Monday, February 4, 2013

The Tyropita

I have no idea how I can successfully catch a cold, which of course develops into a full-fledged flu, the worst possible time when I’m incredibly busy and can’t afford to be sick. Yes, folks, let the complaining begin.






I have the flu, or to be perfectly honest, I’m almost over it because if I were smack in the middle of suffering from it, I wouldn’t be able to write a single word, let alone a whole blog post.






I believe I’m very easy-going when I’m sick. I’m high-maintenance the rest of the time so I give people around me a break when I’m under the weather. Ha! Honestly though, I just sit quietly on the couch, watching my tv shows and films, falling asleep, making my own cup of tea and soup, unlike some other people (let’s not name names) that demand to be waited on hand and foot when they have a plain cold.






But let’s get to the tyropita (τυρόπιτα / pronounciation: tee-roh-pee-tah), the Greek cheese pie, which is the reason I got off my cozy couch. The word tyropita is not a simple word in the Greek language. There’s not a single Greek out there who doesn’t have a very specific image of tyropita in their mind the second they hear the word.






It’s one of the most well-known pies in Greek cuisine (next to spanakopita), a pie that everyone knows how to make and that everyone certainly knows how to devour in record time. And of course everyone has their favorite kind, because yes, there are different kinds of tyropita. Those can either depend on the type of dough used (phyllo, kourou, puff pastry), or the type of cheese(s) used, the most common of course being feta.






My ideal tyropita is one made with puff pastry. That’s the way my mom always made it, and still does. I have no idea why she prefers sfoliata (Greek word for puff pastry) to the traditional Greek phyllo, I’ve never asked her, as I’ve never had any complaints. I greedily ate my piece every single time she prepared tyropita.






Whenever I make my own puff pastry, I always bake a tray of tyropita. I use feta, ricotta (anthotyro when I’m in Greece) and a béchamel sauce all mixed together to create the filling. The result is a salty and slightly sweet cheese pie with that incomparable flavor and texture of puff pastry encasing the cheeses. A flaky, golden-brown and buttery puff pastry that makes my tyropita the best there is.











Tyropita – Greek Cheese Pie

You can use either homemade puff pastry (like I did), or ready-made. Just make sure the store-bought one is made with butter and not vegetable fat.
Whichever kind of puff pastry you use, make sure to thaw it properly. Remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge 24 hours before using it.

On cooking puff pastry: The bigger the change in temperature, the more dramatic the puff will be. If for example you take the rolled out pastry straight from the fridge and put it in a preheated oven, it will rise like crazy.
For this tyropita, once you assemble the pie, you must put it in the fridge for 30 minutes while you preheat your oven and then put it straight in.

The recipe for the béchamel sauce is the classic French one and it’s creamy and delicious and it’ll make your tyropita taste incredibly good.






Yield: 1 tyropita / 16 small pieces

Ingredients

for the béchamel sauce
250 ml fresh whole milk
20 g (1½ Tbsp) butter, unsalted
20 g (2 level Tbsp) all-purpose flour
Salt
Freshly ground white pepper

300 g feta (Greek of course), grated
250 g ricotta (or Greek anthotyro if you can find it), crumbled
Freshly ground white pepper
600 g homemade puff pastry or 2 large sheets of ready-made puff pastry

A little butter for greasing the pan

Special equipment: box grater, whisk, rolling pin (to roll out homemade puff pastry), baking pan/tray (34 x 28 cm)


Preparation

for the béchamel sauce
In a small, heavy-based saucepan, add the butter and melt over a low heat. Add the flour and using a whisk, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until you have a white roux.
While whisking, pour the milk in the saucepan, turn heat up to medium and allow the mixture to come to the boil, whisking continuously to prevent lumps.
Once the béchamel comes to the boil, turn heat down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring with the whisk every so often, until it thickens. You don’t want the sauce to be too thick though but a little runny so it can be easily mixed with the cheeses.
Season with salt to your liking, add a little white pepper and allow the sauce to cool.


