Pites are what Greeks call their pies that are made with vegetables or cheese surrounded by layers of phyllo. Phyllo can mean the thin sheets of phyllo you find in the frozen section of the super market, or homemade phyllo (dough) which most women in Greece would roll out when they made a pita. It is just one layer of dough, kind of like a pie crust but thinner and more tender. It is sturdier than the thin is phyllo sheets and is better for pites that may be a bit more liquidy. It usually requires flour, olive oil, salt and kneading. Being short of time, I generally do not roll out my own dough and instead use the phyllo from the super market. The good thing about the phyllo that I find in Greece is that it contains no fat and just flour and salt. That is what you should be looking for as well. Read more »
Comfort food almost everywhere usually involves some sort of pasta. Orzo known as kritharaki or manestra in Greek is usually cooked and consumed together with some sort of meat or protein making the classic dish yiouvetsi (go here for a simple version), and often served for Sunday lunch.
For this recipe I did not cook some big piece of meat, and I did not even need to use the oven. Having been under the weather for a few days I was looking for a meal that was easy to make, hearty and comforting. Read more »
The scent of a fig tree always reminds me of summers in Greece. At my father’s village, there was a big fig tree in the back garden, we enjoyed its shade all those hot summer afternoons and we waited patiently for those figs to mature so we could eat them. My father remembers fondly that very same fig tree, which was the largest in the village by the way, and his father (my grandfather who lived over 100 years) who would go out to the garden and pick the figs first thing in the morning so that they could eat them for breakfast.
Figs are known as an important food for the ancient Greeks. They were part of their “food ideology” because they were produced in Greece and therefore represented loyalty but also frugality and the simple life. Read more »
I’ve posted recipes for other tapenades in the past and every time I do I learn something new. At first I noted that tapenades are a Provincial French ingredient, then upon further research I find out that olive tapenade may have its origins in ancient Greece. And now upon further research I find another Greek connection: the word tapenade comes from the word tapeno, which is what a caper bud was called in Provençal. The capers would be crushed giving tapenade. So the original tapenade was made mainly of capers. Now capers appear to have been brought to Provence by the Greeks who founded Marseille in 600 B.C., so there is your Greek connection. Also the word caper comes from the Latin name capparis, which actually comes from Greek word kapparis (caper in Greek). Read more »
Yes, these little rounds are made with yellow split peas also known as fava in Greek (do not confuse these with the broad bean that is called fava bean). Greeks call these yellow split peas fava but they also call fava, a puree that is made with these beans along with olive oil, onion and some lemon. You can check the authentic recipe here. It is served often as an appetizer and it tastes great plain or with a bit of bread. Of course it is extremely healthy since you are having a meal of legumes rich in fiber, antioxidants and protein accompanied by the good fats from the olive oil. Read more »
Lately I’ve been coming across all these articles about desserts made with olive oil or using olive oil in baking as if it is this new trend. Well in a way it is a trend, outside the Mediterranean that is. Many bakers are just discovering the beauty and merits of baking with olive oil. But here in Greece it is a common ingredient for baking.
This is probably due to two factors: First, olive oil was abundant and much cheaper then butter, which was considered a luxury item. Secondly, Greeks had all those fasting days where they were not allowed to consume animal products, so they had plenty of dessert recipes made with olive oil. And many recipes that require butter also have an olive oil version. Read more »
In the past few years we have been seeing many new Greek beers on the market. For years Fix beer was known as “The” Greek beer, years later Alpha as well as Mythos became common choices. Today there are a number of new Greek breweries that offer unique formulations based on Greek ingredients.
Obviously this blog is not about Greek wine or beer, but I found it interesting how several beers are using Greek food ingredients as the selling point. I identified a few of these beers that I thought were quite interesting:
- Septem is a microbrewery based in Evia in Greece. Their beer Sunday’s uses Greek floral honey, with the ingredients stating that it makes 9% of the ingredients (site is under construction).
- Volkan is a beer from the Greek island of Santorini. It uses Santorini honey and citrus medica, which according to the company is a rare fruit bought to Greece from Persia. It is also filtered through a lava rock filter made from Santorini basalt (basalt is a volcanic rock).
- BIOS 5 is a beer produced by Athenian Brewery, the same company that makes Alpha beer. The label states that this beer is made from 5 grains produced in Greece (barley, wheat, rye, corn and rice). Read more »
Beets along with their greens are traditionally served here in Greece with skordalia, the delicious Greek garlic sauce. So wherever skordalia goes, beets go too. The beets were cut off from the greens and both were boiled in a large pot. Once they were cooked, they were served with skordalia, feta cheese and bread. This consisted of a whole meal. Yes, the beauty of the Greek diet, vegetable main courses. Many people think that beets are “fattening” because they are what we call a starchy vegetable.
Yes they are mainly carbohydrates, however they are a good source of fiber and they have very few calories: 3 ounces (100 grams) are about 40 calories. More importantly, beets contain several substances that can benefit our health. One of the them known as betaine is a nutrient that may protect from heart disease and stroke, research shows that it can lower homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine is related to a higher risk of heart disease. Beets also contain betalain, a substance with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Now since you are cooking beets, it is good to know that a Cornell study found that processed beets lose very little of their antioxidant activity, and phenolic activity (another beneficial substance) was actually increased. Read more »