Mediterranean style pies (Greek and Turkish) are thin and crisp, rather like an ultra thin enclosed pizza or pocket bread, with the filling on the inside. These parcels can be cooked on a ridged pan, griddle or cast-iron frying pan. They can also be barbecued on a hot plate or grilled on a grate over medium-hot coals or a gas flame.
The key requirement is homemade phyllo (filo) pastry, which is rolled out very thinly, so that it is almost transparent. It becomes crisp and brown when cooked providing the definitive features of this dish.
Learn to make Greek style skillet or pan-fried pies using the recipe and method described below using a filling of feta, green vegetables, herbs, spices and olive oil.
Skillet pies or 'triangles' can be filled in many other ways including meat, cheese, vegetables, berries and fruit such as peaches and apples.
For this dish you need an ultra thin phyllo dough that is almost transparent. It takes time and determination to roll the dough that thinly.
The trick is to stretch the dough and roll it, allowing the dough to rest for a few seconds, and then to roll and stretch it again. You will a need long thin dowel, a small Indian style rolling pin and a standard size one.
When you start the task may seem impossible at first, but persevere and after a little practice you will be able to do it.
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups all-purpose white flour
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Rice flour or cornstarch for dusting the board or bench
Mix the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor fitted with dough hook. You can also mix it by hand with a wooden spoon or similar. Add the vinegar, olive oil and 1/2 cup cold water. Mix for about 5 minutes using a medium speed setting to create a smooth soft dough. If the dough appears to be too dry, add up a little more water. If mixing by hand the dough should form an elastic ball. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic film or cover the mixing bowl and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the dough, sprinkle with corm flour or rice flour and knead the dough wall for several minutes to create some elasticity. Then, divide the dough into 6 pieces of equal size and knead into small balls. Dust the dough balls, rolling pin and the board or bench, with cornstarch or rice flour.
Roll each piece of dough as thinly as possible. Roll out and stretch. Rest for a few seconds and roll in the other direction. Gradually roll each ball of dough to a very thin disc with a diameter of 16 inches (49 cm). Alternatively, you can use a pasta machine and roll dough using the thinnest possible setting.
Cut each circle in half, dust each half with rice flour and cornstarch and set aside in a stack off to the side.
Blanch the spinach or other greens in salted boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Drain in a colander, rinse with cool water, and squeeze to get rid of any excess water. Chop the greens finely and then add to a small bowl with the dill, parsley, red pepper and oregano. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add the feta and mix with a fork. Use the homemade phyllo disks sliced in half (see above).
Preheat your ridged stovetop grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Or preheat you barbecue plate, flame grill or charcoal grill ready for cooking the skillet pies. For each pie, place one phyllo sheet on work surface and brush with olive oil. Then, spoon the filling over half the sheet (about 3-4 tablespoons of mixture per pie). Fold over the other side and press down to seal the pie. You can make triangles or half-circles. Brush both sides with olive oil. Carefully place each pie on the pre-heated grill, barbecue or pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until golden and crisp. Very carefully flip over and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes. Remove and keep warm while you cook the other skillet pies. Serve warm topped with fresh herbs, salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and your choice of sauce.
For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-high coals on one side of a grill. Alternatively heat a grill or a heavy iron skillet over moderate to high heat. Brush peach halves with canola oil. Place halves, cut sides down, on a grill rack directly over coals and cook for about minutes until lightly browned. Cook the peaches using the other methods. Remove the peaches from the heat and set aside to cool.
Cut peach halves into wedges. In a large mixing bowl toss peaches with 1/2 cup sugar, basil, cornstarch and lemon juice. On a lightly floured surface, place portions of the filling into the homemade phyllo sheets and seal. Grill or fry the skillet pies using your chosen method for about 4 minutes per side, carefully flipping over once. Serve warm or cold with a suitable sauce.
Place spinach in a pan and cook while stirring over high heat until wilted. Strain the spinach, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Then, chop the spinach in to large pieces. Heat some oil in a frying pan, and fry the shallot until softened. Add the walnuts, and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove. Mix in the cheese, nutmeg, cream, spinach. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Melt the butter and mix in the walnut oil. Use this liquid to brush over the phyllo pieces before adding spoonfuls of the filling. Seal the triangles, brush all over with butter and grill or pan fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side.