Any Greek themed dinner party is nowcomplete with Chef Cosmo Meen’straditional recipes!
When I was growing up this was one of my dad’s favorite dishes. He never once called it spinach pie either. He would say in a ‘Greek?’ accent tonight we are having Spanakopita!
I have played with this dish as a great vegetarian appetizer in little triangles. It’s fun to set up the station then race to see who can make the most the fastest. its hard to mess them up once you have a delicious filling and quality phyllo. You can make your own phyllo a more advanced option but store but is great too!
For the filling
2 red onions, halved and sliced
1 spring onion, finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g spinach, washed and roughly chopped (18 ounces)
a pinch of grated nutmeg
200g feta cheese, crumbled (7 ounces)
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 tbs fresh dill, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the filling for this panakopita recipe, sauté the onions in a large knob of butter until soft and turning golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the spinach in batches and cook until wilted. Cool, then tip into a bowl (leaving behind any excess liquid from the spinach) and mix in the nutmeg, feta, eggs, spring onion and season.
Making the Triangles
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and start shaping your spanakopita triangles.
Spread one sheet of the phyllo dough on the kitchen counter and with a cooking brush drizzle with some melted butter or olive oil. Spread one more sheet on top and drizzle with some more butter.
Cut the phyllo sheets in 3-4 lanes (depending on if you like the spanakopita triangles to be small or larger). At the end of each lane add one tablespoon of the filling. Fold one corner to form a triangle and continue folding the triangle upon itself, until the entire piece of phyllo is used. Continue with the rest phyllo sheets and filling.
Oil the bottom of a large baking tray, place the spanakopita triangles and brush them with some melted butter on top. Bake in preheated oven at 180C for 25-30 minutes, until golden and crispy.
Serve these delicious traditional Greek spanakopita triangles as a great starter with a Greek feta salad aside. Enjoy!
Charbroiled Lamb and Bison Gyro with flame roasted sweet peppers, tzatziki walnut skordilia and home made pita
We used to go to Eugene’s Greek restaurant on broad street in Victoria when I was a kid and I would always get a Gyro with a little greek sugar cookie. I later learned how to pronounce ‘kourabiethes’. I would take a little bite of the sugar cookie between bites of gyros. I loved to mix sweet and savoury at a young age. Especially with meat. Could have been the influence of maple syrup on my bacon and sausages growing up.
½ large cucumber
200 ml fat-free natural yoghurt
1 small clove garlic , peeled
1 heaped teaspoon dried mint or dill (fresh or dry)
1½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
Make your tzatziki by coarsely grating the cucumber into a sieve set up over a bowl. Add a few good pinches of salt, then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water away, then tip the cucumber into the empty bowl and add the yoghurt. Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste, and spoon that into the bowl with the cucumber. Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well. Have a taste to make sure you’ve got the balance right, then put aside.
Flamed Roasted Sweet Peppers
3 sweet pointed peppers
4 sprigs fresh mint , leaves picked
1 small bunch fresh dill , chopped (stalks and all)
red wine vinegar
Greek extra virgin olive oil
Blacken the peppers directly over the flame of your range on the BBQ, in a hot dry griddle pan or under a hot grill. Turn them every so often and when they look almost ruined, pop them into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and put to one side to steam for 5 minutes or so – this will help their skins to come off.
Peel and deseed your blackened peppers, then tear them into strips and put them into a bowl. Roll up your mint leaves, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the dill. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and mix together, then have a taste to check the balance of flavours.
1 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. ground Bison
½ medium-sized yellow onion
1 clove fresh garlic
1 T. dried marjoram
1 T. salt
2 tsp. dried basil
½ T. ground black pepper
Begin by mixing the lamb and the bison in a large bowl and add 1 T. salt. Let the meat stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator prior to mixing in the food processor.
Place the yellow onion and garlic clove into a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds. Place on a tea towel, gather the ends, and squeeze to drain all the excess liquid from the mixture. Place mixture in a large mixing bowl once it is completely drained.
Add the lamb and bison to the food processor and pulse until the meat turns into a fine paste. If needed, pulse the meat in smaller batches so that a very fine paste is created.
Once paste-like in consistency, add the meat to the onion and garlic mixture in the large mixing bowl. Add marjoram, basil, and pepper to the mixing bowl and mix by hand until all the ingredients are combined.
Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Remove the meat mixture from the bowl and form into a round loaf shape. Place the loaf in the middle of the plastic wrap. Carefully fold the saran wrap around the loaf and twist the two ends until the loaf is tightly wrapped. The tighter the wrap, the better the meat will stay together while cooking.
Place the loaf in a dish that will not allow the edges to unravel and place the dish in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Leaving the loaf in the refrigerator overnight will allow the flavors to meld together more.
Turn the oven onto high-broil and unwrap the loaf of meat while the oven is heating up. Place the loaf on a broiling pan and place the pan on the middle rack in the oven.
Allow the meat to cook, while rotating the loaf every 3 minutes until the outside of the loaf is completely cooked and starting to brown.
Carefully remove the loaf from the oven and cut ½ thick slices of the meat from the outside of the loaf. Place these slices in a dish and cover with aluminum foil.
Return the loaf to the oven and repeat the previous 3 steps until there is only enough of the loaf left to cut it in half.
Once all the meat is cooked, warm the pita in the oven for 1 minute and slice the tomato and red onion.
Lay out a piece of aluminum foil and place 1 pita down per piece of foil and add 1 oz. tzatziki sauce, ⅓ pound of meat, tomato, flame roasted peppers and red onion. Fold the pita in half and wrap so that only 1 end is exposed. Serve immediately.
80 g shelled walnuts
1 cup breadcrumbs
40 g fresh hazelnuts
2 cloves of garlic
50 ml red wine vinegar
10 ml olive oil
In a food processor blend the walnuts to a paste.
Add the breadcrumbs, garlic cloves, red wine vinegar and 3 to 5 tablespoons of cold water. Process and add the olive oil in a stream, until smooth. Season, add to a bowl and sprinkle with sumac.
Traditional Greek Pita Bread
Yields: 8 pita rounds
1 cup hot water, but not boiling
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix the water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer (a large bowl will also work if you do not have a mixer), and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil. If using a stand mixer attach the dough and need the dough on medium speed for 8 minutes, adding more flour until you have a smooth dough. If using your hands sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It's better to use too little flour than too much. If you get tired, stop and let the dough rest for a few minutes before finishing kneading.
Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and run it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it's coated with oil. Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it's doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
At this point, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.
Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk. Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a circle 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter inch thick. Lift and turn the dough frequently as you roll to make sure the dough isn't sticking to your counter. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. (Once you get the hang of it you can be cooking one pita while rolling the next one out.)
Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Drizzle a little oil in the pan and wipe off the excess.Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn't or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel. Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.
These are best eaten fresh, but will keep in a ziplock bag for a few days or in the freezer.
Grilled Eggplant Moussaka
a great vegetarian version of this classic greek dish.
15 g dried porcini
2 medium onions , peeled
2 cloves of garlic , peeled
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and sage , leaves picked
250 ml red wine
2 x 400 g tins of chickpeas (or cook your own)
100 g dried brown lentils
4 fresh bay leaves
2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
4 large firm Eggplants , trimmed
800 g potatoes , peeled
750 ml milk
5 black peppercorns
75 g unsalted butter
75 g plain flour
50 g feta cheese
50 g kefalotyri or pecorino cheese
2 large free-range egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Place the porcini in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, then set aside to soak. Finely slice the onions and garlic, then add to a large pan over a medium heat with a good lug of olive oil, the herbs and 1 teaspoon of oregano. Remove the porcini to a board, reserving the water for later, then roughly chop and add to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and fry for around 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
Turn the heat up to high, then add the wine and allow to bubble and boil away. Stir in the chickpeas (juice and all), lentils, 2 bay leaves and the plum tomatoes, then strain in the porcini water. Season and gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.
