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