Monday, March 25, 2013

Witchin' in the Kitchen's Spanakopita


TheKitchenWitch's Spanakopita
Though I've talked about her before in this space, perhaps you haven't met my friend Jess. She writes the beautiful blog Witchin' in the Kitchen about food and community, art and creativity--and weaves that all together in a way that feels wholistic and mindful, smart and aware. It's her personal compendium of, as she says,"foodstuffs, paintings, memories, and magic spells."

Witchin' in the Kitchen's Spanakopita
TheKitchenWitch

Back in January, we decided to do a "blog collaboration" and on one Saturday afternoon, she came over to my kitchen to chat and take photos while I made grapefruit and pepper meringue tartlets. As I whipped egg whites and piped meringue, our conversation turned to the familiar topics of feminism, creativity, and domesticity, and where women's food blogs, including our own, fit into that history and trajectory.

Witchin' in the Kitchen's Spanakopita prep
TheKitchenWitch's Spanakopita fillingTheKitchenWitch Filling Spanakopita 
When Jess shared her lovely film photos and thoughts from that afternoon, it prompted quite a conversation in the comments section of her blog, demonstrating that there is desire and need for much more dialogue about this. One aspect that both Jess and I feel excited about is the fact that blogging is a relatively new medium, with so much possibility and potential energy for growth and action and thinking about how we can celebrate the domestic arts of the women before us, and move them forward in a way that is empowering and positive and supportive, rather than daunting and negative and competitive. Of course, this is all very complicated, but that is perhaps what's most exciting.

TheKitchenWitch filling Spanakopita TheKitchenWitch folding Spanakopita TheKitchenWitch folding Spanakopita
So a few Sundays ago, I paid a visit to Jess' kitchen, for the second part of our collaboration. This time, she was doing the baking--of her mother's Spanakopita, or Spinach Pie. I was so impressed by her graceful, calm execution of the recipe--sometimes I can get so distracted with a friend in the kitchen (I felt rather scattered while making those grapefruit tartlets!), but Jess was so cool and composed. I was mostly behind the camera--though Jess took quite a few of these too, and let me shoot some with her camera to accompany my digital shots and serve as back-up for my manual film camera experimentation. By the way--can you spot us in our respective roles in one of the photos above?

The day before we had both attended an experimental knitting workshop by Icelandic designer Steinnun Sigurd at the Kennedy Center's Nordic Cool festival. She taught us how to knit with our fingers (no needles!) in rhythm with experimental Icelandic pop from the 50s. It was totally fun and wacky and weird, so we talked a bit about that, as well as tattoos and symbology, DC living, Virginia cabins, and old-time fiddle. 

Witchin in the Kitchen's Spanakopita triangles
Witchin in the Kitchen's Spanakopita triangles
Now that this first cross-post blog share is completed, we've tossed around some ideas for what comes next (we've already had a canning party!). But for now, here's the recipe for Jess' mother's Spanakopita, which came to her by way of her cousin's ex-busband, who was Greek and a chef. I attest to Jess' assertion that it makes a great lunch--it was mine on that Sunday afternoon, and for a few days after, though it was hard not to eat all the little triangle pies in one sitting.

TheKitchenWitch's Spanakopita TheKitchenWitch's Spanakopita
Here's my mom's recipe for spanakopita, or as she used to call it when we were kids, "spinach pie". I used only 1 lb. of feta instead of 1.5 lbs, but otherwise the recipe is the same. 

Spanakopita (or Spinach Pie)
From Jess of Witchin' in the Kitchen

Ingredients
4 eggs
Package of phyllo dough, thawed completely
3 c. cooked, chopped spinach (or 3 packages frozen, cooked according to the package)
16 oz. cottage cheese
1-1 1/2 lbs. feta
2 sticks (1 c.) salted butter
Small bottle of dill (you will use the whole thing)
2 bunches of scallions

Directions
1. Cook spinach either by package directions or as discussed above. Strain, cool, and blot dry.

2. Sauté the chopped scallions (use only the white and light green parts) in olive oil with the entire bottle of dill, or 1/3 of the bottle if you can only find a regular spice jar-sized bottle. Do not brown.

3. Mix the eggs with the drained cottage cheese, the crumbled feta, scallions, and cooled spinach. In the same pan that you used to cook the scallions and dill, melt the butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

4. Lay out the phyllo sheets, and keep the portion that you are not using covered with a tea towel so the dough doesn't dry out. Cut the sheets lengthwise so they're just smaller than the width of your hand. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheets with the melted butter. Drop a spoonful of the spinach mixture onto the end of the buttered phyllo dough column, and fold up the dough (lifting up only 2 or 3 sheets at a time) into a triangle.

5. Arrange the spanakopita triangles on a buttered baking sheet. Brush melted butter on top of the pies, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool completely, then store covered in the refrigerator. To reheat, wrap in foil and heat in the oven at 350 for a half-hour to keep the dough crispy. It's also delicious cold as a snack or for lunch.

Witchin' in the Kitchen's Spanakopita

Photos by Jess Schreibstein of Witchin' in the Kitchen and yours truly

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2 comments:

studiothreetwofive said...

Yum these look delicious! Love the collaboration x

emily said...

they WERE--thank you!