More fantastic recipes from my travels through Crete, courtesy of 2 wonderful tavernas.
In Crete there is a cheese called Anthotiros. It is made by ageing myzithra (the local fresh cheese, much like ricotta), in a cool room for at least 10 days. It becomes hard and is used In many different recipes, and often served grated over pasta. In this recipe it can be substituted for feta cheese.
This is one of those dishes which you find in almost every taverna across Crete, and each one has its own recipe. The best that I tasted came from the wonderful organic taverna, Chrisopigi, in Kamiliari. It’s run by Manolis and his wife Maria, and is clearly a labour of love. Every dish is served with a simple elegance, and the quality of the produce is the secret. There really is no substitute for organic! Manolis told me that this is the recipe but it will never ever taste as good. I’ve made it a couple of times since and he’s right! However, it is delicious, and the best tip I can give is use plenty of fresh herbs.
Fresh oregano and mint (2 large handfuls)
Grate the courgettes, sprinkle with salt, leave for 10 minutes and then squeeze them to remove the liquid.
Crumble/grate the cheese, finely chop the herbs and mix with the courgette. Add salt and pepper.
Add flour, little by little, until the consistency of the mix can be shaped into balls using your hands (start with about 250g and keep adding until you have the right consistency).
Shape into balls, then flatten in the palm of your hand into patties, flour the outside and prepare to fry.
Heat oil in a pan (you can use vegetable oil, although Cretans never would!), fry the patties until golden brown. Serve with fresh tzatziki.
I have lost count of the number of Tzatzikis I’ve tasted and every single one has been different. I tried many where the garlic overpowers all other flavours, but a little definitely adds depth. For me the perfect tzatziki should be thick and creamy, with a little sweetness in the aftertaste. This is maybe not the most traditional recipe, but it suits my tastes!
250g Greek yoghurt (this is important as it should be thick)
A large handful chopped fresh mint
1 carrot (optional)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped or crushed)
100g feta cheese, washed in cold water
Cut the cucumber In half and remove the inside. Grate and squeeze out all of the juice (you want to get rid of as much juice as possible, otherwise the consistency will be too liquid). Grate the carrot and mix with the cucumber.
Crumble the feta cheese and with a fork mix it with a tablespoon of yoghurt until it becomes a paste. Mix in the rest of the yoghurt.
Finely chop the mint, crush the garlic and add to the yoghurt mix. Add the cucumber and carrot and the olive oil, salt and pepper.
Serve drizzled with olive oil with some whole mint and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper.