SPANAKOPITA BEGGAR PURSES
If I was to die and come back as a dish, I have to say it would be as “spanakopita”… I know that is a bold statement, but I think it just about sums it up. Traditionally spanakopita is savory greek dish that consists of layered phyllo dough that wraps a succulent combination of spinach, feta cheese, onions, egg and seasonings. Since I like to give my recipes a twist, I used a couple of different ingredients to give these bites a robust flavor while still adhering to the basic, traditional ingredients. These SPANAKOPITA BEGGAR PURSES are just a jarOhoney spin on traditional.
Of course I used phyllo dough as my wrapper but instead of brushing with butter or olive oil, I used warmed lamb tallow that I got from FATWORKS. Then I used a dried wild mushroom mix and fresh garlic cloves that I soaked in vermouth overnight. YES, chopped fresh baby spinach is included along with toasted pignoli (pine nuts) to give it a rich flavor. Fresh chopped chives replaced the onion element. To keep up with tradition, I made a heavy whipping cream and crumbled feta cheese sauce to accompany it. I did not use any egg because they bake too fast to properly cook the egg. The flavor of these beggar purses (am using it as a generic term for the style of wrapper: call it a money or beggar purse) are a nostalgic spanakopita fare but delightfully unique! Na peraseis kala (greek for “enjoy yourself”!
SERVES 12 APPETIZERS
1 cup dried gourmet wild mushroom mix
10 large fresh organic garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
2/3 cup dry vermouth
1 1/3 cup water
1 cup organic heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup fresh crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup raw pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
1/2 teaspoon fine ground french grey salt
2 tablespoons fresh organic chives, fine chopped
6 full sized phyllo sheets
1/2 cup of warmed FATWORKS brand LAMB TALLOW (click here to buy)
Fresh organic flat leave parsley for garnish (optional)
Take your dried wild mushrooms and chopped garlic and place in a non-reactive bowl. Stir in the vermouth and the water. Mix well. Cover and allow to soak for 12 hours. This is your mushroom mix.
In a small sauce pan, add in the cream and feta cheese. On medium heat, constantly whisk until smooth and hot. Remove from the heat. This is your cheese sauce.
In a small non-stick frying pan, add in the raw pignoli. Dry toast on low heat until medium golden brown. Remove from the heat into a small bowl, cover and reserve. These are your pignoli nuts.
Generously brush your pan (either muffin pans or Ebilskever pans) with the warmed lamb tallow. Reserve the remaining for further instructions.
Drain your mushroom mix well. Fine chop. In a medium non-stick pan, heat on medium heat. Add in 4 tablespoons of your warmed lamb tallow. Add in the chopped mushroom mix . While stirring occasionally, caramelize until light golden brown. While stirring constantly add in the chopped baby spinach. Cook until completely wilted. Drain if necessary so it is dry. Remove from the heat. Add in 1/2 cup of the toasted pignoli nuts and grey salt. Reserve the remaining toasted pignoli nuts for service. Stir well and allow to cool. This is your filling.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
On a clean flat surface, lay out one sheet of phyllo length wise. Brush lightly with warmed lamb tallow. Top this evenly with another sheet of phyllo going the same direction. Lightly brush with warm lamb tallow. Complete this process until all of sheets are stacked and brushed in between. Lightly brush the top of the final sheet with tallow.
Using a sharp large knife cut the stacked phyllo into 12 even squares. Using a small ice-cream scoop, evenly distribute the filling into the center of the square. Top the filling with 1 tablespoon of the cheese sauce. Reserve the remaining cheese sauce to dip the purses in at service. Gather the two opposite corners of the square. Now bring the two other corners up to the center and gently twist left to right to seal. The bottom will be semi- flat and the sides will be spiraled. Gently press the top bunch to seal. Place into your greased pan impressions. Gently brush with the remaining warmed tallow. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, be sure to turn after about 10 minutes to evenly brown. Remove from the oven. Garnish with the remaining toasted pignoli nuts and flat leave parsley (optional but it looks pretty!). Serve warm and with the remaining cheese sauce to dip them in.
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