Eggs with Tomato Sauce

Eggs with Tomato sauce is practically a staple in Crete. And for a good reason too… it’s delicious! Greeks would have this dish for lunch though, rather than breakfast. But you can make it and enjoy any time of the day. Sometimes I have this for dinner 🙂 The key here is to have really really good quality tomatoes, fresh or canned will do. Just pick your favorite.

There are many things about this dish that make it one of my favorites. The tomato sauce tastes so good and fresh. The unexpected perfect combo of eggs and the tomato sourness. Maybe it’s all of this together. It really is a beautiful thing to eat. It’s also one of the simplest dishes to put together.

How to make it

If you are using fresh tomatoes, I’d suggest you grate them. Then pour some olive oil in a pan and bring to medium heat. Add in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 mins. I like my tomato sauce tasting fresh and not overcooked.

The next step is to add the eggs on top and reduce the heat to low-medium. Cook another 5 mins until the eggs reach your desired state. Immediately serve on a plate and devour!

 

 

Eggs with tomato sauce

Eggs with tomato sauce is a staple in Cretan diet. Greeks mostly eat this as lunch and not breakfast. But feel free to have it anytime of the day, its delicious! The unexpected combo of eggs and the tomato sourness gives a perfect result. 

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  1. If you are using fresh tomatoes, grate them. Then pour some olive oil in a pan and bring to medium heat. Add in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 mins.

  2. Next add the eggs on top and reduce the heat to low-medium. Cook another 5 mins until the eggs reach your desired state. Immediately serve on a plate and devour!

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Butternut squash Soup

To be perfectly frank I did not grow up eating butternut squash or even pumpkins for that matter. They hadn’t yet made their appearance in Greece during my teenage years. The closest thing we used to make was a sweet pie with pumpkin, more like a dessert.  But food and cooking, at least for me, is all about learning, experimenting and evolution. I have grown to love butternut squash soup among other recipes that fall into the squash/pumpkin family.

 

Butternut squash tastes great not only as a soup, but also spiced up and roasted with olive oil. It makes a wonderful filling in pies and ravioli. Yum! So since it’s that time of the year again, I decided to make butternut squash soup. With a secret ingredient added by Rob!

Making the soup

I like to pair butternut squash with something peppery and earthy to balance out the sweetness. This time I chose peppers! To get things started, cut the squash in two crosswise so you can peel it easier. So go ahead and peel it. Thereafter, cut it up in big chunks. Put aside.

The next thing to do is to chop up the peppers in big chunks and slice those onions. Lastly, you crush the garlic. I love my garlic press for this job. Easy!

Put a big pot or dutch oven over medium fire and drizzle in some olive oil. Saute garlic, onions for 2 mins. Remove and put aside. Now saute the peppers for like 5 mins. You want them to brown up a little to add a bit of smokiness to your soup. If you don’t have the time to spare just saute all above mentioned ingredients together.

 

Put everything aside and again drizzle the dutch oven with some olive oil. Add the squash and saute for about 10 mins until is slightly browned. Add a cup of the chicken broth and two cups of water and cook for about 20-25 mins. The cooking is done when  the consistency of the squash is soft and can easily be mashed. Combine all the ingredients and mash them together adding some of the water to ease the process. The last thing to do is put all the mashed pulp back in the pot. At this point you add 2 more cups of chicken and more water in order to reach the consistency you prefer. I like my soup to be a bit thick, so I used in total 3 cups of stock and 4 cups of water.

Give everything a stir and season with salt and pepper. Rob stepped in and added his secret ingredient… cinnamon!! Which really made a difference I have to say:)

So just bring to boil and simmer for a few mins. You are done my friends! Ready to curl up and enjoy some goodness.

Butternut Squash Soup

It’s that time of the year again!! Pumpkin time! Halloween is almost here, Thanksgiving around the corner. All a big built up for Christmas!! I love Christmas. But for the time lets just enjoy this absolutely beautiful thick and rich butternut squash soup. Dig in!

  • 2 big butternut squash or pumpkin, cut in big pieces (about 1300 g / 2.8 lbs)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 peppers, cut in big chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 good drizzles of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch cinnamon
  1. Cut the squash in two crosswise so you can peel it easier. So go ahead and peel it. Thereafter, cut it up in big chunks. Put aside.

