Author: the other food interpreter

Almond Biscuits

We are now in the third month of our GBTS project and are slowly fitting in our wardrobe again. We decided to ease the discipline for a small treat and after days of consultation we settled for almond biscuits. Why? I think because we had tuned the recipe just before we cut on sugar to the optimum balance of the three ingredients according to our taste, and the biscuit became the Sancho Panza of our coffee. The main ingredient is – of course- almonds. Stay, Almonds! This is probably the summit of cult of all dialogs in kitsch Greek cinema of the 60s. A potent looking shepherd offers some almonds to a blond English tourist. She doesn’t understand, panics and runs across the countryside while the benign shepherd follows her shouting: “Stay, almonds!” I do not know what happens after that, I think no-one has seen the whole movie since the 60s. The recipe that follows looks a little vintage – the ingredients someone could easily find in any shop in the 60s. But it …

Oven roasted mushrooms

There are no mushrooms in the famous painting  ‘The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke’ of the Victorian lunatic Richard Dadd. Given the connotations of mushrooms and their place in folkore or in other Victorians’ eccentric writings, this is somehow unexpected. But we can think that something even stranger happened after the Fairy Feller stroke the chestnut. All  the chestnuts – not just the one he masterly smashed- turned into mushrooms. They spread uniformly like a hypothetical constellation defying the rules of gravity and space-time. Of course they could not be put to use for the construction of Queens Mab’s carriage ( have you ever heard of a carriage made of mushrooms?), so we roasted them with onions.  Queen Mab aside, this makes a great sidedish or – with the addition of some more greens – a good salad. Serves 4 as a side-dish 500g button mushrooms, washed, trimmed, and halved 250g small shallots, peeled and left whole 1 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 handful rocket, roughly chopped 2 …

turkey souvlaki

Grilled Turkey souvlaki and a light yogurt sauce

Out of all spices saffron is the one that in mind resembles the melange of the Dune universe. In a sense it has time shifting powers, only not in the future, but in the past.  In the Archeological Museum in Athens you can see a fresco from Akrotiri ( destroyed in the Theran eruption of 1628 BC) depicting two women harvesting crocus – the Greek saffron variety. The taste and smell of saffron remains the same since the artist painted these two priestesses of an ancient world. The figures could easily be characters from Dune – perhaps some pretty Bene Geserit preparing the Water of Life. A more everyday application of saffron is in this recipe of turkey souvlaki. It is on our list of light and very tasty dishes. This recipe is brought to you by the GBTS project! Serves 2 For the turkey souvlaki 400g turkey breast, cut in to 2 cm cubes 1 onion, minced 1 generous pinch ground saffron 1/2 tsp sweet paprika 2 Tbsp parsley leaves, finely chopped 1 tsp white wine …

chimichurri

Chimichurri sauce

I dreamed of barbeques in Patagonia, after long treks and under a southern night sky of unfamiliar constellations.  The only sound would be the cracking of the woods in the fire, the weather chilly and the wind fresh. Ah, Patagonia a mythical place, still wild. The names of mountains, lakes,  rivers and water passages  on the maps still not completely absorbed by the place –suited for the imagination of a kid still hoping there are unexplored lands and mystery in the world. And then I read Bruce Chatwin’s “In Patagonia” and my desire evaporated. Patagonia did not seem that innocent and fresh anymore. It stands out as a place of difficulty, broken wills and  social consequences – not to mention  Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch .  I am sure this does not make justice to Patagonia, but, in a time of Covid travel restrictions, what else can we do but armchair traveling and relying on the stories of others who have been there.. Chimichurri is a sauce for gauchos in the pampa. This version is …

Tart with figs, feta, caramelised onions, thyme and pink peppercorns

Pink peppercorns are not really peppercorns; it is a fake identity. They are the berries of Schinus molle, a tree native in South America. They somehow made the journey in the spice business from west to east – not from east to west. The tree now thrives in several lands and can can be found even in Zappeion in the center of Athens, near the ceremonial guard watch, where we used to stroll daily with our son during the covid lockdown. Of course in their native lands by the Andes they had a long association with costumes and rites. It fact they were not used to spice up fig and onion tarts, but people. Yes, they were used by the Incas for producing chicha, a fermented drink. If you were one of the lucky ones to be offered to the gods, you were first rubbed with chicha remains, then buried alive, then force-fed with more of the drink (think ducks and foie gras). So, pink peppercorns only pretend to be nice – in reality they await …

