All posts tagged: greek

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 …

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 …

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…) …

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 …

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 …

fanouropita

Lost and found: vegan olive oil cake

Did you loose your car keys or partner? Did your boss fire you? Are you a shadow puppeteer and business is not going well? No worries – just prepare this cake with seven or nine ingredients, take it to church, divide it to forty pieces and give it away. It is a ‘Fanouropita’, in honour of Saint Fanourios, a martyr that was rediscovered in the 14th century, when an ikon was dug up while fortifying the walls of Rhodes. The local bishop Nilos (Nile) interpreted the icon and concluded that it depicted the passions of a forgotten martyr. So the cult of Saint Fanourios started. The Saint’s name sounds like ‘reveal’, and people started praying to him to ‘reveal’ lost items, persons or jobs. As to why he became the patron saint of the shadow puppeteers, no one knows. Perhaps it has something to do with the odd number ( 7, 9 or 11)  of ingredients required to prepare the cake – or the words that have to be spoken while baking it. In any case it …

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, …

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), …