Spanakopita

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Last weekend, Mary Jo and her parents Mark and Diane invited me sailing. We drove up to Bayfield, Wisconsin on Thursday afternoon, and at twilight, all was tense as we kept a lookout for wild pairs of iridescent eyes. Diane sat shotgun, and she was the first to see the doe on the shoulder before we all shrieked and Mark turned the wheel while she stood frozen, flicking her ears.

Since it was dark when we arrived, we spent the first night in the slip.

We sailed and stopped at Otter Island, then Outer Island where we docked and had dinner and played 500, the game of 500 rules. We had gin and tonics when the sun set, mochas when the sun rose, and all the snacks Diane brought in between.

The smooth, flat rocks we plucked and flung across the water.

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Rippled water like panes of wavy glass from the days of a hundred years ago.

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Triplet sailboats. A sky to match a lake.

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Superior’s invigorating sting, our morning shower, and the quickest swim back to the boat.

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Ropes with purpose and their own names to prove it. Like this one. Blue dot. (Not really)

A boat named Peregrine. Islands named Raspberry, Cat, and Rocky.

Diane brought spanakopita for dinner on our last night, and it was so good that I asked her for the recipe as soon as we were home and made it a few days later. Spanakopita is a savory Greek pie traditionally made with airy layers of phyllo pastry, feta, cooked spinach and egg, but Diane swapped the feta with goat cheese and spinach with chard from her garden. The original recipe comes from Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood Cookbook. I used kale instead of spinach (or chard) because I had it, and an equal mix of crumbled feta and goat cheese.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 cups crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chopped onion
2 pounds lacinato kale (or spinach, or chard)
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1 package of 1 pound phyllo dough
1/2 pound melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Clean, stem, and chop the greens. Salt them lightly and cook, adding no water, for five minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook the onions in butter. Salt lightly. When soft, remove from heat and combine with cheeses, flour, oregano, 3 tablespoons butter, a bit of salt and pepper, and greens. When these have cooled a bit, add eggs and mix thoroughly.

To assemble:

In a 9×13″ pan, spread a bit of the melted butter. Place a layer of phyllo dough in the pan. It’ll outsize the pan–let the edges climb the sides and lay over the edges. Brush butter generously over the top of that first layer. Keep layers of dough coming, one on top of the other, brushing each with butter. After 8 layers of dough, take half of the filling and spread it on gently and evenly. Continue with another 8 layers of dough, spreading butter between each one. Then apply the remaining filling, spreading it evenly to the edges. Fold in the excess phyllo along the edges, making tidy little corners. (I skipped this step because it was late and I was delirious and didn’t understand what tidy little corners should look like. Fold them in toward the center of the pan, as if you were wrapping a gift.)

Pile as many more layers of phyllo and butter as your baking pan will accommodate. Butter the top layer and sprinkle with fennel seeds if you have some (“if you have some,” says Mollie. I love that).

Bake uncovered, about 45 minutes, until golden.