Arpi’s Chocolate Tart

The lockdown gave rise to a new social group: mothers of kids that had to be homeschooled and kept busy within social acceptable norms. A number of tricks where utilised to keep us mothers relatively sane: memes in social media, zoom chats, cooking, alcohol. Birthdays were a challenge. We did the best we could. Our son celebrated his over zoom with his classmates. They sung happy birthday, he blew the candles of his cake.  Then, as the lockdown eased, we repeated the process with his grandfather, his godparents and then his grandmother in separate sessions. I am sure he is aware of the absurdity, but, given the presents, he plays along. As of the cakes, and given that our assembly skills are a little rusty to build the Millennium Falcon or Darth Vader, the two variations we baked was a multi coloured cake so our son could choose the colours (white, brown, red, blue ) and participate in the process, and a chocolate tart. We first had this chocolate tart from Arpi, a good friend …

oven baked fries

Oven Baked Fries

Fried Potatoes! We used to have them when I was a kid. Especially in the summer, during our holidays on the island, my mother prepared them with fried eggs! Then she became an advocate of healthy food, and the fried potatoes drifted into oblivion. Years later, on a trip to Madrid I had fried potatoes and eggs in an upscale tapas restaurant. This was my madeleine  moment! And then, again, I lost the fried potatoes thread for more years. Now we sometimes have them as a treat for our son ( I mean how can he grow up without knowing what real fried potatoes are? ).  Nevertheless, we always feel that we are pushing the envelope of what is acceptable a little too far. After rigorous research we concluded that we found a very good alternative. They taste really good.  Besides the default way to prepare them, we suggest another three alternatives : with feta, garlic (optional) and oregano, with paprika and garlic and with truffle oil and parmesan. Sometimes we go for a oven …

French Toast… à la grecque

The Tsoureki is the typical Easter Sweet Bread of Greeks. It contains mahaleb, a spice made from the seeds of the Prunus mahaleb tree, grown in the Middle East. Prunus mahaleb is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Its’ wood is hard enough for use in carpentry. We learn that the goddess Ishtar herself had planted a tree in order to make a bed and chair from its’ wood.The problem was that, after ten years and when the tree was fully frown and ready to be lodged, it was infested with nasties. Untypical for her notorious fame, Ishtar had to call for help, and it was Gilgamesh who killed the immune-to-spells snake, expelled the storm bird and drived away the succubus demon. Besides the tree’s qualities that made it suitable for carpentry, its’ fruit was also esteemed. The seeds of the tree occur in Mesopotamian incantations from the 22nd century BC, in lists to be used for the mixing of potions and medicine. What a long journey for the mahleb, from the haze of of …

My Greek Shakshuka

My greek shakshuka

‘Strange days have found us’, as the old song goes. And it goes on : ‘They’re going to destroy / Our casual joys’… we try not! . We stay at home, stroll in the near-by hill, telework, homeschool and cook something nice. We try to keep the calories balance under control and enjoy what we eat, so why not a greek-style shakshuka? We hope that you have some good eggs stocked! The egg is a frequent occurrence in cosmological myths, probably not only because it bears life, but also because of its shape and nutritional value. Out of the primeval forces that created the world according to the orphic cosmogony the cosmic egg is the first mention of something edible. In order to appreciate its importance, consider the forces: Chaos, Earth, Heaven, Ocean, Time and Water. In a sense the Egg is excelled to the sphere of theological, cosmological and philosophical contemplation. Our recipe is more related to a more peasant and medieval association of the egg to the supernatural: the Italian ‘Uova in Purgatorio’, …

sesame breadrings

Greek Sesame Bread Rings

The greek name for the sesame bread ring is ‘Koulouri’. It is still the most commonly available street food in Greece – even more than souvlaki and is sold everywhere, in bakeries or in small stands on the streets. It is usually in a simple ring form but you may also find it twisted or braided. Our son likes them a lot, so we decided to start exploring recipes, different shapes and coatings. We ended up in the following variant, which is simple and very tasty.  500g all purpose flour 2Tbsp sugar 1tsp sea salt 16g dry yeast  dissolved in 4 Tbsp of lukewarm water 1,5 cups water (or more if necessary) To coat 1,5 cups sesame seeds (you can also use black sesame seeds or poppy seeds or mix them together) 2 Tbsp of grape molasses (or 2 Tbsp sugar) 1 cup of water Add the sugar to the dissolved yeast and stir. Set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour with the salt. Make a …