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dsc00154Continuing on the theme of the most well-known (and delicious) Greek recipes, here’s my version of one of the number 31 pies- in this case, spanakopita. What spanakopita is, is essentially a spinach & feta cheese pie, made with phyllo pastry. Now, if you have the time & the inclination, you can make the phyllo yourself- and this is something many Greeks do at home, as a matter of course (and knowing how to make home-made phyllo is considered a wonderful, useful skill to have). Even though home-made phyllo tastes waaaaaaay better than the ready-made (frozen) version, sold at supermarkets, the recipe I offer uses ready-made, because- in the spirit of honesty- that’s what I use myself when I make spanakopita at home. Using home-made or ready-made phyllo takes cooking spanakopita in two completely different directions. In the first case, we’re talking of a lovingly, painstakingly produced home-made pie which you can feel very proud of (and here you can find a very good recipe for spanakopita, including directions on how to make your own phyllo dough). In the second case, we’re talking of a delicious everyday meal which you can make at the spur of the momentdsc00164.

My version of spanakopita

Ingredients:

  • 500 gr. ready-made phyllo (usually sold in the supermarket, at the frozen food section)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to oil the phyllo)

Spinach Filling

  • 2-3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  • frozen or fresh spinach (hard to say how much. Probably 3 bunches of fresh spinach or half a large bag of frozen. But you have to play it by ear here & go by experience)
  • fresh herbs: parsley, mint, dill, whatever you have or prefer; dill is more traditional, but I’ve used various combinations & all have worked (all of them chopped finely)
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 500 gr. feta cheese (again, you’ll have to play it by ear about the exact amount; you want a good balance of spinach & feta)
  • 3 loaded tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 large tablespoons greek yoghurt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Some freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • a bit of extra virgin olive oil, not too much (for the filling)
  • some dry herbs (optional)- e.g. dried mint, dried dill, or dried parsley

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius
  • Sautee the onions, spring onions & spinach until softened & wilted. Towards the end, add the fresh herbs & cook a couple of minutes more
  • Put the spinach & onion mixture in a colander & let it drain, so that there’s no water, & until it cools a little. Put aside
  • In a large bowl, mix the eggs (beaten) with the feta cheese, which you’ve crumbled with your hands
  • Add the ricotta & greek yoghurt
  • Add pepper, nutmeg, a bit of olive oil & perhaps the dried herbs (if using)
  • In a large pyrex dish, place 5-6 pieces of phyllo, oiling each one as you go. Put the mixture of spinach & cheese on top, & then put 5-6 pieces of phyllo on top. Oil the top of the pie with extra virgin olive oil
  • If you want, at this stage (before putting the pie in the oven) cut the spanakopita with a sharp knife in pieces so that after it’s cooked it can be cut more easily
  • Cook in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the spanakopita is reddish / golden.
  • Cool for a bit, & then eat. In my personal opinion, this is nicer eaten after a couple of hours, not straight from the oven, but others disagree!

Here are some other versions of spanakopita:


My version of pastitsio

dsc00141After sitting down & making a list of- what I consider to be- the most well-known Greek dishes, I thought I would take the opportunity to post my own version of some of the listed items. So I start with number 36, ‘pastitsio’, which is (as Maria at ‘Organically cooked’ says) the ‘Greek lasagna’.

We make pastitsio very often here at home, as I’m sure is the case in every Greek home. The recipe I present is very close to the Italian  ‘rigatoni al forno’, or indeed to lasagna, but there are a few subtle differences, starting from the pasta shapes used.

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta night, hosted at Once upon a feast. While this recipe, if you make it from scratch on a weekday night, is certainly not ‘presto’ at all, it can be transformed into a presto recipe by completing some of the steps in advance. I give guidelines on how to do this throughout the recipe.

