18 August 2010

More Than Burnt Toast (The Greek Version) Makes Greek Alevropita

Alevropita (Flour Pie)
I don't know how you feel but time seems to pass me by. It is hard to believe that just four short years ago I travelled to Greece on a 5 week sojourn. For two of those weeks I joined Thordis Simonsen of Astra Tours and several American women, who have since become life long friends, travelling extensively throughout mainland Greece. We spent four days in the Zagoria region where you'll find a landscape filled with fairy tale mountain villages linked by stone-tiled trails and humpbacked ancient bridges. From this vantage point you can hike through the deepest gorge in the world in Vikos-Aoos National Park, wander the cobbled streets of these sleepy villages with their preserved old mansions in the unique Zagorian style and feel like time has stood still.



Following ancient tracks we walked right into the heart of the National Park where the sight of the deserted monastery or nunnery of Agia Paraskevi balances in an ‘eagle’s nest’ position over the Vikos Canyon. It's beauty as well as steep terrain caused our hearts to miss a beat! A ledge above the monastery winds round the cliff-face to the Megali Spilia, a high, shallow scoop from the cliff rendered inaccessible by a stout doorway on the path. The walk along this ledge is no more than a metre wide in places and 300 metres above the quiet forest of the bottom. The way has ravishing views out into the gorge but is thrilling and horrible at the same time for anyone prone to vertigo.

Returning to Monodendri after our hike we had read about  the famous "pita" (pie with cheese), prepared with the "secret" recipe, guarded by the women of these villages for centuries. In Monodendri's central square under the plane tree, Pita Tis Kikitsas has been baking alevropita (flour pie) since 1958, the year I was born. No, this does not make it an ancient ruin!!!  We stopped for a Mythos and this much anticipated local specialty.  Here we devoured our reward, a plate of what I had been told were tiganopita that I had only dreamed about previously.

 In truth the dish is called alevropita or "flour pie". Made with a simple egg batter, this feta-studded tart hails from the region of Epirus. Imagine my pleasure when I read the latest edition of Saveur magazine and found the recipe that I have been searching for for four years!!!!!I have tried to replicate it of course but not knowing the true name of the dish the recipe alluded me. Of course I had to make it immediately for a much needed armchair travelling experience. What better way to explore the world than through our kitchens!!!

Indrani Sen in Saveur magazine says, "The crunchy, burnished crust gave way to a popover-like center, punctuated with salty morsels of sheep's milk feta." She goes on to describe how the alevropita is made by the women of the villages. "In a dented tin pot, she whisked bright green olive oil with an egg, baking powder, salt, and a dash of tsipouro, a grappa-like liquor. She stirred in water and flour, then some crumbled feta. She poured the batter into a greased baking pan, added some more feta and a few dabs of butter, topped it all with a dusting of paprika, and slid it into the oven. Half an hour later, the alevropita was dappled with brown spots and sizzling pools of foamy butter. "

As in the photo I used one of my smaller 12-inch paella pans. From what I have read the older and more beat up the pan the better! It looked a little bit like a very thin, crispy pizza, and it was delicious. It is unlike other Greek pies in that it doesn't involve any filo. I changed the recipe a little using grappa instead of the vodka they ask for and also mixing 1/2 of the feta cheese into the batter and topping it with the remaining cheese before puitting into the oven. Now if that doesn't whisk you away to a taverna in an ancient mountain village with cobble stoned streets.....

**Alevropita (Greek Feta Tart)**

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon tsipouro, a grappa-like liquor (or grappa)- in the magazine it calls for vodka
1 egg
1 1⁄4 cups flour, sifted
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
10 oz. feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Heat oven to 500°. Put an 18" x 13" x 1" rimmed baking sheet  into the oven for 10 minutes.(I used a 12-inch round paella or other similar pan as recommended by the women who make this specialty)

 Meanwhile, whisk together 2 tbsp. oil, vodka, egg, 1/2 of the feta cheese and 1 cup water in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and whisk until smooth.

 Brush remaining oil over bottom of hot pan and add batter, smoothing batter with a rubber spatula to coat the bottom evenly, if necessary. Distribute remaining feta cheese evenly over batter, and dot with butter. Bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown and crunchy, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serves 8 – 10

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips

26 comments:

  1. I'm currently reading the Greek version of Saveur and this also caught my eye! Sounds fantastic...the tsipouro sounds like a deadly addition!

