Wedding Celebration on Lake Sinclair
A weekend wedding celebration topped off with learning to make Spanakopita (spinach pie) = perfection.
The son of one of my very best friends married his college sweetheart this past weekend in Macon, Georgia, and I was so lucky to share in their celebration. Catching up with Sharlene’s family, sharing a lake house with her former neighbors and cousins, and meeting her friends on Georgia’s Lake Sinclair was sheer delight.
Sharing Life Stories
I love meeting people and hearing their life stories, but I do have to say those I heard this past weekend were some of the best. There was talk about growing up and living in the South, talk of families and just day-to-day life on Lake Sinclair, their little piece of heaven. And then there was the laughter…and who doesn’t love to laugh? I’m still laughing just thinking about some of those stories, delivered with such fun-filled spirit in their Southern (Georgia) and Greek accents. I am honored to call them all my new friends.
All That Delicious Food
Well you can’t have that much fun without food—So much delicious food! One of the highlights for me was the Spanakopita (Spinach Pie). Oh my it was delicious!
Of course I quickly found who prepared this fine dish—Dimitri, my friend’s Greek neighbor. He assured me it wasn’t nearly as complicated to prepare as I thought, and that there is no reason to be intimidated by filo dough (I still am…a little). He invited me and my friend, Sharlene, to an impromptu cooking class at his home. Well there was no way I was going to miss out on that.
Such Great Neighbors
As it turns out there was no better person to teach me how to make Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) than my new friend, D. Dimiri is an amazing chef—a Greek immigrant who ran a Greek restaurant that survived Hurricane Hugo. He definitely knows his stuff. And talk about patience with a couple of gals who were a little clueless in the filo dough department. Adding to the enjoyment of the morning were his stories peppered throughout our lesson: about coming to America, owning a restaurant, adding on to his charming home on Lake Sinclair by himself and his willingness to help another neighbor with electrical, mechanical or labor intensive problems that arise in his lake community from time to time.
Until We Meet Again
Finally, a huge thank you to D and his lovely wife, Georgia, for opening up their kitchen to me and Sharlene and spending their Sunday morning with us. I so enjoyed meeting them and learning some new recipes and cooking hints from Dimitri. And a huge thank you to Sharlene for accompanying me the morning after her son’s wedding. Now that’s what I call a friend! I can’t wait to recreate “D’s” recipe at home.
Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
- ¼ pound filo dough halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup feta cheese, chopped
- 1 cup cottage cheese (small or large curd)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese or can use another cup of cottage cheese
- 2 8-oz pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed REALLY dry
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons parsley, dried or fresh, chopped
- PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
- Lightly OIL a 9x13-inch baking (lasagna) pan with olive oil spray or brush with olive oil.
- MELT butter in a pan. REMOVE from heat and set aside to cool.
- BRUSH bottom of pan with butter.
- In a medium bowl, MIX together eggs, feta cheese, and cottage cheese (and ricotta if using). STIR in very dry spinach, onion and eggs.
- LAY 2 sheets of filo dough in prepared baking pan. BRUSH lightly with butter. TOP with 2 sheets of filo dough. BRUSH lightly with butter.
- Continue layering 2 sheets and brushing with butter until you have 8-10 layers. BRUSH top with butter. Be sure dough reaches all sides of pan with every other layer (each sheet does not reach). If dough breaks, just layer put together the best you can and continue layering and buttering.
- SPREAD spinach and cheese mixture into pan. BRUSH with butter and then LAYER remaining sheets of dough, 2 layers at a time, brushing with butter every 2 layers.
- BAKE in preheated 375-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes. CHECK spanakopita while baking (stand away to avoid steam). As the top of dough begins to brown, DECREASE oven heat to 325. BAKE until golden brown (about one hour)
- REMOVE from oven and let COOL for approximately 10 minutes. FLIP onto a baking sheet (jelly roll-style pan). PLACE back into oven to brown for another 10 minutes.
- COOL (so the spinach/cheese mixture doesn’t leak out). CUT into squares and SERVE.