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 »
I really like fruit tarts even though they are not common in Greek cuisine. In the traditional Greek diet, fruit is usually consumed fresh, dried or sweetened (served in small amounts) and sometimes in a cake. But once in a while I want something with a crust. The problem is that with the typical fruit pie or tart, there is so much butter and sugar and even cream that any benefits of the fruit are cancelled out. So, for this recipe, I wanted to combine the goodness of fruit with tastiness of a crust but in a form that is fairly healthy. Read more »
I have been coming across this Cretan recipe lately: whole zucchini stuffed with garlic roasted in the oven with tomato and olive oil. While I roast zucchini in the oven, it is usually with something else such as in stuffed tomatoes or in briami (the Greek version of ratatouille). But I found this recipe interesting because the zucchini itself is the main ingredient.
I was attracted to this recipe not only because it uses zucchini, which is in season right now, but also because of its simplicity. It takes a few minutes to prep and then you just put it in the oven.
Zucchini is generally a popular ingredient in Greece: you find it in many casseroles, they use it to make zucchini patties (try these for a baked version), they slice them and fry them for an appetizer (try the a non-fried version here), they stuff zucchini flowers with rice or cheese and lightly fry them and of course they make zucchini pies (kolokithopita). 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 »
A recent article in the English edition of the popular Greek newspaper Kathimerini noted that “burger joints are losing the crisis-spawned battle in the fast-food world to their Greek counterpart, the souvlaki shop”. It goes on to describe recent closures of two franchise restaurants of McDonalds in Greece and providing numbers of the dropping market value of fast food chains (which by the way also may include souvlaki chains), then it adds that “consumption of traditional Greek snack foods such as koulouri bread rings, cheese pies and souvlaki remains strong” without providing any numbers or data.
Contrary to what is implied by this article, Greeks are not eating souvlakia and ignoring “American” type food. Read more »
More important research on the Mediterranean diet. In this study researchers from Tufts University and universities from around Spain observed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet and were carriers of a specific gene that has been strongly associated with the development of diabetes and maybe cardiovascular risk had a reduced risk of stroke compared to those who did not follow the diet. Read more »
It is not new that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. But what if you are already old? According to data from the HALE Project (The Healthy Aging: a Longitudinal study in Europe) for individuals aged 70 to 90 years, adherence to a Mediterranean diet and healthful lifestyle is associated with a more than 50% lower rate of all-causes and cause-specific mortality. The study included 1507 apparently healthy men and 832 women, aged 70 to 90 years in 11 European countries and the data gathered was from 1988-2000. 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 »