Yia Yia Bessie came to visit, my beautiful and amazing mother.
Yia Yia means grandmother in Greek, a title she’s earned with her 10 remarkable grandchildren.
Her trip turned out to be one of the most memorable times that the two of us have shared in a long time and I am savoring all the mama love.
We spent most of our days cooking our favorite Greek dishes… reminiscing about Yia Yia Bessie’s childhood memories.
Yia Yia grew up in a seaside village named Myrtia on the southern coast of the Peloponnese amongst the Greek ruins, rich with history intertwined with the awe of mythology.
We spoke about old friends and new friends and those who have left an impression on our heart.
We talked about all the things she loved while we sipped Greek coffee out of dainty demitasse cups;
growing up on a farm, harvesting the olive trees, her favorite wild flowers and traveling to other countries.
She spoke of our family heritage rich in tradition that continues to grow, reflecting our way of life with dance, art and food, and how these have been have passed along for many generations.
We were silly and laughed, then we laughed some more – so hard that we almost peed out pants. I think that was the most memorable moment for me, we laughed in a way that neither one of us have laughed in a very long time. Laughter is really good medicine, though love is even better.
Yia Yia Bessie’s visit was extraordinary for me, because we got a chance to just be girls and spend time together. I love that I get to write about how incredible she is and share all the wonderful recipes her mother, Yia Yia Angeliki, taught her. We will pass these down from one generation to the other…leaving a beautiful legacy.
Our favorite Greek recipes will be featured in the next several post beginning with one of my all time favorites, Spanakopita (spinach pie).
Here’s what you’ll need… 9 x 11 Baking Dish and Pastry Brush, Oven Temp: 350 degrees, Bake time: 45 minutes. This recipe makes approximately 27 pieces.
1 – 16 oz Package Phyllo Dough
3 – 10 oz Package of fresh spinach (clean & chopped)
2 – Bunches of Scallion Onions
1/2 – Cup of Fresh Chopped Dill Weed
1 – 8 oz Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 – 8 oz Large Curd Cottage Cheese
1 – Cup Olive Oil
3 – Large Eggs
1 – Teaspoon Salt
½ – Teaspoon Pepper
2 – Stick salted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread phyllo dough out on a dry work surface. Be sure to completely cover with the phyllo dough with a towel to keep from drying out. Take two stick of butter and melt, then let cool.
Chop and clean spinach, then strain with cheese cloth until all liquid is drained. Finely chop the onion and dill into small pieces. Place spinach, onions, dill, feta, cottage cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper into large mixing bowl and set aside. Beat eggs lightly then add to mixture combining all ingredients well.
Layer 15 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet separately with melted butter.
Spread the entire spinach mixture into the pan until phyllo dough is completely covered. Fold the overlapping phyllo layers inward on top of spinach and brush with butter.
Use 10 to 12 sheets of phyllo for top layer, brushing each sheet with butter. Cut the top layer of the phyllo dough into desired square pieces; be sure not to cut through to the bottom phyllo dough layer.
This dish needs no cover, place the pan in the oven and let bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until phyllo dough has a light brown color. Let cool uncovered for 1 hour prior to serving.