Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pumpkin & Fennel Pie (Greek island style)

Portrait of Irene by Bill Cook
My sister Irene Gevezes has been living on Ikaria, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea for almost 40 years. Among her many skills and talents, Irene has become a formidable cook and during a previous visit to the island, I filmed Irene as she prepared a number of traditional Greek dishes including purslane salad, lemon-peel spoon sweet, and goatsmilk cheese.

Now that I am back on the island for an extended stay, I have started filming more recipes with her, and these will be added to my YouTube channel as each is completed.

In the video below, Irene is making a traditional slice, or pie, using ingredients sourced mostly from her home garden. Even the grated goats milk cheese she uses in the pie is made from the milk she gets daily from her own goats.

Pumpkin & Fennel Pie
Main Ingredients:
Pumpkin, fennel, spring onions, silver beet, plain flour, two eggs beaten, grated goat milk cheese.

Herbs & Spices:
Mint, lemon balm, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper, 8g yeast,

Water, olive oil, vinegar, Raki or Ouzo as needed.

Preheat oven to 180C (Irene uses an electric oven)

I am not going to give a detailed description of the preparation and cooking processes here. You can see those in the video. I will say though, that the whole process―from 'go to whoa'―will take several hours, which includes preparation and cooking time.

Early in the video I say to Irene that she has not "measured" any of the ingredients. Of course, throughout the preparation and cooking process Irene does measure the ingredients, although not by weight. Mostly she is measuring by quantity. For example, we see a large colander full of fennel, and a large orange plastic bowl full of diced pumpkin and chopped silver beet leaves. Also, when Irene places all the ingredients into the large saucepan it is filled to the brim.

If you are going to make this pie, or slice, don't worry about preparing too much filler or pastry. As Irene points out in the video, she simply freezes any excess filler and pastry for later use (the left over pastry makes a great pizza base as well).

If you don't have access to homemade goat milk cheese (and how many of us do?), substitute grated feta cheese, mozzarella, or other white cheese of your choice.

Finally, in the early part of the video Irene uses the expression "wilt it" while preparing to cook the fennel. What Irene means by this is to simmer the fennel (and later the pumpkin) on low heat until thoroughly cooked.

If you have any questions. Don't hesitate to ask them via the Comments section below. I will pass them on to Irene and add the answers in the same manner.

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