    Chop up the peppers in big chunks and slice those onions. Lastly, you crush the garlic.

  2. Put a big pot or dutch oven over medium fire and drizzle in some olive oil. Saute garlic, onions for 2 mins. Remove and put aside. 

    Saute the peppers for like 5 mins until lightly browned.  Put everything aside.

  3. Saute the squash for about 10 mins until is slightly browned. Add a cup of the chicken broth and two cups of water and cook for about 20-25 mins. The cooking is done when the consistency of the squash is soft and can easily be mashed. 

    Combine all the ingredients and mash them together adding some of the water to ease the process. 

  4. Lastly, put all the mashed pulp back in the pot and add 2 more cups of chicken and more water in order to reach the consistency you prefer.

    Give everything a stir and season with salt and pepper and cinamon and simmer for a few mins. You are done! 


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Baked Seabass with peppers and tomatoes

I wanted to make a nice fish dinner for one the other day, so I came up with this baked seabass recipe. Rob was traveling abroad so it was me and the little peanut!  I wanted something homey and quick and healthy. Right I know, difficult combo. However, I found this nice seabass in the market and I improvised with the veggies in my fridge. I used tomatoes, peppers, onions and Kalamata olives. That’s the great thing about Dubai, the tomato season is just starting 😉 And I just planted the first batch in my garden.

 

Baked Seabass in the making

When buying the fish, please ask your fishmonger to scale it and clean the belly for you. Pan ready! Wash it and put aside. Cut the peppers and tomatoes in big chunks. Repeat the same with the onion, big wedges. Destone the olives. Just cut them all around with a paring knife, and take apart the two halves. Easy peasy – that’s it!

Then take a skillet and place the fish in the middle. Rub it’s belly inside with olive oil and some oregano. Stuff it with peppers, tomatoes and onions. Arrange the rest of the vegetables all around the fish and season everything with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the olive halves on top. Drizzle with lots of beautiful olive oil. Add more oregano on top – I can’t have enough of it! Stick it in the oven at 210 C / 410 F for 35-40 mins or until lightly browned on top.

Remember that the fish cooks quite quickly. If you are not sure if it’s done, take a fork, put in the hallow part of the belly and try to flip it open. If it does and you can see the flesh peeling off the bone easily, it’s done. Bon appetit!

 

Baked Seabass with peppers and tomatoes

This is a refreshing and light dish. Perfect for one if you are alone at home, or if you don’t want to share! I love the juicy peppers and sweet tomatoes that I used here, but you can use whatever fresh vegetables you have in your fridge. 

  • 1 whole seabass medium sized, descaled and belly cleaned
  • 3 large peppers, cut in big chunks
  • 2 big tomatoes, cut in big chunks
  • 1/2 big onion, roughly sliced
  • oregano
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Your fish should be scaled and belly cleaned, your fishmonger can do this for you. Wash the cleaned fish and put it aside. 

  2. Cut the peppers and tomatoes in big chunks. Repeat the same with the onion, big wedges. Destone the olives. Just cut them all around with a paring knife, and take apart the two halves.

  3. Take a skillet and place the fish in the middle. Rub it’s belly inside with olive oil and some oregano. Stuff it with peppers, tomatoes and onions. Arrange the rest of the vegetables all around the fish and season everything with salt n pepper. Sprinkle the olive halves on top. Drizzle with lots of olive oil.

  4. Stick it in the oven at 210 C / 410 F for 35-40 mins or until lightly browned on top.

Remember that the fish cooks quite quickly. If you are not sure if it’s done, take a fork, put in the hallow part of the belly and try to flip it open. If it does and you can see the flesh peeling off the bone easily, it’s done. Bon appetit!

 

Mozzarella salad with Sausage and tomatoes

I love mozzarella, in fact I’m a sucker for it. Give me mozzarella and tomatoes and I will love you forever. So I made this mozzarella salad the other day, in quest of a lighter meal. When I said to Rob that we are having salad for dinner, he didn’t say anything (because he is so sweet), but I could hear him holding his breath at the other end of the phone lol. I don’t think he really minds anyway, he always loves my cooking 🙂 But this is a hearty salad full of protein with beautiful cherry tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, greens and some meat. I like using sausages, but you can use whatever you like: chicken, prosciutto or beans if you wanna go veggie. So let’s go ahead and make it.

Prepping your ingredients

Peel or scrub the baby potatoes, and boil them in a pot for around 10 mins. They should be tender and a bit soft to the touch of a fork. But not too soft, or they will be mashed in the salad. After the potatoes have been boiling for about 5 mins, add in the eggs, all 5 of them. In this salad I like my eggs soft boiled, so they can “sit” nicely on top of the salad, but have an appetizing and delicious runny yolk. So boil them around 4.5-5 mins. Tip: did you know that when you add salt to the boiling water it actually makes peeling the eggs a lot more easier? Try it!

In the meantime, get your sausages going. I used regular spiced English pork sausages. Sooo darn good! Feel free to use whatever sausages you crave. Put those little beauties in a pan and sauté them for around 10 mins, until they have a nice brown color.

Once done put all your cooked ingredients aside and keep them handy for your mozzarella and sausage salad.

 

Making the mozzarella salad

Wash your greens, tear them in big pieces and put them in a bowl. Add the halved cherry tomatoes. Take the boiled potatoes and cut them in two or three pieces. In the bowl they go too! Next you want to add your mozzarella slices. One ball of mozzarella is more than enough. Thereafter, take your sausages, cut them in big chunks and arrange them on top. Lasty, you add the eggs. Peel them and cut them in two carefully. Place them on top of everything else. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some chopped spring onions.

This salad is complicated with so many different flavors going on. Therefore, I prefer to have a simple dressing like olive oil and maybe some lemon or vinegar.

Mozzarella Salad with sausage and tomatoes

This is a perfect salad for a lighter dinner option. Mozarrela goes perfectly with the ripe tomatoes and the succulent sausages. It’s served warm and it’s full of ingredients bursting with flavor!

  • 10 baby potatoes, halved
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 pork sausages, cut in big chunks
  • 1 ball mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 whole gem lettuce, teared in bug pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon or vinegar
  • 2 spring onions, chopped

Prepping

  1. Peel or scrub the baby potatoes, and boil them in a pot for around 10 mins. They should be tender and a bit soft to the touch of a fork.  After the potatoes have been boiling for about 5 mins, add in all the eggs. Boil eggs for about 4.5-5 mins.

  2. Sauté the sausages for around 10 mins, until they have a nice brown color.

    Once done put all your cooked ingredients aside.

Making the salad

  1. Wash your greens, tear them in big pieces and put them in a bowl. Add the halved cherry tomatoes. Add the potatoes and mozzarella.

  2. Lastly arrange the eggs on top cut in halves. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some chopped spring onions. Dress with olive oil and maybe some lemon or vinegar.

Boil the potatoes together with the eggs tucked in tightly together. This way the eggs have less of a chance to break!


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Chicken Soup with Wholegrain Fusilli

This wasn’t supposed to be a post about chicken soup. Yup, it was supposed to be breakfast eggs with tomato. But more often then not, we bloggers have to improvise for various reasons. My reason today, was that Rob (my husband) woke up with a cold and a sore throat. And I know that chicken soup is the best remedy. So, change of plans. After a morning visit to the playground with James, I went back to the grocery store for more shopping. That’s what’s so great about blogging, it’s flexible.

So if you, my friends, are feeling a little bit under the weather, or if you just want something hearty and warming after a long day, please come along with me and make this chicken soup.

Cooking the chicken

Now if you prefer, you can use ready made chicken stock. Most supermarkets sell good quality stocks. In which case, you either just quickly cook your chicken meat on the stovetop. Just get a few pieces of boneless meat and cook it in a pan for 20 mins. Or you can also use ready roast chicken. My local market has excellent quality roast chicken that I often bring back home with me.

Or make it from scratch:

Get a whole chicken, cut in pieces and wash it. In a Dutch oven or big pot bring water to boil and add the chicken. Have enough water to cover the meat. Boil it for 20-25 mins. Do the fork test. Pinch it all the way down and if no red/pink  juice comes, its ready.

Put it aside to cool when done. Once cool, remove the skin and shred the chicken. Discard the skin and bones.

 

Making the soup

In the same broth add some more water and bring to boil. Add the chopped carrots, sliced leeks and chopped onion. Add also the wholegrain pasta in the pot. I love wholegrain pastas. Much healthier and they are less processed than the regular pasta, therefore they contain more fiber. They also contain vitamin B and several minerals which are vital for our health. But honestly, I love how they taste, so flavorful! Check out for yourselves, boil some wholegrain pasta, strain, add salt and pepper and parmesan cheese. Then tell me if you loved it or not.

Anyway, back to the recipe! I am a rambler :). So your veggies are boiling in the pot together with pasta. Season with salt and pepper and a little bit of smoked paprika. This gives the flavor another dimension. After around 15-20 mins they should be done. So 1-2 mins before the end, sprinkle in some parsley. Remove from heat and add the shredded chicken.

When you serve, sprinkle the bowls with some more parsley (or whatever herbs you like) and chopped spring onions. Bon appetit!

Chicken Soup with wholegrain fusilli

if you are looking for a hearty, easy soup recipe to warm up your tummy, look no further. Make this delicious chicken soup with wholegrain fusilli and smoked paprika. The wholegrain pasta is such a healthy option and so delicious. Also, the smoked paprika adds such a beautiful depth to the chicken soup. 

  • 1 whole chicken cut in pieces
  • enough water to cover the chicken
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pack wholegrain fusilli pasta (250 g / ard 8 oz)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • bunch of parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 spring onions, sliced

Cooking the chicken

  1. Get a whole chicken, cut in pieces and wash it. In a Dutch oven or big pot bring water to boil and add the chicken. Have enough water to cover the meat. Boil it for 20-25 mins. When you pinch with fork the liquid should come out clear. 

  2. Put it aside to cool when done. Once cool, remove the skin and shred the chicken. Discard the skin and bones.

Making the soup

  1. In the same broth add some more water and bring to boil. Add the chopped carrots, sliced leeks and chopped onion. Add also the wholegrain pasta.

  2. Season the soup with salt and pepper and smoked paprika. 

  3. Cook the soup for 15-20 mins more. Just before the end, sprinkle with some parsley.  Remove from heat and add the shredded chicken. Sprinkle with spring onions on top.

 

Juicy Pork Chops with Wine

This post is meant to introduce you to my fav pork chop recipe. I love pork. It’s a great meat and I really love how the flavor changes depending on the method of cooking. Pork chops are a great weekday dinner for those who want to quickly prepare something nutritious and healthy. They taste great on Sundays too LOL! Here I feature an easy and flavorful pork chop recipe. Let’s make ’em!

Preparing your pork chops

It really is very easy to get them going. First, what I do is give the meat a thorough wash. Then I pat it dry really well with kitchen towels. The dryer it is, the more it will brown and be crispy. The next thing is to slice a clove of garlic in two lengthwise. Get the garlic half and press it on the pork chop firmly. Start rubbing it all over the meat on both sides. Great! Then just season your pork chops with salt and pepper and they are ready for the pan!

Cooking the pork chops

The chops that I got were about an inch thick (ard 2.5 cm) and it took me about 11 minutes to cook them in total. So let’s cut straight to the point. Bring your skillet over medium-high heat and place the meat directly on it. Brown the chops for 2 mins each side. You want to see a golden brown color start forming.

Second, you add the wine. Pour a splash of wine on top and it will go “Shooouuushhh” haha. White or red, either will do just fine. Flip the chops, both sides should be in the wine for maybe a minute or so.  At this point, you will add the oil and lower the heat to medium-low. Pour just a bit of olive oil on top of the chops and turn them once more. You should have around 4 minutes left of cooking. Turn the pork chops once or twice more. A total of 11 minutes cooking should give you a cooked through tender pink chop. If you are using a thermometer it will register about 63 C / 145 F internal temp. If you prefer your meat cooked more, give it another 2 mins, totally up to you.

 

 

Once it’s done, remove from the pan and place on a plate. Drizzle the pan juices on top and let it sit for a few minutes – if you can wait haha. Serve with some tomato-cucumber salad and enjoy your dinner.

