Category Archives: fritters

Steps, Small Churches and Pies

We arrived into Amorgos, the third of the Cycladic islands that we have visited on this trip late last night. We kind of ended up here by default after the ferries were cancelled due to extreme wind. 

This turnaround of our plans had the man in the ferry ticket bemused.

‘Amorgos’ he said when we asked for two tickets. “Are you sure?”, “Why?’, at which point we asked if there was something wrong with Amorgos, “it’s so far away’ said the ticket man who had never been here and it was. Six and a half hours bumping through the sea in a small ferry boat but now that we’re here we glad we made the trip. 

We did wonder last night when we landed. It was super windy, howling, but otherwise very quiet. We woke up this morning with the wind still whipping through the narrow streets but it cleared the clouds to reveal a blue sky. 

Amorgos is quite a big island but sparsely populated. There’s one main road that seems to traverse the central spine of the island with side roads that switch backwards and forwards down to the sea on either side. It’s very steep and there are lots of steps. Steps up into the towns, steps down to the coast and lots of rough donkey paths when the steps peter out.

Steps are something most of the Cycladic islands seem to have in common, along with lots of very small churches and bakeries that make great pies. Pies is quite a loose term as they come in all shapes and sizes, savoury and sweet.

Perfect for a picnics. We try to pick one up before we head for the hills. They get tucked into our backpacks along with half of our wardrobe as you never know what you might need – jumper, sleeveless fleece and raincoat, which is for wind protection, not rain. We also throw in our togs and a towel in case we find a beach that we can clamber down to. The sea is pristine, pretty cool but still delightful if the sun is shining.

The churches are scattered about the islands, often on top of the highest thing in sight or in the middle of nowhere. They are immaculately maintained, painted pristine white and blue.  Some are unlocked and when we peep inside there are candles burning and beautiful pictures and icons.

Today we came across a monastery that was built high up, hugging the cliffs.

It was up several hundred steps and was manned by two monks, two volunteers and lots of cats. We were invited in, up lots of steps, to an amazing church overlooking the sea, which looks out to a sheer drop below. It would be a great location for the next Star Wars movie.

Apart from the aforementioned steps, pies and mini churches, each island has it’s own distinct personality. We’ve been having great fun exploring and getting spectacularly lost. The signposts are erratic and all in Greek which brings a new level of meaning to ‘it all sounds Greek to me”. It’s made me make a note to myself to learn the Greek alphabet. Wherever we go we make a point of learning how to say good morning, good evening, please and thank you. Counting is also an asset but there isn’t usually a problem with the alphabet.

The islanders are very proud of their food, most of the ingredients used  are local or from neighbouring islands. There’s the bounty from the sea and the land with plenty of goats and sheep to produce the masses of cheese that are on offer.

The menus in the tavernas are quite simple and comprise of mezze, salads, grilled meats (goat, lamb and rabbits) and fish.

Mezze are made for sharing and mopping up with fresh bread. Aubergine, tzatziki, taramasalata, fava, hummus, beans etc., and then there are plenty of fritters – courgette fritters, fish fritters, cheese fritters and tomato fritters.

Here’s a recipe for tomato fritters. The island of Santorini seems to lay claim to this origin of this particular recipe but there are many variations. 

Our Greek friend Elisa reckons the fritters are best made with a mature Graviera, which she says is similar to mature Gruyere but most of the tavernas here use feta which is also much more accessible in Ireland so I’m using that too (sorry Elisa). They include lots of fresh herbs and are delicious served with tzatziki on the side.

These fritters come in all shapes and sizes, anything from a small golf ball to a tennis ball and they are very difficult to photograph so please  excuse the dodgy photo. It’s a tennis ball sized fritter – eaten in the daylight on one of the days when we went off exploring without any pies!

Use the ripest meatiest tomatoes that you can find.

Tomatokertedes – Greek Tomato Fritters

4 – 5 ripe tomatoes – about 450g

1 – 2 red onions

2 – 3 spring onions

1tbs chopped mint

1tsp dried oregano

2tsp chopped fresh thyme

1 egg

120g crumbled feta

120g flour

1 tsp baking powder

oil to fry

Cut the tomatoes in half and discard the seeds. Dice the flesh into small pieces, season with a little salt then put into a sieve over a bowl for 10-15 minutes. This will get rid of excess juices.

Peel and finely dice the onions then stir into the tomatoes. The tomato juice will soften the onion.

Put all the tomato/onion mix into a bowl together with the chopped herbs, crumbled feta and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Take it easy with salt as feta is already quite salty. Mix everything together.