Pastitsio, my own version, loosely adapted from Maria’s recipe in ‘Organically cooked’

Ingredients:

For the mince sauce (basically this is a bolognese sauce), you need:

  • 500 gr. (or 1 kilo, if you want this really generous) lean ground meat (pork, beef or a mixture) (Maria at Organically cooked makes the point- rightly- that fatty mince won’t reduce enough to get that dry consistency you want for pastitsio)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, pureed or very finely chopped (optional)
  • 150 ml dry red wine
  • 1 large carrot, chopped finely
  • 1 piece of celery, finely chopped
  • a small amount of streaky bacon or pancetta (unsmoked)
  • a jar of tomato passata (or you can use chopped tomatoes, perhaps 2 tins are necessary for this)
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • salt, pepper, oregano to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • You can also add mushrooms (chopped) & red peppers (chopped), as Maria suggests in her own version. I haven’t yet tried these additions, but I’m sure they’ll be delicious in the pastitsio

dsc00144For the pasta you need:

  • 500g fat macaroni with a hole in the middle (Maria suggests Barilla No 10; you can also use rigatoni for this & it’ll be fine, but I think it’s much more authentic- I mean, close to the way it’s done in Greek kitchens- if you manage to find the correct pasta shape)
  • 250g grated cheese (Maria suggests regato, gouda or edam; I’ve also successfully made this with feta cheese, cheddar and of course parmesan to sprinkle over. All have been good choices. You can be creative in your choice of cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the bechamel sauce, you need:

  • 500 ml milk (preferably, full fat). You need to heat this- e.g. in the microwave- before you make the bechamel
  • 35 gr. flour
  • 60 gr. butter
  • grated nutmeg to taste
  • some semolina (this is my addition; I use about 1-2 tablespoons, maybe a bit less if you’re unsure about this step. It does make the bechamel taste wonderful & somewhat sweet & fragrant. You’ll have to try it to see!)

Method:

  • Start by making the meat sauce (which is basically a bolognese sauce). This step can be completed way in advance, you can even have bags of bolognese sauce stocked up in your freezer
  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot
  • Saute the onions and garlic till soft & translucent
  • Add the bacon or pancetta & cook until reddish & fragrant, but not until completely crispy
  • Add the mince and let it brown all over. The more time it is given to sizzle in the oil, the tastier it becomes
  • When it is well-browned, pour the wine over it, and let the mince cook to draw out the flavour of the wine
  • If you do decide to use the finely chopped vegetables, add them into the mixture at this point, so that they will blend in with the mince, turning them over to mix them in well
  • Now add the tomatos and paste, along with just enough water to cover the mixture up to no more than 0.5cm above the mince mixture (what I do is, I slosh some water around in the empty, tomatoey passata bottle, & use that). Maria rightly notes that it is important to not have too much water or tomato sauce, because mince cooked for pastitsio (as well as moussaka and papoutsakia) must not be made into a sauce, as for spaggheti bolognese. It will be added to thick spaghetti which will become soggy if there is too much liquid in the mince. I would say that you can go a bit more liberally with the sauce if you’re using rigatoni, which can hold up more ‘saucey’ sauce!
  • Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves & oregano, cover the pot, and let the mince cook for at least 40 minutes, till most of the liquid has been absorbed. I actually usually let this cook for 2 hours or so, on a very very low heat.
  • Now make the pasta. When it’s ready, add the pasta to the meat sauce in a large pyrex dish (preferably an oval one) & at the end complete the last step, which is the bechamel sauce.
  • Boil a large pot of water and add the pasta as the water boils.
  • Cook it till al dente, and drain it well.
  • Sprinkle it with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper.
  • Pour the macaroni into your pyrex dish.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese into the cooked pasta, so that it melts with the heat from the pasta.
  • Now pour over the cooked mince and mix it into the pasta.
  • As Maria suggests, if you think there is too much mince mixture & your pyrex dish is already full, put the remaining mixture into a container and deep-freeze it. The next time you want to eat spaghetti bolognaise, all you will have to do is defrost it and boil up the spaghetti.
  • Sit the pyrex dish  (containing your pasta & meat sauce) on the table & prepare the bechamel. Again, this stage can be completed in advance- but not too much in advance; maybe in the morning or early afternoon. If you do this in advance, simply cover the bechamel with cling film (so that it doesn’t form a skin) & put in the fridge. Then the only thing you’ll have to do when you want to make the pastitsio is cook your pasta, reheat the meat sauce & bechamel, put everything together in a large pyrex & put the whole thing in the oven.
  • Maria suggests you can make the bechamel, saving yourself time and hassle, by using the same pot that you used to cook the mince. She says it also gives the sauce a meaty taste. I’ve never tried doing this, but I certainly will next time I make pastitsio.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy based pot. When it starts sizzling, add the flour
  • Cook the 2 together until they become a light brownish ‘biscuit coloured’ paste.
  • Remove from the heat (or you can just lower the heat very much) & start adding the heated milk, bit by bit. Go slowly at first, & thoroughly mix so that the milk becomes incorporated, but then you can go a bit more quickly.
  • Around halfway through making your sauce, add the semolina & mix thoroughly. I use a small hand held whisk for this.
  • Mix the sauce continuously, with a wooden spoon, till it thickens. Don’t leave the pot at this stage, as the sauce might stick to the bottom.
  • When the sauce sets, pour it evenly over the mince and pasta. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese over the top of the sauce.
  • Grate some nutmeg over the sauce.
  • Put the pastitsio n the oven & cook until the top has taken a golden colour (usually about 20 mins-half hour, but make sure you keep checking it).
  • Maria notes: when the pastitsio is done, leave it to cool before cutting, so that it is allowed to set to a point that makes the dish easy to cut and serve. Cutting it when it is still hot will only spoil its appearance, making it less appetising. If the pastitsio is mainly for freezing, make sure it has cooled right down before cutting it.
  • Enjoy with a nice, large green salad & perhaps a cold glass of white wine.