Juicy Pork chops with wine

Pork chops are a great dinner any time of the week. Juicy and tender with a minimum cooking time. They are a very healthy option too. They go very well with salad or any type of greens.

  • 2 whole pork chops, inch (2.5 cm) thick
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup wine
  • olive oil
  1. Wash your meat thoroughly and pat it dry really well with kitchen towels. 

  2. Cut a garlic clove in two lengthwise and rub it all over the meat on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bring your skillet over medium-high heat and place the meat directly on it. Brown the chops for 2 mins each side. 

  4. Pour a splash of wine on top and flip the chops around. 

  5. At this point, you will add a little bit of oil and lower the heat to medium-low.

  6. Cook for 4 more mins turning the chops once or twice more. 

  7. Once it’s done, remove from the pan and place on a plate. Drizzle the pan juices on top and let it sit for a few minutes. 

A total of 11 minutes cooking should give you a cooked through tender pink chop. If you are using a thermometer it will register about 63 C / 145 F internal temp. If you prefer your meat cooked more, give it another 2 mins.

 

 

Aunt Kathy’s Eggplant Stew

Isn’t it wonderful when you come together with people that you love and create awesome food? My aunt Kathy that lives in New York but is of Greek heritage, is an excellent cook. She is a warm, loving person that’s there to support you always. She is eager to listen and gives constructive advice. She is like a second mother to me and she is one of those people that make this world a better place. Period! And she is a darn good cook! Oh yes, with a grand repertoire.

I was lucky to be able to spend some time with her while in Crete this summer and eat her wonderful dishes. One of them in particular I could never forget, her Eggplant Stew.  It was so delicious and full of summer notes, I harassed her until she agreed to teach me the recipe. I said “Theia (“aunt” in greek), I have to put this on my blog!”

Shortly after, we made the eggplant stew again, along with other delicacies and everybody gathered around the table for a wonderful dinner. Of course when I got home I had to make it for my own family, because we all love eggplant after all. Rob loved it, but also my little boy James turned out to be a big fan. So if you like eggplants like us, please please make this dish and tell me how it went.

Preparing the vegetables

Cut all the veggies in quarters, big chunks. Same with the onions. Then, slice the tomatoes and chop up the herbs – parsley or cilantro, whatever you are using.

 

Quarter the eggplants

Next step you lightly fry everything. I used my cast iron skillet. Not just because I love it, but also it’s easy to use on the stovetop and then just stick it in the oven. If you don’t have one, you can use any other oven safe skillet. Or just fry the veggies regularly and then throw them in a baking dish.

Alright so, take the skillet, and put in enough olive oil to cover the bottom and more. The vegetables will soak up lots of olive oil during frying. Bring it over medium to high heat and start frying the eggplants, zucchinis and peppers together, around 5 mins. When done set them aside in a colander with a plate underneath to collect the oil.

Making the sauce for the stew

In the same skillet, add some more olive oil as needed, saute the onion wedges for 1-2 mins. Thereafter, add the tomato slices and saute for 2 more mins. In goes the tomato puree, give it a stir and let it simmer for 2 mins. If your sauce is too thick, you probably need to add 1/4 cup of water. Simmer the sauce for 5 mins more or less, then add the chopped herbs at the last minute. If it looks watery, don’t worry it will make a nice sauce for your stew!

Putting it all together

Take the skillet off the fire. Remove almost 2/3 of the sauce and put aside. Spread the remainder as to cover the bottom (if you are using a baking dish, spread 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish).

Add all the veggies on top and tuck them in nice and tight. Pour the rest of the sauce on top and sprinkle with some more herbs. Stick your stew in the oven for 35-40 mins at 210 C / 410 F or until it is nicely browned on top. Enjoy!

Aunt Kathy's Eggplant Stew

A hearty dish full of eggplant flavour. The tomato sauce with herbs gives the overall dish an amazing taste. Filling and warming. Perfect for weekday dinner. 

