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Striftopites Maximize the Finest Components of Spanakopita

Lovers of Greek phyllo pies know that pleasure can hinge on a crust’s ample floor space — however the important thing to maximizing this? A spiral.

A regular slice of phyllo pie gives a delicate filling blanketed by flaky, tender, delightfully oily crust on the underside, prime and perhaps — if luck delivers an edge or nook piece — a facet or two. However a spiraled pie lavishes its admirers with completely proportioned bites, every with a satisfying ratio of phyllo to filling.

The golden spirals generally known as striftopites (the collective title for “twisted pies”) will seem on many lunch tables throughout Greece on Orthodox Easter — this 12 months, on Might 5 — alongside the obligatory candy tsoureki loaves and platters of spit-roasted lamb, ending 40 days of Lenten fasting. (Within the Greek Orthodox custom, meaning abstaining from merchandise derived from red-blooded animals. For a few of the strictest observers, that even contains olive oil, which was traditionally transported in goat-skin containers.)

To make a striftopita, a cook dinner spreads a savory or candy filling onto skinny dough, which is rolled into a free log, then coaxed right into a ruched spiral. The pie is normally baked — generally fried — for a crisp exterior that yields to tender filling. A lot of olive oil or, much less usually, butter is concerned. The crevices between rings permit fats to penetrate the dough, including taste and flakiness. And in candy pies, these gaps present a path for the pastry to evenly soak up the sugary syrup.

“Phyllo pies,” Ms. Miari mentioned, “are the Greeks’ model of sandwiches,” equally that includes regional variations, a spread of sizes and a plurality of fillings.

Pies on the Greek islands are usually extra compact than on the mainland due to a historic shortage of firewood, mentioned the cookbook creator Aglaia Kremezi, who lives on the island of Kea. The smaller the pie, the faster it cooks.

In Greece, cheese is the commonest filling — usually feta mixed with one other kind. Spinach and blended greens are additionally standard, usually supplemented with bulgur, raisins, inexperienced onions, leeks or cheeses. The place wild greens and fennel fronds will not be an choice, Ms. Kremezi recommends complementing store-bought spinach (contemporary or frozen) with flavorful bitter greens like arugula, chard, beet greens, or chicory, and including a giant bunch of flat-leaf parsley.

However what’s nonnegotiable for avid residence cooks in Greece is nice phyllo, at all times made with flour and water, and generally with olive oil, lemon juice or spirits. Taming uncooked dough with a verga, the lengthy, skinny rolling pin used for phyllo, takes time to grasp — maybe “a lifetime,” Ms. Miari mentioned, and it bears little resemblance to the business stuff that’s usually skinny and brittle sufficient to shatter with the contact of a fork’s tine.

The primary time Ms. Kremezi made a pie for her husband-to-be, utilizing store-bought phyllo, he pushed apart the crust and ate solely the filling. “It tastes like cardboard,” she recalled him saying of the tasteless casing. To boost business phyllo’s taste, she suggests brushing the pie with egg wash or yogurt earlier than baking. (A fresh-phyllo pie would merely be brushed with extra oil or butter.)

The Cypriot chef Marilena Joannides has made it her mission to dispel the aura of issue that surrounds phyllo-making. Utilizing only a stand mixer and a small hand-cranked pasta curler, she tries to point out residence cooks in her courses that making contemporary phyllo is less complicated than they may think about.

A neater answer nonetheless, and proof of striftopites’ recognition amongst Greeks, lies inside an enormous expanse of show freezers at Mediterranean Meals, a Greek grocery store in Astoria, Queens. On a current go to, the sounds of Greek discuss radio and Greek chatter amongst cashiers and prospects greeted customers who may select from an expanse of show freezers dedicated to imported spiraled pies, with fillings together with a spread of cheeses, spinach, pumpkin with raisins and walnuts, and apple with cinnamon. If all else fails, they’re able to bake.

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