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Help me make "cupcake" size Greek spinach pies without phyllo (or other crust).

alkapal May 19, 2011 05:59 AM

I am craving Greek spinach pie, but don't want the phyllo fat.

I want to make individual "pies" in a cupcake tin. Do I need to have a crust? I'm not wedded to an authentic "crust" -- so I'd consider a "self-creating crust" or an easy cream cheese dough crust. Will this turn out more like a quiche?

I wouldn't mind it being like a hybrid spinach soufflé (think Stouffer's)…. also I might want to substitute artichokes for some of the spinach (i have a large jar of marinated artichokes I'm wanting to open and use).

Has anyone got any tips, ideas, a great recipe? I'm worried about it cohering, but don't want it too eggy (or "eggy" at all).

On hand, I have frozen chopped spinach, fresh dill, dried mint (maybe some fresh mint if it came back from last year's herb garden), green onions, chives, fresh oregano, Vidalias, feta, eggs, cream cheese, parmesan, other cheeses, flour, etc.

Thank you, fellow Hounds.

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  1. roxlet RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 06:12 AM

    I think you can make something more souffle-like by folding your base mixture of spinach, feta and spices into some beaten egg whites. But depending how you use it, filo doesn't have to be a calorie bomb. Just work really fast and keep the filo moist by using damp towels, and you really don't have to use butter...

    4 Replies
    1. re: roxlet
      alkapal RE: roxlet May 19, 2011 06:31 AM

      good to know about the phyllo! thanks!

      1. re: roxlet
        hotoynoodle RE: roxlet May 19, 2011 09:27 AM

        i always use spray oil, like pam, when working with phyllo. makes a much lighter finished product.

        you can doctor this recipe, adding herbs and cheese:

        http://whole9life.com/2010/10/stm-spi...

        1. re: hotoynoodle
          greygarious RE: hotoynoodle May 20, 2011 10:56 AM

          I agree with the Pam. They have both olive oil and butter-flavored ones. I like to alternate layers - e.g., Pam on one layer, melted butter on the next. It cuts the calories and fat but preserves the authentic flavor.

          1. re: greygarious
            buttertart RE: greygarious May 20, 2011 11:18 AM

            Even better idea, gg. OT but did you notice Gesine Bullock-Prado has a new book out? Looks very interesting.
            http://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Baby-Conf...

      2. buttertart RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 06:47 AM

        The not too eggy is the problem - one egg and 2 yolks? The arbiters of all knowledge at Cooks Illustrated found that the eggy taste is in the whites. You need one white for structure, though.

        6 Replies
        1. re: buttertart
          alkapal RE: buttertart May 19, 2011 06:57 AM

          so it is the whites that give the "eggy" flavor? i never knew that….
          you hounds are the best!

          1. re: alkapal
            buttertart RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 07:00 AM

            It was on one of their shows fairly recently. Interesting, innit?

          2. re: buttertart
            j
            juli5122 RE: buttertart May 19, 2011 09:14 PM

            That is interesting. I don't like the eggy taste either but assumed it was the yolk.

            1. re: juli5122
              buttertart RE: juli5122 May 20, 2011 08:38 AM

              I had always thought that too.

            2. re: buttertart
              herby RE: buttertart May 31, 2011 07:46 PM

              This is interesting... ever found merengue "eggy"? I never did but not well cooked scrambled eggs taste super "eggy".

              1. re: herby
                buttertart RE: herby Jun 1, 2011 09:06 AM

                I think the sugar mitigates the eggy taste, but if you're conscious of this and think about it while eating a soft meringue, you can taste it a bit.

            3. chowser RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 08:32 AM

              I like adding an egg as binder, maybe a little flour or some starch. Also, if it's not too heavy, this bread crumb crust would be great.

              http://www.chow.com/recipes/12571-bre...

              1. e
                escondido123 RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 08:40 AM

                If calories are a concern I wouldn't consider a cream cheese crust a low cal alternative.

                1. blue room RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 09:32 AM

                  I'm not afraid to put anything with a crust (sweet or savory) into a ramekin, tart pan, cazuela, or muffin tin without its crust. It turns out tasty and "worth it" 99% of the time.

