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Sunday, 5 August 2007

Kalitsounia (Κρητικά καλιτσούνια καλοκαιρινά - Cretan summe pasties)

THERE IS AN UPDATED SECTION ON KALITSOUNIA: CLICK THIS LINK FOR THE NEWER POST, which is based on winter kalitsounia.

These delicious kalitsounia (pasties) can be made any time of the year with whatever leafy greens are in season. In the winter, I prefer them with spinach and wild herbs. Now that it's summer, I make them with zucchini and vlita. Here is a recipe for summer pasties. For the winter version, click here.

Grate a large courgette and a large onion together, salt them well and leave in a colander for about an hour to drain away their liquid. Hand-strain them after the hour is passed. Coarsely chop a bunch of well-washed vlita, finely chop a few sprigs of mint, and add them to the vegetables. Then add 100g of grated yellow cheese and 150g of mizithra (the local Cretan variety of ricotta-style cottage cheese). Sprinkle some freshly ground pepper and a fistful of semolina into the mixture. Mix thoroughly. You can also add other herbs to this mixture, such as parsley or dill, in small quantities, so as not to affect the overall taste.
Have the filo (phyllo) pastry ready to cut. I never make the pastry myself; we can buy freshly made thick-filo pastry in Hania, even though most women usually make it themselves using a lasagne maker (I've got one of those, but I still buy the stuff; no flour or mess to clean up afterwards; see how Peter made it himself). Cut the pastry into rounds or squares. Fill and seal them. Lay them on a well-oiled oven sheet, brush them with beaten egg and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Cook them in a hot oven (190-200C) for about 25-30 minutes.
The pasties can be frozen successfully before the egg-and-sesame stage. They do not need to be defrosted before being cooked. The pasties can also be fried (fresh or frozen) in olive oil in a shallow frying pan, in which case you do not add egg and sesame seed. Instead of cutting the pastry, a pita (pie) can be made instead: Lay a sheet of pastry on the bottom of an oiled baking tray, pour in the mixture to no more than 0.75cm in thickness, close the pie with the edges of the pastry sheet that lie over the tray OR use another pastry sheet. At this stage, the pie can be frozen, or cooked in the same way as the pasties. When you want to cook a frozen pie, don't defrost it completely, otherwise it will go mushy. Brush it with egg and sprinkle some sesame over it as is, and cook till done in the oven.

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MORE WILD GREENS RECIPES:
Kalitsounia fried
Kalitsounia in the oven
Wild asparagus
Hortopita (spanakopita)
Horta in winter
Horta in summer
Sorrel
Swiss chard (silverbeet)
Eggs with mustard greens
Mountain tea

PASTRY RECIPES:
Kalitsounia fried
Easter kalitsounia
Prasopita
Kalitsounia in the oven
Marathopites
Hortopita (spanakopita)
Tiropitakia
Sfakianes pites
Summer kalitsounia
Spiral pie