The Seedy Grapes from our old Vines

Most of the grapes our vines produce hardly manage to ripen; wasps and all kinds of insects attack them as soon as they start to blush.

This year, though, we managed to harvest quite a few bunches to fill two large baskets. But our grapes are what the locals call ‘krasostafyla’ (wine-grapes), sweet but filled with seeds and quite difficult to swallow.

 

Early this August, as we finished harvesting the almonds, we noticed quite a few nice bunches of grapes hanging from the old, robust vines that engulf the southern fence of our property, behind the lemon trees.  From these vines we mainly gather the tender grape leaves early in May, to stuff and make our trademark dolmades.

 

Usually the grapes our vines produce hardly manage to ripen; wasps and all kinds of insects attack them as soon as they start to blush. Come harvest time, we just find a few bunches of rotten, half-eaten grapes which are sweet but filled with seeds and difficult to swallow.

 

 

These vines are probably a remnant of the old vineyards our little valley was famous for; the dark grapes used to produce quite good wine in the old days, as I discovered researching the paper I wrote for the 2017 Oxford Symposium: (more…)

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BOILED Vegetables and Lunch at Claudia’s

With Claudia Roden, we expressed our happiness that boiling vegetables has at last become the IN thing to do!

Up until recently our book editors had stricken out of our recipes the mere mention of boiling any vegetables or greens, replacing it by ‘blanching’ or ‘steaming…’

 

“Today we are starting with a very controversial statement — I boil my vegetables,” writes José in his always exciting Newsletter Longer Tables with José Andrés. “You may not believe me, but it’s true! I would not lie about something important like this,” he continues. “I was shocked when I came to America and saw many restaurants and people, and even cookbooks, roasting the whole carrots and roasting whole beets and roasting all their tubers, including potatoes. I will not lie to you that more than once I told my friends: Are you crazy? Roasting carrots?” he writes.

Last week, after the end of the fascinating Symposium in Oxford I had the privilege to be invited for lunch by the symposium’s president, the unsurpassed food writer and researcher Claudia Roden –a friend since the early ‘90s.

 

It was a hot, humid day in London, and along with the brilliant Alicia Rios we sat at Claudia’s inspiring kitchen and enjoyed a lovely salad of boiled beets, asparagus, carrots, and zucchini, topped with fresh pea shoots, and accompanied by thick yogurt, before the main course of a fragrant bulgur pilaf with chickpeas, tomatoes, and eggplants that she has described in her fabulous book MED.

 

(more…)

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HORIATIKI, the peasant roots of Greek Salad

It is curious how a salad called ‘horiatiki’ became such a hit in Athens and all over the country. The term may be translated as ‘from the village,’ or ‘peasant,’ a welcome suggestion today as it brings to mind authentic good-quality foods, but when it was first introduced –probably in the 1960ies or early ‘70ies– the country was desperately trying to shed its agricultural, Eastern Mediterranean past, and become urban and European. It was common to dismiss a garment or a conduct as ‘horiatiki,’ not modern and worthy of the new urban middle class.

 

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Obviously, whoever first combined these basic ingredients created a salad delicious enough to be copied, improved upon and even exported and become a household dish all over the world!

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Apricot Tart with Rose Geranium Yogurt Mousse

In June, when we find plenty of lovely local apricots, we buy quite a lot and after eating the more ripe ones, we usually halve, pit and roast the rest, then freeze them to have at hand and make tarts, or top a flat bread, complementing them with spicy smoked cheese.

 

Make the mousse a day ahead, or even a couple of days before. When you are about to serve the dessert, assemble the pre-baked puff pastry and serve the mousse on the side.  

 

Serves 6-8   (more…)

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