The Seedy Grapes from our old Vines

Most of the grapes our vines produce hardly manage to ripen; wasps and all kinds of insects attack them as soon as they start to blush.

This year, though, we managed to harvest quite a few bunches to fill two large baskets. But our grapes are what the locals call ‘krasostafyla’ (wine-grapes), sweet but filled with seeds and quite difficult to swallow.

 

Early this August, as we finished harvesting the almonds, we noticed quite a few nice bunches of grapes hanging from the old, robust vines that engulf the southern fence of our property, behind the lemon trees.  From these vines we mainly gather the tender grape leaves early in May, to stuff and make our trademark dolmades.

 

Usually the grapes our vines produce hardly manage to ripen; wasps and all kinds of insects attack them as soon as they start to blush. Come harvest time, we just find a few bunches of rotten, half-eaten grapes which are sweet but filled with seeds and difficult to swallow.

 

 

These vines are probably a remnant of the old vineyards our little valley was famous for; the dark grapes used to produce quite good wine in the old days, as I discovered researching the paper I wrote for the 2017 Oxford Symposium: (more…)

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Cold Yogurt Soup with Cucumber, Herbs, and Rose Petals

This hauntingly aromatic Persian soup, adapted from a recipe by Iranian-American chef Hoss Zaré, combines nuts and raisins with dill, mint, chives or scallion, and dried rose petals, all suspended in yogurt, creating a delicate, refreshing, and crunchy soup.

Unlike the boldly flavored cacik, the Turkish yogurt-cucumber-garlic soup, common throughout the Mediterranean –an ancestor of tzatziki– this older, fragrant Persian soup has no garlic.

I use almonds or pistachios instead of the walnuts the original recipe calls for, and I add preserved lemon, which enhances the soup with its salty-tangy flavor. I suggest you double the recipe and enjoy it the next morning for breakfast.

 

 

Serves 6 (more…)

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My Boiled Vegetable Salad

This is a simple, delicious salad/lunch that you can make any season with the most wonderful local vegetables and greens you can find. With Claudia Roden, we shared our happiness that boiling vegetables have at last become the IN thing to do!  Our book editors, until recently, had stricken out of our recipes the mere mention of boiling any vegetable or green, replacing it by ‘blanching’ or ‘steaming…’ Read more

 

Potatoes, carrots and a couple of onions are boiled first, in a pot with 1-2 teaspoons salt, until tender and easily pierced with a fork. 

 

 

We discard nothing in our part of the world, and we have learned that for example the root-ends of spinach are delicious when fresh, (more…)

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BOILED Vegetables and Lunch at Claudia’s

With Claudia Roden, we expressed our happiness that boiling vegetables has at last become the IN thing to do!

Up until recently our book editors had stricken out of our recipes the mere mention of boiling any vegetables or greens, replacing it by ‘blanching’ or ‘steaming…’

 

“Today we are starting with a very controversial statement — I boil my vegetables,” writes José in his always exciting Newsletter Longer Tables with José Andrés. “You may not believe me, but it’s true! I would not lie about something important like this,” he continues. “I was shocked when I came to America and saw many restaurants and people, and even cookbooks, roasting the whole carrots and roasting whole beets and roasting all their tubers, including potatoes. I will not lie to you that more than once I told my friends: Are you crazy? Roasting carrots?” he writes.

Last week, after the end of the fascinating Symposium in Oxford I had the privilege to be invited for lunch by the symposium’s president, the unsurpassed food writer and researcher Claudia Roden –a friend since the early ‘90s.

 

It was a hot, humid day in London, and along with the brilliant Alicia Rios we sat at Claudia’s inspiring kitchen and enjoyed a lovely salad of boiled beets, asparagus, carrots, and zucchini, topped with fresh pea shoots, and accompanied by thick yogurt, before the main course of a fragrant bulgur pilaf with chickpeas, tomatoes, and eggplants that she has described in her fabulous book MED.

 

(more…)

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Roasted Squash and Bread Salad with Tahini-yogurt Sauce

In this simple salad the sweet, sumptuous roasted squash is paired with crunchy olive-oil-croutons, and complemented with tangy yogurt-tahini sauce,  creating an irresistible combination.

It is inspired from a dish served by Semsa Denizsel, the celebrated chef and former owner of Kantin Lokanta in Istanbul. She has now moved to the Aegean coast, and teaches cooking in her beautiful home, amidst olive trees.

 

 

Serves 4-6 (more…)

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