local-kiwi-alien

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Another Type of Greek Cheese Pie

  Another Greek speciality, a feta cheese pie without pastry. 

 In some areas this is called a 'batter pie' (zimaropita) and in others a 'flour pie' (alevropita).  We had one specially made for us in a small village in the mountain area in the north called Zagorohoria.  It was like a large flat cheesey pancake and I have always wanted to make one myself.


When I read the recipe and started making it I realized how like toad-in-the-hole or yorkshire pudding it is.  The batter is poured into smoking oil and puffs up into a soft tasty cheese pie.



This is the end result, batter with a covering of crumbled feta cheese,  amazingly soft and puffy, even eaten cold the next day.





In days gone by, before there was an electric mixer in every house, cakes and batters were mixed by hand.  My sister-in-law still mixes every thing by hand.  I used to do the same but is it at least 10 years since we've had a cake mixer. 

You probably find it hard to imagine creaming butter and sugar by hand, adding the eggs and getting your hands all mucky in that goopy mush but hands whip up a soft, velvety cream.


The pie is cooked in a large shallow pan and is spread with extra melted butter or oil before going into the oven

Zimaropita - cheese pie without pastry

the batter -
- one mug of water
- one mug of milk
- about 2 mugs of flour
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper

oil - 60 grams or more
melted butter  - a few tablespoons
- crumbled feta cheese  about 250 grams

-Turn your oven on to 200oC. 
- Pour enough oil into your large flat baking pan to cover generously all the bottom of the dish.

Put the dish with the oil into the oven and leave it there for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  You want it to be smoking hot but obviously not to burn.

In the meantime mix all the batter ingredients together into a smooth, pancake batter, either by hand or with a spoon.

When the oil in the baking dish is very hot, carefully take the dish out of the oven and pour in the batter.  The batter will immediately puff up around the edges just like Yorkshire pudding. 

Sprinkle over the feta cheese and then pour  the melted butter evenly over the top.  I used half oil and half butter.

Put the dish back in the oven for about 30 minutes till nice and brown on top.

You could also add grated yellow cheese and crumbled fried bacon.  Some recipes say to mix the cheese into the batter before pouring it into the baking dish, others to sprinkle it over the top. I added the crumbled feta to the top of the batter but next time I will mix it all together.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Cheese Pie Recipe

 This is a repost of the cheese pie/tiropita recipe I posted in 2017.  I usually make it with a little white sauce (bechamel) but here have used semolina instead.  Don't go overboard on the semolina.  It does thicken as it cools down .  It's a long recipe because I've given all sorts of alternatives.  Kali orexi.  Bon appetite


  Making a tiropitta is so easy.  I also made my own pastry and have included the recipe here. This is the traditional greek pastry made by mothers and grandmothers in little villages all over the country.  Some unrefined flour a good dose of their fresh olive oil and a little water, salt and vinegar. They know by the feel of it whether to add more oil or water and the result is always a good soft, elastic ball of dough.


 If you can't, or won't, make  pastry then use whatever you can find in your local supermarket.  That super thin filo pastry is also fine.  Just use four sheets underneath and three on top, oiling them one by one as you lay them down.



This cheese pie I made using semolina but I'll give a simpler alternative at the end.  This is my cheese and semolina mix ready to go into the pie dish

Grating the cheese makes for less lumps.  But bits of the feta always crumble away so a few lumps are the norm.

This 'village' pastry is now a nice soft ball of dough.  It has to be left to rest for half an hour.  This really does make it easier to roll out.

Rolling out your pastry.  If you roll it around your rolling pin then you can lift and maneuver it easily over the baking dish.


Lining the oiled pie dish with greek 'village' pastry. Because the pastry has oil in it you do not have to flour the work top before rolling.

And here we have a nice shell ready for the filling.  It does not need to be pre-baked

My two freeform sorts of pie/s, full of character and ready for the oven.  I always start out meaning to make beautifully formed triangles or half moon pies or a larger pie with braided edges but somehow they never quite turn out exactly as I imagined.  They do however taste the same, or better.


And the end result, all ready to be eaten, as a snack, with a salad or even with a glass of barrel wine or an ouzo.

Recipe - filling

1/2 litre of milk
- 70 grams of semolina
- around half a kilo of crumbled feta cheese
note: you can use any cheese, yellow, white or even some Danish blue.  The tastier the better.  Crumble the softer cheese and grate the harder ones.
- sweet paprika, about 1tsp
- a good shake of pepper
- chopped mint
- one egg

Pastry

- 60 ml of olive oil (a small wine glass)
- 200 ml of water, maybe more (a water glass)
- 400 grams flour
- 1tsp salt
- one tbsp. vinegar

Put the milk and semolina in a pot and gently heat, stirring all the time till it thickens.  Take it off the boil once it begins to bubble.  It will thicken more as it cools.