The Greek 100!

greece3That didn’t take long, did it. After posting about the British 100 foods (initially created by Helen of Food stories) and (especially) after declaring how much I looooooove creating lists, I just had to compile a Greek 100 list of foods and / or recipes. I’ll try providing links to them when I can, so that those readers who are not Greek can get an idea of what I’m on about. I don’t pretend there’s anything ‘authentic’ or quintessentially Greek about any of these foods or recipes (after all, Greek cooking is very much influenced by- and sometimes is indistinguishable from- cooking in nearby Mediterranean & Balkan countries, including- or especially- Turkey). The only claim I can make is that these foods are all regularly eaten in Greek homes & cooked in Greek kitchens.

And before I forget- as Helen asks in her own list- anything I missed that should have been on here?

The rules remain the same. Here they are:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Link back to this blog, if you would be so kind.

(Note: I’ve made an effort to provide links in English for most of these recipes whenever possible, just so you can get an idea what these recipes / foods are about… but in some cases I could only find the recipes in Greek. If anyone’s interested in a particular recipe that’s only linked to a Greek-language site, please email me & I can send you a quick translation).

MY GREEK 100:

  1. Gemista (and here’s Ivy’s version) (stuffed vegetables- a classic Greek homemade food-, usually with tomatoes or peppers. You can either make a meat version or a veggy version).
  2. Touloumpes (syrup dipped desserts, not that commonly found anymore in Greece, but really really scrumptious. Very hard to find a home-made recipe for them, I have to say…)
  3. Mydopilafo (a lovely rice with mussels, the Greek version of paella)
  4. Yiouvarlakia (a delicious, homely, hearty meat soup, made with tiny meatballs, finished off with avgolemono sauce, this is quintessential Greek home cooking- perfect for a cold winter evening).
  5. Avgolemono (a classic Greek egg & lemon sauce, which we eat…eeerrrm, basically with everything!)
  6. Manouri (a mild, white Greek cheese, not easily found outside Greece)
  7. Feta cheese (the most famous of Greek cheeses; at our home we eat it with literally everything)
  8. Bougatsa (pies either filled with cheese- feta cheese, for sure- or with a sweet cream, this is one of Thessaloniki’s most wonderful, delicious breakfasts. Not usually made at home, but served at what are called ‘bougatsatzidika’, meaning little cafes that serve bougatsa. To  be honest, not sure if a good home-made version can be made, but I’ve provided a couple of links nevertheless).
  9. Revani (one of my favourite desserts, made with syrup & semolina- and here are 2 more interesting versions by Ivy)
  10. Frappes (Of course I’ve tried this coffee. There’s no Greek that can avoid it, really. But I have  to say, it’s the most disgusting coffee drink ever. Still, many consider it the national Greek drink. Anyway, I suppose I did have to include it…Here’s what Maria has to say about it.)
  11. Fakes soupa (as I say in my own version of this lentil soup, this is the most everyday of everyday Greek dishes. And here is Maria’s version).
  12. Fasolada & fasolia gigantes fournou (Greeks make various dishes with butter beans- what we call ‘fasolia gigantes’- and some consider ‘fasolada’ (a bean soup) the quintessential national Greek dish).
  13. Prasoryzo and  spanakoryzo and lahanoryzo (The greek version of risotto! These are rice dishes made either with leeks (prasoryzo), spinach (spanakoryzo) or cabbage (lahanoryzo). Can’t be found in restaurants that often, these are everyday dishes, cooked at greek homes).
  14. Patsas (would never try this, I think it’s disgusting! But many many greeks eat patsa in the early hours of the morning, after having one too many drinks. They say that patsas helps with hangover! Don’t have personal experience about this…but you could try it).
  15. Mageiritsa (This is a delicious, rich meat soup, eaten once a year at Easter)
