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!

 

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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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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.

 

 

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. 

Seabream with peas and dill

Cooking for two was the idea behind this recipe. So I thought something light, healthy and simple to put together. I found some really nice seabream. If you are in the US you can use snapper or seabass.  I love fresh fish with vegetables and fresh dill. Dill my friends is an herb that I highly recommend for fish. It gives a fresh and slightly lemony finish with a hint of anise. It goes hand in hand with the delicate texture of fish. I also had some fresh peas in the fridge… and some gorgeous carrots. By the way, peas, carrots and dill make the perfect veggie side at your dinner table. But that’s a recipe I’ll have to delve into another time.

For the seabream, you can ask your fishmonger to clean the fish. Heads off, descaled and belly cleaned. Now take your fish and wash it thoroughly. Set aside. Put some olive oil in a baking tray and add the carrots, peas, pepper and spring onions. Sprinkle with chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper. Give it all a good stir so the olive oil blends in well. Remember to leave some veggies on the side for stuffing in the fish. Because the fish cooks very quickly, we will give our vegetables a headstart. Stick the tray in the oven for 20 mins at 180 C / 350 F.

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Now its time for the fish.  Grab the veggies you set aside and the onion and stuff them inside the belly of the fish as much as you can.  Use a toothpick to close the vegetables inside the fish.  Insert the toothpick across both outer ends of the fish belly. Push the skin so that it tucks in as much as possible. This way that the vegetables are stuffed nice and tight inside.

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Check your vegetables.  When you think they need another 20-25 mins take the tray out. Place the fish on top and sprinkle with some more dill. At this point if the liquid in your food looks like it’s diminishing a lot, please add a cup of hot water. It’s nice to have a bit of liquid (full of flavor and aromas!) at the end. It goes well on the fish and brings a lot of flavor to your dish. Put your tray back in the oven and cook for another 20-25 mins at 180 C / 350 F. The fish does cook fairly quickly, but cooking times vary from oven to oven. You want to make sure to cook it thoroughly. To check that, try peeling of the big bone in the middle, does it come off easily? Yes? It’s done! If it sticks a little to the meat the fish needs more time.

I find this recipe delicious, let me know how it works for you 🙂

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Serves 2

Time:10 mins preparation, 40 mins cooking

INGREDIENTS

1200 g / 2 lbs 10 oz  Seabream, 2 fish heads off, descaled and belly cleaned (US substitute  Snapper or Seabass)

1/2 bunch dill

3 carrots

5 spring onions

1 red bell pepper

200 g / 7 oz fresh peas

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup hot water

2 toothpicks

 

DIRECTIONS 

Take your fish and wash it thoroughly. Set aside.

Put some olive oil in a baking tray and add the carrots, peas, pepper and spring onions. Sprinkle with chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper. Give it all a good stir so the olive oil blends in well. Leave some veggies on the side for stuffing the fish. Stick the tray in the oven and cook 20 mins at 180 C / 350 F.

To prepare the fish grab the veggies you set aside and the onion and stuff them inside the belly of the fish as much as you can.  Use a toothpick to close the vegetables inside the fish.  Insert the toothpick across both outer ends of the fish belly. Push the skin so that it tucks in as much as possible. Salt and pepper on top.

When you think they need another 20-25 mins take the tray out. Place the fish on top and sprinkle with some more dill. If there is just a little liquid in the tray, add a cup of hot water.

Put your tray back in the oven and cook for another 20-25 mins at 180 C / 350 F or until fish is thoroughly cooked. To check if the fish is cooked, try peeling of the big bone in the middle, if it comes off easily, its done! If it sticks a little to the meat the fish needs more time.

Enjoy.