Category Archives: GREEK RECIPES

Greek Food

Greek Recipes:Learning to love legumes

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Greek fava (split peas puree) with olive oil. Photo: worththewhisk.com

Basic facts that will make you reconsider the nutritional value of legumes, plus a handful of delicious recipes

It’s almost a given that your childhood is probably haunted by the memory of a mother forcing or – best case scenario – begging you to “eat your beans”. Which makes us think mothers should have a reason for that. In fact, it is more than a reason or two; they have food science on their side.

High in all three types of fibre (soluble, insoluble and resistant starch) and protein, a great source of vitamins B2, B6, B9 (folic acid) and minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc, legumes are heralded as a superfood by nutritional experts worldwide.

Considering they are also budget-friendly, it comes as no surprise they are one of the main food categories in diets all over the world, including the Mediterranean.

Plant proteins make them an undisputable substitute for meat dishes. For instance, chickpeas and lentils contain approximately 9 grams of protein per 100 grams, while in soybeans total content of protein can exceed 30 per cent.

Protein absorption is increased when combined with grains, such as rice or dried nuts, while iron absorption is stimulated by vitamin C, for example, by sprinkling lemon on your legumes’ dish.

Due to the low glycaemic index (GI) legumes have, our body breaks down the nutrients slowly, making us feel full for longer and keeping our blood sugar levels stable.

In addition, this makes them a particularly good food for preventing and managing diabetes. They are also low in fat and sodium as well as being cholesterol free.

What’s more, your heart loves legumes. Several studies show that they can help reduce high blood pressure and inflammation markers in the body.

Regular consumption can also favourably affect the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a key player in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Their high fibre content can help you improve your digestive health. As a matter of fact, a cup of beans packs more fibre than broccoli.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects offered by certain bioactive plant compounds provide a nutritional wallop to even help fight chronic diseases.

Emerging research confirms that including legumes into your eating plan equips your organs with a ‘protective shield’ against the growth of some types of cancer cells responsible for causing stomach, kidney and bowel cancer.

Trust us when we say you should give this fava recipe a go:

Ingredients

500g yellow split peas
3 red onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 litre warm water
juice of 2 lemons
1/3 of a cup olive oil
thyme
salt and pepper

Method

1. Rinse the split peas with plenty of water.
2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat; add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, the chopped onions, garlic and some fresh thyme and sauté.
3. As soon as the onions start to caramelise, add peas and blend. Pour in warm water and olive oil, turn heat down to medium and season well with salt and pepper. Simmer with the lid on for about 40-50 minutes, until the split peas are thick and mushy. While the split peas boil, some white foam will probably surface on the water. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
4. When done, pour in the lemon juice and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Mix until the peas become smooth and creamy, like a puree.
5. Serve the fava with a drizzle of olive oil, a tablespoon of diced onion and some capers or chopped parsley.

*Sources: diabetescounselling.com.au, healthaliciousness.com, alive.com, vita.gr, Dietitians Association of Australia, Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council, mygreekdish.com, sbs.com.au, foodandspice blogspot, allrecipes.com.au, zesterdaily.com

source:Neos Kosmos

Meze: Greek cuisine’s most prominent offspring

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A short insight into the history and most importantly the concept behind meze

No Greek gathering is complete without the little plates of mezethes on the table complementing the traditional anise-flavoured liquor of ouzo or tsipouro or just a glass of wine.

The word μεζέ (μεζέδες in plural) is of Turkish origin, borrowed from the Persian mazze, which means ‘taste’ and/or ‘snack’. Its history traces its roots back in antiquity in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region.

Ancient Greeks following their usual hospitality custom would never welcome guests without something to nibble along with the drink they offered.

But truthfully, nearly every Middle Eastern or Mediterranean country, and the Balkans as well, at some point developed the culinary tradition of small dishes served as appetisers or finger food.

The Byzantines and later the Persians are said to have greatly influenced and inspired Turkish culinary expertise, among others.

Therefore, before and during the years of the Ottoman Empire, a great number of elements from different civilisations made Turkish cuisine a blend rich in both flavour and variety.

The Turkish occupation left undeniable traces in the cuisine of Greece and among these a list of mouth-watering mezethes.

Even though mezethes can be served to start off a meal, they should be seen as a separate eating experience rather than appetisers.

In a Greek get-together it is common that a meal starts and ends with small savoury treats without any main dish served.

People gather around the table and drink the good old – often homemade – tsipouro or ouzo complemented by mezethes, which are shared by everyone.
But meze does not only stand as the perfect excuse for staying at home, but for having a fun night out as well.

A whole category of restaurants called mezethopolia (μεζεδοπωλεία) is dedicated to serving exclusively meze dishes.

In fact, the heart and soul of meze is said to be in Volos, a coastal city in central Greece.

If you ever find yourself in a mezethopolio in Volos, have in mind that you are only allowed to choose your drink of preference.

Each time you order another round, the chef sends out one or more different small savoury plates that best pair with the drink you’re having.

The great thing about meze is that it can merely be a platter of olives, fried vegetables or some squid tubes; as simple as that.

Alternatively, you can prepare a more ‘sophisticated’ one, choosing from the recipes below.

Sources: bbcgoodfood.com, epicureantable.com, greekfood.com, finecooking.com, thehellenicdeli.com, allrecipes.com, cooklikegreeks.com

BEKRI MEZE (pork cooked with wine)

Translated literally it means ‘drunkard’s appetiser’, so it doesn’t really matter if you don’t strictly follow the recipe, as long as you share bekri meze with friends over a glass of wine!

Ingredients:
2kg leg of lean pork
2-3 tablespoons butter
2-3 onions, finely chopped
2-3 cups dry red wine
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
whole peppercorns
cinnamon
allspice
oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3-4 ripe tomatoes
parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Method:
1. Wash the meat and cut it into large cubes.
2. Heat the butter and brown the onion.
3. Add the meat and all the spices and continue cooking.
4. Add the wine, and then the tomato paste, the tomatoes and the parsley.
5. Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
6. If the sauce is too thin, add a little flour mixed with wine.

source:Neos Kosmos

Greek Food:Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

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Having its origins in Cretan cuisine, this mouth-watering feta version can be your new favourite appetiser.

Ingredients:

250g feta cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
70-80g of flour, enough to coat the feta
60g sesame seeds
olive oil for frying
4 tablespoons of honeyMethod:

1. To prepare the fried feta, start by cutting the feta cheese into little blocks, about 1.5cm thick.
2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork. Into another bowl add the flour, the paprika and the pepper and mix with a spoon to combine the ingredients. Into a third bowl, add the sesame seeds.
3. Roll each piece of feta into the eggs, then roll into the flour. Roll each piece again into the eggs and then in the sesame seeds, so that all sides are covered.
4. Heat about 6-7 tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and fry the feta until nicely coloured. Use a slotted spoon to flip the fried feta, so that it is nicely coloured on all sides. When done, place on some kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil.
5. In the meantime, warm the honey into a saucepan, or the microwave, until liquid.
6. Serve the fried feta while still hot with a drizzle of honey.

*mygreekdish.com

source:Neos Kosmos

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Greek recipes:Stuffed miniature eggplant (melitzanes papoutsakia)

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Spicy and delicious.

This aubergine-based recipe literally translates to ‘little eggplant shoes’

The original recipe for papoutsakia calls for halved eggplants, but the Ottomans preferred to create incisions in the vegetable and keep the juices in.

Ingredients:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
500g minced beef
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup grated kefalotiri or 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
12 small round eggplants
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

Preparation:
1. Preheat over to 180°C
2. Peel a thin 2cm strip from one end of the eggplant to the other and make an incision along the strip to create a little pocket.
3. Place in baking dish and bake in moderate oven until soft and light brown, about 30-45 minutes.

Method:
1. Saute the onions, garlic, meat and cinnamon lightly in butter, stirring constantly in a large pan or pot.
2. Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
3. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, allowing the juices to reduce and the meat to dry before removing it from the heat.
4. Add parsley, the egg, cheese and breadcrumbs.
5. Create an opening in the eggplant and stuff with the meat mixture, making sure each little eggplant gets an equal amount of stuffing.
6. Melt butter over low heat and add flour, then salt, pepper and nutmeg; stirring until everything blends.
7. Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk .
8. Return to heat stirring constantly, until the bechamel sauce is thick and smooth.
9. Remove from heat and add the egg and remaining cheese to the sauce and whisk briskly, to prevent the egg from curdling.
10. Pour about one tablespoon on top of each eggplant pocket.
11. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and dot with butter.
12. Add tomato sauce to the pan.
13. Bake for about 35 minutes longer.

source:Neos Kosmos

Greek recipes: Baked stuffed mushrooms (manitaria gemista)

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Stuffed mushrooms make a perfect entree or finger food option for your dinner table.

