Eggplant and Squash pie with Peper, Cumin, and Walnuts

This pie is a rif on Melitzanopita tis Dramas (eggplant pie from Drama) a wonderfully complex and delicious pie I learned to make years ago in this northern Greek town, and have published in my first cookbook, The Fooods of Greece.

I though of adding squash and bell pepper to the eggpants as I had no leeks to sweeten and add color to the stuffing. This semi-open colorful pie/tart is the perfect main course for a vegetarian Thanksgiving or for any festive fall and winter meal.   


In the original pie of Drama sauteed leeks and eggplants are flavored with plenty of agad graviera cheese, and scented with cumin. Walnuts add a meaty taste to this delicious pie that I have baked on many occasions, both at home and also at various meals I have cooked over the years in the US. I often bake a rolled eggplant pie, as it is easier to cut and serve, especially if one uses commercial frozen phyllo, and not the wonderful home-rolled. 



Serves 10-12 (more…)


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Bouyourdi: Grilled Feta, Tomato, and Pepper

Bouyourdi hardly needs a recipe.  One or two slices of good tomato, a lavish slice of Feta cheese and pieces of bell and hot pepper are doused with olive oil, generously sprinkled with oregano and grilled in a very hot oven. Bouyourdi is brought to the table directly in its baking dish, often individual clay pots, and enjoyed with plenty of fresh crusty bread to sop-up the scrumptious oil. Although served as a meze in Greece, it can also be a wonderful breakfast or brunch dish for the whole family …Read more.


This very simple, absolutely irresistible meze is a somewhat recent addition to the summer menu of Greek taverns. It probably has its roots in the fried or grilled peppers with batzos – a quite pungent, semi-hard cheese from Thessaly and Macedonia. The irresistible meze was probably first served in Thessaloniki taverns and the surrounding areas, and was eventually adopted by home and restaurant cooks all over Greece.



Serves 4



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Feta in Phyllo Packages

I first had this clever and simple version of feta package in Eumelia, the Organic Agrotourism Farm in southern Peloponnese. Marilena, the owner, cook, and instructor, served us a large, home-rolled phyllo and feta package, which, as she explained, she prepares in advance, freezes it, and then briefly fries in a hot oil skillet whenever she needs to present a quick snack or meze. Her twist on the common phyllo triangles served at most taverns, is that the thin slices of feta inside the frozen phyllo are adequately heated through as the package is briefly fried, becoming particularly delicious. The soft cheese does not disintegrate inside the crunchy phyllo, as in most versions of the appetizer.


Chef Uri Eshet at Kea Retreat serves the packages with sliced figs; you can pair them with other fresh, seasonal fruit and/or with fruit preserves. Drizzle with honey or any syrup, and sprinkled with sesame seeds or nigella, if you like.


I bet that this easy, convenient, and delicious morsel, whipped up with commercial phyllo, will become your next favorite appetizer.  The pieces are quite filling, so one per person is enough.


To make 9 feta-phyllo packages (more…)


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My Bread and/or Laganes (flatbreads)

Inspired from the traditional, fragrant festive Greek island recipes, this is the basic bread dough I use for various kinds of loaves but also for lagana (plural laganes) the flat, focaccia-like loaves that I make all the time, topped with any kind of seasonal vegetables or fruit —sliced fresh figs when in season, or wine-soaked dried figs in the winter, tomato or peppers in the summer, kumquat with spicy cheese etc.


Instead of baking the bread on the stone, I often heat a cast iron or clay casserole and when the loaf is ready, I carefully transfer it inside the heated casserole, close the lid and let it bake inside for about 30 minutes then uncover, and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until it is done. Baked inside the casserole the bread gets a more substantial crust. 


I also flatten and roll pieces of the dough stuffing it with greens or broccoli. Lately I invented a pizza-like spanakopita, topping this beautiful dough with the mixture of greens, herbs, feta, and other cheeses –the same one that I use for my winter greens’ pie, where I combine not just spinach but also a variety of wonderful wild, foraged greens. I shaped the round bread-spanakopita in a non-stick skillet, and fried it for about 6-8 minutes, until the bottom started to brown, then continued to bake it in the oven. 



Yields 1 large or 2 medium loaves, or 2-3 flat laganes (more…)


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