Three Green Spanakopita

Before I talk much about this book, let me just mention that, as happens from time to time for many bloggers these days, I get review copies of cookbooks from publishing companies and publicists. I receive both of these books from Andrews McMeel Publishing, a company who was on my radar even before they sent along these two book, simply because they publish really beautiful cookbooks. I never make any promises that a review will appear on this site for anything that I receive, and frankly, when times get busy, it takes a pretty special book to get my attention. Falling Cloudberries is one such book, and it’s one that I would have purchased even if I hadn’t been sent a copy. I had already purchased a copy of one of Tessa Kiros other books, Apples for Jam. I’m sure you can guess, I could not resist the cover with those little red shoes. So, it was sort of like opening up a birthday present when I received Falling Cloudberries in the mail.

Anyway… enough about how I got the book… what I really want to share with you is that feeling you get when you open one of Tessa’s book. It’s like peaking in through someone’s windows and watching them go about their lives, cooking and eating. The photos are like a family album, done all in food. It’s all incredibly unpretentious and unstaged. They are snapshots rather than glamor shots, but as if you could take a photo from a memory. They are as full of life as the recipes are as full of family. Tessa’s background is diverse, Finnish from her mother’s side, Greek/Cypriot on her father’s. She was born in London, and her husband is Italian. All of these cultures (and more from her travels) make an appearance in her cookbooks with traditional as well as some more modern recipes, along with Tessa’s poetic prose:

“I love the orange trees lining winter Athenian avenues. And the people who open their doors and their hearts to you. I love the Greek markets with baskets of grogeous red just -flowered pistachios, piles of figs, and very wild hilltop greens sitting next to indifferent mountains of underwear. Everywhere, among the pervasive smell of fresh oregano, there is an atmosphere of people doing their own thing, each stepping in tune to their own internal guide.”

As I flipped through each page, trying to decide where I wanted to start, I quickly found I needed more fingers to hold onto the pages. The gravlax are a must try. Or, perhaps the Cinnamon Cardamom Buns, the Finnish Mustard, the Cranberry Sorbet or Lingonberry Jam, and oh hell, I haven’t even gotten past the Finnish chapter yet!

And yet, somehow, I did finally decide on a dish. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I decided on two dishes, both from the Cyprus chapter.

First, I made a little variation on the spanakopita recipe. I love these little filo triangles, but had never made them before. As it turns out, once you get the hang out of folding them, they are quite simple. Any little mistakes you make are no bother… they just add to the charm of the finished “pies.” Instead of sticking with the traditional spinach filling, I raided the garden of braising greens and combined kale and beet greens along with the spinach.


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As they bake, they puff up and the layers separate like a croissant. I also found that eating them took just about the same amount of time as folding them.

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I also could not resist doing a little “research” for the donut book… Loukoumades! These little crisp deep fried puffs get topped with a lemon cinnamon syrup that is to die for. (They are vegan if you are looking for that sort of thing.) Maybe not donuts in the modern sense, but definitely in the traditional sense of the word. I’ve been in search of a good recipe for them, and this one did not disappoint. They also didn’t last very long. I only made a 1/4 recipe, but I gobbled them up at a pretty embarrassing rate.

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My adaptation of the spanakopita recipe is below. Since I just followed Tessa’s instructions on the loukoumades, you’ll need to get the book for that one. It is definitely worth it!

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Three Green Spanakopita

adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros


Makes about 8 medium pies or 15 small ones

3 cups fresh spinach leaves, well-cleaned and firmly packed

2 cup fresh braising greens, such as kale, chard or beet, firmly packed

1 cupped feta, crumbled

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

4 sheets of filo dough

olive oil to brush

Remove the thick spines from the braising greens and blanch in salted water. Set aside to drain. Repeat with the spinach. Mix the greens together and allow to cool. Finely chop the greens and squeeze out as much of the water. In a medium bowl, mix together the greens and feta. Stir in the egg and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Carefully place one piece of the filo dough on a cutting board, taking care to cover the remaining dough. Brush the filo with the olive oil all over. Then, place another sheet of filo on top. Brush it all over with the olive oil. Slice the filo into 4 4 x 9 inch strips. Place about a tablespoon of the spinach mixture in the middle of the first strip, about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Lift one of the bottom corners (I go from left to right), and bring it up and over to the opposite side to form a triangle. Then, lift the bottom point you just created, and bring it over to the opposite side to make a new triangle that has the point facing down. Continue this way until you reach the top. Brush with a bit more olive oil, and place on a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat with the remaining strips, and then, repeat with the remaining sheets of filo. Place each triangle snuggly against it’s neighbor. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pies are golden brown. Serve while hot.