  16. Kokoretsi (personally I don’t like this meat dish, served at Easter…but most Greeks love it).
  17. Melomakarona (these honey & walnut cookies be found in every Greek home around Christmas time. Here’s another version).
  18. Tsoureki (a Greek easter bread or cake).
  19. Galaktoboureko (a wonderful, creamy dessert, made with filo pastry & lots of milk)
  20. Greek yoghurt (everyone knows about thick, strained greek yoghurt…Like feta cheese, eaten with almost everything by Greeks)
  21. Rice with yoghurt (my one & only, best ever comfort food! A light supper commonly eaten by many Greeks. Can’t really provide a link for this! It’s exactly what it sounds like- white rice with Greek yoghurt).
  22. Tzatziki (I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know what tzatziki is, so it’s a bit superfluous to provide recipes for it…but just in case, I’ve provided 2 links that show how you can make this classic yoghurt dip).
  23. Melitzanosalata (this is a dip made from pureed aubergine, commonly found in Greek tavernas).
  24. Roast lamb with roast potatoes (often this is the main Easter lunch dish, but is eaten in other times of year as well).
  25. Vasilopita (one more link here) & vasilopita trifti (this is the traditional cake that Greeks cut on New Year’s Eve. There’s a foil-wrapped coin inside the cake. Whoever gets the slice with the coin is the lucky person for the New Year! There are different ways to make it. I personally prefer the ‘trifti vasilopita’ version.)
  26. Glyka tou koutaliou (these are fruit desserts, made with syrup, often served with greek / turkish coffee & a glass of cold water. The exact translation is ‘spoon desserts’)
  27. Taramosalata (dip, made with fish roe)
  28. Tyrokauteri or htypiti (A feta cheese dip, can be made quite spicy- hence ‘tyrokauteri’ which essentially means spicy cheese. This is one of my partner’s favourites)
  29. Kourampiedes (and here’s Kalofagas’ version). (These are usually eaten around Christmas time. They’re absolutely delicious little cakes / biscuits, a bit like shortbread or something like that- but they have a very particular taste!)
  30. Sofrito (a traditional meat stew, made mostly in Corfu)
  31. Tyropita, spanakopita, prasopita, prasotyropita etc (Greek pies are traditionally made with filo pastry- ideally, home-made-, but not necessarily just filo pastry, as you can see by the example of prasopita- aka leek pie- that I provide).
  32. Olive oil (Olive oil- and usually extra virgin- is used with absolutely everything in Greece).
  33. Kalamata olives (wonderful big black olives from Kalamata, a southern Greek city)
  34. Souvlakia and gyros (I don’t think there’s anyone who’s visited Greece & hasn’t tried our own version of kebabs. Can be found in every street corner in Greece. The quality of course varies, but you don’t eat gyros because it’s quality food! This is street food at its most delicious- here’s what Maria has to say about it).
  35. Piperies florinis (this is a very good way to prepare red peppers. These are called ‘peppers from Florina’- I suppose they refer to a particular type of red pepper found in Florina, a small northern Greek city)
  36. Pastitsio (and here’s another link for this) (basically, this is the Greek version of lasagna! There is no greek cook who doesn’t have a recipe of their own for this- which reminds me, I need to add my own version of pastitsio to my blog).
  37. Moussaka (like pastitsio, each Greek has their own version of moussaka, which is a baked aubergine, meat & potato dish. Another delicious version here).
  38. Pasta Flora (not sure if this is actually a traditional Greek dessert…it is however made & eaten often in Greece).
  39. Kritharaki (this is what non-Greeks call ‘orzo’. Often cooked just in tomato sauce for a quick supper- perhaps served with cheese- but mostly cooked with veal & tomato sauce, & is then called giouvetsi- which is number 53 in the list).
  40. Loukoumades (and one more link here) (these are fritters or dumplings which are fried in oil & served with honey, usually for breakfast. They’re quite a faff to make- and not a particularly healthy choice!-, but they’re delicious)