In a large bowl, add the cooled béchamel, the two cheeses and a sprinkling of white pepper and mix with a spatula.


Grease the bottom and sides of your pan with butter.

If you’re using homemade puff pastry, take the dough and divide it into two equal pieces. Dust a clean work surface and the top of the dough with flour and using a rolling pin, roll out the first piece of dough into a rectangle, a little bigger than the size of the pan, with a thickness of 0.2-0.3 cm. The thickness of the puff pastry is important because it determines the baking time. Line the bottom of the pan with the dough (or the ready-made puff pastry), leaving an overhang on all sides and add the filling. Spread it around evenly with a spatula and grind some white pepper on top.
Roll out the second piece of dough (or use the ready-made puff pastry) and place it on top of the filling. Press together the two sheets of puff pastry at the edges of the tyropita and cut with a knife the extra overhanging dough, leaving just a little around the edges. Crimp up the edges of the puff pastry.
With a knife, score the pie, creating 16 equal-sized square pieces and score the crimped up edges as well.

Note: Don’t score all the way down to the filling because the cheeses will ooze out while baking.


Place the baking pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and preheat your oven to 185-190 degrees Celsius / 365-375 Fahrenheit.

Take the baking pan out of the fridge and place it straight on the middle rack of the oven. Bake the tyropita for 55-60 minutes until the dough puffs up and takes on a golden-brown color.

Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool. As it cools, the puff pastry will gradually deflate. Cut the tyropita into pieces and serve.

You can keep it in a cool place in your kitchen, covered lightly with aluminum foil for 1-2 days.





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13 comments:

  1. incredible looking and sounding tyropita! I never heard/thought of adding bechamel, but it looks like what I MUST do next time.

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    1. Greek recipes oftentimes include béchamel, like mousakas, pastitsio, melitzanes papoutsakia and some versions of tyropita. I'm glad you like it!

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  2. Of course we bloggers see lots of recipes everyday, but this is a first for me in the world of "tyropita"...which is lovely to say. Your recipe is beautifully made and photographed and sounds rather easy except for the homemade puff pastry part. I made puff pastry one time and it was not at all what I wanted it to be. There is a really good puff pastry at Whole Foods that is made with real butter that I often use, so I will try your recipe using it. I am sure it will not be as good as if homemade, but I am sure it will ward off the flu!

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  3. I have made and eaten many different tiropites, as you said the recipes are endless, your version looks really yummy and I just bought my puff pastry, it is relaxing in the fridge so I shall make it tomorrow.With anthotiro.
    I wouldn't dare to attempt to make my own puff pastry!
    Many greetings, Frieda

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  4. Love that buttery, crisped and golden pastry and the luscious cheese filling. I have had so much cheese lately in the fridge and this would be such a delightful pie!

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  5. This looks like a slice of heaven. I have only had individual version of the tyropita made with phyllo dough by Doreen. This version looks so tasty and elegant, especially on that gorgeous plate! ~ David

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  6. Teresa — it's very easy to make if your puff pastry is already made. I do encourage you to give it another try though. It's really worth it.

    Frieda — I hope you enjoy it!

    Joumana — I'm glad you like it!

    David — I love that plate too :)

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  7. This is just one big, tasty pillow of comfort. The filling looks so ethereal and light and I am still in awe of your homemade puff pastry. Beautiful.

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  8. Don't even get me started on men when they have even just a cold! Now, if I had this tyropita to pull me through those moments, life would be so much better ;o)

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  9. I absolutely love your pictures and your recipes.

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  10. I'm like you when sickness comes to town. I prefer to be alone and can't stand any attention or sympathy. I'd rather get my comfort from something like this tyropita. Oh that pastry!!

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  11. Oh yum Magda! I actually have a summer cold at the moment and would love the comfort of that delicious pie! It looks SO good!!

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  12. Mmmmm omg I had this when I was in Greece and it was one of my favorite dishes I tried there. Can't wait to try to make it myself!

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