Diane Kochilas is a noted cookbook author and creator and co-host of the award-winning TV Show: “My Greek Table with Diane Kochilas”, which begins its third season on Mother's Day weekend. on public television stations across the country. She’s a consulting chef and one of the world’s foremost authorities on Greek cuisine. Diane also runs the “Glorious Greek Cooking School” on her native island, Ikaria, part of the Blue Zone and renowned for the longevity of its inhabitants
Here she is sharing a easy and very traditional Greek mezze (appetizer), Tyropitakia.
Greek Phyllo Cheese Pies with Pepper and Herbs
Makes 8 – 12 servings of several pieces each (depending on which size you opt for)
1 pound #4 commercial phyllo, defrosted and at room temperature*
Olive oil for brushing the pastry
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds Greek feta, crumbled
½ pound Greek anthotyro or whole milk ricotta, drained
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried mint, or more, to taste
½ teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
Preheat the oven to 375F/180C. Lightly oil a shallow baking pan or sheet.
In a large mixing bowl combine the crumbled feta and anthotyro. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to cheese mixture. Stir in the spices, herbs, and zest.
On a clean work surface, roll open the phyllo. Have two kitchen towels ready, one dry and one damp. Cover the phyllo first with the dry towel then with the damp one, to keep it moist.
We will be doing several variations on shapes: large and smaller triangles and cylinders.
To do small triangles: Remove 2 sheets of phyllo and place them on a cutting board. Cut the phyllo in half lengthwise. Stack the strips and work fast. Take the first strip and brush the entire surface lightly with olive oil. Fold it in half lengthwise. Brush the surface with olive oil. Take a teaspoon full of the filling and place it on the bottom right corner of the folded strip. Proceed to fold it as you would a flag, forming right triangles with every fold. Place it seam-side down on an oiled baking dish. Continue with phyllo and filling as desired.
To do larger triangles: Take one whole sheet of phyllo and brush the surface with olive oil. Fold it in half. Brush the top surface with olive oil. Follow the same directions as above, only use two teaspoons of filling, placing them on the bottom right corner and folding up from corner to side to form a right triangle, as you would fold a flag.
To make cylinders: Take a whole sheet of phyllo, brush it with olive oil and fold it lengthwise in half. Brush the surface with olive oil. Place two teaspoons of filling across the bottom of the strip, about 1.2 inch/ 1.25 cm in from the edge. Fold in the sides and, tapering the sides as you go, roll up the stip as you would a cylinder or spring roll. Place seam-side down on a baking dish. Brush the surface with olive oil and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.