  • 3 whole big eggplants, quartered
  • 4 whole small zucchinis, cut in big chunks
  • 2 whole onions, thick sliced
  • 2 whole peppers, quartered
  • handful of parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomato (around 1 pound or 450 g)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparing the veggies

  1. Cut all the veggies in quarters, big chunks. Then, slice the tomatoes and chop up the herbs.

  2. Lightly fry everything for about 5 mins in a cast iron skillet (or regular one will do just fine). Use oil abundantly, the eggplants will soak a lot. Set them aside in a colander with a plate underneath to collect the oil.

Making the sauce for the stew

  1. In the same skillet, add some more olive oil as needed, saute the onion wedges for 1-2 mins. Thereafter, add the tomato slices and saute for 2 more mins. 

  2. Next, add the tomato puree and let it simmer for 2 mins. If your sauce is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water. Simmer the sauce for 5 mins more or less, then add the chopped herbs at the last minute.

  3. Take the skillet off the fire. Remove almost 2/3 of the sauce and put aside. Spread the remainder as to cover the bottom (if you are using a baking dish, spread 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish). 

  4. Add all the veggies on top and tuck them in nice and tight. Pour the rest of the sauce on top and sprinkle with some more herbs. Stick your stew in the oven for 35-40 mins at 210 C / 410 F or until it is nicely browned on top. Enjoy!

Zucchini fritters – Greek Kolokithokeftedes

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year  – my number one is Christmas, but let’s not talk about Christmas right now lol. Summer to me is beautiful weather and clear blue waters. But most of all, I love the carefreeness that comes with it. Reminds me of my childhood. However, on the more practical side, the lack of time is a typical summer “problem”. Whether you are a parent vacationing with your kids. Or you are trying to navigate thru work and summery nights out with friends. There’s just not enough time. Free time for yourself can seem like a midsummer night’s dream! So for all of you that struggle with time management, but still want to have quality food my answer is: Zucchini fritters, a quick and easy recipe that everyone loves.

Zucchini are at their prime during summer, sweet and flavorful. It would be a shame not to put them to use. This recipe is inexpensive and pretty easy to put together. So let’s just jump right in and make our fritters.  Like I said, time is quite precious these days!

Making the zucchini fritters mixture

First things first, grate your zucchinis with the big hole side of the grater. Sprinkle some salt on the grated zucchini and (ideally) wrap it in cheesecloth. Strain to release most of the juice. You don’t have cheesecloth? (And why would you have cheesecloth packed in your luggage while on vacation?? haha) Use your bare and thoroughly washed hands. It’s that simple. Then put the zuchhini aside.

In a bowl add the grated onions, beaten eggs, garlic, fresh thyme and mint. Mix lightly. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper. Throw in the feta in big crumbles and mix as lightly as possible. Now add the flour tbsp by tbsp. You might need to use less or more, it really depends upon the moisture of your ingredients. The consistency you are looking for is barely thick, but able to be formed into a loose ball.

Put some olive oil in a frying pan and bring it to med – high heat. Not too high because the fritters will burn. Take some of the mixture and make a little ball with your hands. Directly place it in the pan. 1-2 mins per side are enough.  You don’t have to press it down to flatten it, it will “fall” naturally down as it fires. You might want to adjust the heat to medium at this point. Lift a little of the the fritter and check the color. It should be golden brown. Then turn them on the other side.

Tip: Zucchini fritters cook quickly so I don’t fry more than 4 or 5 at a time. Good luck!

Zucchini fritters – Greek kolokithokeftedes

Zucchini fritters – Greek kolokithokeftedes. You want enjoy your full-of-fun-but-no-time-summer-with-kids? Thea answer is zucchini fritters.

  • 700 g (1.5 lbs) grated zucchini
  • 2 onions, grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch (2 cups leaves picked) fresh mint, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) flour
  • 200 g (7 oz) feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Grate your zucchinis with the big hole side of the grater. Sprinkle the grated zucchini with some salt and ideally wrap in cheesecloth. Strain to release most of the juice.  If you don’t have a cheesecloth, squeeze tight with your hands.  Put the zuchhini aside.

  2. In a bowl add the grated onions, beaten eggs, garlic, fresh thyme and mint. Mix lightly. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper. Throw in the feta in big crumbles and mix as lightly as possible.

  3.  Now add the flour tbsp by tbsp. You might need to use less or more. The consistency needs to be barely thick, but able to be formed into a loose ball.