  • http://archaeobaking.blogspot.com Maddy

    Mmm…loukoumades! My favorite!

  • http://www.gimmesomeoven.com ali @ gimmesomeoven

    Delightful!! Have been looking for a fun way to use up some fresh kale. :)

    Lovely pictures once more, as well!

  • http://melanger.wordpress.com Julia @ Mélanger

    I remember noticing the book Falling Cloudberries here in Australia a couple of years ago. My partner is Finnish and the word ‘cloudberry’ jumped out at me. I always flick through the book when I see it, and it’s now on my wishlist – with many many more. It was such an inviting book. Glad you did a little write-up!

  • http://www.palatetopen.com Jennifer

    It’s been awhile since I’ve nibbled spanakopita and your remarkable photos are igniting a sudden craving. This cookbook sounds lovely and I’ve added it to my ever-growing wish list.

  • http://junglefrog-cooking.com Simone (junglefrog)

    I love that book! And I have had it for a while too along with some others of Tessa Kiros. I have the Dutch versions so they’re all called very differently which I why I was initially wondering which book you were referring to until I saw the photo of the book on amazon!

  • http://www.savoryexposure.com Broderick

    Wow! Your blog is incredibly beautiful. I remember one day when my mom brought home some filo dough and created something similar, and just being in awe of the transformation of the dough to something crispy and wonderful. I’m going to have to try these. Thanks for the memory. I’m looking forward to seeing you @ the blogger conference!

  • http://www.cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com Aran

    I also have Apples for Jam and can’t wait to get her other book. Sounds perfect!

  • http://www.sevenspoons.net tara

    How is it that such a simple idea – the addition of more varieties of greens – can totally blow my mind? Sheer brilliance.

    It would be totally inauthentic, but now I am thinking of beet greens with a some roasted beets as well.

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com veggiebelly

    oh my! your gorgeous pictures are making me hungry!

  • http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com Ozoz

    My Popeye-loving kids would adore these. Maybe we’ll make them…I have Spinach, Filo and Feta….let you know

  • Camille

    Tessa is one of my favourite cookbook authors! I’ve leafed through this beautiful book many times but have not succumbed to buying it yet! Having read your post, I think it will climb higher on the list of my “must haves”. Have you had a look “Twelve”, her 1st book? It’s wonderful & if you’re a rabbit eater, you must try the “Rabbit with Tomatoes & Green Olives”…superb!

  • http://myfeasts.blogspot.com Maya

    Those spanakopitas look wonderful. I have been wanting to get the Red Lantern book – I am a sucker for beautiful books :)

  • http://www.fromargentinawithlove.com Rebecca

    Wonderful photos and recipe! I love when a writer makes a place come alive–I’ll put this one on my wish list!

  • http://www.spicedish.typepad.com EB

    I’m looking for new cocktail party food and these would be perfect!! Thanks!

  • http://rss2francais.com Ackmann

    My Popeye-loving kids would adore these. Maybe we’ll make them…I have Spinach, Filo and Feta….let you know;…

  • http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com Kitchen Butterfly

    Lovely piccies. Lovely recipe.

  • http://www.pardonthatvine.com Shelly McC.

    I made this last week for a party I was having. Both trays were gone within an hour. You get the credit for this great recipe! (I gave many people the link to this article!)…

    Shell
    (I also owe the winning wine selection to the website that you can get to if you click my name…I found perfect wines to go with this and other appetizers)!

  • http://www.yummyfoodies.com yummyfoodies

    great photos! made my mouth drool :P

  • http://www.lifebeginsat30.com jen maiser

    Apples for Jam is an inspirational cookbook for me. I remember the first time I opened it feeling sheer jealousy that so few cookbook publishers would ever allow the expense of that design. AfJ and Falling Cloudberries are both unbelievably gorgeous and fun.