Ingredients:
650g flat or portobello mushrooms
1 purple onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300g baby spinach, trimmed
250g low-fat ricotta
2 finely chopped zucchini
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
120g baby rocket leaves
200g punnet grape tomatoes, halved 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Method:
1. Trim stems from mushrooms. Finely chop. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Spray with oil. Cook the onion, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add mushroom stem. Cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic.
2. Place spinach and zucchini in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Set aside for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Squeeze out excess liquid. Finely chop and place in a bowl. Stir in the onion mixture, ricotta and lemon rind. Season with pepper.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place mushrooms, cut-side up, on prepared tray. Divide mixture among mushrooms. Cover with foil. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove foil and roast for a further 10 minutes or until tender.
4. Combine the rocket, tomato and vinegar in a bowl. Divide mushrooms and salad among serving plates.

source:Neos  Kosmos

Greek recipes:Stuffed squid

StuffedCalamariphoto

One of the most mouthwatering Greek sea-food dishes.

Calamarakia gemista- the Greek way

This might seem a bit time-consuming but if you actually get down to preparing it, you will realise it is an easy recipe that will impress your guests.
Keep in mind that squid is usually sold cleaned; if not, you can ask the fishmonger to clean it for you but make sure you keep the tentacles.

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized squid, cleaned
100g breadcrumbs, freshly made from stale bread
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp basil, roughly chopped
2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

Method:

1. Dry the squid and roughly chop the tentacles.
2. For the stuffing, place the breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, chilli, anchovies, lemon zest, parmesan, tentacles and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a food processor and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Stuff the squid and close the ends with toothpicks. Chill until ready to cook.
4. Heat the oven to 200˚C and meanwhile, place the squid in a pan and cook for 2-3 mins, turning once.
5. Add the tomatoes to the pan, transfer to the oven and cook for 7-10 mins.

source:Neos Kosmos

FIFA corruption: Sepp Blatter, Prince Ali vie to be president

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UPDATE — 8.00pm: Soccer heads from around the world are currently meeting in Zurich to decide whether the sport needs a new president to replace Sepp Blatter.

We’ll bring you the result as soon as we have it. In the meantime, here’s what has happened so far today:

‘We need to fix FIFA right now’

Sepp Blatter told members of world football’s governing body today that they must help “fix FIFA right now” amid allegations of corruption.

“Join us in putting FIFA back on the right track where the boats will stop rocking and go calmly into port,” the FIFA president told the 65th FIFA congress in Zurich.

“It’s a matter of trust, commitment and having the will to do it. “Let’s go for it — let’s do this immediately.” On Wednesday, seven high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich in dawn raids by Swiss police acting at US request in the latest corruption scandal to rock the body.

“The guilty ones are individuals, not the whole organisation,” insisted the 79-year-old Blatter, who is bidding for a fifth term as FIFA president with the vote to take place later on Friday.

Blatter suggested the arrests in Switzerland may have been timed to have an impact on the congress.

“I am not going use the word ‘coincidence’, but I will use a small question mark over the timing,” he added.

Allegations of corruption have blighted FIFA since they awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals to Russia and Qatar respectively.

“If two other countries had emerged from the envelopes we wouldn’t have had these problems, but we can’t go back in time,” Blatter lamented.

source:AFP

Psarosoupa (fish soup)

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You can either serve the mix in one bowl or strain the veggies and place them on a separate plate.

A hearty mix of fish and veggies that will boost your system while keeping your calorie intake low.

Psarosoupa, as the dish is called in Greek, means fish soup. Served warm, this delish and nourishing broth is created by a combination of boiled vegetables and fish.

Carrots, celery, leeks and potatoes can offer their aroma to any fish we choose, seafood mix even, and with a dash of olive oil, let us enjoy one of the healthiest and most loved Greek recipes.

Ingredients:
600g fish fillets or seafood mix (red mullet, snapper, cod and/or shrimps, mussels, squid)
2 potatoes cut into quarters
1 red onion
10 whole peppercorns
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 leek
parsley according to personal liking
1.25 litres water
1 tsp salt
120mls olive oil
1 lemon, squeezed

Method:
Place the vegetables in a large pot to boil with water on medium-high heat for 15 mins. When you are able to fork the potatoes add salt and boil for another 5 mins.
Remove most of the veggies from the pot and add the fish and the olive oil.
Wait till the soup comes to the boil.
Add the lemon juice and simmer for 20 mins while stirring occasionally.
Take it off the boil and serve as you like.
Garnish with parsley.

source:Neos Kosmos

Homemade Souvlaki

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The original Greek souvlaki consists of a pita, gyros, chips, tomato, onion, tzatziki and parsley. (You can also try it with chicken and add some capsicums, feta and parsley in the mix.)

Create a traditional Greek street-food experience in your own kitchen.

Souvlaki is arguably the most popular street food in its country of origin, Greece, but it is much loved in Australia as well.

