Yogurt and Herb Pies Wrapped in Grape Leaves

In this recipe, the cornmeal-thickened yogurt with scallions and herbs, baked or fried and wrapped in tangy grape leaves, develops into an unexpectedly sophisticated “pie” with complex flavor.

In an earlier version, I made a large pie that I baked in the oven. It was good, but difficult to divide into portions. Paula Wolfert suggested small fried “packets,” which worked much better. Now I propose something in between: individual little pies, baked in tartlet pans or shallow muffin tins. When finished under the broiler, the grape leaves caramelize beautifully! Serve with risotto or any grain pilaf.

My friend, David Tanis has created and published in the New York Times his own brilliant version of the recipe using chard leaves instead of the grape leaves.

 

 

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Homemade Fresh Myzithra (ricotta-like cheese)

Here on Kea we make it with the milk our neighbors often give us. It is probably the first and simplest cheese ever made, and today the various commercial myzithra we get sometimes come from Crete –where is called anthotyro. Cheese makers make it now by adding fresh milk to the whey left from the first, usually the hard cheese they make, adding rennet to the milk.

If you can get leftover whey add fresh milk and do not add lemon or vinegar, just boil the whey with the milk and cream. Needless to say that if you make it with the usual cow’s pasteurized milk you get from the supermarket, combine it with goat’s milk, if you can, and add some cream –more or less, depending on how creamy and lush you want your myzithra.

Serve this delicious fresh cheese plain, as appetizer, sprinkling it with chopped herbs, shallots and garlic, or as dessert, drizzled with honey or jam. You can also use it to make savory myzithropita (cheese tart), or combine it with some feta cheese to make a Greek version of the cheese cake.

 

Makes about 1 pound soft cheese (you may double the quantities for more)

 

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Artichokes in Olive Oil (Carciofi Sott’Olio)

The recipe is inspired from the traditional Italian way of preserving in olive oil—and not just artichokes, but also pearl onions, green garlic, peppers, fresh fava, peperoncini, and more.

I always have jars of artichokes in the refrigerator, using my garden’s crop of small, thorny, purple Kea artichokes. In the spring, when you find the best artichokes at the farmers’ market, dedicate a day to peeling and preparing them, filling jars with delicious artichokes that can become the base for all kinds of dishes. Add them to salads, appetizers, grains, or pasta recipes. I stuff small breads with the leftovers from the bottom of the jar and use the olive oil in sauces and dressings, or keep it for next year’s artichoke preserves.

 

Makes a 1-quart (960-ml) jar

 

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Pink Fermented Cabbage

Far from the heavy, fowl-smelling sauerkraut, this is a vividly-colored, tangy-fruity cabbage that you can eat on its own, as part of a meze spread, or add it to any of your winter or spring salads.

We love it so much, that we cannot do without it and as Sandor Ellix Katz suggests, start a new batch before you finish the old one (see NOTE).


Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Makes about 4 1/2 quarts (4.3 L)

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