Into the semolina mix add your cheese/s, paprika, pepper and chopped mint.  At the end add the egg and stir till well mixed.

Leave that while you make the pastry.  In a large bowl put the flour and make a well in the middle.  Add the oil, water, vinegar and salt.  Mix with a spoon and then get your hands in there and work the dough till it is a nice soft round ball.  It may need a little more water.  Leave to rest for half an hour, out of the fridge.

Divide the pastry into two pieces, one larger ball for the bottom and one smaller for the top.  Roll out the bottom piece as thin as you can.  Oil your pie dish and lay the pastry into the dish, covering the sides.  Fill up the dish with the cheese mixture.  Roll out the pastry top and cover the pie.  Brush with oil and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if you wish.
Bake around half an hour in a hot oven, till the top is nice and brown.

OR - take small pieces of pastry, roll them out and make smaller pies, sealing them well with a fork.

Alternative fillings -

Another simpler pie mix is just grated cheese/s with an added egg and chopped mint or nutmeg to flavor.  
That's what I did the other day.  Grated cheeses, an egg broken into them and just a dash of milk to lighten the mixture

or
Instead of semolina make a small amount of white sauce and add the cheeses and spices or herbs to that.  
White sauce is also called bechamel and you can whisk in an egg when it has cooled down a little to make it extra fluffy.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

February Photos

 Our next door neighbour was still harvesting tomatoes till a week ago.  I think this is probably the last of them.  Any left on the plants will have been flash frozen after this last cold spell.  He did extremely well though to be still eating his own tomatoes in February.


Along with the tomatoes there were also a few green peppers and aubergines.  They weren't in a hot house by the way, just in the remnants of his summer garden


Every day there are half a dozen fires smoking away around us as everyone prunes their olive trees and burns off the smaller branches


One of the old deserted looking houses near us.  They are used by extended families when collecting olives or tending summer gardens and most are filled with stacks of dry food for the sheep and chickens or even a pig or two that are penned in the yards outside.  There is the necessary dog tethered underneath though this one does not bark and the chickens scratch between old broken plastic chairs, the remains of rusty fridges, stoves and piles of rotting doors and windows for repairs never carried out.  That's pretty typical.  Nothing should be thrown out but is rarely reused.


The very first sign that the seasons are going to change.
Blossom on an almond tree

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

What To Do But Eat

 When it's cold, stir up the fire, put on a pot of something, eat and drink.


We didn't get snow in the end,  just a couple of flurries but Athens was covered in thick snow and still is in the outer suburbs.



The Acropolis and Parthenon covered in snow

 



Lunch was fark-ess.  Lentils to you.
I ate half, obviously, before remembering to take the photo



I made a cheese pie to accompany the lentil soup.
Some traditional people don't like to eat them 'orphaned'.
We could have accompanied them with smoked mackerel or some salted sardines but there were none in the cupboard and we weren't going shopping.


If we had eaten mackerel, regga to us, then it would have looked like this when we bought it, preferably with that big fat roe that is hanging out the side of this mackerel.  It needs to be skinned, de-boned and cut into small pieces which are marinated in olive oil and lemon juice





I also made a banana cake with a couple of overipe bananas.  Traditional people do not eat black bananas.

Cooking and eating passed the time. We had power, we had water, we had a pile of wood to throw on the fire. All was well.

Today, Wednesday, the sun is shining. Athens still has major problems in some areas. We watch endless weather reports on our television and get back to normal, doing a load of washing, taking a walk, inspecting the garden and preparing a shopping list to restock the cupboards.











Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Mother Nature

 What's growing right now.


Prickly pear.  I'm presuming these are flowers and not fruit.  It was a bit hard to tell but the fruit is usually ripe in mid summer


The mint is starting to grow again though the chill winds of February might cut it back again




my green corner, nasturtiums and clover


A bit of broccoli


The white bougainvillia is a little worse for wear now after a few days of gale force winds removed most of the blossom and drove it into our front door to be vaccumed by me every day


The lemon harvest is in full swing


Sunday, 14 February 2021

Valentines Day

A 'non' day. A few days ago it was international Pizza Day. Far more interesting and tasty . I made one with dashings of garlic. I think I'm still burping the stuff. Bad idea. I was trying for 'pizza-garlic bread'. Both are great but not together.


