My memories from my childhood are sometimes spotty at best, but I remember very vividly tastes and smells like a ceremony.
Every year until I was nine, my mom baked Spanikopita for my birthday. And even after she moved to the east coast, occasionally, around the beginning of December, a large box would come in the mail full of the savory homemade spinach delicacies.
For the past few years, I decided to carry on the tradition by making it for myself. I bought the feta and filo from a lovely European market on 17th and Hawthorne. The man who works the counter calls me "pretty lady", and when I told him it was my birthday, he reached his large hand across the counter and handed me a chocolate Kinder Suprise egg.
He shared a story of how women in his country(Bosnia) must learn to make the fine sheets of filo from scratch before they are eligible to marry. I tell him I am grateful for his little shop so I don't have to do that part.
My Mom's Spanikopita:
2packs of frozen organic spinach
at least!! one pound of feta
jar of pesto
stick of salted organic butter
cup of extra virgin olive oil
box of filo
you will also need a pastry brush to paint the oil onto the filo sheets.
follow the instructions on the filo box about letting it get to room temp so it doesn't split!
heat the oven to 350. put the spinach in a pot and cook it up!
when it is thawed, put it in a large bowl, and place a smaller bowl on top and drain as much water as possible.
(this method was cooked up by Matt, the lovely man who helped me make this meal this year)
then, mix the pesto, feta, and spinach all together.
melt the butter and pour the olive oil into it.
make little piles of spinach mixture on a sheet of dough, and paint all around it with butter mixture.
then do some folding, making sure all the time that the dough is thoroughly covered in butter.
make a bunch! until everything is gone!
paint the top of them with butter mix, then put em in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Matt and I decided to step outside on my balcony and take a few deep breaths of cold crisp night air, so when we opened the door back inside out noses were arrested by the intoxicating scent of Spanikopita happily baking...
I highly suggest this last part. I also highly suggest eating these with your hands, and eating them with people you love, the smiles are amazing.