Sunday, February 8, 2009

recipe: gluten free spanikopitas

last night we hosted a stuff white people like-themed party. there was fondue, ugly sweaters, california rolls, granola cookies, science fiction references, cbc radio, and a lot of witty comments. white people like themed parties.

without fail, the day after a good party i feel mopey and antisocial. it may be my passive-aggressive way of avoiding having to do the cleanup, but i always want to be left the hell alone after a good shindig. today was no exception. i've spent the day trying to dodge human interaction, with mixed results. the day is finally over, the babies are asleep, my partner has quit with the friendly overtures, and i get to sit by myself and drink some leftover wine. bliss.


i feel bad for so rarely remembering to write down my gluten free recipes. if a person liked spending a pile of cash on hard-to-find ingredients that made so-so food, they'd find that the internet is a treasure trove. for people who want something tastier and less expensive, not so much. i've had to make things up as i go along and improvise substitutions to make my favourite recipes acceptable for little mr g. f. so here's my recipe for gluten free spanikopitas. (spanakopitas? i never know how to spell that)

really, this is just a regular spanikopita recipe, heavily canadianized, with one major modification that makes it gluten free. please go ahead and alter this to fit your preferences and fridge contents, it's a versatile enough idea that you can really do whatever you like with it.

first, take these:
feta cheese, chopped spinach, pepper, eggs, dill, and cheddar. the cheddar is my very canadian addition, if you prefer a more authentic taste, skip it. similarly, i really like dill, but people often prefer oregano and other more greek herbs. add in chopped tomatoes and sauteed onions if you like.

i like to just wing it, so the quantities pictured above are not accurate. you want the mixture to be gloppy but not runny, and nicely cohesive. i used 500 grams of spinach, half the feta, one of the chunks of cheddar, both eggs, ~1 tsp of dill and ~1 tsp of pepper. it could have used more pepper. the quantities are really up to you, so long as it isn't runny you're good.

next, get:
a package of rice paper, (also called rice wraps, available at asian groceries or the asian aisle of a big grocery store. these usually cost less than 3$ for two or three batches of spanikopita, hella cheaper than phyllo) a bowl of superhot water, and your nicely gloppy mixture. the water should be in a round bowl or pot that's big enough to hold the rice paper.

this is the tricky part. (but not trickier than using phyllo) dip one sheet of the rice paper in the water and leave it there for a few seconds while it softens. the colder the water the longer it takes to soften. then pull it out and lay it down carefully. if the paper touches itself it will stick. if the whole thing clumps up into a sticky, unusable mass, put it back in the water and try again. if all goes right, you should have a more or less flat circle of sticky, wet rice paper on your counter, like this:

as pictured, put a bit of your glop in the middle. the amount is up to you: do you want bite-sized snacks or meal-sized turnovers? then fold it up into a neat package, being careful to leave some space inside the package. if it's too tight the cooking contents have nowhere to expand and your spanikopita will spill all over the pan. it's less appetizing when that happens.

place your bundles of deliciousness on a greased cookie sheet. they don't expand when they cook so they can be really close to one another, but don't let them touch or you'll end up with siamese twins. er, um, conjoined multiples. whatever.
bake them with whatever else you're putting in the oven, checking them every so often. when the rice paper is hard and the bits of cheese that have spilled out are getting golden and tasty-looking, they're done. i've never personally cooked them on their own and i suspect that baking time depends on the amount of goop in each spanikopita, but i'd say you could probably put them in at 375 for at least 20 minutes.

i know my instructions are hard to fit on a recipe card, and i'm sorry. but this is how i cook and i have a really hard time translating my vague, guesstimation-based cooking style into something succinct. probably why i'll never write a cookbook.

anyways, they're tasty and gluten free. and if you get feta made with goat milk, they're lactose free. i hope you enjoy them. i think i'll go pull some party leftovers out of the fridge now, thinking about these tasty little bundles has made me hungry.

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