Red Pepper & Feta PseudokeftedesOct 31st, 2011 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Appetizer, Cheese, Featured, Frying, Greek, Herbs, Meze, Peppers, Thessaloniki, Vegetarian
When I visit Greece I also head into Thessaloniki to have a lunch or dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in the city, “Kourdisto Gourouni” (Wind-up Pig). The Kourdisto Gourouni has old world charm, serving lots of beers, a good choice of Greek wines and lots of great food to be served with the booze.
The Kourdisto Gourouni is located across from Aghia Sophia Church at the southwest corner of Ermou on the main floor of the beautiful “Kokkino Spiti” (Red House). The Kokkino Spiti was completed in 1928 and built by a wealty textiles merchant from Naoussa called John Loggos. The Red House currently houses The Kourdisto Gourouni, a cafe and clothing store. The Red House is also said to be haunted with vampires, cursed with some suicides occurring in the building.
The Red House of Thessaloniki is a protected as a “heritage building” in 2006 as it’s unique red bricks and ceramic detailing on the outside make it different from the rest of the preserved buildings in Thessaloniki. The Culture Minister in 2007 (Voulgarakis) approved a move for the State to buy/acquire the building with the purpose of protecting and maintaining the building and hosting various cultural events in it. The Culture Minister who followed Voulgarakis is now the Leader of Opposition (Antonis Samaras) and possibly Greece’s next Prime Minister reserved Voulgarakis’ order – deeming the building “not justifiable to the public interest to protect the building”. So, although the building is safe for now, the Red House is in a slow state of decay and open to be privately sold and be at the whim of those who may buy it.
Each time I go to Greece I come back with a new dish that I haven’t tried nor heard of before – this past year was no different as I tried an appetizer of roasted red peppers and Feta cheese in the form of croquettes. The Kourdisto Gourouni served me “soutzoukaki” shaped (oblong) croquettes with a cooling strained Greek yogurt, perfect balance for the sweet, roasted red peppers and the briny Feta cheese.
The recipe list for this meze/appetizer is remarkably short but what counts here is quality ingredients: roasted red peppers, Feta cheese, flour, herbs, spices and a cool, thick strained Greek yogurt. First the red peppers: each year my family blisters bushels of red peppers then we allow them to cool then place in zip-lock bags and place in the freezer for the winter. The charred skins protect the peppers from freezer burn and one simply has to thaw them, peel away the skins and serve with salt and olive oil. I love smoky flavours in food and roasted peppers are one of the finest examples of it.
The flavourings here are simple, finely chopped scallions or chives, a combo of dried Greek oregano and fresh basil, some heat added with Boukovo (chilli flakes) and crumbled Feta cheese. The only real Feta cheese is made in Greece and for those of you living here in Canada, you can buy Epiros Feta (yes, made in Greece) at your local Costco. I decided to form these croquettes into the shape of a keftede or a Greek meatball. Keftedes are like Greek meatballs and often vegetarian keftedes are made for fasting periods and Greeks will call these “pseudo-keftedes” (false meatballs).
The Pseudo-keftedes are binded simply with all-purpose flour, some baking powder to lighten the mixture and simply dredged in flour then fried. Everything in the mixture is edible so a long cooking time isn’t required - just enough time to fry these delicious bites until just golden. The roasted red peppers are sweet and this magnifies in flavour when they are fried. I spooned a big dollop of Oikos strained Greek yogurt in the middle of the plate and the combo proved to be both refreshing and delicious.
Red Pepper & Feta Pseudo-keftedes (Ψευτοκεφτεδες με Πιπεριες Φλωρινης & φέτα)
(makes approx. 8/appetizer for 4)
4 roasted red peppers, peeled and seeded, stems removed
1/2 cup fresh chives or scallions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. of chilli flakes (Boukovo)
6-8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 level tsp. of baking powder
approx. 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- After roasting your peppers, peel, seed and remove the stems (do not rinse away with water). Chop/dice the peppers and place in a bowl along with the oregano, basil, chives and baking powder and mix. Now add the flour and chilli flakes and mix again until you can form a meatball.
- Now add the crumbled Feta and mix again and form into palm-sized balls and place in the fridge for an hour. Then add enough oil into a deep pan to come up about 1 inch. Dredge your balls lightly with all-purpose flour and as soon as your oil is hot (about 360F), fry on both sides until golden ( about 2 minutes).
- Transfer to a paper-lined plate to blot excess oil then transfer to a platter along with a dollop of strained Greek yogurt and chopped chives as garnish.
*Special thanks to “I Love Thessaloniki” blog for background info
** Aghia Sophia in Thessaloniki
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© 2011, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.