½ lb or 1½ packages of phyllo leaves (pastry sheets, frozen food aisle), room temperature
1 lb of butter, melted
1 lb of crumbled feta cheese (I like to use ½ plain feta and ½ garlic feta) Athenos is a great brand.
½ cup heavy cream
1 dozen eggs
1 lb cottage cheese or cream cheese (if you use cream cheese you will want to cut it into small cubes or freeze it and then crumble it).
Salt and Pepper to taste
Large mixing bowl, whisk, large spoon or paddle, turkey roasting or lasagna size baking pan.
Clean kitchen towel, basting brush, and ladles
Heat oven to 375º
1. The phyllo leaves need to be room temperature. I get them out in the morning to be used by afternoon. Remove from cardboard carton.
2. Add all 12 eggs and cream to a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to season, mix thoroughly until eggs are scrambled together.
3. Once eggs are mixed, add cottage or cream cheese and feta cheeses. Do not use a whisk for stirring here, use a large spoon or paddle. You want to gently mix in the cheeses so that they are coated with the egg mixture, but not beaten smaller.
4. In separate bowl, melt your butter.
5. On a clean work surface (You're going to need a lot of room, I suggest the kitchen table), assemble ingredients and large baking pan.
6. Using the clean kitchen towel, open packages of phyllo dough and gently unroll them. They are very thin and will dry out quickly, so cover with another clean towel when not actively using them.
7. Layer on the bottom of your baking pan an even layer of phyllo leaves. You want the entire bottom to be covered in a layer of phyllo, this may require tearing leaves for fit. Then add three more layers.
8. Add a layer of butter. I use a ladle to pour in the butter, and then a basting brush to spread the butter all over the leaves.
9. Add another layer of leaves and butter.
10. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or just until the butter begins to brown and the laves have shrunk in size.
11. Carefully remove baking pan and place it back on your work surface.
12. Create two layers of leaves, with butter on the final layer.
13. Add another layer of leaves, no butter this time. Now we are going to add our egg and cheese mixture.
14. Using a ladle, pour a layer of egg and cheese mixture onto the phyllo leaves. If you covered your pan bottom correctly, the mixture should not seep to the bottom of the pan.
Add a layer of leaves and butter.
Add a layer of leaves and then the egg and cheese mixture.
17. Repeat. (It should go like this: leaves, butter, leaves, mixture, etc.).
18. Do this until you run out of egg and cheese mixture.
19. Once you have no more cheese mixture, you will keep creating leaves and butter layers until you have anywhere from 6-10 top layers of just leaves and butter, or you run out of butter. (*Note* you will want a decent number of leaves and butter layer on the top. This is what makes this dish so delicious).
20. Place in oven and bake for 45-75 minutes. Start with 45 minutes. When checking for doneness, you will use a knife and cut into the center of the pita diagonally, if the egg mixture holds together, it is done. If it runs or still "seeps" it needs more time.
21. Once cooked through, pull from the oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
22. When cutting, it is easier to cut on the diagonal. Start at one corner of the pan and slice, then use that line to measure out your slices. Think diamonds.
23. Serve and enjoy.
For Spanakopita, you will add spinach leaves to your egg and cheese layer. You will pour and spread the mixture and then layer fresh spinach leaves over the top, do not sprinkle, you layer the spinach the same way we layer the leaves. Then add the leaves layer. Add spinach to every egg and cheese layer. You will end the layer the same as above.