Author: the other food interpreter

shrimp, artichoke and feta pasta sauce

Shrimp, Artichoke and Feta Pasta Sauce

Did you have a frantic Saturday? Are you dreaming of a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and a quiet evening at home? If yes why not prepare some pasta with this easy and festive sauce? I found it in my mother-in-law’s handwritten recipe book and can see why this is one of my husband’s favourites. Just be cautious to use the most tender artichokes you can find, because otherwise they can destroy the dish (and give anybody a reason to complain…) Serves 4 500g linguine or other long pasta 500g  raw shelled frozen shrimps, very well defrosted 1/2 cup olive oil 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional) 4 cloves of garlic, minced 1 Tbsp ouzo 1 cup jarred marinated artichoke hearts in olive oil, drained and quartered 250g tomatoes, blanched, peeled and pureed (or grated canned tomatoes) 1/4 tsp sugar (optional, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes) 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped (plus some more for garnishing) 1 pinch of dried oregano 1 Tbsp lemon zest 1 cup feta cheese, cut in 1cm cubes sea salt and …

chicken with crushed green olives

Chicken with (fresh crushed) green olives

This is a dish we prepare in autumn with chicken or pork, while the olives are still fresh and bitter. It is a recipe that my grandmother brought form Asia Minor. We cook it with fresh crushed green olives but you can substitute with regular green olives you can easily buy. We prepare our crushed olives end of October. We crush the olives with a stone and put them in a brine. Depending on your tolerance on bitterness you can have them in three to ten days. You can also put them in olive oil and store them, but we think that they loose their spark if kept more than 2-3 months. Serves 6 1 whole chicken (about 2kg), cut in 8 pieces 1 cup olive oil 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes 500g onions, finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped 1 cup dry white wine 2 cups tomatoes, grated or pureed 1 tsp sugar (depending on the acidity of the tomatoes) 1/2 cup warm water (or more if necessary) 250g green olives (fresh crushed if possible…) …

olive harvest

Olive oil and the Salt of the Earth

A family member is an olive oil zealot. She keeps an olive grove and produces small quantities of olive oil to perfection. She has a mastery over the process from beginning to end and makes no consents to comfort. She spares no cost and redeems all favours during harvest in November. For these few days she turns from the easy-going and agreeable person she is to a warden of iron feast – and that we can attest. This year even our toddler picked his first olives, to his great delight and everybody else’s. But the result is proportional to the determination. After same day harvest and pressing the zealot turns modest, but with the content of the old master who knows that her work cannot be bettered. For those of you who (like me in the past) have not tasted fresh cold pressed olive oil of the best quality, let it be known that the distance from the stuff you get even in the good delis is similar to that of an ok wine to a French …

brioche buns, fish burgers, wasabi mayo

Fish and Shrimp Burgers, a Wasabi Mayonnaise and Brioche Buns

Part of the burgers’ charm is that you can assemble them yourself in a glorious tower. During the assembly you anticipate eating the ingredients – the stronger they taste the better. We also ‘bricolaged’ the recipe from  different sources. The mayonnaise is adapted from Blumenthal, the buns from an Ottolenghi recipe and the burgers we developed ourselves after several attempts. The combination here works very well for us. Serves 4-6 For 4 brioche buns (or 6 smaller) 2 Tbsp lukewarm water 1 tsp active dried yeast 190g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting ½ tsp salt 20g caster sugar 2  eggs 75g cold unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice, plus extra melted butter for brushing the buns sesame seeds or/and nigella seeds (optional) Place the lukewarm water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, stir until dissolved and leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the butter and mix together with the aid of a spatula. Using the hook attachment mix on low speed for about …

Small Shoes, an Eggplant Recipe

Small shoes (papoutsakia) is a somehow weird name for a food. There are many variations of aubergines-topped-with-something. The greek standard is with traditional béchamel, but we prefer this topping, according to the recipe of Aglaia Kremezi’s greek yogurt béchamel.  The rest is our family’s interpretation. Serves 8-10 The eggplants 5 eggplants (about 1,5kg) olive oil, for brushing sea salt freshly ground black pepper The meat sauce 1/2 cup olive oil 500g minced beef 200g onion, very finely chopped 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped 1/2 cup dry red wine 1 cup freshly grated tomatoes (or chopped canned tomatoes) 1/2 tsp sugar (optional, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes) 1 pinch ground allspice berries 2 Tbsp black raisins (optional) sea salt freshly ground black pepper The greek yogurt “béchamel” 4 Tbsp olive oil 4 Tbsp cornflour 2 cups full fat cold milk 1 cup full fat greek yogurt 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste 1 cup grated gruyère cheese sea salt, to taste Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan)  and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Cut the eggplants …

