Monday, November 15, 2010
We have the biggest balls!
I was once on the island of Sifnos for about a month - Sifniots are renowned as incredible cooks. My guide book at the time urged me to hike across the mountain paths to a small village where I would find the most incredible taverna serving astonishing food. This particular place was very famous for its tyrobalakia, advised the book, and other small croquettes made from zucchini, eggplant, sausage - you name it. The guide book was right.
Mouth watering after my hike, I sashayed in to the packed taverna - alone (as always) and hopefully asked the owner - a dashing young man - if he had any cheese balls on the menu today. "We have ALL the balls," sez he! "The biggest and best on the island!" A mortified hush fell over the crowd. He blushed, I sniggered, and the crowd burst into hysterical laughter. The night went to hell after that with fantastic food, buckets of barrel wine, toasts to the largest balls and new friends.
So here is another one of my favourite recipes - with adaptations for North American cooks. Delicious as an appetizer, deadly to the waistline.
Tyrobalakia (Cheese balls)
250g anthotyro (ricotta-style cheese)
250g feta (piquant-style, grated)
250g kefalotyri or pecorino romano (grated)
3-4 tbsp flour
Ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together except for the sesame seeds. Add enough flour to ensure the mixture is pliable but not dry. With hands greased in olive oil, ply the cheese mixture into small balls.
Roll the balls into the sesame seeds so the balls are completely coated. Fry in olive oil and serve. The cheese balls can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, stored in the fridge and fried when ready to serve.