YiaYia's Greek cooking tips

By Laurie SnowTurner

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 4 2012 4:28 p.m. MDT

To make trigona, Korologos said, “Toast almonds in the oven, use tons of butter, of course, because that’s what Greeks do, and eggs and sugar. You roll them in triangles and bake them and then dunk them in simple syrup and honey. They are all individually wrapped and individually dunked — a lot more complicated than a Utah Jell-O salad.”

For Greek parties and celebrations, Korologos' mother dyed cases of Easter eggs. She remembers different Greek clubs hosting dinners and dancing in the basement of the Salt Lake Greek Church for Easter and Christmas and for Greek Name Days. “And, of course, YiaYia always took her spinach pie.”

“Another important tip for Greek cooking,” according to Korologos, “is to make plenty of food. Greeks hate to run out of food. It’s better to throw it all away after a special event than to not have enough!”

One of her favorite memories was coming home from school and smelling the sugary, buttery aromas of fresh Greek pastries right out of her YiaYia’s oven. Korologos still loves the smell of Greek cooking and attends all of the Greek festivals in the Washington, D.C., area and assists in the Greek churches.

YiaYia’s Spinach Pie

3-4 pounds prewashed spinach (preferably organic, small leaves)

1 head lettuce

1 bunch parsley

1 pound crumbled feta cheese

4 medium-size onions, grated

1/2 cup uncooked rice

3 tablespoons dried parsley

3 tablespoons dried mint

3 tablespoons dried dill

6 eggs, well-beaten

1 pound filo

1/2 pound butter

olive oil

salt and pepper

Wash lettuce and parsley well. Squeeze the water out of it. Chop spinach, lettuce and parsley. Grate onions and sauté with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Add rice, dried parsley, mint and dill to onions, and mix well. Sauté until onions become soft. Do not let them get brown. Stir constantly. If needed, add additional olive oil. Add rice, herb and onion mix to spinach mixture.

Add feta cheese and eggs.

Add salt and pepper as desired.

Mix well all ingredients.

Prepare a 20- by 12-inch baking pan and coat pan generously with olive oil.

Place eight sheets of filo in pan and pour spinach mixture on top of it. Then place small pieces of butter on top of spinach a couple of inches apart. Place six to eight pieces of filo on top of spinach mixture. Brush filo well with about ¼ pound of melted butter.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Eat warm, cold or re-heated.

Trigona

1/2 pound walnuts, ground

6 paxemathia, ground (biscotti)

1-1/2 pound almonds, roasted and ground

1 pound sugar

6 eggs well-beaten

3 cups melted butter

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 to 2 pounds filo

Mix first seven ingredients together until well-blended. Cut filo sheets in fourths lengthwise and butter each sheet. Top with 1 tablespoon of mix and fold filo over the mix in a triangle shape, continue folding the triangle shape along the entire strip of filo. Brush melted butter on tops of triangles and place on a cookie sheet

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Simple syrup

5 cups sugar

4 cups water

cinnamon stick

a few cloves (about 3 or 4)

1-inch slice lemon rind

1-inch slice orange rind

1 cup honey

Add all ingredients together in a large pot and mix well. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Discard spices and rinds and stir gently. Dunk each triangle in the syrup to coat well. Place on wax paper to cool.

Laurie Snow Turner is a writer in the Washington, D.C., area. She blogs at lauriesnowturner.com.

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