Tyropitakia – feta and manouri cheese pies

Tyropitakia – feta and manouri cheese pies

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Greek food includes many different pies – probably at least as many as there are types of vegetable and meat found in the country. Spinach and cheese pies, more than any other, define this type of healthy, quickly made and hassle-free (needing few ingredients) favourite of young and old alike.

One of my favourite snacks on the way back from school, along with peinirli and souvlaki, the smell of these freshly baked pies would permeate the air and have us pupils running for them, often queuing round the corner from the bakery for our lunch. Puff pastry, choriatiko filo (country filo pastry – a little thicker than the bought variety) and kourou are the pastries used in pie-making.

Kourou is normally made with butter but in smaller quantities than puff pastry – however, I find that using olive oil instead makes it a little crisper without losing its ‘shortness’, and it is of course a healthier alternative.

Tyropitakia can be frozen uncooked for up to three months. There is no need to thaw them – they can be baked directly from the freezer, adding an extra five minutes to the cooking time. They can also be frozen once baked and warmed up when needed. Great for parties and picnics.

1
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
2
Place all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and mix well. You can add or substitute ingredients you love, such as sun-dried tomatoes, black garlic, ham, spinach, or make a few pies with each filling, sprinkling them with poppy seeds, black sesame seeds, crushed almonds, etc. to differentiate between them
3
For the pastry, put all the ingredients except the egg yolk and sesame seeds into a bowl and mix to form a dough. It should have a velvety feel. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and roll out the dough fairly thinly (about 3mm-thick). Cut out 10cm circles, place a teaspoon of filling on one half of each, and brush all round the edge with the beaten egg yolk. Turn the other half of the pastry over the filling to create half-moon shapes. Press the edge to close, or use a dumpling press mould to get uniform-looking pies. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until deep golden in colour
4
Best served hot but can also be eaten at room temperature
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