Chef Maria Bell came by this morning to show us how to make a pie with phyllo dough.
Her Phyllo recipes are part of her new concept called "I Pie everything."
She uses phyllo to make spinach pies, cheese pies, lasagna pies, meatloaf pies, penne alfredo pies, meat pies several flavors, broccoli and cauliflower pies, vegetarian with leeks and rupini, eggplants and zucchini. Name it, she can pie it.
Chef Maria Bell's pies are square pieces that can be lunch or an appetizer. They can be cut in smaller bite-size portions that are ideal for parties.
2.5 lbs. spinach, chopped (you can substitute frozen, thawed well)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large onions, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced (incl. 4 inches green)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped (substitute 3 tbsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 lb. ricotta or cottage cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb. phyllo pastry sheetsPreparation:
Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Spinach should be dry.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saute pan or large dutch oven. Saute the onions and green onions until tender. Add the spinach, parsley, and dill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and heated through. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
If using frozen spinach, you will want to cook until excess moisture evaporates. Spinach mixture should be on the dry side.
Remove from heat and set the spinach aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the feta, eggs, and ricotta (cottage) cheese. Add the cooled spinach mixture and mix until combined.
Combine the melted butter with the olive oil in a bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly grease two 9 x 12 rectangular pans.Unwrap the Phyllo:
Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18 inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9x12 inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.
Prepare the Pita:
Layer about 10 sheets on the bottom of the pan making sure to brush each sheet with the butter/olive oil mixture. Add half of the spinach mixture in an even layer and press with a spatula to flatten.
Layer another 10 sheets on top of the spinach mixture making sure to brush well with butter/olive oil mixture. Repeat the process with the second pan.
Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to puncture filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later. You can place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the pita turns a deep golden brown. If the pita is frozen when you put it in the oven, you will need approximately 45 minutes cooking time. If fresh, plan for approximately 20 to 25 minutes of cooking time.
If you would like to contact Chef Maria Bell, her information is below.
Chef Maria Bell
Affordable, Gourmet and Local
Catering, farmers markets
1876 Preston Street
Radcliff, KY, 40160