Tiropitakia (Phyllo Cheese Triangles)


Our first post may have been a bit obscure, but this one is about as classic as you can get. Throughout our childhood, watching the moms gathered around the table folding these little triangles was a sure sign that a party would be happening soon. They are the perfect appetizer, and the cheese filling can be modified to suit your taste.  Our Mom likes to add milder cheeses to the feta and use white pepper so there are no specks of color, but other people prefer a bolder flavor and add stronger cheeses (like kefalotiri) and herbs. We love that these can be frozen before baking so you can have them ready in advance, and bake them up at the last minute. They are best when served warm, but taste pretty great at room temperature, too.

Grate feta cheese into a large mixing bowl.
Add cottage cheese, cream cheese, eggs and white pepper and combine well.  Filling is done!
Remove phyllo from packaging.  Unroll to remove the plastic sheet it is wrapped in, and then re-roll.
Slice into rolled “bundles” that are about 2 inches wide.  Mom’s tip: after you slice the first bundle, use it as a guide to make each bundle the same width.
Phyllo can dry out very quickly.  While you are working with the first bundle, be sure to cover the rest so they don’t dry out.  You can use a damp cloth, or just slide the bundles back into the plastic tube from the phyllo packaging.
Unroll one bundle.  You will have a pile of phyllo strips. Take 2 strips of phyllo and lay them out stacked on top of each other on your work surface. Brush lightly with melted butter and place about a teaspoon of filling at one end.
Grab one corner and fold it over the filling, then keep folding end over end to make a triangle shape.
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Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat until sheet is full.  Brush triangles with melted butter and poke a little air hole into each triangle using a toothpick.  The tiropitakia can be frozen at this point.  Freeze right on the cookie sheet for about 30 minutes, then you can transfer them to a freezer bag or other container.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Add about 5 minutes to cooking time if tiropitakia are frozen. Serve warm.
Tiropitakia (makes about 70 triangles)
1/2 pound feta cheese
1 8oz container cottage cheese
1/2 block of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 package phyllo dough – room temperature
1 stick of butter, melted
white pepper (we didn’t have any so used black here)
Grate feta cheese into a large mixing bowl, add cottage, and cream cheese. Add lightly beaten eggs and combine.  Add white pepper and combine. Set aside.
Remove phyllo from packaging . Slowly unroll to remove plastic wrapping, then reroll.  Cut into 2-inch wide “bundles”.   Mom’s tip: Use your first bundle as your guide to make them all evenly sized.
While you are working with one bundle, cover the rest of the phyllo using plastic wrap, or a damp paper towel or something so it doesn’t dry out.  Mom likes to put the bundles back in to the plastic sleeve from the phyllo packaging. She’s smart like that.
Unroll one bundle.  Take 2 sheets of phyllo together and spread them (stacked on top of each other) on your work surface.  Using a pastry brush, brush lightly with melted butter.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon of cheese mixture to one end of phyllo strip and fold (corner to opposite straight edge) turning over and over until triangle shape is complete (see photo). Place on cookie sheet.  Repeat.
Make a small air hole in each triangle using a toothpick.  Brush top of each triangle with melted butter.  (Can freeze at this point.  Freeze in one single layer on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes, and then you can transfer to a freezer bag or tupperware container).  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden (add about 5 minutes to cooking time if you are starting with frozen tyropitakia).

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