I’ve never been much of a cook. I’ve had my moments, like in the 7th grade when I made dinner for 12 as a project for foods class (chicken amandine, sweet potato casserole, and some kind of soup), or when I decided that July was the perfect time to make an big pot of vegetarian chili. For the most part, though, anything involving more than a single pot or pan, a utensil, and a bowl is too much for me, unless I’m feeling adventurous.
Or unless it’s Greek food. I studied in Greece for a semester in college, and fell in love with good cheese and real yogurt and fried pita. When I came back to the states my favorite Greek dishes weren’t always easy to find, so I started making them myself. Last week I made tzatziki (with fried pita) and spanakopitaki for Roomie. I got the impression she approved when she asked me to guest-blog them!
For the tzatziki:
Set aside 2 cups or so of Greek strained yogurt. Theoretically you could strain regular yogurt yourself with cheesecloth, but real Greek yogurt is just so tasty.
Peel either 1 large English cucumber or 2 smallish regular cucumbers. Grate on a cheese grater and put the (very wet) cucumber confetti that results into a strainer. Salt it lightly, toss it, press it, then let it drain for a while – as long as a couple of hours, although a half-hour did the trick for me this time.
Mince 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, and mix them into the yogurt along with a tablespoon of vinegar, two of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a generous pinch of dried dill (or about a tbs of fresh chopped mint).
Mix in the drained cucumber, and voila! Tzatziki will taste better if you let it sit in the fridge (overnight or even just an hour) before serving it, so while you’re waiting on that you can make…
Spanakopitaki (or little spinach pies):
First, make the filling:
½ lb. feta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Some parsley, depending on how much you like it
1 lb. fresh spinach, chopped and sautéed with diced onion
A stick or so of butter, melted
Crumble the feta and mix in the eggs, and then the parsley. Use a fork to crumble the feta even smaller – the smaller the better — then mix in the spinach and onions.
Take 10 sheets of defrosted filo dough from the fridge. Slice them to make 2-inch strips; you’ll probably get about 4 from each sheet. Take two strips together and cover the rest with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
Brush the top of each sheet with butter, then stack the two together. Put a spoonful of filling at the bottom and fold the edge up diagonally, as though you were folding a flag, and brush the triangle with butter after each fold. Put the completed triangle seam-side down on a buttered baking sheet and repeat with the remaining strips. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes and enjoy!