Tag Archives: feta

Homemade Albanian Pite

So, here it is finally! My Americanized (really, it’s just sized down!) version of my mother-in-law’s pite. We couldn’t believe how well the first try turned out. I was especially impressed that our little oven could produce such an even-browning on the top of the pie. Kudos all around!

Warning: this recipe is not for the weak-hearted. It sounds very complicated, but I promise, it’s only slightly complicated! Watching someone make pite is much easier than reading about it, so maybe one of these days I’ll make a video recipe. Until then, good luck and email me if you have any questions!

Ingredients
Dough:

2 cups water (lukewarm)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
3.5 to 4 c. all-purpose flour

1. Mix salt, water and oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add in flour until mixture forms a dough.

2. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, not sticky.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let sit for 1/2 an hour, preferably in a warm place. I usually turn my oven on “warm” and let the bowl sit on the range during this time. It works like a charm!

Butter Mixture:
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp evoo

1. Melt together on the stove over “low” then set aside until needed. If the butter becomes hard (you can’t easily spread with a pastry brush) then re-heat on very low.

Filling:
1/2 lb. fresh spinach (remove any large stems because they are bitter)
2 cups Feta cheese, crumbled

1. Stack handfuls of spinach in neat piles and then roll the stacks up like cigars.


2. Chop spinach rolls width-wise so that you get thin ribbons.


3. Place the spinach ribbons in a colander over a large bowl.


4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the spinach and let it sit until you need it later. The spinach will sweat out all excess water during this process.

Putting it all together:
1. After dough has risen, place it on  a floured surface.
2. Roll it with your hands into a snake-like shape (think kindergartners playing with clay!)


3. Cut off golf-ball-sized pieces (I got about 28 out of my dough).

4. Form the pieces into balls by folding the edges of the dough inward. Flip over so the smooth side of the dough balls face up.

5. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into about 3-4″ circles/ovals (you want the dough as thin as possible).


6. Take each dough circle and individually stretch them out even further by hand (think pizza-making!). Be careful that the dough does not tear during this process.


7. As you stretch out each circle, you want to start stacking them on top of each other and sealing the edges of each together. In between each layer, brush on some of the butter mixture. SO, it’ll go:

-Stretched one circle of dough, lay it on the table
-Brush on butter mixture (cover the entire surface)


-Stretch another circle of dough
-Lay the second circle on top of the first, and pull the edges of the second circle so it aligns with the first circle


-Press edges together so they fuse
-REPEAT

You’ll want to make three piles of these stacks of dough circles. 1 pile will have 5 layers; this will be your inner layer of the pie. The 2 other piles will be your bottom layer and top layer of the pie. These two stacks should have an equal amount of dough layers.

Everyone still with me!?!?!?

Ok. the hard part is done. NOW you get to assemble the actual pie. Preheat your oven to 375*

8. Brush a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking sheet. Move your bottom layer of dough (stretch it further as you move it) and place on the baking sheet. Stretch the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan and pinch the edges of the dough directly to the pan so it sticks.


9. Squeeze the water from your spinach and then spread half evenly on the dough.


10. Sprinkle some feta evenly on top of the spinach. Amount is to your taste.


11. Drizzle a little butter mixture over the spinach & feta.
12. Repeat steps 8-11 with your thinner middle layer of dough.
13. Place the top layer of dough on top; pinch the corners of the dough together so all edges of the pie are sealed.


14. Brush MORE butter on the top of the dough.
15. Place dough in oven and bake until the top is nice and brown (my oven took about 45 minutes for this, yours will probably be different!).


16. Slice and serve immediately. Leftovers are quite delicious too!

I want to let everyone know that I would have not gotten through this process without the help of my wonderful husband. He’s my favorite sous chef, beer opener, and dough roller!

We shared our first pite with a couple of our friends.  We pulled off a full Albanian spread: pite (made by us), sausage & ajvar (made by Lindi’s mom),  raki (made by Lindi’s parents’ neighbor), and a chopped salad (chopped by me).

It was the perfect feast that brought us right back to Kosovo.