  41. Melitzanes papoutsakia (the literal translation is aubergine shoes! This is a traditional greek / turkish dish, made in the oven)
  42. Melitzanobourekakia (these are delicious little aubergine fritters: I wasn’t actually able to find an online recipe for these…if anyone has one, I’d be glad to see it)
  43. Dakos (and one more version). (This is a simple, healthy Cretan dish, made with ‘dakos’- what Kalofagas calls ‘Greece’s own bruschetta’, a kind of rusk- to which you add fresh tomato, olive oil, oregano, garlic & feta cheese).
  44. Fava (and another version) (a yellow split-pea puree, served with lemon, onion & oregano. The best fava in Greece can be found in Santorini).
  45. Agkinares ala polita (a delicious, traditional way to cook artichokes)
  46. Imam baildi (a stuffed aubergine recipe, this is more a Turkish than a Greek recipe, but is eaten in Greece a lot too)
  47. Briam (a lovely vegetarian dish, made with oven baked vegetables. A wonderful dish for those middle-of-the-week dinners where you’re too tired to cook something more complicated)
  48. Kolokythoanthoi me tyri (a difficult & rarely found meze; but a really delicious one. This is courgette flowers filled with cheese & then fried in a batter).
  49. Kolokythokeftedes (and one more version) (a lovely meze- basically this is courgette fritters-, made in various different ways, & served in tavernas across Greece).
  50. Dolmadakia & lahanodolmades (both are rice, herb & meat mixtures- or just rice & herb mixtures- stuffed into cabbage leaves- lahanodolmades- or vine leaves- dolmadakia. At our home, we usually have lahanodolmades at Christmas).
  51. Bakaliaros tiganitos (fried salt cod, a classic Greek dish which is most often made at home or in tavernas during the Lent period. Usually served with skordalia- see entry number 88)
  52. Mydia (mussels) or Garides (prawns) saganaki (and here’s another interesting version of this) (a classic taverna meze, basically this is mussels or shrimps cooked in a tomato & feta cheese sauce, in a particular type of pot called a ‘saganaki’)
  53. Giouvetsi (a warming dish, made with meat- either beef, veal or chicken- tomato sauce and kritharaki)
  54. Halvas simigdalenios (a wonderful, simple semolina dessert, one of my favourites when I was growing up- and still is!)
  55. Moshari kokkinisto me poure melitzanas (hounkiar begienti) (this is one of my partner’s favourite foods, a turkish-inspired dish- eaten often in Greece, too- made with veal & aubergine puree)
  56. Arnaki fricassee (a meat & greens stew, topped with an avgolemono sauce).
  57. Kydonia psita sto fourno (this is quince baked in the oven, usually served with whipped cream. Really yummy)
  58. Soupia or calamari gemista (squid stuffed with feta cheese)
  59. Patates giahni (a very plain but very moreish everyday dish. Just potatoes, cooked with onion & tomato. Couldn’t track down a recipe for this, any help anyone?)
  60. Stifado (and here’s Maria’s version of rabbit stifado) (I love this meat & tiny-onions dish…but have only made it once. I still remember that day!)
  61. Soutzoukakia smyrneika (commonly found in Greek tavernas, these are oval-shaped meatballs, either served on their own or in a tomato sauce- in which case they’re called ‘smyrneika’)
  62. Kolokythakia gemista (These are courgettes stuffed with meat & rice, served with avgolemono sauce. One of my favourite homemade dishes).
  63. Kotopoulo milaneza (chicken alla milanese). (Strickly speaking this is of course not a Greek recipe. But at my home we used to cook a variation of this- boiled chicken with plain boiled rice & an avgolemono sauce, made with the chicken stock)
  64. Tzigerosarmades (this is a hard to make, quite heavy meat dish, usually cooked at Easter)
  65. Babas (not really a Greek dish at all! This is the french dessert ‘baba au rhum’…but I include it in my list of Greek recipes, just because it was my absolute favourite dessert when I was growing up, & still remains one of my very favourite).
  66. Kantaifi & Ekmek kantaifi (A turkish inspired dessert, made with lots of syrup. There’s 2 versions- one with cream (ekmek kantaifi) & one without).
