Veal Stew with Quinces (Moschari Kydonato)

This is my favorite winter stew. Quinces are equally delicious in savory and sweet dishes, and Greek islanders cook all kinds of meats with quince.

On Chios, they pair quinces with free-range chicken; on Crete, with lamb; and on Lesbos, with veal. As with most stews I make on Kea, our local veal shank is my first choice; but I also make pork with quince. I give the meat extra flavor by tying the cores of the fruit in cheesecloth and adding them to the cooking broth.

The combination of meat with quinces is not new. In the Roman cookery of Apicius we find similar stews, and quinces have been quite common in old traditional Greek cooking. (more…)

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Quince and Mini-squash Stuffed with Wheat Berries, Nuts and Raisins

This is my suggestion for a glorious vegetarian main course. I bet that even avid meat-eaters will enjoy it. The combination of the sweet, mini squash with the tart quince is perfect!  For the stuffing I adapted the recipe for the Stuffed Quince I have in my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts (page 156). But I omitted the tomato sauce.  

The small squash can be an interesting substitute for quince in case you cannot get the fragrant old apple-like fruit, which is the epitome of our Mediterranean winter. I actually envy my American friends because they can get these absolutely fantastic mini butternut squash, or honey-nut-squash as they are called. They were developed by Michael Mazourek, a plant breeder at Cornell University, in collaboration with the visionary Dan Barber.

If you are going to stuff just the squash, I suggest you add some tart apple to the stuffing or spike its sweetness with pomegranate molasses. (more…)

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Basic Tomato Sauce (Saltsa Domata)

In the winter, when good, ripe tomatoes are not available, use canned, or slice and roast the pale available tomatoes to make them more flavorful. Instead of sugar, I like to sweeten the sauce with currents.  

Beyond pasta, the sauce can be used on flat,  breads complemented with crumbled feta or any other cheese. It is the basis for the vegetarian mousaka, and also for the stuffing for papoutsakia (eggplant slippers), with the addition of chopped, sauteed bell peppers and feta, graviera or any other cheese, with or without walnuts, or other nuts.

Yields about 3 cups sauce, enough for 1 pound pasta          

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Santorini Fava with Caramelized Onions and Capers

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Braised capers are an ideal topping for the local fava, the trademark dish of Santorini. Today Santorini Fava is served as a meze at taverns throughout Greece, usually prepared with mashed, imported yellow split peas (dal), dressed simply with fruity olive oil, topped with sliced onions and dried Greek oregano.  In the old days, though, fava was made from dried fava beans and/or from an indigenous, ancient legume, a variant of Lathyrus sativus (chickling vetch or grass pea), called cicerchia in Italian and almorta in Spanish.

Inspired chef Dimitris Mavrakis, in Kritamon, his wonderful restaurant in Archanes, Crete, makes fava with a combination of legumes: dried fava beans, split peas and some lentils, and the flavor of the pureed beans is wonderful, even without any topping (see variation).

8-10 Meze servings (more…)

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Youvetsi: Baked Lamb with Pasta in Tomato Sauce

Adapted from The Foods of the Greek Islands.

This is the basic recipe for the very popular meat and pasta dish. You can prepare it with beef –I very often make it with the local, beef-like, veal shank on Kea (pictured here) but also with free range, gamy chicken (see variations).

Although I think that orzo-pasta works best, you can also find the dish made with hilopites (the small squares, or the flat, ribbon-like traditional pasta).

Makes 8 servings       (more…)

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Bread Stuffed with Figs and Brown Sugar

Fig Bread cut SServe as dessert, with xynomysithra –the tangy ricotta-like fresh cheese from Chania, Crete. It is great for breakfast with yogurt and fruits, but can also be paired with aged and spicy cheeses. It is wonderful with gorgonzola and kopanisti –the Greek fermented cheese– especially complemented with Vinsanto of Santorini, with Mavrodaphne of Patras or port wine, but also with my aromatic lemon liqueur. (more…)

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Pickled Huevos Haminados (slow-cooked Eggs in Onion Skins)

1a-eggs-pickle-jar1-smallThe pickled eggs taste better if they are slow-cooked with onion skins. But plain, hard-boiled eggs work well too. Serve as appetizer, drizzled with good, fruity olive oil, sprinkling with salt and pepper, or add to any salad of fresh, boiled or steamed vegetables. They complement beautifully bean, chickpea or lentil soups.

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6 eggs ( 6-12 appetizer portions) (more…)

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Slow Cooked Eggs (Huevos Haminados) Decorated with Leaves

Two years ago, with eggs from our neighbor’s hens, I made these onion-skin-colored Easter eggs, most of which I later pickled, because what I like most is pickled huevos haminados, which are simply delicious!

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Sephardic Jews who live in Salonika, and all around the Mediterranean, prepare huevos haminados (baked eggs) as they were called in Ladino, the dialect of the Jews who were expelled from Spain. Prepared on Fridays to serve on the Sabbath, they were originally placed in a covered clay pot filled with onion skins and water and baked in a communal oven, hence the name. Later, the eggs were simmered for hours on top of the stove. The onion skins darken the white shells and give the eggs a distinctive flavor and creamy texture.

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Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake with Lemon, and Lemon Verbena Leaves

Often, this cake was doused in syrup as you see in the original recipe. Traditionally scented with plenty of lemon zest, I thought that adding lemon verbena leaves would make my cake more fragrant and interesting. Apparently, it seems that it does, at least this is what Costas and I thought after tasting the first new version.

Keep in mind that this is not a light, airy cake, but has a somewhat dense texture that we love! I suggest you bake it a day before you serve it, so its flavors have time to develop and deepen.

Serves 8-10 

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Liver Pâté with Thyme, Orange, and Pistachios

A fast and easy pâté that I make with the flavorful innards from the free-range turkey or the rooster we get for our festive winter lunches.

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I no longer remember which pâté recipe served as the base for my adaptation. As is my habit, I start by sautéing the onions with olive oil, instead of butter or duck fat, adding orange jest and also pomegranate molasses, which give it a lovely, fruity flavor. I prefer to use unsalted pistachios, but if you cannot get them, salted are fine.

This pâté is an ideal appetizer or first course, served with a simple green salad, like the one we make from the Romaine and other lettuce leaves and arugula from the garden.

I am sure your friends will appreciate a jar of this homemade pâté, so you may like to double the recipe.

Serves 6-8, about 2 ½ cups 
(more…)

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