Friday, March 1, 2013

Roast Pumpkin and Feta Croquettes
(Kroketes Kolokitha)


Where has the week gone? Where have the months gone?

It only feels like yesterday but five months ago I left my job of nine years as graphic designer/sometimes photographer for a large university here in Melbourne. Well, I didn't just leave it – the position was made redundant and there was a rather tidy redundancy payout on offer so I took the money and ran. The job was starting to take on a mundanity that was driving me mad anyway. Year in, year out, laying out the same publications, photographing the same academics. The routine was killing me and I needed more spontaneity and freedom in my life.

Working from home as a freelancer was my plan, in between cooking, shopping and lunching with friends of course! The best part about my plan was that the go-away money would be enough to keep me going for another 12 months even if I made nothing from freelancing.

The first few months were wonderful. I was glowing with positive energy and loving my new-found freedom. Tony and I don't have children so I pretty much had the days to myself to do what ever I wanted. I started my own graphic and web design business and spent the weekends photographing my friends' children to build my portfolio.

I was pretty excited about the photography stuff – it was great to finally have the time to experiment with kids photography, landscapes, abstracts and macro photography – but my business was just sitting there, waiting for something to happen. I was busy swanning around with my shopping and lunching and taking photos while my pseudo income was disappearing fast.


By the end of the year my enthusiasm for life without work was starting to wear thin. The reality of being an unemployed, not-so-young-and-hip graphic designer was sinking in and in a competitive world such as graphic design and photography I started to realise that dropping off the creative grid was probably a really bad idea.

I needed to do two things: Get some work, and get online.

I've never been a Facebook person, I don't use Twitter and even though I have a Pinterest account, I don't really get why other people want to follow me. I'm such a Luddite when it comes to social networking. It took me a week to set up my LinkedIn profile, I still have an iPhone 3 that Instagram doesn't work properly on, and don't get me started on the all-night hell I went through to set up the Greek Vegetarian Facebook page.

BUT. I do know blogging. Tony and I started a blog in 2009 to document our adventures in Limnos, Greece so we could share our stories and photos with family and friends. But up until less than two months ago, keeping the Limnos "web log" as I still like to call it was my only public communication with the online world.

It was the first week of January and I knew I had to get my ass into gear. I started writing down a list of local businesses I could contact for potential work and while trawling through the online business directories, I accidentally got side-tracked and ended up spending the rest of the evening looking at food blogs.

I've always had a list of favourites that I would visit each week, but that night I was an obsessed food blog psycho. I don't know what came over me. All night I was clicking onto blogs, via other blogs, that were linked to previous blogs from commenters of even more blogs. I must have gone through about three hundred of them.

I felt connected to these blogs, connected to the people, their stories, their recipes and their wonderful photography. This form of communication was speaking to me in a way it never had before and I suddenly knew that not only was this the way I could "get online", but it would be the ideal creative outlet for all of my passions: cooking, photography, vegetarianism, my love for animals, and my Greek heritage.

It would also mean a Facebook page, a Pinterest page, and reigniting the Flickr account I opened years ago but never uploaded anything to, and despite the fact that it was indeed a nightmare for this social networking virgin to set up all these profiles and accounts, I am now a changed woman.


While I still obsess over other people's blogs, I'm also now obsessed with my own blog. I can't wait to cook something and photograph it just so I can blog about it. I love reading everybody's comments and I get so excited when ever there's a new like on my Facebook page :)

I was so obsessed that I forgot I was supposed to be looking for work.

I'm a firm believer that the energy you emit can influence the things that happen to you. When I was ready for a new relationship, I met Tony. When I wanted to leave my job, the redundancy offer came up. When I wanted to get online, the Greek Vegetarian blog idea was born.

And now, as my creative juices are being sent out to the universe, I've been getting all this freelance work!

Yes, last week I picked up some portrait photography work, and this week I have three graphic design jobs that have been taking up all of my time. On top of all that I have a friend who is waiting for me to design her business card (sorry Barbara, it's nearly done!) and another friend who's asked me to design her 40th birthday invitation (sorry Jane, I promise I'll have something to show you soon!)