  67. Ellinikos (Greek) or tourkikos (Turkish) cafes (coffee) (there is an issue of whether this is most properly called ‘greek’ or ‘turkish’ coffee- or indeed ‘arabian’ coffee. Whatever, it really doesn’t matter. Personally, I call it ‘turkish’ coffee just because that’s what I’m used to. Many Greeks start their day with this).
  68. Kokoras krasatos (red wine chicken) with hilopites (hilopites are small, square pasta shapes, usually cooked in greece either with chicken in a red wine sauce, or with beef / veal. There needs to be myzithra cheese or kefalotyri grated on top).
  69. Karydopita (a wonderful, fragrant walnut cake. And another version here)
  70. Horiatiki salata (this is the classic, very simple greek salad, which in Greece we actually call ‘village salad’)
  71. Kalamarakia tiganita (squid fried in batter, a meze commonly found in Greek tavernas)
  72. Kefalotyri (a hard, salty cheese; the Greek version of parmesan, maybe!)
  73. Baklavas (this is obviously not just a Greek dessert. It can be found in beautiful versions in Turkish cuisine as well. But we do eat it a lot in Greece. And here’s a non-authentic, chocolate version, if you want to be adventurous!)
  74. Myzithra & xinomyzithra (a wonderful Greek cheese- the latter version, xinomyzithra, can mostly be found in Greek islands, e.g. Milos)
  75. Strapatsada (the Greek version of scrambled eggs).
  76. Horiatika loukanika (Greek ‘village’ sausages; basically these are lovely, spicy sausages)
  77. Spetzofai (a hearty, spicy dish, made with horiatika loukanika- see number 76- peppers & tomato)
  78. Trahanas (a mild, warming & easy to make pasta soup)
  79. Astakomakaronada (a luxurious dish: lobster spaggheti)
  80. Htapodaki sti shara (a classic seafood meze: grilled octopus. Ideally it has to be charcoal grilled)
  81. Graviera Naxou / Graviera Kritis (2 varieties of gruyere cheese, one from the island Naxos, and one from Crete.  Both delicious)
  82. Anthotyro (very mild, even- one could say- ‘watery’ white cheese)
  83. Ouzo (everyone knows what ouzo is…an aniseed alcoholic drink, served most often with mezedes. Personally, I hate it; but most Greeks love it).
  84. Tigania (fried pieces of pork, with oregano. Really delicious easy dish).
  85. Patsavouropita (very very simple dessert)
  86. Makedonikos halvas (a different  type of halva- this one tahini based, & not semolina based-, mostly found in Northern Greece)
  87. Revythokeftedes (chick pea fritters, really lovely meze)
  88. skordalia (not one of my favourites, but nevertheless, a classic garlic based dip)
  89. Gauros marinatos (a meze that goes with ouzo, this is marinated fish)
  90. kakavia (a delicious fish soup)
  91. Saganaki me tyri (basically, this is fried cheese in a batter- usually kefalotyri or kaseri. Can be found as part of a mezedes meal in tavernas, but people often make it at home as part of a light (light??!!) supper. Usually served with a lemon wedge).
  92. Retsina (like ouzo, this is a classic Greek alcoholic drink, served most often with mezedes)
  93. Kaseri (a semi-hard, very popular cheese)
  94. Moustaleuria (this is absolutely delicious, and if you have the chance, please do try it).
  95. Anitho (aka dill. Probably the most widely used herb in Greece- perhaps together with parsley).
  96. Koulouri Thessalonikis (these are types of sesame bread rolls, sold in the street in Thessaloniki, & eaten by everyone on the go, or as an easy, quick breakfast. No way can you find a recipe for these, as they’re purely street food, but I’ve linked to a picture & description)
  97. Paximadia (kind of similar to italian biscotti…)
  98. Amygdalota (and here’s another lovely version of these) (there are countless variations of these almond cookies, mostly found in Greek islands. I love them but unfortunately don’t eat them that often).
  99. Kariokes & pourakia (chocolate sweets, mainly found in Thessaloniki patisseries. Link, anyone?)
  100. Merenda! (basically this is the Greek version of Nutella. Can be eaten with crepes or just with bread for breakfast).

