A Simple Recipe with a Long, Complicated Story…

My recently developed chicken recipe is inspired from the traditional Arni Stamnas, which is often baked in an unglazed clay jar called stamna. Used by women to bring water from the village fountain, often stamna used to play another sly role…

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. (more…)

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Chicken Kleftiko with Vegetables Wrapped in Parchment Paper

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…)

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Flooded with Intensely Aromatic Roses

This year we are flooded with intoxicatingly aromatic roses, as Costas managed to multiply the first Rosa Damascena we transplanted from a late neighbor’s garden.

Now we have three thriving plants, and lots of roses to make Rose Petal Jam and the light rose-scented Yogurt Mousse flavored with it. Later when our guests come, we will offer them my refreshing Pomegranate and Rose Petal Granita everyone loves. 

 

1-roses-basket1-small

I also dry the fragrant petals –spread on clean towels all over the house– to use later in my herbal teas and in home-made Eastern Mediterranean spice mixes.

 

2a-roses-bowl2-small5-rose-petals-jam-plate-small2-rose-petal-jar1-small (more…)

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Kea Spring in all its Glory

Spring arrived in a hurry this year. Just as Kea was unusually cold for weeks in March, it suddenly turned very warm for a few days; then cooled again, to a British-like pleasant spring weather. 

But not everybody enjoys these glorious days, especially the Greeks that celebrated May 1st on the island and expected to go to the beach (!) But the plants and flowers thrive now, before the sizzling sun dries everything…

 

Our pink Cistus parviflorus is in full bloom, and the Lomelosia cretica (above) is following along.

 

As our neighbor’s goats observe, Costas whacks the dried greens very carefully, among the fragrant thyme and savory bushes, and the vivid yellow blossoming phlomis.

Flowering plants are not many in our property, we only spotted four wild orchids under the olive trees this year. They seem as if they are speeding up their pace to catch up, blooming as fast as they can among the already yellowing greens.  

 

(more…)

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