It’s Greek to Me: Tyropita

English: Anari served for breakfast in a Limas...
English: Anari served for breakfast in a Limassol hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It began with a Facebook message. A friend asked if I made tyropitakia. Uh, no. I used to eat them at the Greek Coffeehouses in Astoria, Queens. But, make them myself? In Cyprus, tyropitas and other savory treats are readily available at every corner pastry shop, so why bother baking them yourself?  Here, I  buy  spanakopita frozen, preferably from the greek store but even from Giant and Trader Joe’s. Personally, I don’t like working with phyllo. I tried it when I  made the St. Patty’s day strudel. You can read about it here.

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When I heard that Emma who blogs at mommyhasaheadache.blogspot.com was going to replace the anari cheese with ricotta, I had to step in.  Anari is a Cypriot cheese which is nothing like ricotta cheese (well, maybe ricotta insalata, but that’s near impossible to find in the states). A tyropita is not the same as a calzone. So, we decided we would make the tyropita together on Saturday and bring them to a party at a friend’s house that night.

Friday, we took a trip to Prima Foods, the only Greek market in Baltimore that I know of. The greek cheesemonger there informed me they didn’t have Anari. “It’s Cypriot,” he said. I asked him to give me another cheese. He substituted manouri. He also advised that I buy the cheaper domestic feta to make the pies and either #4 or #7 phyllo. I also got some kasseri cheese.

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That night,I finally looked at the recipe Emma had sent me at http://honestmum.com/tasty-tuesdays-greek-feta-cheese-pastries/ “She’s Cypriot,” I told my husband as soon as I saw her picture. I was pretty sure she was Cypriot when I read the ingredients:  anari cheese and mint. Cypriots like to add mint to almost everything. Sure enough, according to Papa G’s bio on his restaurant’s website; her parents immigrated to England from Cyprus. I decided I didn’t like the recipe: too complicated. I found one on Kopiaste.org I liked better. All you really have to do is grate a bunch of semi-soft cheeses, add salt and eggs and layer it in phyllo like a lasagna.

On Saturday afternoon, when I came home from my son’s dance class my husband was talking on the phone in Greek to his mother. I heard the words fillo, anari, and kasseri. I knew he was talking about cheese pies. Not a bad idea, because my mother-in-law is one amazing cook. Then he was going through our greek cookbooks. He told me to use this one.

greek recipe for tyropita
greek recipe for tyropita

Yeah, ok. That’s greek to me. I just shook my head and asked him to stop trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

At 3 o’clock he decided to grate all the cheeses to be ready. Go ahead, knock yourself out if you must, I’m going to go take a nap. At 5 o’clock he wanted to start without everyone being there. I mean, he was just taking over the whole show. When they showed up at 5:10 he had everything out and waiting.

Here’s how it went:

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Step 1: combine all grated cheeses (I used: feta, halloumi, kasseri and manouri)
Step 2:  add 3 beaten eggs, salt, pepper and mint, mix together
Step 2: add 3 beaten eggs, salt, pepper and mint, mix together

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Step 3: grease a jellyroll or lasagna pan, put down a layer of phyllo, grease*, repeat another 2 times so you have 3 layers of oiled up phyllo
Step 3: grease a jellyroll or lasagna pan, put down a layer of phyllo, grease*, repeat another 2 times so you have 3 layers of oiled up phyllo
Step 4: repeat step 3, alternating the direction of the phyllo each layer,  until the pan is filled
Step 4: repeat step 3, alternating the direction of the phyllo each layer, until the pan is filled
Step 5: top with 3 layers of greased phyllo, score with a sharp knife so it'll be easier to cut after baking
Step 5: top with 3 layers of greased phyllo, score with a sharp knife so it’ll be easier to cut after baking

Step 6: bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden

Step 7: have a cocktail as you wait**
Step 7: have a cocktail as you wait**
Step 8: cool and cut into squares.
Step 8: cool and cut into squares.

We went a little heavy on the mint. No one seemed to mind and they went fast. Although, the boy said he wanted the spinach pies instead. This was really easy to make. And that pleases me. I’m not sure if spinach pies would be as easy as you really have to squeeze the spinach well or it’ll probably end up a soggy mess.

* use either melted butter or olive oil

** optional for adults 21 and over

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4 comments

  1. Also intrigued that your friend thought I looked Cypriot when she saw my picture, interesting distinction she made from Greek or Italian…funnily enough I get absolutely everything! Also must disagree about Cypriots placing mint with everything. Wow this has been borderline offensive really!

  2. Oh no, what a shame your friend didn’t like Papa G’s recipe (really not complicated but of course it’s a professional recipe for the pastries made at his award winning restaurants-Must add they are in the top 4 Greek restaurants in the UK and he’s an authority on Greek and Cypriot cuisine here featuring on TV, radio and in magazines-glad she found one she liked though, thanks for sharing. Please do link back to #tastytuesdays if you can! Thanks 🙂 P.S We say emigrated too and yes parents moved here and met at University!

    • Not that I didn’t like it, but that it looked too challenging for my skill level. If I ever get across the pond I will definitely try the restaurant. Cypriots have a wonderful cuisine and some of the best cooks. I meant no disrespect to Papa G

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