Telly Savalas' Kourambiethes
1 lb. butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
About 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Good pinch ground cinnamon (or cloves)
1 cup blanched, ground almonds
1. Melt butter, let it settle, discard milky white residue that forms in bottom of pan. Put cooled drawn butter in mixing bowl with vegetable oil. Add egg and sugar, beat until light and fluffy.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder and cinnamon (or cloves). Add to egg mixture and mix well. Add ground almonds, mix well. Turn out on lightly floured board. Roll out with rolling pin and shape into diamond shapes or wedding bells. Bake on ungreased baking sheets in preheated 350 degrees F. oven about 25 mins. (or until lightly browned).
3. Remove from oven and roll in confectioners sugar while still warm. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.
Greeks are never without Kourambiethes! Traditionally, they serve the confection with wine or coffee. For bridal feasts, the wedding bells are served. For Christmas, each cookie should be garnished with clove to represent the wise man who brought spices to the Christ child.
Telly Savalas' Spanakopita
2 lbs. fresh spinach (or 2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach)
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsps. chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 lb. feta (or pot) cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 lb. phyllo pastry
1. Wash spinach and dry thoroughly. Chop spinach coarsely and set aside. Saute onion in olive oil until limp. Add spinach (or cook frozen spinach until barely tender according to package instructions; drain thoroughly) to cooked onion. Saute a few minutes. Add dill and parsley; set aside.
2. Crumble feta (or pot) cheese in a mixing bowl. Add cooled spinach mixture (or drained cooked frozen spinach), salt and white pepper to taste. Mix well with fork.
3. Brush 12"x8"x2" deep baking dish lightly wnh melted butter. Line pan with one sheet of phyllo pastry. Brush lightly with melted butter. Top this with four more sheets pastry, brushing each layer lightly with melted butter. Cover with spinach mixture. Top with remaining sheets of phyllo, lightly brushing each layer with melted butter. Sprinkle a few drops of water on crust to prevent curling. Bake in preheated 400 degrees F. oven until crust is brown (about 30 minutes). To serve, cut in squares a few minutes after removing from oven. Spear each square with toothpick to hold pastry layers together. Serves 4.
Thoughts: Feta cheese (distinctive-flavored goat cheese) and phyllo pastry, sold by the pound, are available at Greek or Middle Eastern food specialty shops. Phyllo pastry is transparent and paper-thin. Strudel dough may be substituted or use flaky pie pastry (bake in conventional manner lining pie plate with crust; partially bake crust before adding spinach filling). Greeks prepare spanakopita many ways: by giving filling a custard-like consistency by adding eggs, cream sauce and flavoring with a dash of nutmeg (omit herbs) or placing bite-sized morsels of filling on small squares of pastry, wrapping and baking to serve as snacks with cocktails.