Oddly enough the inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook which is actually a compilation of Greek monastic recipes from the Iera Moni Tatarni in Evrytania, a prefecture of Central Greece. Two summers ago while visiting my husband’s family in Agrinio, his aunt–an avid cook–knowing that I love the kitchen as much as she does, gave me this book, among a number of others, as a gift.
Now, to be completely honest, I returned from my trip and kind of set the book aside thinking there wouldn’t be much to interest me in it. I stumbled upon it the other day while looking through my pantry for a candle to light and I started thumbing through it.
The recipes, I admit, are simple in terms of ingredients just as you would expect a monastic diet to be. Few herbs, and no spices, are used to flavor dishes. Yet there is a plethora of recipes; from artichokes paired with tahini, to cauliflower souffle, to crab legs “yiahni,” to bacalao croquettes and tuna with wild greens. Not to mention that there are so many recipes documented here that one can make while abiding by the fasting requirements during the forty days of Lent.
Having just bought some cauliflower earlier in the day, I decided to use a recipe the book featured on kounoupidokeftedes (cauliflower fritters) as inspiration for the appetizer below. The original recipe called simply for cauliflower, eggs, flour, cheese, salt and pepper. I added some parsley (I suspect using tarragon may also bode well as it complements the capers in the sauce) and substituted fresh bread crumbs for the flour in the original list of ingredients to bind the mixture. Once fried I served these with a caper cream sauce that paired well with the mild flavor of the cauliflower.
Kounoupidokeftedes (Cauliflower Fritters)
Makes 12 to 15 Fritters
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed until tender
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/3 cup flour for dredging
Mash the steamed cauliflower. Mix in the eggs, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be quite soft.
Combine flour with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Heat about 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet.
Form the cauliflower mixture into rounds and dredge in the flour/breadcrumb mix. Immediately add to the hot oil and fry until golden.
Serve hot alongside or topped with the warm caper cream sauce.
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons drained capers
1/4 cup sherry
3/4 cup half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add the minced garlic and the capers and saute over medium heat until fragrant. Add the sherry and boil until reduced. Stir in the half and half and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.