Tag: Kefalotiri Cheese Recipe

Legendary Dishes | Pastitsio (pasta bake)

CAUCASUS CYPRUS GREECE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

Tourists visiting the Mediterranean islands of Crete, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily and Sardinia might be forgiven for thinking there is an ad hoc competition among their restaurants to see who produces the best pasta bake. The Greeks of course will tell you their pastitsio is the best and the rest are mere imitations.

And there is the dilemma, each chef – domestic and professional – has their own interpretation, albeit subtle tweaks that are not always discernable.

We have favoured an eastern Mediterranean sensibility with cheese custard for the topping rather than a white sauce, thick tube pasta cooked and dressed with eggs and cheese, and a meat filling flavoured with onion, marjoram, mint, parsley and thyme.

Pasta

  • 500 g penne / rigatoni pasta
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 90 g hard cheese
  • 60 g butter
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 2 gratings of nutmeg

Meat

  • 750 g beef / lamb / pork mince
  • 250 g onion, thin sliced
  • 125 ml meat stock
  • 45 ml dry white wine
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • 5 sprigs parsley, chopped small
  • 10 mint leaves, chopped small
  • 5 sprigs marjoram
  • 5 sprigs thyme

Topping

  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 500 g halloumi cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 45 g cornflour
  • 30 ml water

Finish

  • 90 g kefalotiri cheese / hard cheese, grated
  • Butter, for greasing

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain and place in a large bowl. Melt butter and pour over the pasta. Add the cheese and seasonings, toss, add eggs and toss again. Set aside.

Sauté onion in oil for 10 minutes, add the meat and cook until brown. Add the wine, stock, herbs and seasonings, simmer for 20 minutes until almost all of the liquid has been reduced. Leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs and milk for the topping in a pot, bring slowly to the boil. Whisk the water into the cornflour, pour slowly into the egg-milk mixture, heat gradually until the mixture begins to thicken, add the cheese.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Grease a large baking tray, place half of the pasta mixture on the bottom, follow with the meat mixture, the remaining pasta mixture and the cheese custard. Sprinkle the top with the grated hard cheese.

Bake for 50 minutes.


Legendary Dishes | Ntomatokeftédes Ντοματοκεφτέδες (tomato burgers)

GREECE

These unique cheese and tomato burgers are a traditional product of the Greek island of Santorini and ideally they should be made with Santorini tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are preferable but tinned tomatoes will also work.

  • 800 g Santorini tomatoes, skinned
  • 200 g feta / kefalotyri, grated
  • 90 g + 30 g fine semolina
  • 90 g onions, puréed
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 30 g dried onion
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp boukovo flakes and seeds / red chilli flakes and seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried mint, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp oregano, chopped
  • 2 chives, chopped
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Salt, large pinch

Chop the tomatoes, place in a sieve and leave them to drain for an hour.

Press with a wooden spoon to drain remaining liquid.

Transfer to a bowl, stir in the dried onion, onion purée and all the herbs and seasonings plus the baking powder and chilli flakes and seeds. Leave for an hour.

Stir in the cheese and around 90 grams of semolina, a little more if the mixture is too sticky. Refrigerate for two hours.

Shape into small round burgers, coat in semolina.

Heat some oil in a frying pan, fry burgers over a medium-high heat, three minutes on each side, to produce a golden brown crust.

Legendary Dishes | Bougátsa Μπουγάτσα (cheese custard pie)

GREECE

The double act that is filo and feta among the traditional pie dishes of Greece has a tendancy to over-shadow the food acts that require kefalotyri, the spicy hard cheese made from goat or sheep milk, and ladotiri, the salty hard cheese also made from goat or sheep milk.

Bougátsa is one of these acts. Generally a custard pie made with semolina it is often transformed into a cheese custard pie made with kefalotyri and ladotyri to produce an enigmatic flavour that is unforgettable.

Pastry

  • 12 leaves of filo pastry
  • 120 g butter, melted
  • Butter, for greasing

Cheese Sauce

  • 1 litre milk
  • 250 g kefalotyri cheese
  • 250 g ladotyri mytilinis cheese
  • 80 g butter
  • 80 g white flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Nutmeg, 20 gratings
  • Salt, pinch

Heat milk and butter in separate saucepans. Add flour to the butter saucepan to make a roux. Increase heat. Using a wire whisk stir the warm milk into the roux. Add black pepper and nutmeg. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat, leave to cool. Stir the cheeses and the egg yolk into the sauce and add some salt.

In turn smear the melted butter over half of the pastry leaves, crumple and place in the bottom of a buttered baking tray.

Pour the cheese sauce on top.

Smear all but two of the remaining pastry leaves with butter, crumple on top of the cheese sauce. Smear the last two pastry leaves with butter, place on top of the crumpled leaves.

Bake at 170ºC for 45 minutes.