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Preview: bread and butter

bread and butter

Updated: 2014-10-03T10:43:59.337+03:00


Dreamy carrot soup


(image) To dream of carrots, portends prosperity and health. For a young woman to eat them, denotes that she will contract an early marriage and be the mother of several hardy children.
10 000 Dream Interpretations, by Gustavus Hindman Miller

One of the main reasons I love autumn is because I can serve soup, especially carrot soup, and not be given the crazy/angry/disapproving glance. Because people in Greece only eat soup when they are sick. Or in funerals.
What I love about Britain is that if you are in a hurry, you go to the supermarket and grab a fresh soup and just heat it and it usually tastes very good (the ones I had from Waitrose at least).
Many times when I have been thinking with friends about future business ventures, the conversation leads us to soup in cartons, but half a minute later one of us says "who is going to eat soup?" and we sulk in our corners, sipping the soup that apparently nobody else would.
So, yes, carrot soup. Clean your plates.

4-6 Servings
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 big onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1kg carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1400 ml vegetable stock
  • rind and juice of 1 large orange
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter in a large pan, add the onions, leave them for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add carrots and the stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Do not throw the stock away.
Liquidise all the ingredients and add the puree in the stock.
Reheat gently for a couple of minutes. Season to taste.
Before you serve, add the orange juice. Grate the orange rind and garnish the individual bowls.I think this soup needs a good crunchy bread, preferably wholemeal.

Apple salad with beet


"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious."
Tom Robbins

Why is it that when people see beets turn the other way? They are meaty and have this earthy flavour, not to mention this ruby colour that shouts out "I am alive". I have been trying to make the little person in the house eat beets, not very successfully. When I ask why he would not even try them, he says "I don't eat red things". Maybe because he is a kid and as Tom Robbins said, they are deadly serious?

For 6 servings

  • 4 medium beets, cooked and cut in medium strips
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (you might want it oilier, in that case make it ½ cup)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons shredded orange peel
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • a handful of non salted cashew nuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint or 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tsp pink pepper berries
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 2 medium green apples chopped

Make the dressing by combining oil, vinegar, orange peel, orange juice, onion, mint, pink pepper and honey in jar. Cover firmly and shake well.
Combine beet, romaine lettuce, cashews and chopped apple in a bowl. Add the dressing, mix everything very well and serve.

Comfort me with apples


(image) “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”
Dr. Carl Sagan

I found the basis for this easy, yum and all round nice recipe in Cooking Light. I’ve had a difficult week both on the work as well as on the insomnia front, so I wasn’t going to make my own pastry, obviously. I changed it a little –the original asks you to microwave honey at full power, and that makes honey lose all its beneficial qualities.
Think of it like a very quick way to accompany your coffee with something sweet that is not going to end up on your thighs (well, not 100% of it at least), and as a way to use your apples.

Quick and Thin Apple Tart
6 servings
  • ½ package refrigerated pie dough
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 800 gr. Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 280 K, 425 F.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface, roll into a circle. Place on a tart dish. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar mixture over dough. Arrange apple slices in a circle moving towards the centre. Sprinkle apple slices with remaining sugar mixture. Bake at 280 K, 425° F for 30 minutes.
In a little cup, thin honey with one teaspoon of water. Brush honey over warm tart.

This pie was baked while listening to the Smashing Pumpkins' song "Appels and Oranjes".

Haloumi and grape salad



It is boiling hot in Athens. I cannot bear to be in the kitchen, at least not too far from the fridge where it is cool. So, no cooking. We have to make do with salads and fruit and cheese.
Really, I have never asked you: Do you like mixing fruit and vegetables? Or are you strict purists?
I do not like all combinations, my absolute worst is watermelon and feta cheese, which totally kills off the freshness of the watermelon.
So, what is your favourite fruit and vegetable combination? (erm, wine and a green salad don't count).

For 3 servings

  • 200 gr shredded lettuce leaves or other salad greens
  • 150 gr seedless grapes
  • 250 gr haloumi cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

For the dressing

  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt – pepper

Toss walnuts and grapes with mixed salad greens or lettuce. Add pine nuts, parsley, and the cheese.
Dress the salad with olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste. Serve cold.

Greek for beginners: Dakos salad



Greek salads do not come any easier or simpler than this one. And to be honest this is a Cretan salad, and you do know that the people of Crete are among the healthiest on the planet. Their secret is lots and lots of extra virgin olive oil.

This is my version of dakos and I only diverted from the original because I had run out of feta cheese. So I used greek yogurt -full fat, unflavoured, no sugar, of course- and a sprinkle of parmesan for texture.

It is a bit like a bruschetta but it is much bigger and a meal in itself. Some people add onion but I think it detracts from the freshness of the salad. You can also add some cucumber. Do not put lots of different vegetables though. The idea is to taste the olive oil and the tomato.

For 2 servings if it is a salad or 1 serving as a main meal

  • A barley rusk
  • Some water
  • One tomato
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (or in this case 2 spoonfuls of greek yogurt and a sprinkle of parmesan)
  • A sprinkle of oregano (optional)

Take a barley rusk. Wet it a bit. Just a bit, maybe 3-4 tablespoons of water.
You don’t need to skin off the tomato as the skin is going to come off when you grate it. So, yes, grate the tomato. Do not put it into a food processor, it will turn to water and we don’t want it to be runny.
Place the tomato on top of the rusk. Pour 2 spoons of olive oil on the tomato. Chop the bell pepper and arrange it on the tomato. Put some crumbled feta cheese or as I have done here –and this is just my version, real dakos is with feta or mizithra cheese- two spoonfuls of greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cheese. If you do my version with the yogurt skip the water in the beginning.
Sprinkle with oregano or some olives if you have them and serve.

A watermelon sun



"Watermelon -- it's a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face."
Enrico Caruso

The gypsies would drive from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in their open trucks and sell watermelons, just a few years ago in Athens. I think they still do it in rural areas. And in the early afternoon, you’d hear their voices through the loudspeakers in their cars, shouting “karpouziaaaaaaa”, because karpouzi is what we call a watermelon in Greece. If you wanted to, they would carve it open for you so you could testify to the freshness of the fruit.
Today I buy my watermelons from the supermarket, or the open market, every Wednesday in my area. But I still miss the gypsies.
I found this recipe in Veggie Life , the printed version. I adapted a bit and here it is. I have never found the magazine in Greece, but my good friend Gina, sent it to me from the US. So this recipe is for her. I wish we could have some of it together Gina.

For 6 servings

  • 5 cups watermelon chunks (try to seed the chunks as much as you can)
  • 6 tablespoons non fat milk
  • 1-1 ½ tablespoon sugar

In a food processor combine ingredients and liquefy.
Place a sieve over a bowl and strain out remaining seeds. Press with a spoon so as to get as much pulp through the sieve as possible.
Discard seeds and excess pulp.
Put liquid into ice cube trays and freeze.
When ready, whirl cubes in a blender or food processor, to make it look like a sherbet. Serve in glasses. You are a happy person.

Just eat it, don't make me repeat it



I can live on salads, fruit and juices for the whole duration of summer. In Greece, that’s about 5 months. Sometimes, I consider myself lucky that as a vegetarian, I live in a Mediterranean country where there are lots of vegetables and fruit, but when I am in a bad mood, I just miss the variety I could find at british supermarkets. Being a vegetarian is so much easier in Britain. There is no convenience food for vegetarians in Greece. Veggie burgers are really difficult to find, and I haven’t even mentioned the lack of soya milk or tofu. I am not vegan, but if I were, I don’t know how I’d manage. You can’t always rely on health food shops to buy basic things like tofu. Not only are they sparse, they are ridiculously expensive too.
So I am constantly trying to find tasty things that can be made quickly. This salad is one of them because couscous is so versatile and you just need to boil some water to make it. And then, you just chop the vegetables. You could sauté them, I prefer to roast them when I have time.

Couscous, cherry tomatoes and roast vegetables salad
For 6 servings

* 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
* 15 cherry tomatoes
* 2 courgettes, sliced in 3
* 1 aubergine, sliced in 3
* 1 red bell pepper, in strips
* 5-6 garlic cloves (don’t peel them)
* 4 tablespoons olive oil plus some more (about ¼ cup)
* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 6 tablespoons herbs:

-2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
-2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
-2 tablespoons oregano, chopped

* 2 ½ cups water
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 300 gr. couscous
* 1 cup pitted olives, cut in two
* 4 tablespoons caper
* 6 tablespoons lemon juice
* 4 tablespoons chopped basil

Preheat grill or oven at 200 C.
Prepare vegetables, except tomatoes and onion. Place them on a baking tin and drizzle them with 4 tablespoons olive oil, herbs, garlic, salt, pepper. They should become tender but not too much. Make sure they are evenly roasted from both sides. Remove garlic cloves and we leave vegetables to cool.
Boil the water. Place the couscous in a big bowl and pour boiling water over it. Let it absorb the water for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the roasted vegetables to pieces that should be the size of a mouthful. When the couscous is ready, add the vegetables, the tomatoes, the onion. Add the olives and caper. Next come the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and basil. Toss the salad and serve.
If you want the salad to be served cold, refrigerate it for a while, but in that case you should add the tomatoes at the last minute before serving. They really don’t behave well in the fridge.

The aubergine poem


The aubergine libertine in his green limousine

A libertine's green limousine was lately seen in Saint Vereen. The libertine wore aubergine. In Saint Vereen they're not so keen on aubergine. The party scene in Saint Vereen is all crepe-de-chine and gabardine, beauty queens and Charlie Sheen. The libertine in aubergine moves between these beauty queens: his feet careen from scene to scene, taking in the magazines, the tall Marines, the jumping beans, the snarling face of Charlie Sheen. The libertine leaves Saint Vereen. Saint Vereen is not his scene--he likes a scene that's more serene.

Vals-en-Deen is just that scene. He sights the sheen of Vals-en-Deen. Its woods are green; are tourmaline. With carabine, he'll hunt that green, the libertine in aubergine. The birds that preen in Vals-en-Deen are not quite serene when there's been seen in their woodsy green the libertine in aubergine. His carabine for them spells "fin." But when libertines in limousines leave Vals-en-Deen for Saint Vereen, those birds that preen are quite serene.

Though the birds may vent their spleen, the libertine in aubergine suffers only improved mien when Vals-en-Deen is dimly seen from the dark windscreen of his limousine. Then, our heroic libertine, rid at last of Charlie Sheen, of magazines, of beauty queens, of crepe-de-chine and gabardine, bounces like a jumping bean, a jumping bean on too much caffeine, decked out in cloth of aubergine.

About two years ago there was a meme going around in blogs, the aubergine meme. The goal was to end a poem with the word “aubergine”, a task as difficult as rhyming the word “orange” (try it). So I found this delightful poem in this awesome blog and I think, you’ll agree it’s the best aubergine poem ever. Three cheers to Reen for creating it.
Another aubergine poem (okay, not really) is the recipe that follows. It’s the easiest thing to do with aubergines, far easier than writing a poem, not as elegant though. Feta cheese is never elegant, damn it.

Aubergine rolls

For 8 rolls

  • 2 aubergines, cut into 4 slices lengthways
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g feta
  • 2 tbsps fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tbsps fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsps pine nuts
  • 1 big garlic clove, peeled, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 250C
2. Heat olive in a big frying pan.
3. Brush the slices of aubergine with the oil before placing the slices in the pan. Turn the slices of aubergine, to cook both sides.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, let aubergines cool a little.
5. Put feta, parsley, chives, pine nuts and garlic in a small bowl and stir.
6. Take a slice of aubergine and place a tablespoon of the feta mixture in the centre of the slice.
7. Carefully roll the aubergine upwards. Place the aubergine roll on a baking tray before repeating the process with the 3 other aubergine slices. If it doesn’t remain sealed, secure it with a toothpick.
8. Place aubergine rolls in the oven for 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold. If you want you can make some simple tomato sauce and serve a spoonful on the side.

Eating on Mountain Pilion


I have been neglecting this blog and neglecting cooking in general, but I haven’t neglected eating. I had my Easter Holiday on Mount. Pilion, in Makrinitsa village and the food our hosts -Kostas and Elena- prepared for us was delicious. The central Makrinitsa square They had stocked the fridge with the most amazing cheeses which we devoured along with the best wines one can find in Greece. So a big thank you to our friends. Please invite us back, next time we'll behave. I want to confess I have a problem with most people who run taverns in Greek villages. Why can’t I find mushrooms, almost anywhere? Greece is full of mushrooms and some of them are rare and delicious. But somehow, they haven’t made it into the kitchens of professionals. I don’t know the reason to that, except maybe that people don’t like to experiment, and that they are content with a good old steak. Another thing that bothers me in Greek villages is the lack of homemade, lovely, savoury pies (not in Makrinitsa though, because we had a very nice leek pie in Theofilos café). Really, people are lazy. I want to find a village where people bake bread, make pies and cook mushrooms. And that’s not because I want to validate my village life stereotypes, but because that is what I look for in cities too. Real food, that sometimes takes more time and effort. Theofilos cafe is one such place in Makrinitsa, where you can taste delicious food that fresh and cooked with skill b.doesn't cost a fortune. This is firiki preserve, a small but very taste apple is used to make it What most greek villages have though, is preserves. Usually, these are fruits that have been boiled in sugar and water, so they end up very syrupy and are stored in jars. Cherry, rose petals, orange, bergamot, fig, apple, grape and quince preserves, are the most common. But you can also find tomato preserves or aubergine preserves, and these are sweets!They go by the generic name “glyka koutaliou” that means spoon sweets, because you only have a spoonful (supposedly) with coffee or a glass of water. But you can very well use them to top your ice cream or yogurt, they are perfect partners. Potato salad and a yummy leek pie we had at Theofilos cafe Another good thing you can find is tsipouro, a strong drink -that has nothing to do with ouzo- which if good, never gives you a headache. You drink it in little shots and always with food, especially, pickled or spicy food, like this baked feta with onions and peppers. I wish I could send all of you some tsipouro (tsipouraki for friends) because it is the best thing when the sun is shining and it is even better when it is cold outside. Here you can see some of the -come on, tiny!- empty bottles on our table. And this was just round one. [...]

Ravioli with asparagus


"Olive oil? Asparagus? If your mother wasn't so fancy, we could shop at the gas station like normal people." Homer Simpson

Thats a springtime classic. I should have made the ravioli myself. But I wanted this for a picnic and since it wouldn’t be served immediately and would be eaten cold, I thought “why bother”.
I was inspired to make this recipe by Jamie Oliver’s asparagus recipes and by several I found on the internet. And of course by Homer.

For 4 servings you’ll need

  • 1 big packet of ravioli or 2 small ones. You need about 40-50 ravioli.
  • 2-3 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 tbsps mascarpone or other cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • About 12 asparagus
  • ½ cup chopped basil or mint
  • Salt- pepper
  • Grated parmesan to serve
You don’t need a knife to cut asparagus. Just bend the spear until you see where it breaks naturally. Snap off there and they are ready to be cooked.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté garlic.
Add the asparagus and sauté for 3 minutes.
Stir in the butter and add the vegetable stock. Lower heat and cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water.
When they float to the top they are ready. But because I never believe science, I try one.
Drain ravioli and add to the asparagus sauce. Add the mascarpone, but keep 4 teaspoons aside for serving. Season to taste. Serve with some more mascarpone on top, parmesan and chopped basil or mint leaves.

Portobellos stuffed with cracked wheat


Life definitely isn't too short too stuff a mushroom, especially if it's a big and juicy portobello mushroom.
So I bought some portobellos the other day but didn't want to just grill them or stuff them with cheeses. I wanted to make a meal out of them, so I decided to stuff them with some bulgur, which is wholesome and delicious. If you want a richer taste, add some tomato sauce to the boiling water.

You'll need

  • 8-10 portobellos
  • 150 gr spinach, chopped
  • 1 big bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 3-4 tbsps olive oil
  • 8-10 tbsps parmesan (1 tablespoon for each mushroom)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups bulgur (cracked wheat in this case)

Cut the portobello stalks and carve the inside using a small spoon, reserving the flesh.
Cover the portobellos with a little oil, using your hands so that the oil goes everywhere.
Put them in the oven and grill them until they are almost done.
Bring 6 cups of water to the boil, add one tbsp of olive oil and some salt. Add bulgur, stir to prevent sticking. Taste to see if it is cooked after about 10 minutes. Drain.

In a pan, heat some olive oil, sauté bell pepper, garlic, onion, spinach and portobello flesh. Add the bulgur and stir everything together. Salt and pepper to taste.
With this mixture, stuff the portobellos, sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Aubergine thin crust pizza


When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore This is a thin and crispy dough. It’s my favourite dough because it lets me eat more pizza as I don’t feel full after the first piece.Making the dough is neither difficult nor time consuming. And it’s a shame to just make a little quantity that is only enough for one pizza. Best to make enough for several pizzas and refrigerate them and play with all the different toppings. The quantity in this recipe is enough for 5-6 thin pizzas. Haloumi is a delicious cheese made in Cyprus. It is made from goat's and sheep's milk. It tastes heavenly when grilled and it is resistant to melting. But if you can’t find haloumi, that’s still okay, as you can go back to basics and use mozzarella instead. For the dough 1000 gr bread flour2 tsp salt14 gr dried yeast1 tbsp sugar2 ¼ cup warm water Combine water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Let it rest for a couple of minutes. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and add the water in the centre of the bowl , pouring slowly and steadily. Stir with a fork. In a few minutes the dough is going to become too thick and we are going to need our hands to do this.Remove to a floured surface. Now it’s time for the fun part: kneading. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and you can stretch it with your hands. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest in a warm place for half an hour. Now it’s time to start the oven because it should be really hot. Preheat it to 250 C / 500 F. Later, cut dough it into six pieces and just use one. Put the rest in the fridge after you have covered them with cling film. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a thin circle -about 0.5 cm thick. Pour a few drops of olive oil over the dough and bake for 5 minutes. Then, top with the sauce and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until it is crispy. Aubergine topping for one pizza 2 tbsps olive oilA big aubergine in strips but unpeeled1 chopped onion1 red or orange or yellow bell pepper in strips250 gr. Tomatoes grated 1 cup sliced haloumi cheese3 tablespoons grated parmesan ¾ tsp marjoram1 cup vegetable stockSalt- pepper to tasteSome chopped mint leaves Pour oil into a big skillet and heat it. Add the aubergine, pepper and onion and sauté. Add the vegetable stock and let it cook so that aubergines are really tender. When there is no water left in the skillet and the vegetables are ready, add tomato and marjoram and cook until the sauce thickens.Finally spoon the sauce over the pizza dough, add the cheeses (haloumi first) and bake (see instructions above). Serve with chopped mint leaves. My pizza soundtrack -Malavida / Mano Negra-Once upon a time in america (cockeys song)/Ennio Morricone-Sun hits the sky - Supergrass-That's all right mama - Elvis [...]

The Princess and the Pea


“Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.
Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.”
Hans Christian Andersen – The Princess and the Pea

Hilopittes and peas

Hilopittes are a kind of noodle. They are made with eggs and milk and are usually added to soups. They can be long flat ribbons like fettuccine, or tiny flat squares like the ones I used here.
They really are great in soups, especially in tomato soups. But this time I made them with peas and spearmint and they were great. It’s such a simple recipe and so quick.

You’ll need

  • 300 gr. Hilopittes or any other small pasta
  • 2-3 tbsps olive oil
  • 4 spring onions
  • 250 gr. peas
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp spearmint
  • 600 ml Vegetable stock
  • 50-60 gr pine nuts
  • Salt, pepper
  • Parmesan for serving

Cook pasta in boiling water. Drain well.
Heat 2-3 tbsps olive oil in a large pan, add chopped garlic and chopped spring onions. Stir, add peas and after a couple of minutes, pour the vegetable stock. Cook until peas are done. Add one tbsp. fresh chopped spearmint or dry if fresh isn’t available. Add pine nuts. Stir everything together and season to taste.
When the peas are ready and there isn’t much liquid left, stir in the pasta and combine everything together.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Eat while listening to: Sweet Pea, my Sweet Pea by Paul Weller

Zucchini and tomato tart


This is a recipe that combines two or three recipes I found in the New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas and in the BBC recipes section (sadly, I had done this a long time ago and it seems I have cooked up the exact link). I had bought the Vegetarian Epicure when I was a student and needed to cook for myself, and I remember reading it at night in bed, like a novel. Because Anna Thomas writes so beautifully. All the recipes I have tried from her book are excellent and really really work.

I made this for the magazine and after the shoot, we had some out in the balcony, under the sun. It is a recipe for summer lunches.

For 4-6 servings

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ -3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 oz/115 g cold butter
  • 2 ½ fl oz / 70 ml ice water

For the filling

  • 2 zucchinis in slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 400 gr potatoes, peeled, cooked and in slices
  • 350 gr tomatoes in slices
  • 100 gr gruyere cheese, grated
  • A handful of basil leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Sift together flour and salt. Slice butter and drop the slices into the flour. Work the mixture until it resembles big breadcrumbs.
Pour the cold water over the flour butter mixture and stir it in very quickly with a fork, until the dough gathers together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in foil and chill it for about two hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a circle about 2 ½ in/62 mm larger than your quiche or flan tin. Roll the circle of dough round the rolling pin and unroll it over the tart tin, centering it as well as possible.
Press the sides in against the rim of the tin, pushing the extra dough down, to make an edge slightly thicker than the bottom.
Crimp the ridge of dough neatly just above the rim of the tin. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork and chill the shell for 30 minutes.

Line the inside of the shell with aluminium foil and fill it with dried beans or nuts so that the pastry won’t puff up. Bake the shell in a preheated oven at 450 F /230 C for about 8 minutes, then remove the beans and foil and bake for another 5 minutes until the bottom of the shell begins to colour. Allow the shell to cool slightly, then fill the tart shell with the filling.

Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté zucchinis.
Layer potatoes, zucchinis and tomatoes in the pastry shell, season between layers and sprinkle with a little gruyere and basil leaves. Repeat, finishing with a layer of tomatoes.
Beat together the eggs and cream. Season, stir in the remaining gruyere and half the parmesan.
Pour this over the filling and sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden and firm. Sprinkle with the remaining basil. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Νο bake Chocolate Cheesecake


I made this for my birthday and it was seductive and enticing.Because it is easy to make, it doesn’t mean it is harmless. When people ask me “is it too fattening?” I simple answer “it doesn’t have any added sugar”. And it really doesn’t. What does it need sugar for? But I have another question: Who HASN’T woken up in the night to eat nutella from a jar? The winner gets a jar of pickled cucumbers. You’ll need 350 gr digestive biscuits 200 gr butter 200 ml double cream 200 gr cheese cream 100 gr chocolate with 70% solids, melted (see note on how to melt it) 400 gr nutella or other chocolate spread Cocoa powder Crumble the biscuits in a blender, put them in a bowl, add butter, whisk using a mixer until everything comes together. Line a tart mould with the biscuit-butter mixture and pat until it is uniformly spread. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.Put cheese, double cream, nutella, melted chocolate and 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, in a mixer bowl and whisk everything (best with an electric whisk) until smooth. Taste the mixture to see if you want it bitterer. I usually do. The more cocoa powder you add, the bitterer it becomes. Spread it out on the tart shell and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the filling looks solid. You can simply refrigerate it but it’ll take longer. But if you are going to forget it in the fridge, then do refrigerate it!Before you serve, sprinkle with some cocoa powder. Note: How to melt the chocolate Place pieces of chocolate in a bowl (not a plastic one). Place the bowl in a pan. Fill pan with water and place on low heat. Allow chocolate to melt and don’t cover. When most of the chocolate has melted, stir until smooth. You can do it in the microwave oven: Place pieces of chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at medium power (50 percent) for 1 1/2 to 4 minutes, until the chocolate turns shiny. Remove the container from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted.[...]

Mushroom tartelettes


This recipe happened only because I had a spare pastry sheet in the fridge. But it was a success so it might become a classic. Where classic means, the food I prepare when I feel insecure and doubt my abilities and want to make something secure.

It takes no time at all, although the pious are going to want to make their own pastry, which I am all for, but we’ll discuss it some other time.

For 6-8 people as a starter

  • 2 eggs
  • 160 gr crumbled feta cheese
  • 400 gr sliced button mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (if you like puffy things) or 1 sheet shortcrust pastry (if you want less air, more food)
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • Some butter for the baking dish
  • Salt and pepper
Whisk the eggs and add the feta.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sautee onions. Add mushrooms and when they are cooked but still al dente, combine in a bowl with the eggs and feta. Sprinkle with pepper. If your feta is very salty don’t add any more salt.
Butter a 12 cup muffin pan (if you have a larger one, you’ll need more pastry and more of everything else) and roll out the pastry. We don’t want the pastry to have holes, so carefully, we press it inside the cups. When we are done, we separate the pastry with a knife, so that each cup is individually lined.
Fill with the mushroom mixture and arrange the extra pastry around, so that it encloses but doesn’t cover the filling. Don’t be too religious about it (as the photo testifies, I wasn’t).
Bake in preheated oven at 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas mark 4 until the pastry looks golden and the filling has set.

Pasta Power


“Life is a combination of magic and pasta." Federico Fellini My favourite scene from my favourite movie Lost in Translation, is the one where Bob (Bill Murray) realizes that the situation with his wife is rather irreversible and tries to tell her so on the phone, while he is soaking in the jacuzzi of the Japanese hotel. So he starts by telling her that something has to change but then chickens out and ends up saying “I don't know. I just want to get healthy. I would like to start taking better care of myself. I'd like to start eating healthier - I don't want all that pasta. I would like to start eating like Japanese food.”Yes, blame it on the pasta Bob. When I am stressed or worn out, I want to eat pasta. The ideal would be to make my own pasta (although, not penne, that would be a miracle in itself) but when I am tired, the last thing I want to do is make dough. Or maybe not. It might turn out to be soothing. Baked penne with spinach and cheese 4-5 servings 1 packet penne 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 spring onions, chopped 2 garlic cloves, chopped 3 tablespoons chopped fennel 500 gr chopped spinach 230 gr gruyere cheese, grated 300 ml single cream 120 gr feta cheese, crumbled 10-15 green olives sliced Cook pasta in salted, boiling water. In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic. Add spinach and fennel and cook until the vegetables are tender. In a baking dish, combine penne and spinach. Add gruyere cheese and crumbled feta. Mix everything very well together. Bake in 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4 until all cheeses have melted and the food has a nice golden colour. Sprinkle each dish with sliced olives and serve hot.[...]

Vegetarian burgers with tzatziki


There are countless ways to make veggie burgers, and every vegetarian / vegan knows that. I just take a look in the cupboards to see what there is available and start from there. This time it was lentils and soya, next time it might be mushrooms or chickpeas. You'll need: 100 gr lentils 100 gr soya mince 2-3 tbsps oregano Approximately 1 litre vegetable stock 2-3 tbsps flour and 2-3 tbsps oil / or 2 eggs Salt Cook lentils and soya mince in vegetable stock. Drain very well and put it aside to cool down. Puree mince and lentils in blender. Mix puree with 2 eggs and stir very well. If you don’t want eggs, substitute with oil and a little flour. Stir in oregano and salt. Shape into burgers and place on paper parchment. Bake at 350 F/180 C for about 20 minutes or until done. Serve with tzatziki. My Tzatziki 1 ½ cup full fat yogurt 1 big cucumber 1 aubergine 4-5 garlic cloves 3-4 tbsps olive oil 1 tsp vinegar Salt 3-4 tbsps olive oil for the aubergine 1 cup Vegetable stock for the aubergine First, slice aubergine and fry in olive oil. We want it to be really tender, so pour some vegetable stock and let it absorb it. Once it is tender, strain very well and puree in blender. Grate the cucumber. You shouldn’t process it in a blender as that would make it watery. We want it to have some texture. Strain the cucumber very well. Chop garlic. In a bowl, combine aubergine, cucumber, yogurt, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt to taste. Stir very well. Tzatziki is served cold. It is delicious with these vegetarian burgers but you can also eat it with dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) or as a dip.[...]

I’m red but not embarrassed


Only the pure at heart can make a good soup.
Ludwig van Beethoven

People are at variance on the point of red food. Some say red food is not real food. I talked about it to my friend Steve and he said real food cannot be red. Not even tomatoes, “the devil’s food”.
But this red soup is made of beetroot, not tomatoes. Just two beetroots and other vegetables too, which being of a more inoffensive colour, disappear in the soup.
However, it is a very tasty soup, not to mention invigorative too. Beets are a very good source of potassium that regulates blood pressure, and vitamin C an antioxidant that works against free roots, against cholesterol, heart disease and other evil things.
If you stll think red food is not food, thin it with some cream or soy milk or yogurt. That
way itll turn pink. Pink is good.

Try eating it while listening to Beth Orton’sComfort of Strangers”.

You'll need:

  • 2 beetroots scrubbed
  • 2 potatoes scrubbed
  • 3 carrots scrubbed
  • 6 walnuts, finely processed
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt – pepper

Boil vegetables until tender. Peel them and cut in halves. Puree in blender. You might have to do that in batches unless you have a really big blender.

Heat olive oil, add nutmeg, vegetable puree (it’s red!) and a glass of vegetable stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes so that everything is combined. Adding more stock depends on how thick or thin you want your soup. Alternatively, you can thin it with some yogurt or milk or soy milk. Sprinkle with some walnuts.

Penny’s pie


Penny is my sister and this is her cheese pie. She makes her own pastry. Truly, it takes less time that waiting for the ready made to defrost. The fact that my sister is on diet all the time, won’t stop her from making cheese sauce and adding it to the pie which she later gives to unsuspecting relatives. But because the pie is so delicious, I allow myself one piece for breakfast, from time to time. Then I watch buttons break loose. We’ll need For the pastry 5 cups all purpose flour ½ cup water ½ cup olive oil A bit of salt For the filling 300 gr. Feta cheese, crumbled 200 gr. Gruyere cheese, grated 2 eggs Pepper Dill 2 cups cheese sauce For the cheese sauce 2 tbsps quality butter 2 heaped tbsps flour ½ lt milk 2 eggs 200 gr. grated gruyere cheese To coat the pie Some milk a beaten egg Mix all pastry ingredients and knead well. Make two balls. Leave it for half in hour to rest, in a bowl covered with a clean piece of cloth. Meanwhile prepare cheese sauce (see below). Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl (don’t forget the cheese sauce!). Roll the pastry in two sheets. Roll one pastry sheet in a well oiled baking tin. Pour the filling on pastry. Cover with the other pastry sheet. In a small bowl beat some milk and an egg together. Coat the pie with this and bake in a preheated oven until golden at 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4. This usually takes 50-60 minutes. Cheese sauceMelt butter in a pan. Add flour, stirring all the time with wooden spoon. Pour the milk (must be lukewarm) and cheese and keep stirring constantly over low heat, until thickened and smooth. The sauce is ready. Before you add it to the pie, sprinkle with grated cheese to make it crunchier.[...]

Garlicky aubergine salad



Αubergine salad is very common in Greece and there are numerous versions of it. This doesn’t mean there is no room for one more version: mine.
Blame it for losing your friends if you want, but you can’t blame it for being tasteless. I
think its a great sandwich spread too, especially combined with mozzarella. Just stay at home, alone and contemplate for a couple of hours after you have had it.
Please, before you serve it ask people if they are allergic to walnuts. Many people are, and it just never crosses our minds to ask. But we could kill them with the walnuts before we had a chance to kill them with our garlic breath.

You’ll need

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • One yellow capsicum pepper (red or orange is fine too)
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10-15 walnuts

Cut the aubergines in squares. Heat olive oil and sauté 2 garlic cloves, then add aubergines and cook until they are tender. If you see that you are running out of liquid in the pan, add some water.

Purée the aubergines in a blender. Add one more garlic clove, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar in the blender bowl. Also, add the capsicum, the walnuts, salt and pepper. Puree again and add more salt, pepper or balsamic vinegar if you want.

Serve cold with some finely chopped walnuts on top.

Lazy mille feuilles with pesto sauce


I don't think necessity is the mother of invention - invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble. (Agatha Christie) I thought I could make this recipe when I have people over and am too bored to cook properly for some reason (what reason?). It looks impressive although it’s very easy to make and it is very tasty, with all the vegetables of the good lord in it. And with some white wine it goes down very well indeed. 4 servings For the Mille Feuilles 700 gr puff pastry300 gr.mushrooms (different kinds are okay) sliced or chopped 2 red or orange bell peppers sliced2 zucchinis sliced300 gr . pecorino peeled or grated 1/2 cup olive oil 2 garlic cloves, chopped 100 ml white winesalt - pepper Cut the each pastry sheet in 6 oblong pieces (round are okay too). Pierce them with a fork (we don’t want them to get too puffy), place them on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes or until golden, at 220°C. In the meantime, heat half the oil and sauté the garlic and mushrooms until tender but not too tender. Add the wine, cover and let it simmer for 3 minutes. In a frying pan pour the rest of the oil, the peppers and the zucchini and fry until tender. Mix mushrooms, peppers and zucchini and taste for seasoning. Now the pastry is ready. On a piece of pastry layer the vegetables and sprinkle with the cheese. Top with another pastry square and again, add a layer of vegetables and cheese. Top with a third pastry square and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat with the remaining pastry squares. Bake the Mille Feuilles for about 5 minutes or until the cheeses have melted and serve hot with a spoonful of pesto sauce on the side. For the pesto sauce: 3 tablespoons of pine nuts (slightly roasted)1 ½ garlic clove, chopped 2 ½ cups fresh basil, chopped120 gr. grated parmesan 120 gr. grated pecorino 1 cup good olive oil Salt and pepper Put the garlic and basil into a pestle and mortar and pound. We add the pine nuts and pound again. Turn out the mixture in a bowl and add parmesan and pecorino and stir. If you want you can omit the pecorino and replace with parmesan. I do this for this recipe only, so that it isn’t too salty. Add oil, little by little, and go on stirring, until it becomes a wet paste. All the time taste for seasoning. We can do it in a blender but with the pestle, I think the flavours really come out. [...]

Magiritsa with oyster mushrooms


Magiritsa is a traditional Greek Easter soup. In fact it is the very soup that Greeks break their 40 day fast with, after they have returned from the midnight mass on Easter Saturday. This soup is traditionally made with lambs' innards and avgolemono, an egg and lemon sauce. Some people also add rice but I don’t think it’s necessary. I know that Easter is in April but I have already made my magiritsa for the magazine which is always a month ahead at least. So I am used to cooking Christmas food in late October and Easter food in early March. Still, my version of the soup is fine for Lent too since it has neither innards nor eggs. It is made with oyster mushrooms -so it retains some of the texture of the traditional thing- and all the usual vegetables and herbs like dill and spring onions. It is very very tasty, a fact admitted by sworn carnivores too. For four servings 350 gr chopped oyster mushrooms (you can use scissors to cut them more easily)4 artichokes, cut and peeled 2 onions, chopped 2 spring onions, chopped ½ cup of chopped dill 1 ½ lt vegetable stockolive oil2 tablespoons corn flour juice of one lemon Sautee the onions (not the spring onions) and oyster mushrooms.Chop the artichokes and put in a large pan along with vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and boil for about 30 minutes. In a bowl add ¼ cup water, corn flour, lemon juice, spring onions and dill. Stir well and add the mixture to the pan with the vegetables. Cook for another 5 minutes in moderate heat. Season to taste and add more lemon juice if you want to.[...]

Stuffed artichokes


"After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual food out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps." Miss Piggy

Artichokes are rich in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and have antioxidant properties. All these wouldn’t be of interest though, if they weren’t yummy.
If we don’t give a fig about calories, we can replace cottage cheese with feta.

For 2-3 servings (we need 3-4 rather large artichokes for each person)

  • 8-10 artichokes
  • 300 gr. Cottage cheese
  • 1 big potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 10 sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup chopped basil (dry is okay too)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter

Cut the artichoke stalks so that the artichoke can stand on its back, cut the top leaves, pull the outside leaves off until you find the tender ones. With a spoon remove the inside of the artichoke. Put them in a bowl with water and lemon juice for about 15-20 minutes. This prevents them from going brown.
Leave them to dry and then put them in a pan with boiling water with some lemon juice in it and a tbs of butter and some salt.
We want them to be tender but not too tender. They must be strong enough to hold the stuffing. When they are done we let them dry.
Melt the cheese in a bowl and stir in the mashed potato. If this is too thick, add one or two tbsps of milk.
Heat the oil and add onion and garlic. Sautee for a while and then pour this into the bowl with the cheeses. Blend everything together.
Grease an ovenproof dish with some butter and arrange the artichokes neatly in. Sprinkle them with some oil. Stuff them with the cheese-onions mixture and sprinkle with the parmesan and then breadcrumbs.
If there is any cheese left, pour it among the artichokes.
Bake in moderate oven for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and they look golden.
Serve with a sun dried tomato on each artichoke and chopped basil.

“Whatever I found in the fridge” salad



In essence, this salad is made with whatever vegetables you may find in the fridge. The only thing to follow is to prepare a green base of -let’s say- spinach or rocket and add other vegetables that may be in season. I could add beets or even baked aubergine. What we cannot add is cabbage, cucumber and other vegetables with lots of water because they are just going to weaken the taste.

You may sprinkle sesame seeds if you like because it becomes crunchier.
You will notice this salad tastes better if you eat it while listening to The Time is Now, by Moloko.

For 2-3 servings

  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup rocket, chopped
  • 2 cups red bell peppers, or orange or yellow or green
  • 3-4 sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • 2 spring onions chopped
  • 2 tbsps dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsps parsley, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • some sesame seeds (one handful)

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ garlic clove, pounded
  • Salt, pepper

Mix all the vegetables together in a big salad bowl. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in another bowl. Just before serving, pour the dressing on the salad.