Question: How excited am I today to be sharing this space one of my favoritest people in the whole wide blogging world?
Answer: I am extremely excited! This woman has to be one of the most scathingly, screamingly funny people in the universe. Don’t visit her blog if you’re somewhere laughing out loud isn’t deemed acceptable. Because you will most definitely laugh out loud when she starts talking about her feelings for Gwyneth Paltrow, her triumph over both Ben AND Jerry, or good times at the opera. Many’s the time I’ve had to put my head down on the desk to hide the laughter.
PS? In case you were wondering? I just visited those posts and laughed out loud all over again.
Check out the recipe she shared with us, y’all. It’s on my master list of recipes I need to try. Tomorrow. Or tonight if I can get Rob to go to the store for me. We’ll see. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable.
She’s foul-mouthed, she’s crazy smart, she’s a terrific friend who I value enormously. Here she is, in all her anonymous glory: Suniverse. Enjoy!
It’s not Greek to me. It’s just so damn tasty.
There are things that I love to eat that my family makes that I can’t eat elsewhere because it’s always such a disappointment when I do. Like my mouth gets all pissed off – Who the f**k do you think you are, Suniverse, putting this inferior product on my taste buds? UNCOOL. [As we all know, my mouth is a potty-mouth.]
One of those delicious taste sensations is Byrek – a spinach pie without the spinach. I mean, you could add the spinach, and sometimes I do, but a lot of times you just want the deliciousness of a mouthful of cheesy goodness and greenery would just get in the way.
Byrek is very simple, but has many variations. It can be more complex, if you want to make your own phyllo dough. I do not, because that is an art form I haven’t the patience for. You see those tissue-thin layers of dough? PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY MAKE THOSE BY HAND. Well, they use a stick to roll the layers out, but you know what I mean. I choose Option B, which is to purchase premade phyllo. Or, more to the point, I ask my mom if she’s picked up any from the Arabic grocery store and happens to have any extra because the girl really wants some byrek. She can’t get it to me fast enough then.
1 Large Container of Large Curd Cottage Cheese [I’m sure you could use small curd, but I don’t like it – it seems so mealy]
Feta Cheese – as much as you’d like; I used probably a cup, a cup and a half – crumbled
All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Butter [Not margarine. BUTTER.], melted
1 Package, premade phyllo dough. Or you could make your own. But you’re on your own there.
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Pour the cottage cheese into a mesh strainer and DO NOT SHAKE IT like some people did. Those mesh strainers? NOT SOLID. Strain the cottage cheese to remove most of the liquid. Give it up and figure you’ll just add extra flour.
3. Put [semi-] strained cheese into a large bowl. Add the eggs, the flour and the crumbled feta. Mix it up. Add a bit of salt [maybe ¼ tsp.] and some black pepper. Mix some more. It should look like filling for manicotti or lasagna, but a bit drier.
4. Get your melted butter, a pastry brush, if you have one [you can be old school and use a teaspoon], and the filling and set them next to the baking sheet.
5. Try to keep the parchment paper from rolling up.
6. Swear at the parchment paper and wonder why it never acts up for Martha Stewart. Stupid parchment paper.
7. Stare at the package of phyllo. Realize it’s now or never. Open the package.
8. IMMEDIATELY COVER THE PACKAGE WITH A DAMP TEA TOWEL. Well, don’t freak out about it, or anything, but the pastry is so thin that it crumbles when it dries. And it dries fast. So keep the dough covered when you’re not using it.
9. Decide if you have the patience to make triangles of byrek. Realize you don’t, because there is no way you’re slicing the paper thin phyllo dough layers into strips. That way heartbreak lies.
10. Debate rolling the phyllo layers into ropes and coiling them, like some people in your family do. Realize that you haven’t the dexterity.
11. Take about ½ the package of phyllo dough and lay it out on the parchment paper. [You’ll lay down now, won’t you, you bastard?]
12. Now here is where it gets tricky, and by tricky, I mean repetitive. You’ll have a rectangle of phyllo dough layers. I start by folding it in half. Then I peel off two sheets at a time and lay them flat again and then butter the layer. Butter the hell out of it. Seriously. You will use A LOT of butter. But you have to, otherwise the byrek will be dry and people will cry.
13. Peel off two more sheets, butter the layer, and continue until you have a rectangle again, one half buttered, the other half not.
14. Spread about ½ the cheese mix out on the buttered half of the dough. Leave about an inch space around the edges.
15. Peel off two more sheets of the dry dough and lay them on top of the cheese mix. Butter. Peel. Butter. Peel. You get the drill.
16. When you have completed all the layers, butter the edges and then fold them up to form a seal.
17. Repeat with the rest of the package of phyllo dough and filling.
18. Put the byrek in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Maybe a bit longer. You want it a good golden brown on top, like this:
19. Cut into squares or in half or however many servings you want to get out of it. I usually end up cutting it into small pieces and then snarfing up a bunch of them, because they’re small. These freeze well and you can reheat in the microwave.
So delicious and tasty, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made this before. And then you’ll get pissed that you’ve wasted so much time NOT making this that you’ll eat the whole thing. Totally worth it, though. Seriously.
I have no words for this. Other than “Yes, please”.