This week, you will undoubtedly be seeing Thanksgiving recipe upon Thanksgiving recipe posted on food blogs. Well, here’s mine.
This may not be your traditional Thanksgiving fare, but it certainly is mine. Tyropites, or cheese pies, are a staple at my family’s Thanksgiving (and, truly, every other big dinner). There are plates upon plates of them for appetizers–which gets a little dangerous considering I always overeat (and I usually don’t let my overeating affect what I consume for dinner, sadly). Tyropites are very similar to spanakopites (spinach pies) but they lack the spinach component. Feta is the predominant cheese, and some only use feta while others use a combination of cheeses. Dill is often added and sometimes parsley too (at least in my version).
Tyropites can be made with butter or olive oil. Butter is quite tasty, but olive oil is a healthier option. I love me some all-butter tyropites but I acquiesce and do a half-and-half combo, which is a great compromise. I also use a teeny bit less fat than the standard 1 cup.
If you can’t find myzithra, there are plenty of things you can do. One would be to just up the amount of feta a bit and forget the myzithra altogether. The other would be to use something like pecorino romano. You could also use a softer cheese, like cream cheese or ricotta (or a combo of ricotta and romano for probably the closest in terms of both taste and texture). Also, considering cheese is obviously the star of these beauties, you want to use a good cheese. I would definitely recommend going to a local ethnic store to get good quality feta, over that not-so-good package of feta they sell with the other cheeses in the grocery store.
These freeze great, both baked & unbaked.
Makes 25-30 pies
3/4 lb. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 lb. myzithra cheese
3-4 Tbsp. chopped dill
1-2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt (if necessary) and pepper
1 package (1 lb.) phyllo dough (thawed, if frozen)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (you can replace this with more butter if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 375.
In a bowl, mix together the cheeses, herbs, eggs, salt (if necessary – taste your cheese first), and pepper.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a saucepan and keep warm. Brush a layer of the mixture onto your baking sheet(s).
Lay one sheet of phyllo on your work surface, brush with the butter/oil mixture, and then lay another sheet of phyllo on top. Continue to do this until you have layered 4 sheets.
Cut the phyllo in 3 long strips (adjust this if you’ve purchased the larger sheets of phyllo dough, if you want bigger triangles, etc.). Place about a tablespoon of the filling at the bottom of each strip. Fold the portion with the filling to the left (or right) so you form a triangle. Then fold the piece upward, and then fold in the opposite direction of your first fold (right or left). Continue to do this until you’ve used up the entire strip of phyllo. Place on your greased baking sheet and brush the top with a little of the butter/oil mixture. Do this for the remaining pies.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and crispy.