I’ve always loved to cook. It’s etched into my DNA. In college, when I felt lost and couldn’t decide on a major, I found solace in the kitchen. It has always been a place for me to retreat in difficult times. That has never been true more than now.
I’m heartbroken that our healthcare workers are struggling to find basic equipment like gloves and masks. I’m frustrated that some people aren’t doing their part by staying home. I’m struggling to explain to my young daughter why she can’t pet a dog when we go on a walk. Why she can’t go to school or see her cousins and friends. I know I’m not the only one going through this. We are all in it together.
So, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade (or in this case a pan of tiropitas).
Tiropitas, or, tee-po-pee-tas as Talya calls them, are a Greek cheese pie. They’re probably the original comfort food. Yup! We invented that, too.
I know from what I’ve seen friends and family in Greece posting that bread, pasta, and toilet paper vanishing off shelves seems to be universal. But thankfully, phyllo can still be readily found! The filling is a blend of cottage and feta cheese. Both ingredients can be ordered online. I typically add in a bit of kasseri, but you can substitute jack, parmesan, gruyere…basically whatever you have in the house. I promise, it’ll taste great. The secret to my tiropitas has always been the butter. I brown it, giving the phyllo a lovely rich and toasty flavor. If you are low on butter you can also do a blend half olive oil half browned butter. They’ll still taste great. Lastly, tiropitas freeze really well. So, bake a whole pan and then freeze some of it to enjoy later.
This dish will put a smile on faces. So, get out of your pajamas and into the kitchen! As you can see from the photo below, Talya took the get out of your pajamas suggestion to a whole new level. Watch out Jamie Oliver, there’s a new “naked chef” in town!
Enjoy. Be smart. Stay healthy.
(Makes about 15)
5 ounces unsalted butter (about 130 grams)
16 ounces (454 grams) cottage cheese
8 ounces (226 grams) feta cheese, preferably 100% sheep’s milk
1/3 cup grated cheese such as jack cheese or kasseri
Pinch of salt and pepper
Half box phyllo about 12 sheets, I use Athens brand but any brand will do
Place the butter in a pan and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, crumble the feta cheese and stir it together with the cottage cheese. Add the grated cheese. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Add the eggs.
Using a pastry brush, spread some of the melted butter on a quarter sheet pan (9”x13” or 23cmx33cm).
Open the roll of phyllo. You will need to work quickly so the phyllo doesn’t dry out. If the phyllo starts to dry out, simply dampen a clean dish towel and lay it on top of the phyllo sheets. Place two pieces of phyllo into the bottom of the pan, covering the bottom and sides completely. Brush the butter on top and place another two layers of phyllo. Repeat the layering of butter an phyllo until you have 8 pieces on the bottom.
Add a small drizzle of browned butter into the filling. Give it a quick stir and transfer the filling onto the phyllo. Cover with the phyllo that is hanging over the sides. Add the remaining four pieces of phyllo on top, one-at-a-time. Add butter between each layer. Using a pairing knife, score the top, cutting into three strips lengthwise and five strips widthwise.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Until the top is golden. Cool for about 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.
For frozen leftover, simply reheat from frozen on a sheet pan in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. Serve.
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