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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Cretan Pies with Cheese

In Crete we make these thin dough pies sprinkled with cheese and they are delicious! The dough requires only a few ingredients. However, it does take some skill to roll it out nice and thin. My grandma taught me this “art” when I was 15 and I am so thankful for that. Though if you don’t know how, a dough roller machine does the job perfectly well. These pies are best eaten warm, right off the pan with a gruyere type of cheese on top.

 

Making the dough

Put most of the flour in a large bowl and make like a little “crater” with your hands in the center. Add half of the lukewarm water, the olive oil, salt and raki. Raki is a local drink from Crete which is usually available in liquor stores. I found it easily both in Dubai and London. Use plain vodka if you cannot find raki your local store, it does the trick! Knead the dough and alternate between the remaining flour and water, until you find the right consistency. Let it rest for 30 mins.

If you are doing this by hand, dust a big surface with flour and divide your dough in 2 or 3 balls. Start rolling out each ball by rolling up and down and side to side. Then turn the dough, dust with flour again and keep rolling. Ideally the thickness should be 2-3 mm. You can cut it out in circles using a small plate, if you prefer round ones…

 

…Or you can cut them in squarish pieces!

Cutting squarish pieces

Making the Pies

Add a small drizzle of olive oil in a pan and bring it over medium to low fire. Put the pie in and fry it for like 2 mins each side, until its nicely browned. Remove and set aside. Repeat the same process with all the pies. The pan will get hotter over time , so you might want to lower down the heat as you go.

Sprinkle with some nice hard cheese on top and serve immediately.  Kids love them!

 

Cretan Pies with Cheese

Lovely thin dough pies with cheese from Crete made from scratch. Your guests will be impressed and the kids will love them. This is a real authentic Cretan dish, tasty and crunchy.

  • 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) plain flour
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup Raki or Vodka
  • olive oil for frying
  1. In a large bowl put most of the flour and make like a little “crater” with your hands in the center. Add half of the lukewarm water, the olive oil, salt and raki or vodka. Knead the dough and alternate between the remaining flour and water, until you find the right consistency. Let it rest for 30 mins.

  2. If you are doing this by hand, dust a big surface with flour and divide your dough in 2 or 3 balls. Start rolling out each ball by rolling up and down and side to side. Then turn the dough, dust with flour again and keep rolling. Ideally the thickness should be 2-3 mm. You can cut it out in circles using a small plate, if you prefer round ones…

  3. Add a small drizzle of olive oil in a pan and bring it over medium to low fire. Put the pie in and fry it for like 2 mins each side, until its nicely browned. Remove and set aside. Repeat the same process with all the pies. The pan will get hotter over time , so you might want to lower down the heat as you go.

    Sprinkle with some nice hard cheese on top and serve immediately. Kids love them!

Greek Yogurt with Honey

Greek yogurt with honey has been in my life ever since I can remember. We pair it with walnuts, but you’ll definitely see people having it with all sorts of nuts. In Crete, there is also the custom of honey and walnuts during the wedding ceremony. These two are mixed and given to the bride and groom. Honey symbolizes the sweet life of the couple and walnuts are a symbol of fertility!

You know back in the old days, before people started travelling a lot and the free flow of information, people in Crete made do with their local ingredients for desserts. Bees have been kept  for their honey since antiquity. Nuts, honey and fruit – among others – were used for desserts. Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts is a traditional desserts in the island of Crete. So simple and beautiful at the same time.

 

A few facts about yogurt and honey

One thing I need to point out before we set course on anything… If you really want to make an original yogurt with honey dessert that will allow you to savor it in its peak taste, you must use prime quality ingredients. What do I mean by that? The yogurt should be Greek strained yogurt, of the thick or set type. Preferably, you can get the one made in Greece or at least made from milk produced in Greece. The terrain, vegetation and the nutrition of the animals varies from country to country, which plays a big role in the quality and taste of the milk, hence the yogurt too.