The word ‘souvlaki’ means ‘meat-on-a-skewer’, but Greeks tend to refer to all pita wraps as ‘souvlakia’ whether they contain gyro, skewers or kebabs.

Sometimes, however, it’s a bit tricky to find the original souvlaki recipe and to ensure the quality matches your expectations.

Homemade souvlaki is the best way to take control of what you eat and make your family and friends happy.

Souvlaki can be a very healthy dish for people on a diet and, of course, your children, if cooked properly.

The first step for a delicious souvlaki is the tzatziki. For an easier version, you can substitute the tzatziki sauce with some fresh yogurt, but there’s nothing like the original recipe. Therefore, it’s better to put in the effort and go all the way.

For the tzatziki sauce you will need:

1 cucumber
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
500g of Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare, pour the olive oil and garlic in a blender together, and blend until the garlic is dissolved. Into a large bowl, grate the cucumber, remove the juice, and season with salt and pepper. Set it aside for 10 minutes.

Then add the blended garlic and oil, yoghurt, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix well. Store it covered in the fridge until you serve.

All the tastiness lies in the way you season and marinate the meat, not to mention the method of roasting.

Using good quality pork or lamb with as little fat as possible is essential for the gyros – preferably slices of tenderloin.

Put some milk in a large pan with a honey and vinegar marinade, and season with a selection of Greek spices like oregano, thyme, rosemary garlic and onion.

Wrap the pan and leave it in the fridge to rest, soften, and adopt the aromas of the spices for about two hours before you grill or roast it.

Put a large non-stick pan on high, and when it’s really hot, add the meat pieces along with the prepared marinade, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the meat turns a dark gold colour and looks crispy. Place the meat on a kitchen paper towel to absord excess oil, and leave it in a slightly warm oven.

You will also need some parsley, sliced ripe tomatoes and red onions, as well as potato chips, as the original Greek recipe includes that, too.

Make sure you get fresh puffy Greek pitas for your souvlakia and avoid deeply frying the bread in excessive amounts of oil.

Opt for a healthier bake on a grill or even in a non-stick pan. You won’t need more than two minutes on high.

Once your pitas are ready, grab a large piece of baking paper or foil and place the pita on top. Spread tzatziki and then add the meat, followed by the onion, tomato and chips.

Garnish with some salt and paprika, sweet or spicy.

Another secret to a mouth-watering and enjoyable souvlaki is ensuring everything stays in the pita.

There is nothing worse for the definition of the flavours than stuffing large amounts of meat or potatoes in.

As impressive as an extra-large souvlaki may seem, struggling to get a full bite in your mouth steals some of its charm.

Kali orexi.

source: Neos Kosmos

Greek recipes:Tsoureki (sweet Easter bread)

Tsoureki (sweet Easter bread)

Don’t knead the mixture, only fold.

Put the butter in the end and keep all ingredients warm to make one of the tastiest Tsourekia.

This is a fail-safe recipe; it has come to me via a friend from Thessaloniki that her mother taught her and has been in their family for generations, this is a large quantity, if you want a smaller quantity halve the recipe.

Ingredients:
3 kilos plain flour
126 grams fresh yeast
1 1/4 kilos sugar
10-12 eggs
1 litre warm milk
1 soupspoon of salt
1 packet of mahlepi
1 packet masticha
1 teaspoon of cardamom powder
2 tablespoons of seed oil
125 grams of unsalted butter

Secrets:
1. Everything has to be warm.
2. The butter goes in at the end.
3. We don’t knead, we only fold until everything becomes one. This is important, as too much kneading makes the gluten more glutinous and will make the tsoureki hard.

Method:
1. Dissolve the yeast in a glass of warm water, adding a little of the flour until it has a runny dough consistency. Cover and put aside in a warm spot till it rises
2. In a large bowl put the sugar, salt, the spices, the seed oil.
3. Add the warm milk and mix.
4. Beat the eggs slightly in a separate bowl and add them to the mixture.
5. Add the yeast and mix everything, preferably by hand.
6. Add the flour gradually, folding gently by hand until you have soft dough.
7. Melt the butter and add while warm but not hot and fold in gently until all the butter is one with the dough.
8. The dough should be warm; put it aside to rise, covered well. I usually cover with a blanket as previous women in my family have done. Leave for at least an hour or when the dough had doubled its size.
9. Make the tsourekia into any shape that you wish and you might like to add a red egg.
10. Put the tsourekia aside to rest for 30 minutes, brush with an egg yolk that has been slightly diluted in warm water.
11. Bake for 20-30 minutes on a medium heat of 170°C – the time depends on the size.

source:Neos Kosmos