Pies, all kinds of pies – I

A few days ago when writing about dinner, I gave a description of my onion pie recipe.  This is so easy and such a delicious side dish.  Actually, I found a photo of an earlier version from a few years ago which might be more appetizing.  I’ll include it here.

2016, Onion Pie served with plantain crusted meatloaf

While going through past photos, I saw that I’ve baked other kinds of savory  pies and at least one sweet pie.  My daughter did not like pies, so no pies for dessert in our house. I thought I’d share some with you, maybe spark some creativity on you part.  Let me know.  For much of what I cook, I follow recipes.  For others, I kind of improvise combining ingredients that I know will go together.  Here goes, an odyssey of pies (well, just a few!).

Every once in a while I find myself with a package of filo dough in my freezer (along with the aforesaid pie crusts). Mom taught me how to work with filo many years ago, as did the wonderful ladies at St. Constantine and Helen’s Greek Orthodox Church in Cleveland, Ohio.  Every year, they make tons and tons of baklava, galatoborekos, and other sweets to sell at their annual festival. For a few years, when I worked in a small multi-ethnic museum Cleveland in the late 70s, I spent a lot of time in the  church kitchens documenting their culinary know-how.  [My galatoboreko (Greek lemon custard pie) won 4th place in the Monroe County (Indiana) Fair lemon pie baking contest a few years later! I still have the ribbon.]

1978, Ladies at Church baking galatoboreko

A little while ago, I found I had all the ingredients to make a  kotopita or chicken pie. I had a package of filo in the freezer, next to the aforementioned pie crusts. I also had frozen left-over chicken from some previous occasion (always need a use for left-over chicken), onion, maybe some sort of spinach or green, and who knows what else.  You need a few eggs to bind the mixture together. Mix these ingredients together so they are ready. Often I follow recipes from my books or on-line sources and often I improvise using whatever it is I have on-hand.  

For this type of pie I use my Mom’s old springform pan. (She made an amazing cheesecake. I’ve tried it once with no success, maybe I’ll give it another try, stay tuned!). You can also use a small pyrex baking pan (9×9) or a pie tin. Make sure to butter or spray the inside of the pan so nothing sticks. 

Then the filo (pronounced feee-lo, not fiii-lo). I take it out of the freezer and thaw it overnight on the kitchen counter.  When you unwrap the filo have two lightly damp kitchen towels – one beneath, one above – so it won’t dry out as you work.

Your pan is greased.  The filo is unwrapped, but covered. The filling is mixed and waiting. One-by-one start filling the pan with filo sheets.  With a pastry brush or a small, clean paint brush cover each sheet with melted butter or regular olive oil (don’t use EVOO, that did not exist when I was a kid!). By the way, my husband is sensitive to dairy products, so I use olive oil and it’s really good for this.  Don’t worry if the filo tears, you just stick it together, no one will every know.

After 6-8 sheets of filo, add about 1/3 of the filling. Continue with another 6-8 sheets of filo, a second layer of filling, more filo, and the last layer of file.  Top with 4-6 sheets of filo, tucking the edges into the edges of the pan.  Don’t forget, brush the top with one or two last swipes of melted butter or oil.

2016, It was really beautiful, we ate it anyway

Bake in a moderate (350 degree Fahrenheit) oven for about an hour.  It should be beautifully browned.  Let it rest a few moments before trying.  Kali sou orexi (good appetite). 

I’ll continue another time with another savory pie.  Cheers ~

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