Fabulous Greek Meat Pies - Kreatopitakia

Don't you just love discovering a wonderful new author?  I certainly do.  The books, in a series by Tasha Alexander, are set, for the most part, with occasional travels on the continent, in Victorian England, and are romantic, suspenseful mysteries, so well conceived and put together, with memorable characters and plotting.  Very highly recommended.

 I started out  by mistake (well sort of) with the latest in her series, The Adventuress, when I noticed it sitting on the new arrivals shelf at the library.  Then of course, after reading that excellent book, had to get the first, And Only to Deceive, in which the plucky heroine, during a stay at her villa on Santorini (oh yes, love the very thought of that!!) mentions Kreatopitakia as one of her favorite Greek foods.  Thus this cooking experiment was inspired.

Delightful little pastry logs, filled with your choice of meat or cheese.  And, what is especially delicious and easy to work with is the pastry, made with yogurt, or in my case kefir, self-rising flour and butter - puffy, flaky, crispy on the edges, melt in your mouth.

 I pretty much stuck to the recipe from My Little Expat Kitchen, merely cutting it down quite a bit, as rolling out and filling, not to mention eating 35 of them, was not on the agenda.  I made only the beef, and will give my cut down version for 6 pies here.

Kreatopitakia – Greek Meat Pies

Yield: 6 individual pies
For the dough:
160 g self-rising flour or all-purpose with 1/2 teas. baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
76 g unsalted butter, softened
96 g Greek strained yoghurt, preferably 2% fat (I used my full fat homemade kefir)

for the beef filling:
1/2 small onion or so, around 75 g total
75 g lean veal or beef, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp.fresh dill, finely chopped
2 teaspoons water
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 small egg, beaten, for brushing over the pies
1 - 2 Tbsp nigella seeds, for sprinkling over the pies (I subed black sesame seeds)
Special equipment: grater with coarse grating surface, stand mixer (optional), large baking trays, baking paper

for the cheese filling
75 g feta cheese
1 small egg

 For the dough:
In a large bowl, add the flour and salt and stir with a spoon. Add the rest of the ingredients for the dough and knead with your hands until you have a smooth dough that is pliable and somewhat soft but doesn't stick to your hands. Don't overwork the dough because it will tighten up and be tough when you bake the pies.
Note: Alternatively, you can make the dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest in the bowl at room temperature for 15 minutes, covered with a clean kitchen towel. If the temperature in your kitchen is very hot, put the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes instead.
For the beef filling:
In the meantime, grate the onions using a box grater (coarse grating surface) and add them to a large skillet/frying pan. Add the olive oil and cook over medium heat until the liquid from the onions has evaporated, for about 8 minutes. The onions shouldn't be browned. Add the minced beef and sauté lightly stirring often. Add the freshly ground pepper, chopped dill and water and let beef cook for 10-12 minutes over low heat. Don't put the lid on and make sure to stir regularly. Add salt and take pan off the heat.
The filling should not be very wet otherwise the pies will be soggy.
Allow the filling to cool.
For the cheese filling:
Grate the feta cheese using a box grater (coarse grating surface) and put it in a medium-sized bowl. Break the egg inside the bowl and stir with a spoon until you have a homogeneous mixture.

Roll out the dough
Divide the dough into 35 pieces and shape them into balls the size of a small mandarin. Working on a clean surface, take each ball and roll it into a croquette shape (see photograph above).
Note: as far as the dough is prepared and kneaded properly, you will not need to flour it in order to shape it and roll it out. Also, you will not need a rolling pin but just your hands since the dough is pliable.
Take each croquette-shaped dough piece and using your fingertips, press the dough outwards in order to spread it open and create 17 x 9 cm rectangles with a thickness of around 0,4 cm.
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Prepare the cheese & meat pies
Place the filling along the center of each rectangle lengthwise.
For the cheese pies place 3/4-1 Tbsp of filling and for the meat pies 1-1½ Tbsp of filling on each piece of dough. Don't spread the filling towards the edges of the dough because you'll not be able to seal them properly.
Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together, pressing down to form rolls and tuck the two far edges inwards . Place the pies, seam side down and spacing them well apart because they will puff up during baking, on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Brush the pies with the beaten egg and sprinkle them with the nigella seeds.  Note: I didn't have nigella seeds, so used black sesame instead.
Place them on the middle rack of the oven and bake them for about 40 minutes, until they take on a golden-brown color.  Remove and place on rack to cool.  Store at room temperature.

We certainly enjoyed these delicious little Greek treats, which I served with a tossed green salad.  Will be making them again, especially as that dough was such a breeze to work with.   To be shared with Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking, so be sure to check out all the good food over there, or bring your own to her site.

 I've also awarded Tasha Alexander's And Only to Deceive, a new designation for me - courtesy of Mysteries in Paradise - Crime Fiction Pick of the Month for February!


Beth F said...

Ohhhhh, these look fabulous! And thanks for providing the scaled-down version. I don't think 35 little pies would be on our menu either. I like that these seem easy to make, too.

jama said...

Santorini is a charming place. Thought of my happy visit there while reading your lovely post. Had never heard of kreatopitakia but they certainly look yummy. Thanks for the recipe!

Mae Travels said...

Food in literature is one of my favorite subjects. I love to figure out what characters were eating, and why the authors chose the exact meal, mealtime, and menu they did. This post is fun! The very specific local/ethnic food must have helped set the atmosphere quite a bit.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Katherine P said...

Oh those meat pies look amazing! I love Greek flavors and I'm a fan of anything in a pastry crust. The Tasha Alexander series is one I've really been wanting to read. I've heard fantastic things about the books!

Vicki said...

They look really good. Glad you gave the 6 serving recipe!

Tina said...

Do happy you posted this recipe and the link to The Ex Pat Kitchen. Little meat pies are comfort food for me. Love the step by step directions

Carole said...

Meat pies - great! Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Oooh, new author and a new set of books to add to the TBR pile. I like the sound of this series and will definitely look it up. Those little meat pies look amazing! ;-)

Laurie C said...

They look delicious! I miss cooking with regular (wheat) flour the most when I read about things made with dough. The dough from gluten-free flours is just not the same!

Anonymous said...

Yum! I love meat pies!