  4. Put some olive oil in a frying pan and bring it to med – high heat. Not too high because the fritters will burn. Take some of the mixture and make a little ball with your hands. Directly place it in the pan and fry for 1-2 mins per side. You don’t have to press it down to flatten it, it will “fall” naturally down as it fires. 

  5. Adjust the heat to medium at this point if you have to. Lift a little of the the fritter and check the color. It should be golden brown. Then turn them on the other side.

    Tip: Zucchini fritters cook quickly so I don’t fry more than 4 or 5 at a time. Good luck!

 

Greek Bekri Meze – “Drunken” Pork Stew with Whisky and Wine

I have been wanting to make this pork stew dish long time now. This dish is a frequent dweller of the taverna menus in the appetizer section. It’s a typical meze dish. Meze meaning, several plates of different food in small portions, so we can enjoy every different taste. I love this concept because it gives you latitude, it helps you understand a cuisine more. The concept of “meze” is long rooted in Greek eating culture. When we go out, we like to order lots of meze plates, never omitting the specials of the day. This way you don’t miss out on anything.  It’s a win-win!

At home there’s always several cooked goodies lying around in the kitchen. Like for example, there’s yesterday’s lamb stew and some baked potato leftovers. But it’s not enough. “Again” my mom would tell herself “I have to cook something everyday!” So, she would come up with a quick idea, like for instance meatballs. Quick, so she feels she’s not a kitchen hostage. Nevertheless good food.  So she goes about her business with a guilt-free conscious. Mom if you are reading this, I love your meatballs. 🙂

What did really happen during dinner time?

While the family would gather around the table, the guest star meze plates would make their appearance out of the dungeons of our fridge or storage room: pickled peppers, olives, spicy cheese spread on rusks, raw artichokes with lemon. Last but not least, there would be the odd dish on the table, the one you didn’t see coming, like chicken soup or grilled octopus. Now this one would come in a main dish size. That’s how you knew, this is what your aunt or grandma or neighbor next door has cooked for today.

Point is, in case you liked that dish more than the others, you kind of disappear silently and knock on the door of your aunt, to join them for dinner. See? You are keeping your options open, you are playing the market!

Now that I think of it, I believe that’s precisely the reason why I cannot make up my mind when I go out for dinner with my husband Rob. I just simply can not do 2 mains and 1 starter. I feel I’m loosing out on all the other stuff on the menu. And it just dawned on me, it’s because of my meze eating culture! But I have talked long enough, let’s get to the recipe. By the way, you can serve this as a main or as an appetizer.

To make the pork stew

Because pork can dry out easily when cooked like this, I brinned it for 10 mins. So take a bowl and add 2 cups of water and 2 tbsps of salt. Mix until salt is dissolved. Add the pork cubes while you are preparing the rest.

 

Chop up the peppers in big pieces. Take the tomatoes and dice them. Additionally, roughly chop the onion. Have all your herbs and spices in hand.

Drain the water from the pork and pat it dry with kitchen towels. In a cast iron skillet (or wide heavy bottom one instead) heat up some olive oil. How much? Until it barely covers the bottom, but not quite. Saute the onions for 2 mins, just until they soften. Now add in the pork and saute for 10 mins over medium fire, until it’s slightly golden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reduce fire to low and add the wine and whiskey.

The classic bekri meze is made only with wine. However, the whiskey twist gives the flavor an extra punch. Love it! Scrape vigorously the fond, those browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. It will give a ton of flavor to your food. I learned this from a very dear friend of mine last summer in Boston while making Ratatouille. 

Shortly after, add the peppers, garlich, tomatoes, herbs and spices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook over medium fire for another 20 mins. If you feel that the sauce is “drying out”, add a bit of water to make it saucy. Adjust the spices if you want. Don’t over cook it, the pork will loose its tenderness. Serve warm with baked potatoes or french fries.

Drunken Pork stew with whisky and wine – Bekri Meze

Beautiful and juicy pork meat in a sauce of wine and whisky with tomatoes and peppers! Unique taste that will make you adore it.