I love how food can do that. : )

Here is the recipe again, without picture interruptions:

Ingredients:

Dough:
2 cups water (lukewarm)
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp. evoo
3.5 to 4 c. all-purpose flour
1. Mix salt, water and oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly add in flour until mixture forms a dough.
2. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, not sticky.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let sit for 1/2 an hour. (preferably in a warm place. I usually turn my oven on “warm” and let the bowl sit on the range during this time. It works like a charm!)

Butter Mixture:
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp evoo
1. melt together on the stove over “low” then set aside until needed.

Filling:
1/2 lb. fresh spinach, chopped into ribbons
2 cups Feta cheese

Putting it all together:
1. After dough has risen, place it on  a floured surface.
2. Roll it with your hands into a snake-like shape (think kindergartners planing with clay!)
3. Cut off golf-ball sized pieces (I got about 28 out of my dough).
4. Form the pieces into balls by folding the edges of the dough inward. Flip over so the smooth side of the dough balls faces up.
5. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into about 3-4″ circles/ovals (you want the dough as thin as possible).
6. Take each dough circle and individually stretch them out even further by hand (think pizza-making!).
7. As you stretch out each circle, you want to start stacking them on top of each other and sealing the edges of each together. In between each layer, brush on some of the butter mixture. So, it’ll go:

-Stretched one circle of dough, lay it on the table
-Brush on butter mixture (cover the entire surface)
-Stretch another circle of dough
-Lay the second circle on top of the first, and pull the edges of the second circle so it aligns with the first circle
-Press edges together so they fuse
-REPEAT

You’ll want to make three piles of these stacks of dough circles. 1 pile will have 5 layers; this will be your inner layer on the pie. The 2 other piles will be your bottom layer and top layer of the pie. These two stacks should have about an equal amount of dough layers.

NOW you get to assemble the actual pie. Preheat your oven to 375*

8. Brush a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking sheet. Move your bottom layer of dough (stretch it further as you move it) and place on the baking sheet. Stretch the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan and pinch the edges of the dough directly to the pan so it sticks.
9. Squeeze the water from your spinach and then spread half evenly on the dough.
10. Sprinkle some feta evenly on top of the spinach. Amount is to you taste.
11. Drizzle a little butter mixture over the spinach & feta.
12. Repeat steps 8-11 with your thinner middle layer of dough.
13. Place the top layer of dough on top pinch the corners of the dough together so all edges of the pie are sealed.
14. Brush MORE butter on the top of the dough.
15. Place dough in oven and bake until the top is nice and brown (my oven took about 45 minutes for this, yours will probably be different!).
16. Slice and serve immediately. Leftovers are quite delicious too!

If anyone out there actually tries this on their own, please let me know how it goes!

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Beer Battered Tilapia and Mediterranean Couscous Salad

The husband was RAVING about both of these dishes. I was very nervous in the beginning that baking instead of frying the fish was going to leave us unsatisfied. Not so! The “breading” turned out very crispy without all grease you get from frying!

Beer Battered Tilapia

Ingredients:
1 .5 lbs. tilapia fillets
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 c. corn meal
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. basil
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup beer (I used Zywiec, what my friend tells me is the Polish Bud Lite!)

1. Preheat oven to 375*. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil; set aside.
2. Combine flour, corn meal, salt, baking powder and spices in one shallow bowl.


3. Combine milk, egg, and beer in a separate shallow bowl. (make sure to wish together, this is a before picture!)


4. Cut tilapia fillets into manageable sizes (mine were about 3.5 x 2.5 inches).
5. Dip the fillets into the wet ingredients and cover all surfaces.


6. Dip the fillets into the dry ingredients (again, make sure all surfaces are covered with the mixture).


7. Place fillets on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

8. Carefully flip the fillets and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Ingredients:
1 box of Israeli couscous (mine was about 1 1/3 cups, uncooked)
1 tomato, diced
1/2 large cucumber, diced
3/4 cup feta cheese
1 large green onion, diced
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and diced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Prepare couscous as instructed on box then place into a large bowl.

2. Add tomatoes, cucumber and onions other ingredients and toss to combine.

3. Crumble in feta and gently stir to combine.

4. Add olives and gently stir to combine.

5. Top with lemon, salt and pepper. Serve either warm, or let chill in the refrigerator until served.

The olives are really a key part of this dish. Their flavor really pops, so make sure you have a high quality olive to begin with. I used a cured black olive, if that helps.

p.s. These dishes are both amazing as leftovers too!

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