Posts Tagged ‘Greek’


Growing up, one of our family favourites was Rétes (Hungarian Strudel) and my dear Mom made Hungarian delicacies like Káposztás Rétes (Savoury Cabbage Strudel) and Túrós Rétes (sweet Cottage Cheese Strudel) and even sometimes but not often, Almás Rétes (Apple Strudel). Mom’s favourite was Káposztás Rétes (Cabbage Strudel) and although as kids we couldn’t stand it, I often find myself craving the savoury flavours of this treat.

My dear Mom always told stories as she was cooking or baking, stories about food, of course! The one story that has resonated with me all these years is that Grandma (Nagymama) made her own Rétes dough! The story goes that Nagymama laid a clean, white sheet on the dining room table, dusted it with flour and stretched and stretched and stretched her homemade dough until you could read newsprint through it. I always imagined an enormous dough (like this) on the table! Mom never made strudel dough that I recall, by the time she was a homemaker, ready made, frozen dough was already available and so much easier than making it yourself. I have used ready made Phyllo more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes, but I’d never made it myself. So you can well imagine why homemade phyllo dough is on my bucket list.

Recently, we invited dear friends to the cottage and I thought homemade Baklava would be a lovely dessert over the weekend and a great excuse to make homemade phyllo dough. I chose Baklava because if the Phyllo didn’t work out as well, the syrup would ‘hide’ its flaws, unlike Rétes. The recipe I followed is here (why reinvent the wheel?) but I can tell you right now that using the pasta maker is not nearly as satisfying as rolling by hand. A marble rolling pin (or something really heavy) would be helpful…I had a rolling pin made by one of my dear Mom’s friends many years ago and I paid the price by bruising my palms and fingers!

Bucket List

Homemade Phyllo Dough

This recipe makes 25 sheets approx. 25 cm x  41 cm (10″ x 16″)

I allowed the dough to rest overnight.

The recipe instructions indicate to take the dough to #9 on the pasta maker (mine is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with attachments) but I recommend to take it to #8 and do the rest by hand. I also tried rolling it entirely by hand (see photos below – only took about 12 minutes each) and it wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated but it did bruise my hands badly). Between each number of stretching the dough by pasta machine, keep rubbing a little flour to both sides of the flattened dough, this is how the correct texture is achieved. Believe me, you will know when you feel it.

I also found that rolling the dough through each pass on the pasta maker a couple of times instead of just once results in a finer dough.



  • 17 (4-sheet) baklavas
  • 11 (2-sheet) baklavas
  • 4 left over sheets (freeze for later).


  • 21 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 120 g hazelnuts
  • 200 g almonds
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Roast both nuts on 163° C (325° F) for 18 minutes or until most of the skins have separated from the hazelnuts (almonds may or may not separate).
  2. Using a clean tea towel, rub the hot nuts until most of the skins come off. Separate skins from nuts.
  3. Chop both hazelnuts and almonds roughly and combine with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Combine  first three ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir well, set aside.

Baklava assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 163° C (325° F).
  2. Divide the dough into 40 g dough portions.
  3. Lightly flour a large, clean surface and roll out to approximately 25 cm x 41 cm or 10″ x 16″ sheets. Continue to roll all of the dough like this until you have rolled it all out. Cover with a lightly damp cloth and a jelly roll pan to protect it from drying out.
  4. Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it length-wise in front of you. Brush generously with the melted butter. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the nut mixture per sheet. Continue for 2-3 sheets.
  5. Taking the long end, begin to roll the phyllo tightly. Brush the finished roll with melted butter.
  6. Cut into 5 cm or 2.5″ lengths (or smaller equal lengths). Place cut side up into a lightly buttered pan, it doesn’t matter if they touch. Continue until all the dough and nut mixture is exhausted.
  7. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely and then pour the syrup over The rolls and allow to rest for a few hours.

I found that 40 g made the perfect sheet size.


A relatively damp and somewhat elastic dough (not nearly as elastic as pizza dough)


You can roll to 9 in your pasta maker, but honestly I did not find rolling by hand difficult.


OK. By saying “I did not find the rolling difficult”, what I meant was “not difficult as I was rolling” but the next day, my palms were bruised from the shear pressure I had to put onto the rolling pin. You may wish to roll with a marble rolling pin.


For some reason, my Nagymama (grandma) always said the dough has to be thin enough to read a newspaper through it, I figured a nut panel would suffice!


