All posts filed under: recipes

fig salad

Figs, rocket and ‘xinotyri’ salad

When in Naxos we have more figs than we can handle. Just two fig trees produce such quantities than we do not even have to stretch more than where our arms reach to collect whole baskets. We feel somehow obliged not to waste such glorious fruits and we try to come up with new ways to prepare and preserve them. Two years ago we decided to use them for chutney. I do not remember with how many kilos of dubious fig chutney we ended up. This year we continued to explore. We wanted to combine with other local ingredients. Potatoes, fish and protocyladic art were opted out… but honey and xinotyri    – the local variety of goat cheese – were a hit! We adapted the following salad from Ottolenghi’s ‘The Cookbook’. Serves 4 600g figs ( approximately 8 large figs), washed and cut into quarters 200g xinotyri from Naxos ( or any goat’s cheese of your liking), cut into large chunks 100g rocket leaves (preferably wild) handful of basil leaves 2 Tbsp thyme honey …

eggplants with tomato sauce and feta

‘Mad apples’ with tomato sauce and feta

Eggplants are a staple food of the Mediterranean summer. At the same time they never got rid of an air of mystery. First, the name. The Greeks call them ‘melintzana’, which is a strange sounding word for such a familiar crop. It is a byzantine combination of the Arab ‘bāḏinjān’ and the Greek ‘melas’ – black. The Italians call it melanzana , which sounds close to  mela insana – ‘mad apple’, echoing the origin of the crop from the toxic nightshade species. Then, the origin of the cultivated specie: is it India, China or SE Asia? Perhaps it was domesticated more than once, reminding us of the debate of origin of the homo sapiens. Did we play for eggplants the role nature played on us on our way out of Africa, combining different evolutionary trails, still not fully understood? Then it is the colour of the black variety, unlikely to anything other fruit: black and shiny, ready for interpretation by an oracle – or like a missed opportunity to inspire an Italian art nouveau movement in the early …

Summertime Spaghetti

Tomato, garlic, basil and feta pasta

In a hot summer day, we sometimes want something that is easy and fast to prepare. The first idea is pasta with fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, basil and garlic. And talking about garlic, Thannasis Veggos comes to mind, my favourite of all the Greek actors and comedians. He was the archetype of the poor working man in hard times, dignified and humane, always in a hurry, never giving up and trying to come into terms with social roles and en-vogue fashion.In one of his masterpieces of the 60s he is a detective, looking up to James Bond. In an assignment he has to mingle in a hippy – flower power community. Part of his disguise, and instead of a necklace of flowers around his neck, is a string of garlics, like the one you find in the open markets or old school groceries. What great art! So garlic, besides everything else, reminds me of Veggos. And there is plenty of garlic in this easy, summertime pasta. It is not even a recipe, but it suits …

homemade ketchup

Ketchup for our burgers

Our burgers are a bricolage of Ottolenghi brioche buns, Hawksmoor ketchup and beef from our butcher. To be honest, we are not big ketchup fans, but this is another animal! We feel grateful to the Hawksmoor guys who included the recipe in their cookbook “Hawksmoor at home”, and we can attest that the result tastes as good as the stuff they have in the restaurants. Our touch is that we prepare our own compote instead of using  tinned apples or pears. For the patties we use our butcher’s mix and make brioche buns according to the recipe of Ottolenghi. For the tomato ketchup 1 kg tinned or very ripe fresh tomatoes 250g tomato purée 250 g apple compote or tinned apples 50g onion, peeled and cut in half 200g fruit sugar 1 clove garlic, peeled 50 g Maldon sea salt flakes 200ml white wine vinegar 8 whole black peppercorns 1 whole allspice 1 clove 1 whole star anise For the apple compote 2 apples,  peeled, cored and cut in chunks 25g caster sugar water Start with the apple compote. In a …

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 …