Yes, really, it is. Tomato is one of the most important components of the Mediterranean diet, mainly because it is part of the sauce that accompanies most vegetables (and meats) in the Greek cuisine. The famous lathera which is basically vegetables cooked with a tomato forming a sauce or the kokkinista which is the same thing although it usually refers to meats cooked with tomato sauce. The sauce is made with tomato, olive oil, onion and sometimes garlic, oregano or spices.
A similar sauce is the the sofrito and the Spanish version in particular, resembles the Greek one. It also contains tomato, olive oil, garlic and onions but also peppers and is prepared the same way: lightly sautéing the ingredients in a pan and then slowly simmering with tomato. Read more »
The reality is that many people do not know what a good olive oil is supposed to taste like. And since I have many recipes that include olive oil, I thought I would give some tips on what to look for in a good olive oil. We always hear that good food comes from fresh ingredients. Olive oil in the Mediterranean diet is an ingredient that is in almost every recipe-especially in Greek cuisine-let’s not forget Greeks are the highest consumers of olive oil in the world, and for a reason; olive oil is added everywhere. That is why it is especially important to have good olive oil if you are trying to incorporate elements of this diet to your current eating pattern. But apart from flavor, good olive oil is important for its health benefits: old olive oil lacks those valuable antioxidants that are responsible for most of its health benefits.
You may think that you would know just by tasting if an olive oil is bad, but that is not the case, particularly when olive oil has not been part of your diet initially. A study from the University of California, Davis had found that 44% of consumers in the U.S. liked defects like rancidity, fustiness, mustiness and winey flavor in their olive oil. Read more »
I’m surprised more people do not pop their own popcorn. Considering that studies have shown that microwave popcorn contains several substances such as perfluorochemicals (PFC’s), which are a group of chemicals that are applied to the bags because of their non-stick properties. These chemicals, which are carcinogenic, once ingested stay in our bodies for a long time and are associated with lowered immune response in children and endocrine problems. The popcorn itself is also often coated with another substance diacetyl, which appears to cause lung damage in popcorn factory workers. Read more »
Ok I have to confess, when I was little, okra (bamies in Greek) was one of my favorite dishes. Yes, you may consider this weird, but after tasting them you will understand why. Okra combines savory and sweet along with the tomato and olive oil perfectly. It was filling and satisfying and surprisingly comforting.
While this is usually made as a stew, known as bamies latheres, (you can see the recipe here), I like the roasted version more. I’ll make it during the summer when okra is available fresh, and make the stewed kind when I only have frozen okra available.
So okra in Greece is small, it is harvested when it is small, the smaller, the better. It is also important that when it is cooked, okra does not open and there is no liquid coming out, so there is no slicing like you would see with gumbo recipes where those juices are needed for the texture. The roasted version works great because it helps keep the okra intact. Read more »
Yes this is also known as eggplant parmigiana or eggplant parmesan, and you would think it is made with parmesan cheese. Well it isn’t. This dish is actually a southern Italian dish that I enjoyed (a lot) while being in Sicily, and it is not from Parma nor is it made traditionally with Parmesan cheese. Most likely the name comes from the word parmiciana which meant in sicilian dialect a set of strips of wood that form a shutter, the same way the eggplant slices are placed one on top of the other.
Now, when you come across eggplant parmesan in the U.S. and other places, it usually contains tons of cheese, breadcrumbs, flour and eggs and you end up hardly tasting the eggplant. And that is a shame because eggplants are delicious and with so many health benefits. Although there are many variations, the basic form consists of eggplant, tomato sauce, olive oil, cheese and basil and that is what I have used as well. Read more »
This is a dish that really exemplifies the wisdom of Greek-Mediterranean cuisine. Beans were one of the main ingredients in the traditional Mediterranean diet, particularly for Greeks who due to the long periods of religious fasting (over 200 days a year) that prohibited most animal products, beans were the main source of protein. As a result, Greek cuisine has several bean dishes as main courses. One of them is known as Gigantes Plaki. Gigantes are a type of large white bean, the word gigantas in Greek means giant. Gigantes from several areas of Greece have a Protected Geographical Indication status due to the unique environment that these beans are grown in. If you can find these beans it is worth a try otherwise butter beans wil work. Read more »
When you think of Greek food, you usually think of chunky Greek salads, messy but delicious souvlaki, and pungent garlic sauces such as tzatziki and skordalia ready to be smothered on fresh bread. Yes, Greek food is known for its simplicity and heartiness, but also for its health benefits. Greece (along with southern Italy) is, after all the birthplace of the now famous Mediterranean diet. But can Greek food be fancy, and still retain its essence? Can it remain simple, fresh and healthy? Well, some Greek chefs have proved that it can. Read more »
On the 24th through the 26th of May, the event Gastronomy Days will take place at the Benaki Museum in Athens. “Gastronomy Days- Designation of Origin: Greek” is a one of a kind, effort to highlight Greek gastronomy and to promote authentic and unique Greek food products.
During the 3 day event, visitors will be able to taste and sample products from Greek food producers at the exhibition. But apart from that, there will be numerous events such as live cooking, degustation, Greek cocktails & food styling from top food professionals in Greece. In addition, there will be several presentations covering a variety of themes such as Architecture & Gastronomy, Gastronomic Diplomacy – New Greek Cuisine, Food Origami, The Culture of Flavor, Mediterranean Diet, Food Blogging in Greece.
I am happy to say that I will be presenting at the food blogging session that will take place on Sunday, May 26th from 5 pm to 7 pm.
If you live Greece or are in Athens during this time, this is a great event that really showcases what is going on in the Greek food culture at this moment.
So I am excited to say that I have a few passes to give away! I am giving out 5, 3-day passes for two persons for this event (a 40 euro value). Each pass is valid for 2 people. Read more »
I love cheesecake especially the no-bake type. But sometimes all that butter from the crust and the fat from the condensed milk can be too much, so here is a lighter, “greeker” version that is also super easy to make. Since this is more of a mousse, it is also much easier to assemble, plus the single servings help you keep count of how much you eat.
This is a Greek style cheesecake because the main ingredients are Greek. I used the Greek cheese anthotyro which is a soft fresh cheese similar to ricotta (which you can also use) which is made from sheep milk. I also used lowfat Greek yogurt and the famous pistachio nuts from the island of Aegina. Since the cheese and yogurt are lowfat and not much sugar is used, it has fewer calories, with the fat being much lower than your average cheesecake. But don’t be fooled, this dessert may have less calories, but it tastes just like regular cheesecake. Read more »
This past weekend Athinorama a cultural and entertainment magazine, organized a food festival showcasing mainly small producers with some of Greece’s best food products. Attendees could also attend cooking and tasting workshops and seminars. The festival took place at Technopolis, the former location of Athens Gasworks, a gas factory established in the mid 1800′s and finally closed down in 1984. It was restored and renovated and now is large cultural center housing a variety of events including concerts, exhibitions, theater, educational programs for kids and now food.
I managed to get there on Sunday, it was a beautiful sunny day and as expected it was quite crowded (apologies for some the photos, it was so crowded at times, that I couldn’t take a decent photo). The stalls were set up in the separate buildings on the site. There were a variety of vendors, while I knew most of the products it was nice to meet people in person and try some of their new products. The exhibition was different in the sense that most of the companies were small and produced high-quality products from traditional Greek ingredients (with the exception of a company that made sugar-free chocolate, not a good fit at all). Read more »