Hairdressers are on lockdown, churches can only hold services with priest and chanter but Flower Shops will be allowed to remain open till Valentines Day


Storm Medea is bringing high winds, rain and snow to all of Greece.  Today we lit the stove early in the morning and K made his winter favourite boiled mutton soup.  I happily ate boiled potatoes and coleslaw.




Medea . Grandaughter of the sun god Helios.   A powerful sorceress, an enchantress.

Medea fell in love and married Jason of the Argonauts, who sought the golden fleece.  Jason eventually abandoned her to marry Creusa.  Medea, who has already killed her own brother,  poisons Creusa and her father, murders her own sons.  She then marries another king, Aegeus, tries to poison his son Theseus who slayed the minatour of Crete. 

Her mythical life   is a greek tragedy, this one written by tragedian (what a word) Euripides


 

Friday, 12 February 2021

Fishing

The Arion and its crew managed to go out fishing again and by gosh they caught a lot of fish! Our family are all fishers,
and very successful ones, but we are not allowed to tell them cos it's bad luck.  We spit on them instead, three times.  Keep away that evil eye




This catch I photoed was from the first lockdown.  Magnifique!  The photo deserves to be published


Son in law G  has a professional licence.  Pleasure fishers like my husband are not allowed out, not even to fish from the wharf.


Father and daughter






Bringing in the catch



Part of the haul being handed over the garden gate.

We have just finished eating the last of that gigantic catch.  No more fish in our freezer.  We had some great meals.  Fried fish with greens.
Baked fish with various vegetables, bbqed fish.

Corona virus has done the fish a favour and allowed them to relax and reproduce in peace and safety.  Even our professional fishermen no longer go out daily.  There are no local tavernas open to sell to and I have no doubt that the fish market in Athens no longer wants their catch either.  Not so good for those that relied on their catch to support a family but subsidies are helping to tide them over.

The mediterranean still has fish, and giant octopus!


Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Day to Day

 The days are running into each other again.  We have another strict lockdown in the greater Athens area of which we are part.  It doesn't make any difference to us.  We just stay at home more and walk the backroads, as we always do.


Last week before the covid cases came too close for comfort we managed  a swift trip to our nearest city for a new pair of glasses, a car check and a LIDLs shop.  We didn't even stop for coffee.  No excitement, nothing much of interest to note or photo.


We also managed to squeeze in an enjoyable afternoon with the family.  Another load of wood conveniently arrived with the children, convenient for us.  They were all chain ganged into bringing it up and stacking it at the back door.  

My brother downunder sms-ed us when he saw the video I sent

Bringing in the wood
Bringing in the wood
We shall go rejoicing
Bringing in the wood.


The kids werent exactly rejoicing but many hands got it done very quickly and then we settled down for a bbq.



An evening walk around the back of the island looking out towards the mainland.  One lone little, illegal,  fishing boat.


3 Xmas cards and a calendar arrived from NZ this week.
It may be the last of the christmas mail, the 2020 xmas mail

The weather has been brilliant but the forecast is for snow on Sunday.  It's a funny old winter.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Turning Right





Where to walk.  No beach bar any more and all the other signs point to small churches in the area


The fertile plain called Fousa with its olives and grapes 



Everyone is pruning olives just now and burning the smaller branches. The bigger ones are cut up to keep the houses warm


There are always a few goats around. 


Another view on my walk


We have covid cases on the island now and the police are finally making checks.  A motorcycle cop passed me on my walk today but didn't stop me 

We have heard they are finally making checks around town and dishing out 300euro fines for not wearing masks or having the right permit. They are also issuing fines to people gathering with their friends outside the coffee shops. The cafes are open for take-aways.

I'm happy now to walk alone up here in the hills

 

Monday, 1 February 2021

Out in the Fresh Air

 

Another day, another walk.  This is my usual walk but I'm getting tired of it.  Yesterday I walked by the sea again in the sunshine and the other day I took a right turn instead of a left



The church of St John
It has one service towards the end of September unless someone wants to hold a baptism or wedding there or a special service for good health or one of thanks




This stone house has been a building site for at least the last five years. A few months ago they finally tiled the roof and most days there seems to be someone working there.
Maybe it will be finished for this summer.
It's a lovely house looking over the fertile valley of Fousa where people of Poros have their grapevines and olive trees.
I love the warm colour of the tiles


I collect pine cones and sticks to light the fire