Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ivy's Fetatziki


I found this recipe on a recipe group and traced it back to the original blog post. They are certainly interesting standing like little towers, but I find it easier and more practical to cut them like boats, then hollow out and fill. Or use very small cucumbers to serve as hors d’oeuvres. Or top large slices with the cheese and decorate with roasted red pepper, sliced black olives and dill.

Ivy has also gathered some great info on Feta cheese. Thank you, Ivy!

Feta is a white cheese and is the most consumed cheese in Greece. It’s also the most widely exported Greek cheese. And feta cheese is exclusively Greek. In 2005, after sixteen years of hot debate, the European Union’s highest court decreed that «feta» is protected as a traditional Greek product, and that none of the other EU member nations can use the name.

Feta is a salted curd cheese made from either sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or a blend. It is sold in many degrees of firmness, ranging from soft and crumbly to fairly hard. Its flavor varies from mild to sharp. Because it is cured (from a week to several months) and stored in its own salty whey or water brine, feta is often referred to as a «pickled cheese.»

Feta does not have a rind or outer hard layer and is usually pressed into square or rectangular blocks. It dries out and sours quickly when removed from its brine; for that reason, blocks of packaged feta cheese are covered with brine, and should be stored, refrigerated, in the brine until used. Feta is available in most supermarkets as a solid block packed in brine, or crumbled.

Feta is used as an appetizer, side dish, and as an ingredient in salads, filled pies, and pastries. Its use in preparing and serving Greek food is almost as imperative as the use of olive oil. Feta may be used in most recipes that call for cheese: vegetable and fruit salads, filled pies, as a topping for or ingredient in cooked rice and tomato-based pastas, as a filling for omelets, in sandwiches, and elsewhere.

Feta has been a favorite cheese in Greece for many centuries. Homer’s «Odyssey» contains several references to cheese which may have been feta cheese. In Greek mythology, the Cyclops Polyphemus was perhaps the first feta cheese manufacturer: carrying the milk that he collected from his sheep in animal-skin bags, he discovered that, days later, the milk had become a solid, savory, and preservable mass – the first feta cheese? Another tale from Greek mythology credits Aristaeus, son of Apollo and Cyrene, with its discovery.

Clifford A. Wright, a writer and cook specializing in the regional cuisines of the Mediterranean and Italy, suggests that the word «feta» may be of ancient Italian origin. Wright says, «the word feta does not exist in classical Greek; it is a New Greek word, originally tyri pheta, or ‘cheese slice,’ the word feta coming from the Italian word fette, meaning a slice of food.»


I totally agree with the above article and that is the reason why I copied it as it is. I read several other silly articles about feta which were outrageous as Bulgarians, Albanians Turks, Danish and French claim that they have the best feta. Some of them even claim that Greek feta is made only of cow’s milk!!!! How ignorant. That cheese is called Telemes.

Regarding the origin of the word feta, Greek language has borrowed a lot of words not only from the Italian language but also from the English, French, and Turkish etc. These words came back to the Greek language transformed. Here is an example you will all understand:

Μπιζέλι (το) < ιταλ. pisello < λατ. υποκοριστικό *pisellum < λατ. pisum < αρχαίο ελλ. πίσος (ο) | πίσον (το). The word Μπιζέλι = mpizeli meaning (peas in English) in Italian pisello derived from the Latin diminutive pisselum from Latin pisum, which derived from the ancient Greek word πίσος (pisos) and in modern Greek it is now called mpizeli. Greek is a very complex language and to understand ancient Greek it is even very difficult even for us, as well. I made this one day when I was planning to make tzatziki, only to discover at the last minute that the last yoghurt in the refrigerator was eaten by one of my children. I am so grateful they did because we loved it so much. If you love tzatziki, I am sure you will love fetatziki (this is how words and recipes are born)!!! I never imagined how well garlic would match feta. It has a totally different taste than tzatziki, is spicier and makes a perfect mezes for a glass of wine or ouzo. I have been making it ever since and this time I filled the cucumbers with this filling. I decorated it with some Piperies Florinis, which are roasted red sweet peppers. It was really very refreshing and delicious not to mention impressive.

100 grams feta

2 small cucumbers

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp dill, finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper


Roasted red peppers or kalamata olives and dill for decoration

1. Wash cucumbers and drain. Carefully scoop out the inside of the cucumber, being careful not to open the edge, reserving the insides. Cut the tip of the cucumber so that it may stand up.

2. Put the inside of the cucumber in a food processor, add the cheese, olive oil, pepper and garlic. Process into a paste. Stir in the dill.

3. Sprinkle the scooped out cucumbers with a pinch of salt and fill with the cheese mixture.

4. Decorate with some bits of sliced roasted pepper or black kalamata olives and dill.

5. Refrigerate before serving.

Note: Use small cucumbers which do not contain seeds and have less water. Otherwise, seeds have to be removed and the cucumber insides must be processed separately from the feta and oil so it can be drained.

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