the kitchen by accident, but I believe today it was my destiny. God gave me my life’s vision behind the stove, and cooking has become my gift to you.

There are many black and white pictures throughout the book and the center signature is packed with beautiful color food images. The layout is simple with most recipes falling on one page. There’s also a reference section at the end. The table of contents is a little different and helps you to understand where Chef Henderson is going on his culinary journey:

  1. Stocks and Broths
  2. Appetizers
  3. Sauces and Condiments
  4. Soulful Soups and Chowders
  5. Salads
  6. Vinaigrettes and Dressings
  7. Family-Style Sandwiches
  8. Vegetables and Greens
  9. Potatoes, Starches, and Grains
  10. Dinners
  11. Time to Grill
  12. Baked Breads and Sweets
  13. Ice Creams and Sweets

chefjeff The recipes are down-home, packed with flavor, and easy to execute. Although there is no doubt Chef Henderson can bring his Bellagio best to any dish, he isn’t a show-off and remembers for whom he wrote the book. I loved the stories scattered throughout the book – very delightful, very inspiring.

The Sweet Potato Soup (pg.59) will set you straight and get you saved. The King Crab Gumbo (pg.61) will wow your Southern friends. The Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing (pg.91) is better than the one I’ve tried to rip-off from Crocodile Restaurant for many years. The Turkey Smoked Collard Greens (pg.123) are far better than mine. The Caramelized Cabbage (pg. 128) was a delightful surprise. The Sweet Potato Risotto (pg.137), oh my, it was delicious. The Molasses Braised Beef Short Ribs (pg.176) will change your life.

Chef Henderson, who lives in Las Vegas with his wife (*sigh*) and three kids, recently worked on a book project called The America I AM: Pass It Down Cookbook (Smiley Books), to honor and preserve African Americans collective family food histories and legacies. It’s due out February 2011. His first book, the memoir Cooked, was a New York Times bestseller and is slated to become a feature film. This is not “just” a cookbook, it’s a food journey and a story filled with over 150 recipes. Enjoy!

Cat Cora’s Classics

catcoraclassicsA twist, indeed. From one Greek girl to another…well done, Cat Cora.

Honestly, this is not what I expected when I purchased Cat Cora’s Classics With A Twist: Fresh takes on favorite dishes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: New York, 2010). Cat Cora successfully takes “everyday classics” and imparts fresh and exciting flavors, while keeping things healthy and delicious. And I say, “Prove it!”

There’s no denying her Greek heritage. Her use of feta, Greek yogurt, pita bread, olives, and oregano brought joy to my heart. But she didn’t limit her flavors to a Mediterranean cast of characters. If you’re looking for a way to add a few flavorful stand-by recipes to your routine, you’ll like this book.

Kouzzina For the record, Cat Cora is no slouch. She became the first female chef on Iron Chef America. She is the executive chef of Bon Appetit, and she’s the author of Cooking from the Hip and Cat Cora’s Kitchen – of which I own neither and that needs to be rectified immediately, or in time for my birthday. :) Then again, I’ll be happy to wait for Christmas.

She has a restaurant called CCQ in Costa Mesa, California, and Kouzzina at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

And, in the event you’ve forgotten, she’s a Greek girl. Opa!

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