Meanwhile, peel the eggplants with a speed-peeler, leaving a little of the skin to create a stripy effect, then slice into rounds, roughly 1cm thick. Place into a colander, sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and leave aside in the sink to soak. Meanwhile, slice the potatoes into rough 1cm rounds, then parboil in a pan of boiling salted water for around 5 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry, then place into a large roasting tray (roughly 30cm x 40cm). Season, drizzle with oil and scatter over 1 heaped tablespoon dried oregano, then toss well to coat and spread out into an even layer. Place in the hot oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and tender. Meanwhile, rinse the aubergines in cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper, then spread out into another large roasting tray. Drizzle with oil, then season with pepper and oregano and place alongside the potatoes in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
Warm the milk with the remaining bay leaves and the peppercorns in a medium pan over a medium-low heat – you don’t want it to boil, so keep an eye it. Once hot, strain into a jug, then wipe the pan and return it to a medium heat. Add the butter and allow to melt, then stir in the flour to form a paste. Start adding the hot milk, a splash at a time, stirring in each before adding the next. Once all the milk has been added and you have a smooth and creamy sauce, crumble in one-third of the feta and grate in one-third of the kefalotyri or pecorino, then simmer over a low heat for a further 5 minutes, or until thick and smooth. Leave the béchamel aside to cool slightly.
To assemble your moussaka, spoon half the ragù over the tray of roast potatoes and layer half the aubergines on top, then repeat with the remaining ragù and aubergines. Whisk the egg yolks into the béchamel sauce, then gently pour onto the aubergines in an even layer. Crumble and grate the remaining cheese on top, followed by a drizzle of oil, then place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Leave to cool for around 30 minutes, then serve alongside a Greek salad.
125 g greek feta
2 green peppers
1 small red onion
5 ripe tomatoes
1 handful of kalamata olives
1 tesapoon dried oregano
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Crumble the feta into chunks, deseed and slice the peppers, and peel and slice the cucumber and onion. Slice the tomatoes.
Combine all the ingredients except the oregano, oil and vinegar in a salad bowl.
Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with the oregano, season with freshly ground black pepper and dress with the oil and red wine vinegar.
Aegean Kakavia (fisherman stew)
Every coastal country in the world has there own version of fisherman’s stew. This is the greek one. Delicious!
2 onions , peeled and roughly chopped
4 sticks celery , trimmed and roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic , peeled and roughly chopped
3 beef tomatoes , roughly chopped
500 g potatoes , peeled and cut into 3-4cm chunks
3 bay leaves
1 litre organic vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
700 g fresh fish fillets , from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, scaled and pin-boned1 lemon , juice of
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley , roughly chopped
1 small bunch fresh dill , roughly chopped
greek extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf rustic bread , to serve
Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft but not coloured.
Add the tomatoes, potatoes and bay leaves and pour in the stock. Season lovingly with salt and pepper and bring it all to the boil. Reduce to a low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. At this point, add your fish fillets and bring back to the boil, then reduce to a medium-low heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the fish is cooked through and flakes apart. Stir in the lemon juice and herbs, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then have a quick taste to make sure you've got a good balance of acidity, freshness and seasoning and serve with chunks of rustic bread.
3 cloves of garlic
750 g all-rounder potatoes
4 ripe tomatoes or 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
200 g kalamata olives (stone in)
4 tablespoons olive oil , plus extra to serve
1 teaspoon dried oregano , plus extra to serve
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Peel and slice the onion, peel and finely slice the garlic, and quarter the potatoes. If using fresh, quarter the tomatoes. Destone the olives.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and sauté the onion, oregano and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Season generously.
200 g puy lentils
1 bunch of spring onions
200 g ripe cherry tomatoes
1 large bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large bunch of fresh mint
extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the lentils, then cook in plenty of salted water until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
Trim and finely slice the spring onions, halve the tomatoes, then pick and finely chop the herb leaves.
Mix the cooled lentils with the spring onions, tomatoes, herbs and 4 tablespoons of oil. Add the lemon juice to taste, season with sea salt and black pepper, then serve.
75 g blanched almonds or walnuts
250 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
125 g icing sugar , plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons brandy
1 large free-range egg yolk
300 g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 splash of orange blossom water
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/gas 2-3 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Place the nuts on one of the trays and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Cube the butter and place in a free-standing mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar, then add the brandy and egg yolk, and continue to mix for a few more minutes.
Finely chop the toasted nuts or blitz in a food processor, then add them to the butter mixture, along with the flour, baking powder and pinch of sea salt, then, using a metal spoon, fold it all together, until combined.
Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, then mould each one into a traditional crescent shape – you could also make them into fingers, or cut them with a star cutter, whatever you like.
Place the biscuits on the second lined baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Add a generous amount of icing sugar to a small, deep tray. Very lightly brush the warm biscuits with orange blossom water, then pop them in the icing sugar tray and toss to coat.
Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.