Kat Nisou is a recent graduate of Le Cordon Blue, LA Times Test Kitchen intern, recipe writer and aspiring chef.
Pies are a part of my family tradition but not in a conventional way. Growing up in a traditional Macedonian home, my grandmother’s pies were called PITA. Not to be confused with pita breads sold in stores, these savory pies are filled with flavorful fillings and thin flaky crust. There are other names for the same dish depending on where in and around Macedonia you go or who you are talking to. Banitsa or Borek are some of the other common names but in my home it was all about good old fashioned PITA. It can be filled with a slew of combinations but not typically with fruit. Some examples of pita that my grandmothers used to make were plain pita stuffed with feta and ricotta cheese. In the summer we would have pita so pras, which translates to pita stuffed with leek. In the Fall it would be pita so tikfa which translates to pita with pumpkin, and in the winter we would have pita so spanak which is spinach pita. As for the dough, I’ll be honest—it’s a day-long process and an art in itself. I would never undermine the labor of love that my grandmothers and aunts put forth to make this dough but I had to find an easier way. I hope they aren’t reading this, but I found that flouring and rolling out store bought puff pastry develops a similar texture, taste and result as the handmade dough which makes this pie, easy as pie to make.
Kat Nisou’s Classic Pita Pie with Cheese Filling
1 box (2 sheets) thawed puff pastry
1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
6 oz feta cheese, rinsed and grated with box grater
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs divided
Flour for dusting
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly spray 9 inch pie pan with non stick baking spray.
In a medium sized bowl, combine ricotta cheese, grated feta cheese, salt and one egg until fully incorporated.
Whisk together 1 egg for egg wash.
On a work surface, dust flour and roll out unwrapped puffed pastry dough to about 1/8th of an inch think. Work dough with a rolling pin to create a long rectangle about 30 inches long and about 12 inches wide. Slice dough down the center lengthwise so that you have 4 long strips that measure about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide. Poke dough randomly with a fork. Brush dough with egg wash. Spoon an equal portion of cheese mixture in a line, lengthwise about one inch from the base of the dough. Roll dough to create a log. Pinch the edges. Repeat with all four sheets of dough.
Attach logs at ends using a bit of egg wash and gently pinching together to form one long log. Roll into a spiral and place carefully place into pie pan. (You can attempt to spiral the dough piece by piece directly in the pie pan if easier.) Brush top with egg wash and bake for about 45 minutes, until dough is golden brown.
Remove and let cool. Slice into wedges.