Traditional Milos Cheese Pies – a local’s recipe for delicious Pitarakia

Milos Island, Greece

Dear Readers,

The Ladies are all together in Milos and we have concocted a very special joint post to celebrate the first anniversary of Culinary Correspondence and our first submission to Fiesta Friday hosted by the Novice Gardener!

A few days ago we were lucky enough to be invited into the home and kitchen of Georgia, a neighbour of ours with a million-watt smile and some of the best pitarakia (Greek local cheese pies) on the island.

Recipe for Pitarakia - Greek cheese pies

Although Georgia doesn’t speak any English (…and our Greek is more than limited…) we somehow managed to communicate and spend a wonderful morning cooking together.

Pitarakia recipe - Georgia the Greek chef

Pitarakia are traditional little savoury turnovers filled with local salty goat/sheep cheese and fried to golden perfection. We love these tasty devils and order them all over the island. Everyone seems to have their own spin on the recipe that gets passed down for generations. Pitarakia are generally served with salads, spreads and other pies as a first course. We also like them served as part of an aperitif.

This is what Georgia taught us in her kitchen filled with lively grandchildren and friends!

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 500 grams of plain white flour
  • 5 turns (or “glugs”) of olive oil
  • 3 turns (or “glugs”) of vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt (2 big pinches)
  • ½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda (2 big pinches)

For the filling:

  • 3 cups grated hard goat’s cheese (we used the cheese produced at the dairy down the road – yum). It needs to be hard enough to grate.
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion-medium to finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 good pinches of dried spearmint

Instructions

For the pastry:

Mix ingredients together and add water a bit at a time to make a soft dough. Mix with your hands as you add the water and punch down. Don’t worry if the dough gets a bit too wet-just add more flour. Knead dough until smooth and silky. Form into a ball. Cover with a tea towel and let sit for one hour. Maybe go for a swim!

Pitarakia recipe - cover the dough

For the filling:

Mix together ingredients. There should be enough spearmint so the mixture has a speckled appearance. Taste mixture for salt. Saltiness of goat cheese varies greatly so be sure to taste or you’ll end up with a salt lick!

Pitarakia recipe - Cheese with spearmint

Now for the fun part:

Pinch off about 1/5th of the dough that is now rested and ready to go. This next bit is tricky: rolling out the dough. Emi did a great job and was really getting the hang of it. Georgia told us you can also use a pasta machine to make the dough very thin. To note: Georgia uses a rolling pin that looks like a two foot piece of broom handle.

Flour your surface and start rolling out the dough being sure to give it a half turn after each two or three rolls. Sprinkle the dough with flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and to extend the dough.

Pitarakia recipe - flouring the dough between rolls

When you have rolled the dough into a thin circle, take the rolling pin down near the bottom of the circle. Fold the dough over the rolling pin and roll the dough up over it. This takes a light touch.

Pitarakia recipe - Folding dough for rolling

Keep your hands on top of the dough and gently spread to each side as you roll.

Pitarakia recipe - how to roll the dough 1Pitarakia recipe - how to roll the dough 2

Unroll, turn, sprinkle with flour and start again. Repeat. You should have a very thin, even dough. We were able to see the colour of the table tiles through the dough. If you have any folds, smooth them out and if you have holes repair them with a little flour. If you have a giant hole you may have to re-roll.

Using a glass or a small bowl (about 4 inches diameter), cut circles of dough.

Pitarakia recipe - Cutting dough circles

Keep going!

Pitarakia recipe - cutting circles in the dough

Put a heaping teaspoon of your cheese mixture on one half of each circle. Fold over to close.

Pitarakia recipe - Putting the cheese filling

Use a fork to seal the edges together.

Pitarakia recipe - Closing the pies with a fork

At this point you can freeze some of your pitarakia. Be sure to freeze them in a single layer. When frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag. They do not need defrosting before frying.

Put about ¼ inch of light olive oil in a small, heavy based frying pan. Heat the oil on medium high heat until very hot. Fry your cheese pies three or four at a time in the oil.