  • 700 g (1.5 lbs) pork cubes ((1.5 lbs))
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup red wine
  • 40 ml whisky
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped in big pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 450 g (1 lbs) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 2-3 small sprigs fresh oregano, or fresh Za'atar
  • 1/2 cup hot water (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp harissa
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preferably brine the port for 10-15 mins. In a bowl and add 2 cups of water and 2 tbsps of salt. Mix until salt is dissolved. Add the pork cubes.

  2. Chop up the peppers in big pieces. Dice the tomatoes. Roughly chop the onion.

  3. Drain the water from the pork and pat it dry with kitchen towels. In a cast iron skillet (or wide heavy bottom one instead) heat up some olive oil. Saute the onions for 2 mins, just until they soften. Add in the pork and saute for 10 mins over medium fire, until it’s slightly golden.

  4. Reduce fire to low and add the wine and whiskey.

  5. Shortly after, add the peppers, garlich, tomatoes, herbs and spices.

  6. Cook over medium fire for anout 20 mins. If you feel that the sauce is “drying out”, add a bit of water to make it saucy. Adjust the spices if need be. Don’t over cook it, otherwise it will become tough. Serve warm with baked potatoes or french fries.

 

 

 

Tomato fritters – Ntomatokeftedes

It can’t be a summer without sweet, fleshy, delicious tomatoes. And in this dish, they are the centerpiece. Because tomatoes are so crucial, please please use extra good quality ones. My grandmother typically made this ntomatokeftedes (tomato fritters) in the summer when tomatoes are at their peak. Big and red and irregularly shaped, they should be soft to the touch, but extremely beafy inside. So much so that when you grab one in your hand and poke it with your thumb, you feel the flesh merely squeezing in and only underneath your thumb, the rest of the tomato is intact.

In my father’s vegetable garden in Greece, when I want to make a salad I just cut the tomatoes straight from the plant. Then slice them up on a plate with olive oil, feta cheese and oregano and I have the perfect lunch. Right there on the patio, next to the mesmerizing vegetable plants. It doesn’t get much fresher and simpler than that! I think it’s that simplicity that actually allows you to connect and savor the food all the more.

How to make the mixture

If you love tomatoes as much as I do, you will love ntomatokeftedes. Basically they are tomato fritters. That’s it, simple. So you take your tomatoes and chop up half of them. The other half you grate by hand. I find that this half/half way of prep makes the fritters juicier.

So put the tomatoes in a bowl. Throw in your beaten egg, grated onion, strong oregano and dried thyme. Now chop up your mint and add it together with the crumbled feta. Put in salt and pepper. Next, you add the flour tbsp by tbsp mixing lightly each time. The consistency should be just thick enough to be spooned out and into the frying pan. The batter should stick together, but not too thick.  If it is too thick, the taste will be “floury”.

To fry the ntomatokeftedes

Heat up some olive oil over medium low fire. Use a tablespoon to spoon the mixture into the frying pan. Fry each side for 2-3 mins. I repeat medium to low fire here because it’s important to not overcook them. They should be golden brown and crispy outside but slightly raw inside.

 

When my palate fills up with those semi raw tomatoes, I can feel that beachy, summery carefreeness. I am almost on that beach getting my feet wet! After all, isn’t that what makes food magic? It’s ability to bestow an experience upon us that can transport us from one feeling to the other. I think that’s pretty amazing!

Bon appetit!

Ntomatokeftedes – Tomato fritters

Ntomatokeftedes – Tomato fritters, is a quite popular dish in Greece. Hearty and juicy and full of summer and beaches and carefreeness.

  • 500 g good quality tomatoes (half chopped / half grated) (( abt 17.5 oz))
  • 12 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp strong oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 7 tbsp fresh mint, chppped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 130 g feta, crumbled (4.5 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop up half of your tomatoes and grate the other half. Put them in a bowl.

  2. Throw in your beaten egg, the grated onion, the oregano, the dried thyme, the mint and basil. Add in the feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Next, you add the flour tbsp by tbsp mixing lightly each time. The consistency should be just thick enough to be spooned out and into the frying pan. The batter should stick together but not too thick.

  4. Heat up some olive oil over medium low fire. Use a tablespoon to spoon out the mixture into the frying pan. Fry each side 2-3 mins or until golden brown. Don’t overfry them, you want them slightly raw on the inside.