                  1. buttertart RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 09:38 AM

                    Pam + a few breadcrumbs (panko?) would make a nice and lo-cal crunchy part.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: buttertart
                      mamachef RE: buttertart May 20, 2011 10:34 AM

                      That is a great idea - especially if you use a few crumbs of panko to keep the layers from adhering, which is I'm pretty sure exactly what you just said.

                      1. re: mamachef
                        buttertart RE: mamachef May 20, 2011 10:37 AM

                        You're thinking with phyllo, right? Absolutely. Or just Pam 'n' crumbs.

                    2. p
                      Phoebe RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 10:26 AM

                      There's a very good recipe from Eating Well magazine which can be found online called Parmesan Spinach Cakes. You can pretty much use any cheese you like. While it was very tasty, it didn't fill the cups enough for my liking. I looked for the same style recipe but prepared in a casserole. I found this online. Combine 3 eggs, 20 oz of spinach, completely drained of any liquid (I've used both fresh and frozen before), 4 oz of cheddar (you can substitute any kind of grated cheese), 1 cup cottage cheese (I've substituted w/ ricotta or feta before), 1 or 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into a greased baking dish. I used a 8x8 pyrex dish. Bake at 350* for about 40-45 minutes. This is a very forgiving recipe. I've made this many times, changing the cheeses as to what I had on hand. I've also cut out one of the eggs, using only two. It is not "eggy" at all. Reminds me of Stouffer's version...only better. This is a tasty dish. I hope you'll try and make at least once. Enjoy!!!!

                      1. folprivate RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 10:52 AM

                        I have made mini cupcake size using deli turkey breast to make the crust. Press the turkey slice into the cup and I fill it with the same spanakopita mixture of spinach feta lemon and dill that I would use for traditional spanakopita. I got the turkey crust from a kraft recipe a few years ago. Surprisingly your mind thinks it is a traditional crust and not turkey

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: folprivate
                          hotoynoodle RE: folprivate May 19, 2011 11:33 AM

                          this also works with ham or canadian bacon.

                        2. ROCKLES RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 02:46 PM

                          would wonton wrappers work?

                          1. m
                            MazDee RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 06:51 PM

                            Remember the Bisquik Impossible pies that made their own crust? I think that would be worth a try. The mixture is on the Bisquik website, or you can do it without Bisquik if you look around for a copy cat version. I was thinking about this earlier today, because I am trying to make some interesting 2-bite size foods for an invalid friend. With this mixture, you can add any filling you like, and I thought of making several different "flavors" in the same muffin pan.

                            1. h
                              happybaker RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 08:41 PM

                              You can take white bread (good quality thinpepperidge farm or thicker cheap stuff ) cut the crusts off, roll it flat with a rolling pin, put it in a cupcake tin and spray it with pam before filling - and it will be a lovely light, crunchy crust.

                              Very 1950's - but it still works!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: happybaker
                                buttertart RE: happybaker May 20, 2011 08:40 AM

                                That bread thing is good buttered with cheese custard in it too. Mademoiselle Mary Cantwell recipe circa 1970.

                              2. j
                                Jeri L RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 09:06 PM

                                This could be put into cupcake tins and I have used feta instead of mozzarella. I use twice the spinach and half the butter.

                                http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Spinach-...

                                1. lilgi RE: alkapal May 19, 2011 09:38 PM

                                  I think grated cheese packed down on the bottom of muffin tins without the liners forms a crust but I haven't tried it personally. I have an old mac and cheese bites recipe that I never got around to using when my boys were tiny. Anyway, you use grated parm packed on the bottom and some on top, maybe spray with just a little pam or an oil sprayer to help the binding? If it works directly in the tins, they might work in aluminum liners.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: lilgi
                                    mamachef RE: lilgi May 20, 2011 10:36 AM

                                    lilgi, this makes me wonder what would happen if you half-baked fricos, and then layered in the filling and finished with the baking? hmmm.....

                                    1. re: mamachef
                                      lilgi RE: mamachef May 20, 2011 11:17 AM

                                      Yes, that looks like the idea except I'm thinking they probably don't crisp up very much when baked with filling, but just enough to hold form and add texture? In any case I think the muffin wells have to be well greased for removal. This recipe came from a children's b'day party, but I never got around to trying it.

                                  2. alkapal RE: alkapal May 29, 2011 03:39 PM

                                    VOILA! i made this in the MICRO with the traditional ingredients sans crust -- with just a little bread crumb… set into a silicone cupcake pan… love it!