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  2. You know I love anything with feta! This sounds awesome Val, and I am so glad you were able to find it!

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  3. "What better way to explore the world than through our kitchens!!!"

    Amen! The food is my favorite part of traveling, and this dish makes me want to go to Greece more than ever! I'm so intrigued. I need to try it.

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  4. Intriguing for sure. Now I need to find the recipe. ... off to read

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  5. My favorite way to explore the world is through my kitchen. Thanks for sharing this! I'd never heard of it before but now I will definitely have to try it!

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  6. Back in the days when I directed a cooking school, I had a marvelous Greek cooking instructor. By day, she was an elementary school media specialist. By night, she taught the cuisine of the isles. Feta tart was one of the things she served with Greek wine while extolling the virtues of Greek cooking and doing it! Thanks for the delicious memories!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  7. That trip must have been so wonderful! With only 4 full days on the mainland and another few days on Crete, we definitely feel like we still need to see a lot more in Greece. The Alevropita sounds wonderful, we haven't had a chance to try it but I'm looking forward to making it!

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  8. Your description of this makes me want to make it right away! I've never been to Greece, but would love to. Thanks!

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  9. I will be definitely making this on our next Greek night!

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  10. I've never heard of this and, based on how much I enjoy Greek food, it's something I must try. Greece is such a beautiful country. I was there years ago and hope to go back someday.

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  11. 5 weeks in Greece sounds like heaven to me! Incredible. The pita looks rustic and satisfying. Vanja's culture also has cheese pita as a traditional dish - but not the flour pie. I enjoyed the read.
    :)
    Valerie
    (Do you have to have the word verification, Valli? Just asking???)

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  12. What a great story! I am glad you found the recipe after years of searching!Alevropita is one of those beautiful simple Greek rustic dishes that are always a pleasure to cook and eat.

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  13. What a fascinating recipe! Delicious, especially for us feta lovers. Yours is beautiful. And time flies way too fast!

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  14. Greek food is fantastic and that dish is very interesting! Surely delicioud!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  15. i just finished making the flour pie as described in the Saveur article on Pg 106. I belive that the size of the pie is alittle to large. There was really not enough dough to fully cover the the bottom of the pan. As well, on pg 84 the author mentions using paprika and mixing some of the feta into the batter which is not in the directions on pg 106.

    I would make it again as the taste is wonderful

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  16. I didn't follow the instructions either R. I mixed 1/2 the feta into the batter, used a 12-inch paella pan and used grappa instead of vodka. It reminded me of the one I had in Greece, but maybe you need a Mythos, a long hike and mountain air and a wood-burning oven to duplicate the effect.

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  17. So jealous - I'm dying to visit Greece!

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  18. What a great trip! Sounds as though you had an opportunity to really become part of the culture!

    I have never heard of Flour Pie....will have to give this a try and use my imagination for the scenery!

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  19. Oh Val, this is FANTASTIC!!! :-) I've never heard of Flour Pie before, but I simply adore feta so I know I will love this. :-) What a fabulous trip you had! You've got me homesick for Greece. :-)

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  20. Greece is at the top of my travel wish list! I love the simplicity of this tart! It looks so delicious!

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  21. i've only recently come to appreciate the flavor of feta, so i'm SUPER excited by this unique pie!

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  22. I once had a chance to savour Alevropita on the island of Naxos where I remember saying to my Hubby that one day I shall make it for him. I had also lately seen this in the Saveur online posts and had bookmarked it. We must be on the same appetizing wavelength ;o)

    Val...have a great weekend,
    Claudia

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  23. Love this - of course because it's like a pizza. It reminds me of the 'socca' I had in Nice which is made chick pea flour (but no cheese). Looks relatively simple. Thanks for posting this one, Val.

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  24. thanks for bringing the falafel back...a new/old trend is emerging!

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  25. Valli, time does indeed fly by too fast; however, isn't it nice to have the great opportunities to visit such beautiful places such as Greece . . . it is on my bucket list of things to see! Roz

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  26. my husband and i adore Greek food, and this meal sounds right up our alley! I will definitely be making this, and I'm hardly waiting! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! :) Cheers! sheila

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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