Last Thursday we hosted a surprise 30th birthday party for our friend Chris. Preparations involved quite a few weeks of subterfuge by his wife Ann, and we spent several days shopping and cooking before the party, all uner the guise of driving lessons for me. The week before we spent a memorable afternoon making about 90 spanakopita using Chris’s mom’s recipe.
Making a double (triple?) batch meant using a LOT of frozen chopped spinach, which we squeezed out using flour cloth (very chilly):
Into the spinach went a bit of egg, a lot of feta, some ricotta and cottage cheese, green onions, and….I think that’s it? I need to get the recipe from Ann. My hands proved to be the best mixing tools–this is the bowl from the Kitchenaid, for scale.
The miserable thing was the folding. The phyllo was dry (Ann taught me that you must always blame the phyllo for any problems you have), so it was frustrating buttering each sheet and trying to keep it intact while layering, filling and folding the little triangles. After a few dozen we switched to an eggroll shape, which was somehow less splinter-inducing for the dough.
We popped our trays of triangles and rolls into the freezer, and once they were hard as little rocks I transferred them into ziplocks. Ann made another batch or two at another friends house, as well. The night of the party I baked them at 375 for about 45 minutes, and they were fabulous. The filling had a good bite to it, great texture and flavor, and despite being such a royal pain I had to enjoy the crispy buttery phyllo.
We ended up having decorating with Cinco de Mayo stuff, including a pinata, which Chris beat down to great effect It was all very festive.
And Ann and I put together quite a spread—and artichoke/spinach dip, the spanakopita, really great homemade hummus (heavy on the garlic and tahini), chips and salsa… Also many, many margaritas and daiquiris. Chris was very surprised and everything went great, but I have to say I prefer 6-8 people coming over for dinner, instead of the 25+ for cocktail madness. With a crowd like that I spend the whole night refilling drinks and bowls, instead of eating anything myself!