                                    recipe:

                                    one big (!) bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeeezed dry (used "pict-sweet"from harris teeter, but it is a good non-stemmy national brand).
                                    one big bunch of green onions (or maybe more…10 onions?) trimmed and sliced thin, tender green tops included
                                    one bunch dill leaves, finely chopped
                                    large tablespoon of Indian garlic paste
                                    ½ C finely chopped italian parsley (one nice fresh bunch)
                                    salt. pepper
                                    three eggs, scrambled well
                                    ¼ C plain bread crumbs
                                    ¼ C drained cottage cheese
                                    ¼ C-⅓ C crumbled good feta cheese

                                    COMBINE well, then put into silicone muffin pan that you sprayed with Pam.
                                    ~~~
                                    I should have added some lemon juice…otherwise…I'm pretty
                                    happy with this… to add a wee bit of richness, you could add a T or so of EVOO. maybe you might add a bit of cayenne or red pepper flakes. actually, some fresh grated parm would be really good in this!

                                    i zapped it on maybe 60 percent for about 5 minutes….more or less…check part way (you know the drill)!

                                    so easy…and i did not want to have to heat the oven! thanks for your insights and help, all!

                                    this is -- other than the cheese-- a low fat dish with great flavor that doesn't require the oven!

                                    ~~~~~~
                                    yield : 12 -- ⅓ C "spinach pies'.

                                     
                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: alkapal
                                      buttertart RE: alkapal May 29, 2011 04:35 PM

                                      Yum, alka! They look and sound terrific.

                                      1. re: alkapal
                                        lilgi RE: alkapal May 30, 2011 06:02 PM

                                        alkapal, they look so good! I still have to make those with carbs almost nonexistant, so no breadcrumbs (cry), just eggs and cheese and I'll try the parmesan crust too. I like your idea of the muffin shapes too rather than the smaller tartlet pans. I hope I get around to doing these soon, thanks for the inspiration!

                                        1. re: lilgi
                                          alkapal RE: lilgi May 30, 2011 06:08 PM

                                          hi lilgi, yes, use more eggs, some parm and no bread crumbs. that's what i'll do next time; i'll also put more in each muffin cup, too. but i was thrilled to be able to use the silicone muffin pan and the micro (it has been very hot here in d.c.)!

                                          1. re: alkapal
                                            lilgi RE: alkapal May 30, 2011 06:20 PM

                                            I forgot you used the mw! Thanks for reminding me, it's been brutal here already :(

                                            1. re: lilgi
                                              alkapal RE: lilgi May 31, 2011 05:08 AM

                                              now i'm going to use those muffin pans and the microwave for similar things. next, i think i'm going to try the panera-clone "spinach-artichoke-cheese soufflé". also "crustless" quiches -- a variation on what i've done with the spinach pies -- will be easy.

                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                lilgi RE: alkapal May 31, 2011 11:59 AM

                                                I'll be trying some soon, you got me going on this and I've been thinking about it. Definitely want to hear back about the spinach-artichoke one, sounds good.

                                      2. h
                                        HillJ RE: alkapal May 31, 2011 06:12 PM

                                        I'd use a water cracker as the crust inside the large muffin tins to replace the phyllo and then divide my filling per the original full size recipe and bake; watching my baking time.

                                        nonetheless, your recipe sounds delicious!

                                        1. q
                                          Querencia RE: alkapal Jun 1, 2011 09:08 AM

                                          Read the ingredients on the phyllo box---I think it's just flour and water, made without fat---people brush it with melted butter as they use it. Instead, you can give it a squirt of PAM or similar releasing agent and still get the crunch of phyllo while going totally fat-free. The cream cheese dough you are considering is loaded with fat. The "self-creating crusts" you mention can be researched online under Pillsbury's "Impossible Pie" line.

                                          1. q
                                            Querencia RE: alkapal Jun 1, 2011 09:12 AM

                                            Your combination of spinach and artichoke reminds me of the little triangular vegetable "pies" (more like turnovers) sold by every Middle-Eastern deli in Chicago. I think they use a pita dough (which is not fatty at all). There are recipes online---google Fatayer.

                                            1. alkapal RE: alkapal Jun 2, 2011 04:33 AM

                                              this recipe looks like it could be "greekified" http://www.justapinch.com/recipe/ncle...

                                              i'm a sucker for spinach anything, really. always have been.

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