So this whole story for you today is simply to explain why I haven't had time to post anything since Monday. Well I did set aside a couple of hours yesterday to cook up two different Greek treats with one of the vegetables from my organic veggie box, but not until now, at the scary hour of 1:24am, have I had a moment to sit down and write up the recipes for the blog.

The vegetable I'm talking about is the giant butternut pumpkin. It weighed in at almost 2 kilograms which was enough pumpkin to produce 20 Roast Pumpkin and Feta Croquettes and about the same amount of Roast Pumpkin and Feta Filo Triangles.

Today's recipe is for the croquettes. Over the weekend I will post the recipe for the filo triangles. I have just eaten a croquette straight out of the fridge, just now, 1:26am. Yes. Even cold they are very tasty little things. Especially at 1:26am. But back to the recipe.


Roast Pumpkin and Feta Croquettes (Kroketes Kolokitha)



Makes about 20

Note: The following quantities can be doubled, and the breadcrumbs omitted, if you want to use half of the mixture for croquettes and the other half for filo triangles. After making the mixture, divide into two batches and add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs to one of the batches to make the croquettes.

Ingredients

  • 800g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed to 3cm
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed to 3cm
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely shredded
  • 1/2 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g feta cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Roast the pumpkin cubes for 30 minutes and mash.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the potato cubes until tender. Mash.
  3. Fry onions until golden.
  4. Place potato and pumpkin mash and onions in a large bowl and mix well.
  5. Add feta and mint and roughly mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add eggs and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and mix again.
  7. Spread the remaining breadcrumbs evenly over a plate or workbench.
  8. Take around a tablespoon of the mixture and form into a ball around 3cm in diameter. Roll the ball in the breadcrumbs to coat. Repeat for the rest of the mixture and place balls in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  9. Heat oil in pan and fry balls, carefully turning them to brown all over. They will be very soft and will need to be handled delicately, but once they start to brown up a bit they should get their act together.
  10. Serve with cracked sea salt and shredded fresh mint.


13 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Peter! They are very addictive :)

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  2. Great that the opportunities have rolled in when you needed them (though not without some effort on your part, I'm sure!). I'm now imagining you sitting back with those croquettes and a beer, reflecting contentedly on this week's work well done. :-)

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    1. Yes, just polished off another couple of croquettes from the fridge.. and oh look, one more beer left! That's definitely the way to end a busy week. Thanks for the comment Cindy!

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  3. You are right about these being delicate!! I tried making them and I think i was a bit rough with the first few but got the hang of it and used a more gentle hand!!! I had about 15 decent balls in the end-- thank you for a great recipe!! Jackie

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    1. Oh I'm so glad you persisted Jackie - they can be a bit difficult to handle but once you get a feel for their temperament they do start to behave for you!

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  4. These look so yummy! I've been making homemade falafel balls for a while but getting a little over them now and was thinking I should look for a new recipe... so maybe my energy resulted in these roast pumpkin and feta croquettes :)

    Thanks Lisa!

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    1. Thanks Nat! You see? It works! Want it and you'll get it. I love falafel balls – they would actually make a nice contrast to serve alongside these pumpkin croquettes. The pumpkin balls are quite sweet which would really complement the more savoury taste of the falafels.

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  5. your story about starting a blog was very similar to mine! i started becoming obsessed over food blogs, visiting probably 100 or more every day. it made me want to start one, just so i could be part of this amazing community. it has not let me down ;)

    i also agree that the energy you emit to the universe influences what happens to you. i'm so happy to hear of your successes! it's nice to have a full plate ;)

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    1. The blogging community is an amazing network of wonderful people. I get so much inspiration from others and it's incredible how friendly and responsive everyone is! I have so many ideas in my head and just want to spill them all out here on the blog but it's hard finding the time at the moment with the extra work. You're right though, it is great having a full plate (sometimes!) - it motivates me to get the work done faster so I can get back to blogging!!

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  6. Hi Lisa, Just sitting back relaxing and thoroughly enjoying your blog. I really want to make this recipe but my kids don't like pumpkin (I can't believe it either!) so I thought I might try to substitute it for sweet potato (they actually like sweet potato - personally I don't think there is much difference), but can't wait to give it a go! I'll let you know how I go.

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    1. Hi Heather! Yes, you could definitely make these croquettes with sweet potato. I'd love to hear how you went with the recipe :)

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