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 »
Beans, not the green kind but the ones also known as pulses or legumes are such an important part of the Greek diet. Whether they are used in soups. patties, roasted or stewed, the flavor is something that is highlighted along with the other ingredients. Greeks don’t hide their beans in pasta sauce nor do they mix them in salads. Beans take center stage in the Greek cuisine. Read more »
Zucchini is a vegetable I associate with the summer, so we have a constant supply the whole season. We’ll typically use them in briami, or add them to lathera, or bake or fry them. As I mentioned Greeks love using zucchini in many ways. Here is a simple (and not so common)recipe that works very well as an appetizer or even as a side dish: cheese filled zucchini. Read more »
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 »
Tabbouleh is such a great salad. It combines all the classic ingredients of the Mediterranean: tomatoes, cucumbers. herbs (parsley, mint), olive oil and lemon. While it is not a Greek dish, it definitely combines ingredients common in the Greek cuisine and I love it!
So there are many different versions, I tend to like the one with more parsley and less bulgur, although in the photo it seems like I added less parsley (I ran out). Also the original recipe uses bulgur (in Greek we call it pligouri) a cereal made from the kernels of wheat, which maintains much of its bran and therefore is a good source of fiber. When I decided to make this over the weekend to photograph it, I did not have bulgur on hand and just used couscous instead hence the photo, although I much more prefer it with bulgur- healthier and tastier. Read more »
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 »
I would like to continue where I left off from my previous post about beans; it is significant that a simple eating habit such as eating a cup of beans can help us lower our cholesterol levels, but also maintain our blood sugar levels as well as help us lose weight since beans are filling due to the fiber and protein. And let’s not forget the antioxidants.
Here in Greece we are in the holy week, the last week before Easter. While traditionally the religious fast starts about 40 days before Easter, most Greeks nowadays will not be fasting for all those days, however the majority of Greeks still fast (avoid animal products with the exception of some seafood) the week before Easter, so it seemed fitting to share this easy bean recipe. Read more »
I have to say these little pies or pites are delicious. They are one of the most popular dishes in Crete. Sfakia is a remote and mountainous area in Crete where this dish originates from. Basically they are pieces of dough that have cheese in them, but the cheese is not a filling, but rather integrated in the dough through kneading.
The cheese used is a fresh cheese, some recipes suggest anthotiro others fresh mitzithra (which is what I used here) and others a local Cretan cheese known as pihtogalo. A substitute would be ricotta cheese, if you are not able to find the above cheeses. In Peloponissos we have a different type “pita” that has feta cheese instead of a soft sweet cheese. Read more »
Pasta is such an easy meal to make with little effort. Many times dinner for us is a bowl of plain pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, grated cheese and a salad on the side. When I was growing up in the states I never experienced the famous American comfort food macaroni and cheese. My mom never made it, instead we usually had pasta with tomato sauce or with meat.
Of course, I was jealous of the other kids who got to eat this Kraft macaroni and cheese thing so recently, I decided to try it out for myself and see what all the fuss is about. I bought the ready made packaged stuff, as I had read that many people loved that type. I have to admit, it did not do much for me. Read more »
For someone who prefers mostly vegetable based dishes, there is one red meat dish that I will always say yes to: Keftethakia. Bite-size (or a little bit larger) meatballs made from ground beef or usually ground pork or sheep or a mixture, along with all those tasty Greek herbs (especially fresh mint as both my grandmothers used) and then fried in olive oil, today it is mostly beef.
The meat was ground at home if you were lucky enough to have a meat grinder. There was plenty of stale bread added, along with a few eggs which stretched the meat to feed a lot more people. Read more »