 

Secondly, the honey. Again you need good quality honey. Honey can have a quite different taste, depending on if the bees were kept near flowers, bigger trees or even thyme bushes. If the trees have been sprayed with pesticides, that can affect the honey or even kill the bees. Things to keep in mind when you pick your honey jars. In Crete, you can get excellent “thyme honey” as we call it, the taste is amazing! My father used to grow his own honey. He studied a lot about bees during that time, and he used to give them nothing else but plain garlic to guard them from sickness in the winter. Completely organic! Every time I fly home, I bring back a few jars of honey with me 🙂

 

To make our dessert

One very simple way to enjoy these flavors is to put a few spoonfuls of yogurt in a dessert bowl, sprinkle in some walnuts and then drizzle with honey! Thats it. Ready in seconds and tastes delicious.

I tried to make a different presentation here. Firstly, take a kitchen brush and make a straight line across the plate with the yogurt. Secondly, arrange two round rings of different sizes on the plate and fill them with yogurt. Carefully lift the rings. Thereafter, sprinkle some walnut pieces on one side and drizzle with honey on top. Enjoy your dessert!

Greek Yogurt with Honey

This is a very simple and traditional Greek dish. Its great as a dessert but wonderful for breakfast also. Yogurt with honey and walnuts is deeply rooted into the Greek culinary history and is a widely – and rightfully so – celebrated dish among the locals. It is quite simple to make with 3 ingredients only. Yet it will give you all the energy you need to start the day or a delicate sweet note to finish your dinner. Just enjoy! 

  • 8 tbsp Greek thick yogurt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp roughly crushed walnuts
  1. Firstly, take a kitchen brush and make a straight line across the plate with the yogurt. Secondly, arrange two round rings of different sizes on the plate and fill them with yogurt. Carefully lift the rings. 

  2. Thereafter, sprinkle some walnut pieces on one side and drizzle with honey on top. Enjoy your dessert!

Alternatively you can add the yogurt in a bowl. Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with honey.

 

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. 

Tomato Loaded Barley Rusks – Greek Dakos

If you want to impress your friends with a tasty Greek dish, you must try this one. It is super simple to put together and will more than satisfy your tastebuds. You really need to find good quality tomatoes, as this is the main ingredient. Here in Dubai the season for tomatoes is now, so you can find good ones. In my case though, tomatoes come from my back yard. Have planted both cherry and  beefsteak tomatoes. They are so juicy and full of flavor.

Barley Rusks have a great, strong earthy flavor. Barley, thought to have been domesticated in Southwestern Asia, has been consumed extensively throughout history. Mostly in the Mediterranean world, but also in ancient India and the Arab world (Source: “On Food and Cooking”, by Harold McGee). Barley contains lots of fiber, iron, magnesium and vitamins among other nutrients. It’s also thought to have cholesterol-lowering abilities (Source: “On Food and Cooking”, by Harold McGee) and to improve blood sugar circulation. You can find barley rusks in any Greek (or even generally Mediterranean) Deli. I remember, there were quite a few by Bayswater in London. I always loved taking the tube over there and spent hours picking ingredients, brainstorming recipes, maybe grabbing a bite to eat.

So back to the recipe 🙂 First thing to do is roughly chop your tomatoes and put them aside. If you are using, fleshy beef tomatoes, you can also grate them. Entirely up to you.

This time I used round rusks. Its basically one round rusk cut in two. So take each round disk and run it under cold water for literally 2-3 seconds. They tend to be hard but eventually the water will soak in and they become softer as they stay. Don’t over water them because they might become too soft and crumble. Remember olive oil and tomato will go on top thus providing even more moisture.

Right after, put them on a plate. Wait 1-2 min and then discard the water from the plate. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Load your rusk with chopped tomatoes, salt to taste. Sprinkle some caper berries, crumbled feta and a bit of oregano (oregano gives it such an aroma!). And that’s it, ready to be devoured. This dish is perfect for sharing as a side or even as a light lunch.

 

Tomato Loaded Barley Rusks – Greek Dakos

This is ultimate tomato side dish that will bring a Greek touch on your table!

  • 1 double round Barley Rusk
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 300 g (11 oz) Tomatoes
  • 60 g (2 oz) Feta Cheese
  • 2 big caper berries
  • Oregano
  • seasalt
  1. Roughly chop your tomatoes and put them aside. If you are using, fleshy beefsteak tomatoes, you can grate them.

  2. Take each round disk and run it under cold water for literally 2-3 seconds and plate  them. Don’t over water them because they might become too soft and crumble.

  3. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

  4. Load your rusk with chopped tomatoes, salt to taste.

  5. Sprinkle some caper berries, crumbled feta and a bit of oregano.