I try to have in my cupboard pre-baked puff pastry so that I can whip up a delicious, simple dessert with the season’s best fruit.
Two pieces 13.5-inch X 11.5-inch (34X30 cm) (more…)
This simple chicken recipe is inspired from Arni Stamnas, baked in an unglazed clay jar called stamna, which was used by women to bring water from the village fountain. The story goes that some women secretly fed their sons or husbands who were guerrillas in the mountains, during the war of independence from the Ottomans in the 19th cen. by leaving water jars filled with food near the fountain. In the night, the men came secretly and collected it.
Since the water jar has a small opening, small pieces of meat and vegetables were inserted in the jar, which was then sealed with dough and slow-roasted in the wood-fired oven.
On the other hand, ‘Arni Kleftiko’ (Guerillas’ Lamb) is a variation of the previous recipe. It was a simpler dish the guerillas prepared and baked in holes in the ground, where just a few charcoals warmed the stones keeping a slow, smokeless fire that didn’t betray their position, as they roasted pieces of lamb or goat wrapped in leaves and goat or lamb skin. ‘Kleftiko’ included small pieces of aged, spicy cheese, and is flavored with lemon and herbs. Unfortunately the Kleftiko most taverns make today, has lots of mostly melted cheese and it is far from the original recipe, I feel.
The version of ‘Arni Stamnas’ I puiblished in my first book was given to me by Electra Kalamboka from Kavalla in northern Greece, and it is obviously a more contemporary recipe with tomatoes, which came to be a common ingredient in Greek cooking around the end of the 19th cen. after Greece became an independent country.
Somehow merging the two previous recipes, to cook chicken wrapped in parchment paper. Placing the wrapped food in a clay pot enhances the flavors, as it slows the roasting even further.
Serve with bulgur pilaf, or with plain olive-oil-and- pepper spaghetti or orzo, dousing the pasta with the delicious Kleftiko juices.
Serves 4-5 (more…)
No recipe needed for this glorious, yet very easy vegetable medley that can be the ideal accompaniment to charcoal-grilled meat or fish, but we mostly love to eat it by itself, with just feta cheese, along with a deeply-flavored, olive-oil-fried egg from our neighbor’s hens and slices of good, crusty whole-wheat bread.
Cut into chunks a couple of small, longish, tender eggplants, some peeled butternut squash, one or two bell peppers, add a sliced onion and a couple of garlic cloves and douse them all with olive oil; sprinkle with some cumin, ground coriander seeds, oregano or thyme, plenty of Aleppo (or Maras) pepper flakes and of course salt, and bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, tossing once after 30 minutes or so.
For my 15×12 inch (37×32 cm) deep pan I used about 1 1/2 pounds squash and more or less the same weight of tender (no seeds) eggplants. (more…)
A fast, plant-based pasta dish that we cannot stop eating these days. I cooked the spaghetti first, al dente, the traditional way, then added it to the briefly braised fava pods flavored with onion, garlic, lemon juice, and plenty of wonderful parsley that we happen to have in the garden.
Lemon zest and plenty of coarsely ground pepper give the dish a lovely kick, while crumbled feta adds a very welcomed tanginess.
This is the more conventional and elegant way to make the dish, besides the One-pot version with Fava, Asparagus, and Spinach that I posted last year.
Serves 3-4 (more…)
Much like Orange Koulourakia Cookies, you can get moustokouloura (grape must cookies) in the bakeries and in many homes all over Greece all year-round these days. They are made from grape must, the juice of grapes that is used to make house wine, something that used to be done in most parts of the country.
The cookies are deep-flavored and delicious. The grape must is boiled down to become thick petimezi (grape molasses) an pantry item in most traditional homes. Syrupy petimezi is diluted with an equal amount of water to make the cookies.
The sweetness of the petimezi determines their taste, as moustokouloura have no additional sugar. Commercial moustokouloura are usually large, but the homemade ones are smaller.
To get 2 1/2 cups traditional petimezi (grape molasses) you need to simmer for about 1 hour or more 2 ½ kilos (5 pounds) grape juice. But to achieve the taste of my favorite island moustokouloura, made in August with the local fresh grape must, or with thinned down petimezi (grape molasses), I boil ordinary grape juice with sultanas and/or currents, and the result is great (see Note).
Makes about 3 dozen large cookies (more…)