The Olive and the Caper by Susanna Hoffman is a culinary travelogue of Greece, with classic Greek recipes like Leek, Potato and Olive Pie (Prassopita), Warm Greens (Horta), and Roasted Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Thyme.
Makes one 13- x 9-inch pie;
Serves 12 as an appetizer
Leeks grow so well in Greece's household gardens that their name simply means "green." Every housewife knows exactly when the upright leaves have stretched tall enough to indicate that the white of the leek is thick and ready. With a handful of fat ones, she can make prassopita, the cheapest of pies and one of the best.
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish or equivalent round pan.
2. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a nonreactive skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until they are well wilted but still bright green, 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. While the leeks are cooling, lightly beat the egg together with the 1 tablespoon milk.
4. Place the potatoes, olives, cheese, dill, salt, and cayenne in a mixing bowl. Add the leeks and the egg mixture and stir together.
5. Following the tips in Filo Finesse (page 87 of the book), cut the filo sheets to size. Oil and layer one third of the filo in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add half the filling, spreading it out evenly. Oil and layer another one third of the sheets over the filling. Spread the remaining filling evenly over the filo. Oil and layer the remaining sheets of filo on top. Oil the top of the pie. Tuck the filo in around the edges, and score to make 12 pieces. Brush the top and around the edges with the milk or the egg wash, if using.
6. Place the dish in the oven and bake until the top and the edges are golden and crisp, 1-1/2 hours. Serve right away, or at room temperature.
Aristotle claimed that the clear cry of the partridge could be attributed to its diet of leeks.
When Herodotus was scribing an account of his country's war with Egypt, he asked for a translation of the heiroglyphs of the great pyramid at Cheops. It said sixteen hundred silver talents had been spent on radishes, leeks, onions, and garlic for the workers. Since Greek eating habits were similar to the Egyptians', and onions were not even considered true food at the time, he queried how much their actual vittles, clothing, and tools had cost.
Two unusual touches bring a leek pie to new heights: potato, such a good companion to any sort of onion, and olives, whose ebony dots add a salty accent. While black olives have a better color contrast, green olives offer more astringency: The choice is yours. An extra layer of fllo in the center graces the soft filling with satisfying crispness.
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This page created September 2007
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