Recipes from Crete
Courgette Croquettes (kolokythokeftedes)
These delicious little croquettes are very popular at the better Taverna’s in Crete and all over Greece.
5 courgettes, 2 flowery potatoes, 1 onion, mint and or basil leaves, salt and pepper, 5 egg yolks, bread crumbs and finally approximately 100 g of grated parmesan or other hard sheep’s milk cheese.
Finely grate the courgettes and add the salt. After about 10 minutes squeeze out the excess water with a kitchen towel. Boil the potatoes and mash.
Grate the onion, finely chop the herbs and mix together with the egg yolks, mashed potatoe and the cheese.
With your hands make little palm sized patties and roll the mix in the bread crumbs.
Shallow fry in vegetable oil until golden brown and crisp.
Season with salt and pepper as required. Serve with a wedge of lemon.
Cumin and Garlic Meatballs in Tomato and Wine Sauce
These cumin-flavoured meatballs may be casseroled or oven-baked with potatoes – here is the oven version.
500g minced meat (lamb or beef)
130g bread, soaked in white wine
2 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
1 heaped tsp of ground cumin
1 small onion, grated
half tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium egg
2 dessert spoons of olive oil
Squeeze the bread dry, place in a bowl with the meat and the other ingredients and mix everything together well with your hands. Leave the mixture for at least half an hour in the fridge then firmly press the mixture into balls or torpedo shapes. Place in a shallow oven dish and add equal amounts of parboiled potatoes, cut into similar sizes.
To make the sauce wizz a 1 tsp of cumin seeds, half tsp salt, the garlic, onion, a glass of white wine, the olive oil and a 400g tin of tomatoes, in a liquidiser. Check seasoning, add a wine glass of water, wizz again and then pour over the meatballs and potatoes. Cook at Gas Mark 6, 180C for about an hour, checking after 30 minutes or so.
Serve with shredded white cabbage, carrot salad and lots of fresh bread.
(This recipe is inspired by ‘Soutsoukakia’ in Elizabeth Craddick’s Cretan Village Cooking).
Lamb and Spinach in Egg and Lemon Sauce
Serves 4 – 6
1 Kilo Lamb (on the bone)
3 Spring onions, roughly chopped
1-2 tbsp. Olive Oil
900 gm Fresh Spinach
2 tbsp. Fresh Chopped Dill
Salt to taste
Juice of a Lemon
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the lamb and spring onions. Brown for 5 minutes over a medium heat, turning frequently. Add enough cold water to just about cover the meat.Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer covered for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile wash the spinach and roughly chop together with the dill. Add to the lamb with salt and black pepper to taste. Push the spinach down firmly on top of the meat, cover the saucepan and leave to simmer again for 15 minutes. Mix the spinach thoroughly into the meat, turn up the heat and bubble for 5-10 minutes to cook the spinach and reduce the sauce.
Beat up the egg with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Turn off the heat and leave the lamb to stand uncovered for 10 minutes. Using a soup ladle, add one ladle of lamb sauce to the lemon mix. Beat in with a fork. Repeat a second and third time. Then, if you can get help at this point, all the better. Hold the saucepan with both hands and tip the sauce to one side of the pan. Ask a friend to quickly add the lemon mix straight onto the sauce then rotate the sauce quickly round and round by moving the saucepan in a circular motion. This prevents curdling, and ensures the lemon reaches every part of the pan.
Reheat almost to boiling, then serve with fresh bread and salad.
This is a really good dinner party recipe.
Lamb shanks with onion
serves 4 (half the quantities for 2)
4 Lamb shanks (with as much fat removed as possible)
4 cloves of garlic
60ml white wine vinegar
250ml white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 2.
Heat enough olive oil in a casserole to brown the shanks as best you can given their awkward shape.
Remove the shanks and set aside. Peel and thinly slice the onions and garlic. Place the onions and garlic in the casserole with the lamb on top, add the vinegar and wine and a big pinch of dried oregano.
Put the lid on the casserole and place in the oven for three hours. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes or so to brown the meat, the onions will have reduced to a delicious sweet golden mush.
Serve, carefully as the meat will fall off the bone, with beans or peas and crusty bread. Wonderful!
This dinner- party favourite of past years is generally Greek rather than particularly Cretan.
500 gm minced lamb (or Beef)
Can of tomatoes
1 finely chopped onion
Finely chopped garlic (to taste)
1 kilo aubergines
75 gm butter
Plain flour 75gm
A large glass of white wine
Small stick of cinnamon
Large pinch of oregano
Cook the potatoes, drain, cool, slice and set aside.
Slice and salt the aubergines. After 15 minutes wash and drain the aubergines and gently fry in olive oil – set aside.
Gently fry the onions and garlic in more oil until soft, remove from the pan and set aside. Increase the heat and brown the meat (minced lamb may produce a lot of fat which can be skimmed or drained).
When the meat is browned, reduce heat, return the onion and garlic to the pan, and add the wine cinnamon, cloves and oregano. After a couple of minutes add the tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer for 30 minutes.
A bachamel sauce is made by gently heating flour in butter, when the flour and butter have become a paste the milk is gently added. When this has been done add 50 gm of grated cheese (Edam is ideal if you have nothing from Greece) and the yolk of the egg.
The four parts of the Mousakka now come together. Oil a suitable oven dish and layer potatoes, aubergine, meat aubergines, potatoes and finally fold the sauce over the top.
Grate more cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 45 minutes (150C).
Serve with salad and crusty bread.