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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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.


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


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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.


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 


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Paximadia Horiatiki or Greek Salad with Rusks, Feta and Capers

Adapted from Mediterranean Hot and Spicy (Broadway Books) Tomato-Salad-Sw

Horiatiki, that has inspired the ubiquitous Greek Salad, is scented with dried, wild oregano or savory, and doused with plenty of fruity olive oil. It might also contain salted sardines, and was often made more substantial with the addition of stale bread or crumbled paximadia (barley rusks), which soak up the delicious juices.

Read HERE the story and roots of this iconic salad.

Serves 6 to 8  (more…)


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Olive and Onion rolls in Orange-Olive Oil Pastry (Eliopita)

The original recipe was given to me many years ago, by Zoe Evangelou; the recipe was revised by Vali Manouelides, while later I came up with the idea to make bite-size eliopites, as by cutting the roll into thin slices the stuffing often falls off.



See below my new variation  for rolls and pies  made with the yeasted  Yellow Spicy Bread Dough.


Makes about 60 meze bites (more…)


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Tarama Spread (Taramosalata) or Smoked Herring (Rengosalata)

Fortunately, now we can get good quality carp roe –a far cry from the salty and tasteless, red-dyed one– so you can choose to make either taramosalata, or the more smoky-pungent rengosalata, using herring eggs, if you find them, or just the smoked fillets for the spread.



Mine is not pink, but light green, as I use almost the entire, juicy scallions from my garden. The recipe evolved from my mother’s rengosalata –smoked herring or kipper spread– the meze she always served on Kathari Deftera (clean Monday), instead of the more common taramosalata.

An official holiday, Clean Monday marks the end of the Carnival and the beginning of spring. It is probably the continuation of ancient pagan feasts that have been incorporated to the Christian tradition. People eat outdoors —even if the moving feast happens on a cold February day— they fly kites, consume lots of wine and ouzo, and dance until sunset.  See MORE here, and also in my previous post about some of the food I had prepared, and if you like, read a more extensive account about the customs and roots of this unusual Greek feast, and also about the lunch I had organized at the Oxford Symposium inspired by Kathari Deftera.




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Spinach, Herb and Feta Skillet Pies (Gözleme)

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Skillet pies –tiganokouloures or tiganopsoma in Greek, and gözleme or saç böreği in Turkish— have become our everyday project these days. Read more HERE.


Next to the popular markets in Istanbul, and in most other Turkish cities and villages, there is usually a lady preparing gözleme.  She sits on the floor, rolling phyllo (or yufka, as it is called in Turkish) on a sofra – a large, low, round wooden table. Next to her burns a makeshift charcoal stove with a piping-hot saç griddle, a large concave drum blackened and shiny from years of constant use.  With these humble instruments she creates the most tempting street food the market has to offer. The large, half-moon-shaped pies are made to order.  Sheet after sheet of thin phyllo is rolled with the help of a long rod in less than a minute. She spreads either a mixture of greens, herbs and fresh salty cheese, or just dabs of creamy cheese with hot pepper and some dried or fresh mint. The gözleme are briefly toasted on both sides atop the saç, then folded or rolled and handed to the customer to devour on the spot. Gözleme is soft, sometimes the dough is not even fully cooked; eaten piping hot, these super-fast pies are very popular and there is usually a line of people waiting patiently to enjoy their treat.


My version of a delicious skillet pie inspired by gözleme  is easy to make, provided you can roll phyllo. Unfortunately, the frozen commercial kinds cannot be used. In some parts of the US fresh yufka sheets are available. If you have a pasta machine it is easy to make your own thin phyllo strips and to create rectangular or square gözleme. They may look different from the traditional pies, but they will be equally delicious, as they toast to crispy perfection.

See also my dessert version, Skillet Pies with Chocolate and Nuts.

Serves 6



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Ka’ak: Savory Cookie Rings or Breadsticks

Adapted from Poopa Dweck’s recipe.

“Ka’ak has the texture and crunch of a breadstick, but it is ring-shaped and has a crimped edge. A staple of the Aleppian pantry, ka’ak is usually offered to guests when Aleppian Jews serve coffee or tea,” writes Poopa Dweck. Because I make my dough with 7 cups flour in the KitchenAid, I increased the amount of flour adding whole wheat, not just all purpose; I also used olive oil instead of the ‘vegetable shortening’ the recipe suggests.Bread Kaak1 S

Bread Kaak2 S

I had no sesame the first time I made ka’ak so I substituted sunflower seeds. Both my husband and our friends who tried them couldn’t stop eating them, and they disappeared fast. For the second batch I used both sesame, as well as poppy seeds and ground walnuts, but also sunflower seeds again, which seemed to complement ideally the cookie’s flavor and crunch.

For about 64 cookies (more…)


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