Combine the flour and baking powder then begin to add to the tomato mix. You may not need it all, it depends on how wet your mix is. You are looking for a thick batter that will hold it’s shape in the pan. If it’s too wet add more flour.

Put a frying pan on the heat and add enough oil to just cover the bottom.

When the oil is hot – not burning, add spoonfuls of the batter and encourage into a tidy shape. Cook on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes then flip the fritter and cook the otherside. Lift out onto a piece of kitchen paper to drain before putting onto a serving plate. 

Serve with a little tzatziki, Greek yoghurt or mayonnaise on the side.

Island greetings


After the Storm Spicy Pancakes

Three storms in a week left our garden in tatters. Lettercollum –  Leitir Colm in Irish, doesn’t translate as windy hillside for nothing.

We had to use the chainsaw to cut our way out the morning after storm Eunice rocked by and any previous complacency that we had about the imminent arrival of an early crop of spinach and chard vanished when Eunice whisked the plastic off of the tunnel. It was left flapping in the wind like wet washing which mixed in with the debris of the uprooted tree and broken fruit cages made sad viewing.

Luckily the glasshouse is secure and is a comfortable refuge. There’s a kettle on the bench, teabags and a small stash of snacks. All mod cons.

The propagator is cranked up and I am slowly sowing seeds. The next crop of spinach and chard are in the seed trays as are the tomatoes, aubergines and chillies – no sign of them yet but it is early days. I have sown salad, rocket and herb seeds in the tunnel that’s still standing and the rocket true to it’s name has shot up. Another growing season is on the move.

Exciting times – one way or the other.

With the spinach on hold we’ve been enjoying Kimchi.

Kimchi is a spicy fermented Korean cabbage dish, like an Asian sauerkraut. It’s made by salting and spicing cabbages that are then allowed to ferment with wild cultures. It’s very much part of the Korean food culture. 

Fermented foods are full of probiotics which in turn are good for our gut health and immune systems. I reckon our immune systems could do with a boost after two years of covid/covid avoidance.

One of my favourite ways to eat kimchi is a kimchi pancake, known as Kimchijeong.

Kimchijeong are very easy to prepare as is kimchi if you have the time. For those of us who don’t there’s the perfect solution- open a jar! We use a locally produced Kimchi that is made by the Cultured Food Company. Not as spicy as Korean kimchi it is perhaps better tuned to the Irish palate and one jar of this kimchi fits the recipe perfectly.

With Shrove Tuesday imminently arriving this recipe for pancakes will be like an Asian mini break. 

Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside these pancakes are addictive. Serve with little gem lettuce leaves and dipping sauce on the side, they are guaranteed to be hoovered up.

This recipe makes four medium pancakes that are designed to be shared. 

Serves 2-4 – depending on appetite!

Kimchi Pancakes – Kimchijeong

150g standard flour

75g white rice flour

½ tsp salt

1 large egg

1 x 300g jar of kimchi

Juice from the jar of kimchi (about 6tbs)

4 spring onions, finely chopped 

1/2tsp chilli flakes (optional)

250mls cold sparkling water

100mls vegetable oil for frying

Dipping Sauce

2tbs soya sauce/tamari

2tbs rice vinegar 

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame seeds

1tbs finely chopped spring onion greens

1 fresh chilli, finely chopped or ½ tsp Korean chilli flakes

Little gem salad leaves or similar for serving

First make the dipping sauce. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until they take little colour and become fragrant. Tip into a small bowl, add all the other ingredients then stir together and put aside.

Wash the salad leaves.

Drain the jar of kimchi, reserving the liquid.

Chop the kimchi quite small.

Whisk the egg, fizzy water and kimchi juices together then whisk in the flour, rice flour, salt and chilli or chilli flakes. Stir in the chopped kimchi and spring onions.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and add roughly 2tbs oil. Add one quarter of the mix, spreading it out with the back of a wooden spoon.

Fry the pancake on a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until a golden crust forms then using a spatula carefully flip the pancake over and cook the other side. Add a little more oil around the sides. This might seem like a lot of oil but it’s the oil that makes the pancake crispy so don’t skip this step. You should see the oil bubbling around, but not over, the pancake.

Flip the pancake one more  time and cook for a further minute or two then again on the other side. Slip the pancake onto a plate then cut like a pizza for sharing. Repeat the process 3 more times.

Put the dipping sauce, lettuce leaves and pancake on the table then tuck in. Break off pieces of the pancake, wrap in a lettuce leaf then dunk in the dipping sauce.

Delicious!