Some people don’t want to attempt to cook Greek food because a few of the dishes are pretty complex. Well, this isn’t one of them. The worst thing about making these tasty pastries is that they take a little time. I’d say start to finish in about an hour.
The name Tiropita (pronounced tee-RO-pee-ta) translates literally to “cheese pie”. This recipe is actually for what I affectionately call Tiropitaki. You see, adding “aki” on the end of a Greek word means “little” so these are actually small cheese pies.
As a side note, my little cousin Sonia likes to call ME cousinaki – despite the fact that I’m at least a foot taller and almost double her weight…
Tiropitas, and the closely related Spanakopita (spinach pie), are sold on almost every street corner in Greece. These are basically the Egg McMuffin of Greece.
To make them, you’re going to need the following:
- 1 pound of crumbled Feta cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of parsley
You’ll also need a one pound package of Phyllo Dough, which you can find in your grocer’s freezer section. It’s going to need to sit in the fridge at least 12-24 hours in order to come up to working temperature.
Finally 1/2 pound melted butter which will be brushed all over these little babies as you’re putting them together.
Here is a short list of things to do before putting the pastries together. You need to do this because the Phyllo dough will dry out and ruin fairly quickly. So once you are ready to begin you’re racing against the clock.
- Put a couple of sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap down on the counter so you’ve got a large area to work on.
- Melt two 1/4 lb. sticks of butter in the microwave – but keep an eye on it and stop it right when the butter is melted. We don’t want it hot, just melted.
- Open your Phyllo dough, spread it all out flat, then cut the entire stack in half so that you’ve got two stacks each about the size of a piece of paper. Stack them and cover with a couple of damp paper towels. And I mean barely damp… wet will ruin your Phyllo.
Making the filling is the easiest part. In a mixing bowl put in three well beaten eggs then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Crumble in the pound of feta making sure that the crumbles are as small as you can get them. The smaller the better and it will affect the quality of the finished product so don’t rush! Finally, mix thoroughly.
Take two sheets of dough and lay them on your work surface. Lightly brush them with butter and then place one large spoonful of filling vertically in the center and about 1 inch from the top edge of the Phyllo.
Finally, starting at the end nearest the filling, fold the tiropita end over end until it is completely rolled up. Make sure and keep the folds fairly tight. As the pastry cooks it the layers will fluff up by themselves, so don’t leave a lot of slack in there.
As you complete each one, place them on a baking sheet which has been lightly pre-oiled. I like to use PAM baking spray with olive oil, but you could also use a stick of butter or just put some olive oil on a paper towel and wipe it down.
Bake the tiropitas in a pre-heated oven for 15-25 minutes at 400 degrees. You’ll have to keep an eye on them pretty closely as cook times vary. You are looking for the pastries to turn a light golden brown. They are excellent when served warm.
One final hint; you can store the leftovers in the fridge but when you go to reheat them you must do it in an oven or toaster oven. The microwave will simply ruin them as they need to be slightly crispy to be enjoyed.