This is one of the rolls of Baklava.


Cut rolls into 16-17 equal lengths and place into a greased pan. It’s OK if they touch because the dough has been greased sufficiently so they won’t stick.


The finished product, with a little extra honey drizzled on. PS, that silver tray comes from my Dad’s side of the family, it’s probably over 100 years old!



This is quite a damp dough and it’s a bit sticky but don’t worry, you’ll be stretching and rolling additional flour into it to give it the correct wet/dry ratio.

The dough only becomes difficult to work with (breaking, cracking) when it dries out; make sure you have a lightly damp tea towel to cover any rolls or sheets. I also used a 10″ x 16″ jelly roll pan to cover it.

In hindsight, I should have used only 2 or 3 (not 4) sheets per roll. Next time I think I’ll sprinkle the nut mixture on each sheet and not just the end — I have adjusted the recipe above.

I was 100% sure I would not be making this recipe again because it’s so inexpensive to buy ready made, but in reviewing the ingredient list I may have to resort to making it myself as there is one or two ingredients that gross me out.

Read Full Post »


In converting a recipe to Vegan, I generally try to keep in mind all the flavours AND the textures in the non-vegan version. When I decided to make Vegan Spanakopita I became very excited until I remembered that there was crumbled feta in my recipe. Crumbled feta is not Vegan, so I began to think…what oh what can I use to replace the flavour and the unique texture this delicious cheese brings to the table. Yes, I could have omitted it altogether, but then it wouldn’t be as delicious!  Some time ago, I’d made a note to marinate tofu in ‘feta’ flavours like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, oregano and olive oil…so I did a little experimentation and came up with this version. It’s actually pretty tasty on its own, but I needed it for this recipe so there won’t be marinated tofu on the buffet table, but this spanakopita more than makes up for it. I don’t think the non-vegans will mind this version. But there will be pulled pork and bacon wrapped dates just in case ;-)!

Vegan Spanakopita

A kitcheninspirations original recipe.

Makes about 50, 6 cm (about 3 inch) triangles


  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 5 cloves garlic ~20 g, finely minced
  • 500 g zucchini grated (about 2 medium-sized)
  • 300 g spinach
  • 3-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 350 g marinated tofu, drained, roughly chopped (recipe below)
  • About 8-10 sheets phyllo
  • 1/4 cup canola oil


  1. Heat canola oil in a large dutch oven. Add the sliced onion and sweat it out a bit, add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the grated zucchini (click here for some clear steps on making this dish) and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until it has totally wilted.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the fresh dill, oregano and roughly chopped marinated tofu. Set into a fine sieve and allow to cool and drain.
  3. Once completely cool, prepare the phyllo sheets by cutting them into 3 cm or 2.5 inch strips and lightly spraying each one with canola oil. Use two strips per triangle. Place one heaping teaspoon of the cooled filling onto one end and start folding into a triangle. Brush or spray lightly all over with the canola oil.

    A heaping teaspoon of filling goes at the end.


    Begin folding into a triangle and continue until the length is used up.


    The nature of the folds covers in the filling very well.


    A tidy little triangle.

  4. Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes if saving for the freezer or 116-18 minutes to serve immediately.
  5. To reheat, place a single layer of the triangles onto a baking sheet and reheat in 300°F for 10 minutes or until golden.

The oil makes the phyllo very crispy.

Marinated Tofu

Makes enough for one batch of Spanakopita (prepare 1-2 days ahead to allow tofu to absorb the marinade flavours)


  • 350 g extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground mixed peppercorns


  1. Place the drained tofu on a cutting board over a sink so it’s tilting a bit into the sink. Place another cutting board on top and a heavy cast iron pan. Leave for 30 minutes to drain.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, water, EVOO, oregano, sea salt and peppercorns and mix well.
  3. Once drained, dry off the tofu and cut into 1 cm cubes. Place into a glass container and cover with the marinating liquid. Marinate in the refrigerator, shaking the jar intermittently over 1 to 2 days. Drain to use.

Read Full Post »

I made two dipping sauces, one for the veggie sticks (which I didn’t bother listing on my menu, boring old veggie sticks) and one for the wings. Although both cheeses are full fat, I did reduce the fat by using non-fat Greek yogurt; President’s Choice makes a wonderful product that is quite reasonably priced.

Feta Dip

Feta Dip. Now where did I put those veggie sticks?