As I’ve said before in this blog, I’m very big on lists. Give me a list- anything I need to add to, fill in, write, read… you name it: basically a  list with which I can procrastinate, and I’m a happy girl. So, while browsing through other food blogs I regularly read, I came across an interesting list that I could actually blog about.

great-britain

What’s this particular list about then? Well, people usually say (oh, at least they do in Greece!) that the British know nothing about cooking and / or eating. My experience, in the last years that I’ve lived here in London, is somewhat different. I actually love british cooking. So… without procrastinating any further, here is the British 100, as compiled by Helen of Food Stories...

And here’s the rules…

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Link back to Food Stories, if you would be so kind.

MY BRITISH 100

1. Grey squirrel

2. Steak and kidney pie

3. Bubble and squeak

4. Spotted dick

5. Hot cross buns (delicious)

6. Laver bread

7. Toad in the hole

8. Shepherds pie AND cottage pie

9. Scotch egg

10. Parkin

11. Welsh rarebit

12. Jellied eels

13. Stilton

14. Marmite (although I really really don’t like it: you know, you’re either a Marmite person, or you’re not)

15. Ploughman’s lunch

16. Cucumber sandwiches (surprisingly these are quite nice, in an old-fashioned, English tea-time kind of way)

17. Coronation chicken

18. Gloucester old spot

19. Cornish pasty

20. Samphire

21. Mince pies

22. Winkles

23. Salad cream (hate it. NOT a good idea to put bottled cream onto your salad)

24. Malt loaf

25. Haggis

26. Beans on toast

27. Cornish clotted cream tea

28. Pickled egg (no way Jose)

29. Pork scratchings

30. Pork pie

31. Black pudding

32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish (interesting. Didn’t know about this).

33. Earl grey tea

34. Elvers

35. HP Sauce

36. Potted shrimps

37. Stinking bishop

38. Elderflower cordial

39. Pea and ham soup

40. Aberdeen Angus Beef (excellent beef)

41. Lemon posset

42. Guinness

43. Cumberland sausage

44. Native oysters

45. A ‘full English’ – and a full Scottish!

46. Cockles

47. Faggots

48. Eccles cake

49. Potted Cromer crab

50. Trifle (love it love it love it. My mother used to make trifle all the time when we were kids, even though we lived in Greece).

51. Stargazy pie

52. English mustard

53. Christmas pudding

54. Cullen skink

55. Liver and bacon with onions

56. Wood pigeon

57. Branston pickle

58. Oxtail soup

59. Piccalilli

66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (with gravy)

67. Pickled onions

68. Cock-a-leekie soup

69. Rabbit and Hare

70. Bread sauce (this is an acquired taste. Very strange for Greeks to get used to. But now I’ve come to actually love it, & I include it every year in my Christmas lunch menu).

71. Cauliflower cheese

72. Crumpets

73. Rice pudding (not really British, this. But excellent all the same).

74. Bread and butter pudding (perfect comfort food).

75. Bakewell tart

76. Kendall mint cake

77. Summer pudding

78. Lancashire hot pot

79. Beef Wellington

80. Eton mess

81. Neeps and tatties

82. Pimms

83. Scampi

84. Mint sauce

85. English strawberries and cream

86. Isle of Wight garlic

87. Mutton

88. Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce

89. Angels on horseback

90. Omelette Arnold Bennett

91. Devilled kidneys

92. Partridge and pheasant

93. Stew and dumplings

94. Arbroath smokies

95. Oyster loaves

96. Sloe gin

97. Damson jam

98. Soda bread

99. Quince jelly

100. Afternoon tea at the Ritz

…So there you have it. I’m actually playing with the idea of compiling a Greek 100 very soon!

dsc00134There’s nothing special about these muffins. In fact, they’re as bog standard as muffins can get. They happen to be, however, my partner’s absolute favourite muffins for breakfast (or tea, or after supper, or whenever really). So I suppose they deserve their place in my kitchen journal!

Bog standard chocolate muffins (from Susan Reimer’s ‘Muffins: Fast & fantastic’

Ingredients:

  • 255 gr. plain flour (if using self-raising flour, omit the baking powder, but don’t adjust the bicarb of soda)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 110-170 gr. caster sugar (I don’t use much sugar, because my partner really likes his desserts not-too-sweet)
  • 3-5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (e.g. Green & Black’s which is fantastic)
  • 1 egg
  • 240-260 ml (8-9 fluid oz) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) vegetable oil or 85 gr. (3 oz) butter, melted (I use vegetable oil, & they turn out fine)
  • Plain chocolate chips, coconut or chopped nuts for topping (optional)

Method:

  • Prepare muffin tins. Preheat oven to 190-200 degrees (gas mark 5-6)
  • In a large bowl, sift together baking powder, flour, bicarb of soda, salt, sugar & cocoa powder
  • In another bowl, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk & vanilla, followed by oil / melted butter
  • Pour all the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until just combined & no dry flour is visible. Batter will be lumpy (that’s normal)
  • Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle tops with chocolate chips or whatever else you’re using. Bake for 20-25 mins, until the tops spring back when pressed gently.

