Crispy phyllo wrapped around a creamy and cheesy feta filling
When we were kids we had this really annoying habit of trying to lure our parents into picking a favourite amongst us. At the time we didn’t think it was annoying, but as parents now ourselves, we can fully appreciate how tiresome this would have been for our folks. We would do things like draw pictures and then go to our parents asking them which one they thought was nicer. Often times we would hold the picture we hadn’t actually drawn; we tried to be tricky that way. Or, we would ask them to consider questions like, “If there was only 1 koulouraki left, and we all wanted it, who would you give it to?” Other times we would ask them outright – Which kid do you love most?
Our parents were diplomatic, considerate and smart. They would point out the qualities they appreciated in each of the drawings, avoiding labeling one “the best”. They would assure us that there would never be only 1 koulouraki left; when the supply started to dwindle, they would set to baking a new batch. As for which kid they loved the most, they would describe their hearts growing with the birth of each of us, and that loves was not divided into thirds (their son and two daughters) but instead enhanced by all of us. Then, if we insisted, they would curtly tell us that perhaps they would decide that they loved most the child who asked this particular question the least.
As we have grown, competition between us and our brother has all but vanished. Confident in our own selves, and secure in the support and love of family, the days of trying to best the other are over – almost. The one exception may be in triangle making.
Years of watching our parents fold thousands of spanakopitakia and tyropitakia, we’ve learned the technique. Or at least, one of us has. Billie shapes her pita triangles into perfect equilateral, and equiangular shapes, the way our mama and baba do, and the way they should be. Helen on the other hand, try as she might to fold the right way, always ends up with an isosceles triangle. She doesn’t even know how this happens; it’s just the way her hands move. Knowing that this makes her sad, our mom has on occasion tried to make her triangles just like Helen’s. She’s a great mom.
All kidding aside however, regardless of how you shape your triangles (please, no scalenes), the end result will be delicious. In this recipe for tyropitakia, the filling is a mixture of Greek feta and ricotta. The end result is a creamy, cheesy filling that you crunch through crispy phyllo to enjoy. Who knew geometry could be so delicious!
How difficult is it to work with phyllo?
Phyllo, also called filo, has an unfortunate reputation of being very finicky to work with. It is delicate. It tears easily. It dries out when exposed to air. All this is true, but it really is not as fragile as all that. If you handle it carefully you will be just fine! Here are a few points that might help:
- If you can, purchase fresh phyllo as opposed to frozen phyllo. If you can only find the frozen variety, be sure to defrost it slowly in the fridge – otherwise you can end up with a bit of a mushy mess.
- Do not refreeze phyllo that you have previously defrosted.
- When using phyllo, cover any sheets that you are not using immediately (like, within 5 to 10 minutes) with plastic wrap (or the wrapping that it came in when you purchased it).
- Cut your phyllo into the size you need with a very sharp knife, or a pizza cutter.
- If your phyllo sheet tears, you might still be able to use it strategically. Remember that in most recipes, such as this one, you layer and fold your phyllo. A small tear can therefore be easily camouflaged.
- If you do end up with dried out phyllo, don’t throw it away! Use it to make this classic Greek dessert Portokalopita.
Looking for other triangular recipes? Check these out!
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