Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kounoupidokeftedes (Cauliflower Fritters) with a Caper Cream Sauce

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
2 eggs
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
Olive oil

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.

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.


Peter M said...

Maria, I think this is a fabulous meze, off-beat and it sounds delish.

I so want one of these cookbooks from a monastery...lots of novel dishes like this one here.

Ivy said...

Maria both recipes sound so original. I have never heard of kounipokeftedes but I love the idea. You just reminded me of a recipe my mother used to make. She would steam the cauliflower for five minutes and dip it in a batter and then fry it. I have never made it because my children don't like the smell of cauliflower but I think I shall make it soon and try some this way as well.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

The cookbook sounds like a hidden gem Maria! These cauliflower fritters are new to me as well but i think I would enjoy them a lot. I really like the caper cream sauce you paired them with.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I would definitely have cauliflower if prepared this way Maria. The caper sauce would be delicious with so many things as well:D

Abigail (aka Mamatouille) said...

Oh, that is making me so hungry! It sounds divine!

Giff said...

I'm definitely going to riff off this. Great post

Maria said...

Peter, it's a great book to have on hand. I'll try to get you one next summer ;)
Ivy, they turned out really well. I'm so used to just steaming the cauliflower or cooking it yiahni for the kids, but I would much rather eat it this way!
Peter, the suace was really good and versatile--you can use it with salmon, chicken, etc.
Val, it's a great way to get this type of veggie in your diet in an unconventional way!
Abigail, thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by!
Giff, thank you as well for coming by. Hope to see you again soon!

Rosie said...

Hi Maria, both dishes look wonderful and sound delicious!

The cookbook sounds a treasure of a keeper!!

Rosie x

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Maria, another great post. The cookbook and the cauliflower with caper cream sauce. You rock! Please come by my blog and pick up an award I have for you. Hugs.

Maria said...

Rosie, thank you so much and the book is definitely a keeper. I feel bad I neglected it for so long!

Teresa, thank you so, so, so much for your award! It means so much ... really made my day! XOXOXOXO

Laurie Constantino said...

I love cauliflower and capers, so this dish sounds pretty much perfect. The book sounds great - I'm interested in its name and author.

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