greek salad on pitas

Oven Baked Greek Salad on Pita Bread

Pita bread topped with cheese and some vegetables and then grilled must have been one of the most ancient snacks. It is so tasty and obvious, that one wonders why food preparation evolved beyond it! We love this variant, with greek salad on top. The tension of the ingredients is kept, it is super light and very easy to prepare. The reward is disproportional to the effort or calories though! The only constraint is that you must serve it immediately, hot from the oven! Serves 2-3 6 small sized and thin pitas 6 -8 cherry tomatoes, sliced 1 medium onion (120g), finely sliced 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 red bell pepper, finely sliced 2 Tbsp capers 150g feta cheese, crumbled 1 Tbsp Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced 1 pinch dried oregano freshly ground black pepper Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan). Place the pitas on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. In a bowl combine the onions with the olive oil and the salt. Let the onions in the marinade for 15 minutes, then …

beef and pistachio kebab

Beef Kebabs, a Pistachio Sauce and a Salad

End of summer is pistachio harvesting time in and around Attica. Pistachio trees are  ideally suited to the dry climate of the area and, although introduced relatively recently  – since the late 19th century-  thrive. There are not a lot of savoury dishes you can do with pistachios, but this kebab worked very well. Serves 4 For the Kebabs 800g ground beef 30g rusk crumbs 120g shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely ground 130g onion, very finely chopped 1 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 2 tsp ground cumin 1/2tsp ground allspice 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional) 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp sea salt 1 Tbsp olive oil (plus some more for brushing the kebabs) For the Pistachio sauce 100g shelled unsalted pistachios 30g  white bread, crusts removed, soaked in water and squeezed (1 or 2 days old sourdough bread works better for this recipe) 2 garlic cloves, minced 3 Tbsp lemon juice 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil sea salt freshly ground black pepper 6 Tbsp tap water To serve 2 tomatoes, cut in half and finely sliced 1 …

Jurassic affinities : Chicken drumsticks, spicy and fragrant

Even growing up in the pre-Jurassic Park era I was fascinated by dinosaurs. The relevant sections in illustrated books were my favourite. I recall the species, and even now get annoyed whenever one gets re-classified and receives a new name. I regretted the fact that I would never encounter a magnificent t-rex or diplodocus. And then, discoveries in China proved that birds are the decedents of dinos! Not only that, but for a period birds evolved to fearsome predators, on the top of the food chain! It somehow was soothing that I could look at ostriches and even humble chickens and think of a more glorious ancestry. And, at least, we know how they tasted. Like chicken! Serves 4 4 Tbsp lemon juice 2 tsp honey 4 Tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped 1 Tbsp ground cumin 2 Tbsp dijon mustard 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional,depending on your spice tolerance) 4 Tbsp dry white wine 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1kg chicken drumsticks (about 10) coarse sea salt For …

langoustine and shrimp giouvetsi

Shrimp and Langoustine Giouvetsi

Giouvetsi is a typical Sunday dish. It is usually  beef cooked with orzo in a clay pot, and one of the horrors of my childhood. I could not stand the slippery texture of it, or the suspicious sense of ‘comfort’ it was supposed to convey. As a famous greek dish, giouvetsi is of course appreciated by many, but I, as a grown up never looked back or tried to compromise! So I was reluctant to try this ‘seafood’ giouvetsi, in one of our favourite seafood restaurants. It turned out however that this is a giouvetsi only by name; it tastes more like a risotto. We have tried to reverse- engineer the recipe and this is the variant we use. (Adapted from a recipe by Argiro Barbarigou) Serves 3-4 For the giouvetsi 500g langoustines or shrimps (or both), shelled and deveined 1/2 cup olive oil 1 carrot (80g), cut into small cubes 1 courgette (80g),cut into small cubes 1 onion (100g), cut into small cubes 1 garlic clove, finely sliced 1/2 cup dry white wine 2 tomatoes (200g), blanched, peeled …

Eggplant, Green Peppers and Feta Mille-feuille

Eggplants might be common in the Mediterranean kitchen, but can become bland if not deep fried or combined with something intense, like feta. At least this is what one of us believes-the other one doesn’t. In any case, this mille-feuille applies to hard-core eggplant aficionados and the ones that need something extra to go with them. As an extra challenge for this recipe, we sourced all ingredients from a range of 3km. We bought the tomatoes, the eggplants and the peppers from a local farmer and the feta from Stratoula, the best dairy producer in the area, according to Popi, whose olive oil we used. Serves 6 Base ingredients 1,5 kg eggplants,peeled in stripes and cut into 1cm thick slices 3 medium potatoes (350g), cut into thin slices olive oil, for brushing the eggplant and potato slices salt and freshly ground black pepper For the tomato sauce (4 cups) 1,5kg ripe tomatoes 1,5-2 tsp sugar (depending on the acidity of the tomatoes) 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup olive oil To assemble the mille-feuille 200g green bell peppers, …