Pitarakia recipe - Frying the cheese pies

Using two forks, turn the cheese pies so they are golden brown on each side. Be careful not to pierce with the fork. Add more oil as necessary. When done, place each finished pie on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Pitarakia recipe - Fried greek cheese pies

Serve. Watch out they are HOT when they come out of the frying pan (just ask Beth she burned the roof of her mouth!).

Pitarakia recipe - Eating  the pies

This recipes makes approx a ton of pitarakia. Seriously. Call some people over and have a party!

Pitarakia recipe - yummy pies

A big thanks to Georgia and her beautiful family for such an amazing experience (and for letting us keep all the pitarakia we made together!).

Pitarakia recipe - Jan and Georgia frying pies

Pitarakia recipe - The girls with Georgia

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24 thoughts on “Traditional Milos Cheese Pies – a local’s recipe for delicious Pitarakia

  1. ellenfetu June 20, 2014 at 1:24 pm Reply

    This is great! What fun! and looks delicious!! Thanks! and Happy Anniversary!

  2. Jhuls June 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm Reply

    Thank you very much for accepting my invitation and for coming to the party. Also, thank you for bringing these delicious treats. Happy Anniversary to you. 🙂

    I hope you enjoy the party and get to mingle with the other guests. 😉

    PS: I love the photos! ❤

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence June 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm Reply

      Thanks for the invite! Glad you like the recipe and the pics. So many delicious posts and blogs to browse on FF – guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend 🙂

      • Jhuls June 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Yey! Thank you, Beth. Indeed, there are many guests to visit. 😀 Have a fab weekend.

    • Jan June 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm Reply

      Hi Jhuls,
      I had a great time strolling around your blog and picked up a lot of great ideas. The veggie cheat sheet is terrific and will come in handy as our neighbour (Georgia’s husband) took us to his farm this morning and loaded us down with amazing organic vegetables.
      Congratulations on all your awards-very inspiring and well deserved!

  3. […] Beth […]

  4. Ngan R. June 21, 2014 at 3:54 am Reply

    You all look like you had so much fun! I love cooking with my mom and sisters – always such fun to try something new and make a mess together. And these pitarakia look yummy, too!

  5. Elaine @ foodbod June 21, 2014 at 5:06 am Reply

    Hi Beth, great to meet you 🙂 and thank you for bringing these fabulous little pastries to Fiesta Friday fresh from Greece, how amazing! What a great experience to make them with an expert! Have a great weekend 🙂

  6. Mr Fitz June 21, 2014 at 7:57 am Reply

    What lovely looking pies! and you look like you had great fun making them!

  7. rawfooddiaries June 21, 2014 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Oh yum! This gets my Greek heritage all excited and wanting to get busy in the kitchen! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  8. Jan June 21, 2014 at 9:34 pm Reply

    Ellen, let me add my thanks to you-such a faithful follower! You would have loved the warm family atmosphere of Georgia’s kitchen. I hope you try the recipe…hugs Jan

  9. A Home Cook June 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm Reply

    I love the ‘glug’ measurements. It’s so spot on for home cooking. And these look so very tasty. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us all.

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence June 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm Reply

      Mom did an excellent job of recording the recipe which was complicated work as Georgia didn’t use any measurements – she could probably make pitarakia in her sleep! Thanks for visiting 🙂

  10. Traditionally Modern Food June 22, 2014 at 4:10 am Reply

    Cooking with mom and sis s always fun:) ur dish s amazing

  11. Sinfully Tempting June 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm Reply

    Wonderful post, and the recipe and photos are amazing. Welcome to Fiesta Friday! Unfortunately I lacked the time for a submission this week, but that hasn’t stopped me from checking out all of the goodies. Can’t wait to give these a try! 🙂

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence June 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm Reply

      Glad you liked the post! Looking forward to seeing your recipes on Fiesta Friday, in the meantime I’ll be sure to check out your blog. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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