Author: the other food interpreter

artichoke moussaka

Artichoke Moussaka

The greek moussaka is a true fusion dish, created by Tselementes, a  greek chef and cookbook writer of the begining of the 20th century. Tselementes  has been demonised in the last decades for not being a ‘purist’ and the rest. Although many of his recipes are too rich for todays tastes, with his moussaka he invented a quintessential dish that spawned more ‘purist’ discussions about ingredients, methods e.t.c. In any case, during this time of year artichokes grow in our garden, and we use them instead of aubergines causing a small scandal in the family. The greek standard is with traditional béchamel, but we prefer the greek yogurt béchamel, according to the recipe of Aglaia Kremezi. We think the combination tastes great . The artichokes lemon juice 10 fresh artichokes (or 10 frozen artichoke hearts) The potatoes 3 medium potatoes (350g), cut into thin slices olive oil, for brushing the eggplant and The meat sauce 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 250g onion, finely chopped 70g carrots, grated 1 clove garlic 700g minced beef 3/4 cup dry …

asparagus quiche

Wild Asparagus and Manouri Quiche

For this quiche we use wild asparagus or, if we can get hold of, ovries. Ovries or Avronies (in greek) are the shoots of tamus communis, a plant that is native and grows in the wild in the Mediterranean. They are supposed to be slightly toxic before cooking and the French call them ‘herbe aux femmes battues’ – obviously they were used to treat bruises. Ovries look and taste a bit like wild asparagus, they are however more bitter – the bitterness goes away if cooked in boiling water. They are considered a delicacy, and, like asparagus, go very well with eggs. Manouri is a greek semi-soft, fresh white cheese made from goat or sheep milk. If you can not get hold of manouri you can substitute it with ricotta. Manouri has a delicate taste (or according to my husband-the food interpreter, bland taste). For a more intense result substitute half of the manouri or ricotta quantity with crumbled feta. For the pastry 230g all purpose flour 1/2 tsp sea salt 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed 25g egg, …

nettle omelette

Stinging Nettle Omelette

Nettles are some of the most irritating plants. Tellingly they feature in an early 20th century expressionist opera, where one of the (obviously distressed) protagonists declares that they grow out of her, but is too weak to weed them out. The grove next to our house is full of them during spring, but we are somehow reluctant to pick them. Instead we let some grow in the garden in Anavyssos, and collect the most tender leaves – of course with long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves. When cooked they become harmless and add an extra aroma to the recipe. They are great in pies and risottos and make delicious omelettes. Serves 2 1/2 cup olive oil 40g spring onions, the white and tender green parts, chopped 100g young nettle tops, washed, dried and chopped coarsely (Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves when you’re handling them) 30g dill, chopped 4 eggs 15g milk 80g feta cheese, crumbled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Whisk the eggs  in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt, a few grinds …

spaghetti with bottarga

Spaghetti with Bottarga

Bottarga either you like or you don’t. As for us, we think it’s unique. The greek version (avgotaraho) is cured grey mullet roe and is produced in the lagoon of Messologi (and nearby Aitoliko) in western Greece, where the romantic poet Lord Byron caught a cold and died in 1824. The most renowned greek producer is Zafeiris Trikalinos, a man with a vision.  The family business started in 1856, when stories about Lord Byron were probably still told by people who witnessed them first hand. Mr. Trikalinos likes to stress the nutritional benefits of his product, as if anyone needs to be convinced to consume it! Avgotaraho is not cheep, nevertheless in the following recipe we advocate that more is better! Serves 4 500g spaghetti 8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 200g leeks, white and tender green parts, finely chopped 3 spring onions, finely chopped 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbsp lemon juice bottarga, 32 very thin slices zest of one lemon Mix the bottarga slices with …

lahmajoun

Lahmajoun

Before food globalisation lahmajoun existed on the fringes of food choices in Greece. You could find it mostly in Armenian restaurants and did not even feature in culinary choices of the part of my family that arrived from Asia Minor. Nowadays it is very much in vogue, and some of the best street food in Athens. This healthy pizza alternative (without the chilli flakes) is a great dinner idea for kids. For the dough 620g all purpose flour 2 tsp sea salt 300g milk 45g olive oil 9g dried yeast dissolved in 3 Tbsp lukewarm water 1 tsp caster sugar For the topping 580g minced beef (or lamb or a mixture of both) 140g onion 80g red bell pepper 2 plum tomatoes, deseeded (you can use canned tomatoes) 1 clove of garlic (optional) 20g parsley leaves 40g olive oil 2 Tbsp tomato paste 2tsp sweet paprika 2tsp ground cumin 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional) 1 tsp sea salt Start with the dough. Add the sugar to the dissolved yeast and stir. Set …

Roasted Leg of Wild Boar

This wild boar is irresistible, and always a success at dinner parties, not to mention the fact that you can have any leftovers cold in sandwiches. There are a couple of instructions you must follow: marinate for 3 days,  stick to the high temperature cooking instructions and use a not-too-big tray so that the marinate does not evaporate completely. Adapted from an epicurious recipe. Serves 8-10 2,5-3kg boneless leg of wild boar 1/4 cup coarse sea salt 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper For the marinade 4 cups red wine 2 dried bay leaves 50g fresh sprigs of thyme 2 Tbsp black peppercorns 6 cloves 1 carrot (about 60g), cut in 1cm chunks 1 onion (about 120g), cut in eighths 1/4 cup red wine vinegar To roast the wild boar 20 cloves For the sauce 2 cups chicken stock 2 Tbsp thyme honey Rub the wild boar with the salt and pepper, place it in a shallow dish, and refrigerate for 36 hours loosely covered. To prepare the marinade add the wine , bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, …

chickpeas with leeks

Chickpeas and leeks, a vegan feast

Chickpeas have existed forever in the Mediterranean. They have been found in Jericho, and they were probably consumed under the walls of Troy by the Myrmidons. They are cheap, nutritious and connected to historical memory (ground chickpeas were used as a cheap alternative to coffee during the big wars of the 20th century). Most bizarrely, roasted chickpeas are eaten as a snack, similar to nuts; I had not had them for a number of years, and thinking about them reminds me of ‘simpler times’. They go exceptionally well with whiskey. To prepare the chickpeas 200g  dry chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water 150g onions, finely chopped 800ml water 4 Tbsp olive oil 1 pinch sea salt For the leeks 6 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 2cm pieces (about 700g) 3/4 olive oil 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional) 1/2 cup white dry wine 1 cup grated or puréed tomatoes (fresh or canned) 1 tsp sugar (optional, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes) 3 cups very well drained boiled chickpeas sea salt and …