Sunday, July 17, 2011

Feature Foodie - Jenna B. (Cue the tears)

Hello! I'm Kelly's sister. I'm the sister who drove the getaway car while Kelly posed for her “awesome picture series.” I'm also the baby sister and the one who very soon will have a tiny baby of my own.

 *cue Kelly crying*

This post isn't about my baby though or even about grown up me. It's about cooking and learning new flavors and like the good sister she is, Kelly introduced me to many of the things I enjoy today.

On one particular day, when I was probably 13 years old, she took me to what became my favorite restaurant in Rochester – Aladdin's. I don't remember much of the lunch. I remember it being warm and sunny. I remember Kelly talking to me about my life, offering advice which I – in my 13 year old way – promptly ignored. And I remember my first bite of Spanikopita. It was one of those moments in my culinary knowledge that will always stand out, a perfect union of flavors on my palate. To this day, I still have to order it if I see it on a menu and each time I have a bite, I think of my big sister and say a silent thank you.

For those that have never had this delicious treat; it's a Greek spinach and feta “pie.” It consists of layers of filo dough, butter and a filling of green onion, spinach, dill and feta. It's perfect for a light, summer lunch or dinner. I serve mine with a side salad or a steamed artichoke. Enjoy!


1 package frozen filo dough (you won't use all of it, but you will use one full roll and half of the other, so buy the two pack)
3 – 12 ounce bags of frozen, chopped spinach – thawed and drained of excess liquid
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 package (6 or 7 sprigs) fresh dill, chopped
1 12 ounce package of crumbled feta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick butter

In a large pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium high heat. Add in green onion, dill and spinach. Cook until soft and heated through, about ten minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely. When cool, mix in eggs, feta and salt and pepper. Set aside.
            Once mixture is ready, butter a large cookie sheet and melt remaining butter. I transfer my butter to a spray bottle I got at the dollar store – it makes life easier and you are less likely to tear the layers of filo than if you use a brush. Working quickly put one layer of filo in the bottom of the cookie sheet, brush or spray with butter; continue with the filo/butter layers until you have about 8 layers. Top these with the spinach mixture and repeat filo/butter layering for another 8 layers.
            At this point, you have extra filo leftover. You can re-freeze it or make tiny cups or do something clever like that – I usually lose patience with the easily torn dough and throw it out. I am not my sister :)
            Trim the edges of the pan to look nice and place the whole thing in the refrigerator for about a half an hour. I like to take a bubble bath during this process while I wait. After the pie sets, cut individual portions with your very sharpest knife and bake for a half an hour or until crispy brown at 350 degrees. Let stand ten minutes and serve.
            I usually eat this for dinner one night, then breakfast, lunch the next day. But I'm a sucker for Spanikopita. Either way, enjoy! And say thank you to Kelly.