Variations (the book provides lots of variations, but these are the ones that appeal to me):

  • You can try adding 85-110 gr. chopped glace cherries or black cherries to the batter, to create chocolate cherry muffins.
  • You can also try adding 60 gr. ground or chopped hazelnuts to the dry ingredients to create chocolate hazelnut muffins (or indeed you can add other nuts: macadamias, brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans)
  • Chocolate mocha muffins are also nice, especially for breakfast. Prepare 240-260 ml (8-9 fl oz) strong black coffee (I would do this using espresso powder). Cool completely & use in place of the milk
  • I once tried making chocolate orange muffins, adding 1 teaspoon or so of finely grated orange rind to the wet ingredients.
  • And finally, you can make the classic double chocolate muffins by adding 85 gr. plain chocolate chips to the dry ingredients.

dsc00125Last summer, on one of those very hot- sweltering- days, one month or so before my little boy was born, I made this refreshing limeade. Making this was part of goal 154, which has to do with cooking from the vast collection of food blog recipes I’ve acquired over the years & not just letting them sit there unused. I found this limeade in Anne’s wonderful blog which I’ve been following for some years now. What’s original & interesting about it is its use of a whole lime, peel and all, instead of simply using the juice. You can find instructions on how to make it here, but really it’s very straightforward, as it involves a simple combination of a whole lime, sugar & water. It’s simplicity itself, but its really delicious & its taste & smell have stayed one my mind since I made it.dsc00132

Fast forward a few months. A couple of days ago, on a grey, rainy, miserable evening here in London- the complete opposite of that hot summer day- I was sitting next to my 3 month old boy, surfing on the internet. At some point I felt I wanted something to drink. But instead of going for the usual autumney stuff- hot chocolate, hot tea, hot coffee- I suddenly had an intense craving for the tastes & smells of last summer, and so made this limeade instead, however out of season it may seem. It’s not the first time actually that I’ve felt it’s hard to let go of the summer that just passed… I think it has to do with the feeling that time is passing oh so quickly now that I’ve become a mother. Each day brings noticeable changes in my boy’s development, and with the joy that involves, there’s also a kind of bittersweet sense of constant loss too…

08-mexican-pittasMy friend N. taught me how to make these, and for some reason they strike me as the kind of thing that’s ideal to make for a get-together with friends. In particular, I like making them for those completely casual, last-minute get-togethers with people with whom you feel comfortable enough to sit in front of the telly for hours & hours, nibbling on these pitas & gossiping. They’re not a ‘dinner-party’ meal, if you see what I mean, and they depend on improvisation, imagination and a good appetite08-nadias-mexican-pittas!

You can use anything really to fill them. The basis is flour tortillas which you put on a hot frying pan, fill up with whatever you want, and let cook for a bit (not too long). Just make sure the cheese is melted before you take them out. Then you just fold them & eat! What we used the night we had them was:

–chicken pieces, which we had fried up in a little oil beforehand

–strips of red, green & yellow peppers, cooked down a bit but not too much: you want to retain a bit of crunchiness

–grated cheddar cheese

–mushrooms, sliced & fried a bit

–a bit of paprika. And if you’re bold & like your food hot (as my friend N. does) you can use all sorts of chili-spices; either fresh chili pieces or ground chili powder, or even tabasco if you prefer that.

–some sweetcorn kernels

…and we served them with some thick greek yoghurt & some mayo for whoever wanted it.

You could also use a combination of:

–different pieces of meat in cubes, e.g. beef, pork, lamb

–some tomato paste or even fresh pieces of tomato, if you fancy that (but then I wouldn’t cook those, I would just add them fresh at the end)

–and of course various different cheeses (use your imagination)

This dish doesn’t really apply to any of my blog-goals, but who cares, it was so delicious & simple to make that I thought I’d write about it anyway! I call them ‘Greek Mexican’ tortillas for the straightforward reason that we who made them are Greek (!!). As for the mexican bit, well…tortillas are used, making them kind of inspired-by-mexican-cuisine, but they’re not really mexican in any real or authentic way!

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