  • 100 g and 50 crumbled Greek Feta
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • salt to taste


  1. Place 100 g of the Feta, yogurt and garlic into the container of your immersion blender. Blend until smooth, taste to see if it’s salty enough (you may wish to leave overnight and taste again when the flavours have had a chance to really come together).
  2. Fold in the remaining crumbled Feta for a chunky dip.
  3. Serve with vegetable sticks.

Blue Cheese Dip

Blue cheese dip. Grab a wing and start dipping!


  • 100 g and 50 crumbled Blue (I used Rosenborg Danish blue because I can buy it very inexpensively at Costco. I cut it into 100g portions and freeze in small zip lock bags).
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • salt to taste


  1. Place 100 g of the blue cheese and yogurt into the container of your immersion blender. Blend until smooth, taste to see if it’s salty enough (you may wish to leave overnight and taste again when the flavours have had a chance to really come together).
  2. Fold in the remaining crumbled blue for a chunky dip.
  3. Serve with maple garlic wings!

Read Full Post »

OPA! Saganaki

Sunday dinners are always special chez nous because from time to time my lovely nephew Brian (I have to be nice, he reads my blog) comes over for dinner, and yesterday was the day! Other than mushrooms (and he’s trying them to see if he might like them now), he’ll try almost anything, and he usually brings a good appetite so I am challenged to make something new, sometimes unusual and always delicious! Year’s ago I started keeping a food diary detailing what I cooked for whom and when so that I don’t duplicate (too often) — you know, we all have our favourite meals to cook, so I know what I served the last time he was here, or even a year ago. I now keep this diary on the cloud so I have access to it on my mac, my iPhone and my iPad! It’s very handy particularly when I’m at the grocery store and they are out of what I had planned, I can check back for an alternative option that hasn’t been had in a while (who are you calling “type A”? Hmmmmm!).

Last week, JT and I were mulling around at the grocery store, checking out what’s new and we both (at the exact same time) spotted the Saganaki cheese in the deli section! We looked at each other and went for it. Now this is not one of those foods you read the nutritional values for, you either commit to it or you decide for the better and put it back. It was not very expensive and we found a piece that was not too large and we both thought, OK, let’s do it. As it turned out, it was our supper that night, it’s a very filling dish.

Saganaki is a very fatty cheese that is pan fried until golden and then doused with Ouzo and set a flame (en flambé), and served to the table. Wikipedia claims that the flaming tradition was developed in 1968 at The Parthenon restaurant in Chicago’s Greektown (John or Bill, you’ll have to verify that for us!). I didn’t have Ouzo on hand, so I used the Pastis (French version with the same anise taste) and it worked out beautifully. We are going to start our dinner with Brian with this cheese dish ; it’s not light, but it will help us with the absorption of the copious amounts of alcohol we generally consume with the man — he is such a bad influence!

OPA! It's best not to wear anything flamable; and for safety's sake, tie that crazy mop with all the hairspray back!



  • 1 container baking soda or 1 fire extinguisher (always be prepared 😉)
  • 100-400g Saganaki cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain white flour
  • 2-4 tablespoons of oil (something with a high smoke point, like peanut oil)
  • 2-3 tbsp Ouzo (or Pastis as I had on hand)
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • Fresh bread (JT made his no knead bread and we added sesame seeds to it for extra flavour)


  1. Have the baking soda handy or bring out the Fire Extinguisher to a handy location.
  2. Remove the packaging from the Saganaki cheese. Dredge with flour, coating both sides really well.
  3. Heat the oil and add the cheese and cook until it is golden brown, flip and repeat.
  4. Douse the cheese with the Ouzo and light.
  5. Present to the table with sliced bread and wedges of lemon. A quick squeeze of lemon juice with stop the flames.

This is a dangerous appetizer, it’s best to have it with adult supervision!

Oh ya, I almost forgot. I must say a HUGE thank you to all who have participated in my very first give away. What fun I had reading your comments and I was so pleased that some of you found interesting posts from the past, and thank you for commenting on them. This is the best part of blogging, the feedback that we get and give. We had a great turnout, and I am very pleased that we had some new folks enter too, thank you and welcome. But I am also pleased that many of my loyal followers participated! I am so excited about giving away the salts. I have tabulated the entries and will be making the draw soon, so you’ll have to come back this week when I reveal the winner. Good luck to everyone, and THANK YOU!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: