Appetizers

Cantaloupe – Feta Bites

melonfeta

It is really hot in Athens these days, it reminds me of the vacations we would take every summer in Greece. My first memories of Athens is when we stepped out of that plane, you could feel the heat hitting your skin. We were so happy to be there that we didn’t mind the heat or the smog, we were in Greece! And in those days there really wasn’t air conditioning either, so you experienced a real summer not a sheltered one. In the evenings we would sleep with the balcony doors open and some people would even sleep out on their balconies, yes even in Athens. And with this heat fruit is the only thing you want to eat … and yes maybe a little cheese. Which is what we are eating today. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

The Cretan Dakos: This is What The Mediterranean Diet is All About

Kritikos dakos

I don’t know where to start with the dakos. It is delicious, it is healthy, it is the ultimate representation of the Mediterranean diet, straight from Crete.

First of all it’s been described as a Greek bruschetta, but it isn’t, it is a bit different. Here’s what it is: Dakos specifically refers to a recipe that uses the famous Cretan barley rusks. These rusks are made with whole grain barley flour, water and salt. They are super hard and super healthy. Also dakos includes olive oil, tomato, and crumbled cheese, traditionally this cheese is Cretan mitzithra but you often see it (outside of Crete) made with feta. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Greek Baked Feta Cheese in Phyllo and Honey

feta with honey

So as you may have noticed cheese is really important in our home, but also in the Greek diet. Since traditionally Greeks did not eat much meat, cheese played the role of protein to go along with all those vegetable dishes. In fact, according to the USDA and other sources, Greece has the highest consumption of cheese per person in the world (yes more than the French), at 71 pounds a year which corresponds to 3 ounces a day (which isn’t that much really). That’s because it is actually an important component to the meal, especially feta which makes up most of the cheese consumed in Greece. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Greek Zucchini and Feta Pie – Kolokithopita

kolokithopita zucchini pie Greek

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 »

FacebookLinkedIn

Quick and Easy Sweet Tomato Jam with Black Pepper

Tomato Jam

Since I am in a summer tomato mode, I thought I would share a second tomato recipe this week: and that is tomato jam. At an expo a few years ago there was a presentation of the Greek breakfast and a version of it from several parts of Greece. Everything was delicious and one of the dishes was Greek yogurt with tomato preserves. It tasted wonderful.

Tomato preserves require more time and uses the smaller cherry tomatoes, but I had some larger tomatoes and opted for an easy tomato jam recipe. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Greek Tomato Patties from Santorini-Tomatokeftedes

Tomato Patties from Greece SantoriniThese are probably my favorite vegetable based patties (tomatokeftethes). I don’t exactly know why, but I think it has to do with the fact that they have tomatoes and are an island summer dish. I especially like them because they are so simple: tomatoes mixed with  a few herbs and that’s it!

These are a so tasty, they are a meze on their own. Although I’ll gladly eat these for lunch, accompanied by a dollop of nice creamy strained yogurt (also known as “Greek” yogurt outside of Greece). They are also perfect for vegans since they are nistisima, meaning that they contain no animal products (the yogurt is optional). And this is the beauty of Greek food: out of almost nothing (tomatoes and a few herbs) they make these wonderful delectable dishes that satisfy your taste buds, hunger and nutritional needs. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Greek Style Bruschettas with Sardines, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Greek sardines appetizer

I love mini things when it comes to food. Honestly I would rather just eat appetizers rather than a whole meal. When I have time, some evenings we just eat a bunch of little bites along with some wine for our dinner. It’s like having cocktail hour. It doesn’t have to be fancy or fattening, it can be as simple as some cheese and tomato on a toothpick, some olives, cucumber, carrots etc. etc. In other words a pikilia as we say here in Greece. Pikilia is a bunch of little bites on one plate, it means “variety”. It can also be called a meze, which means a small amount of food to accompany a drink, check here if you want to make your own.

A few posts ago, I discussed how canned fish can be equally healthy and there were a lot of requests for more recipes using canned fish. So here is another one that looks pretty fancy and impressive. This is a quite a transformation for the humble and snubbed canned sardine. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Yiayias Greek Fried Pitas Filled with Feta Cheese – Tiropitaria

tiropitari

One year I remember we stayed for a whole month at my father’s village in Ahladokambos with my grandma (yiayia) and grandpa (pappou), we were in the process of moving and my parents were looking for a place so they thought our time would be better spent at the horio (village) rather than crowded Athens.

I remember that time fondly now, but back then those were long days. At that time the village was not very accessible, and my grandparents did not drive so we had to be creative with how we spent our time. We walked all over the village every day acting like explorers. The villagers who would meet us would ask us: “tinous eise esy?” which translates whose are you? Meaning who are your parents. So we would explain, and then they would get all excited: “Oh from America?” and they would tell us all their memories of my dad when he was young. We went shopping at the little grocery store, which was fun to get there, but than you had climb up the steep hill to get to our house which was at the upper village. Other activities included reenactments of Jesus Christ Superstar with my then teen sister, visiting the yard next door which included lamb, goats, chickens and a donkey, helping my grandma make hilopites (Greek pasta) and of course eating. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Fig and Greek Cheese Mini Phyllo Pies

Fig and cheese pies

The combination of cheese and fruit is a classic one and common in Greece as well. The most popular combinations being feta cheese with watermelon or cantaloupe but also another lesser known combo: Graviera Cheese and figs.

Graviera is a Greek yellow semi-hard cheese. Cretan graviera is very popular and made from sheep’s milk, the Naxos (island) graviera also well-known is made mostly from cow’s milk and is a little sweeter.

This is a very popular cheese and is the next favorite of Greeks after feta. My mom always cuts some generous pieces and puts them on a small plate for every meal. We end up eating all the pieces even before we sit down, it is so addictive… Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn

Greek Style Roasted Olives

Roasted olives

I came across this idea in a magazine ad featuring the restaurant owner Donatella Arpaia, who mentioned spicy roasted olives as an appetizer idea.  I had never had roasted olives other than in a cooked dish, so this seemed very interesting yet simple.

You can use a mixture of olives, but I have a bunch kalamata olives that my sister had handpicked and prepared herself, so I used some of those. I made mine more “greek style” using Greek herbs such as oregano, garlic, parsley and lemon rather than making them spicy.

This recipe is really easy and these are best enjoyed right out of the oven. They give a burst of taste, because the roasting brings out the flavor. Serve them with an aperitif for something light to bite on when having a drink. Read more »

FacebookLinkedIn