Author: the other food interpreter

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, …

tomato and watermelon gazpacho

Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

When we are staying in our summerhouse in Anavyssos, (about 50kms from Athens, on the Saronic Gulf) we almost feel compelled to use local products. In the summer the population doubles in Anavyssos and the beaches get packed with  day trippers from Athens. Nevertheless stubbornly and somehow out of context we navigate through the Touristenströmung to local  farmers and cheese producers to source our daily ingredients. The last time we visited one of the producers for vegetables, he offered us a watermelon. Here is the result: tomato and watermelon gazpacho. Serves 8 For the Gazpacho 2kg ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and roughly chopped 400g watermelon flesh, deseeded and roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped 150g onion, roughly chopped 50g celery, leaves and stalks roughly chopped 150ml tomato juice 10g basil leaves 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 200ml extra virgin olive oil 3/4 tsp sea salt freshly ground black pepper To serve croutons or bread in small cubes cucumber, cut into small cubes feta cheese, cut into small cubes watermelon flesh, deseeded and cut …

Gemista (Stuffed Vegetables)

Gemista in greek means ‘stuffed’, and the most common vegetables to stuff are tomatoes and green peppers. We can however argue that Gemista was a popular dish, with the same name, before tomatoes and peppers were introduced to Europe after the discovery of America. They probably stuffed eggplants, that were introduced by the Arabs in the middle ages, and vine leaves. Rice was available in Greece ever since the soldiers of Alexander brought it home from Asia, so it could be used in the stuffing. We can deduce that Gemista have existed at least since the 15th century, because poor Gemistos, a byzantine scholar and teacher had to change his name to the more archaic “Pletho’. How can you keep your academic dignity, if you are named after stuffed vegetables? Serves 8 The vegetables 5 tomatoes, ripe but firm 8 green bell peppers 3 sweet red long peppers 20 vine leaves 3 large onions (make about 10 stuffed onions) 2 medium potatoes, cut into thin wedges The rice filling 500g white middle-grain rice (risotto rice), …

Grilled Sardines Greek Style

Full of Omega 3,  without the mercury and very affordable. That is the power of sardines. Of course, you have to like them – and not everybody does. In any case the smell of grilled sardines is inexorable connected to the Mediterranean summer. We like them slightly “overgrilled”. Do not let the blackness of the grilled fish put you off, it adds extra flavour. Serves 2 250g sardines, cleaned,gutted, scales and heads removed 160g onion, finely sliced 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced 200g potatoes very finely sliced 1 cup parsley, finely chopped 225g tomatoes, peeled and deseeded 1/4 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional) 10 cherry tomatoes, halved 2 Tbsp capers 2 pinches dried oregano 1/2 cup olive oil salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup water (or more if needed) Preheat your oven grill to high temperature. Wash and drain the sardines on paper towels. Blend the peeled and deseeded tomatoes with the sugar in a mini food processor until smooth. Arrange the onions, garlic, potatoes and sardines in a baking dish large …

kourou cheese pies

Mini “Kourou” Cheese Pies

In terms of taxonomy ‘tyropita’ (cheese pie) is a family. It has two genera, depending on the type of surrounding dough – kourou or filo. Filo is the thin pastry you can buy, or, if you feel more courageous, prepare by yourself. Kourou dough by default contains yogurt or milk, is thicker, and more straightforward to make. The kourou variety is a common snack that children have in school and overprotective mothers pack for adolescents to have when traveling with boats to summer holidays. Here is our version: Makes about 20 mini cheese pies 300ml extra virgin olive oil 300ml buttermilk, lukewarm 8g dry yeast 580g all purpose flour 1 pinch of salt 250g feta cheese, crumbled 150g anthotiro cheese (or ricotta), crumbled 70g gruyère cheese, grated 1 egg 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbsp milk and 2 Tbsp olive oil for glazing sesame or nigella seeds (optional) In a bowl combine the sifted flour and the salt. In another large bowl dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm buttermilk, add the olive …