Challenge Book #22 - Small Cheese Pies
It's time to return to the KJ Wants a Kitchen Aid Challenge (where I have to make a recipe from every book I own before I can buy any new ones) with these Small Cheese Pies.
This time we are visiting Greece. Specifically, in the form of The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cookery by author unknown. I bought this book while on holiday in Greece quite a few years back. I loved Greece. My friends and I had a crazy time on the bus system, ending up in all kinds of unexpected places. A couple of times we had to end up hitchhiking because we did or did not get on or off at the wrong or right places. Happy days!!!!
I think this is the first thing I have made from this book. Somehow I have never really delved in Greek food. There are two reasons for this. First, Greek cuisine seems to be heavy on seafood and olives and I cannot stand either. Second, I just cannot get past the few great dishes I have tried and loved. I just go for moussaka every time. It's like it's pre-programed or something, I just cannot help myself.
Then there are cheese pies. When I was in Greece I almost ate the country out of these things. I would search out the nearest bakery type place and emerge with a little greasy bag of happiness - hot crisp buttery pastry, melted cheese, ham or spinach. They were just divine.
So when it came to choosing a recipe from this cookbook, what else was I going to try. In these pies the cheese filling is based on a bechamel sauce and ricotta cheese, seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. They were good!!
I halved the recipe because it makes a lot. I mean party sized quantities. They were fairly straightforward, although I had to add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk to get a liquid but thick bechamel. Admittedly, this could be from my dodgy mathematical skills in dividing 2.5 by 2. It's possible people. By the time I get halfway through a recipe, I forget that I'm altering it or how I'm altering it and anything can happen.
Forming the pies is also quick and painless. As you can see in the photos below, it's just a question of laying out the strip of pastry, adding a teaspoon of filling at one end, folding the pastry across the filling to form a triangle shape, and then folding forward along each inner edge until no unsealed edges are left. Then just slice off the pastry and then start again at the square end of the remainder of the strip of pastry. Like so.
Too easy!! This is the recipe for the full amount of pies.
Small Cheese Pies
(adapted from The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cooking)
1/2 kg of filo pastry
1 cup flour
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups milk, warmed
350gm feta cheese, crumbled
1 tspn nutmeg
salt and pepper
Melt half the butter and stir in the flour and mix well for about five minutes. Add the warmed milk continuing to stir well. Add more milk if necessary, you should end up with a thick but liquid sauce.
Add the feta cheese, the nutmeg, eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool.
Cut the filo pastry into long strips that are 3 inches wide. They can be made smaller, but they are easier to form if they are a bit bigger. Melt the remaining butter. Brush one strip with the butter and place another strip over the top.
Put a teaspoon of filling at one end and fold over into a triangle shape (as above). Place on a baking tray and brush lightly with the melted butter.
Bake in a 180C oven for about 35 minutes.