Fassoláda: the Traditional Bean soup, Revisited

The epitome of comforting, winter meal for Greeks, fassoláda is warming and filling. Prepared with the excellent ingredients from northern Greece that are now available, it becomes even more enticing!

 

I originally wrote and posted this seven years ago, as I was going through my first-grade school book published right after the Second World War. In it there was a description of fassoláda (bean soup), which was often referred to as ‘the Greek national dish’ in the old days. Surprisingly, the version in my book had no tomato! I was shocked, as fassoláda is always made with tomatoes as far as I can remember, but probably in those days canned tomatoes as well as tomato paste were not yet a common ingredient in all households. See also how the kitchen and stove looked in most parts of the country the 1950ies…

 

My revised recipe below is flavored with the wonderful Piperokama, the dried, smoked, hot peppers of Florina that our friend Naoumidis prepares.  I am told that it will be soon available in the US, as are his other deeply flavored roasted peppers which you can order  HERE and also HERE

 

We love to eat fassolàda with feta cheese, but also with canned sardines in olive oil or any smoked fish.

A simple bowl of olives, and/or taramosalata is the custom during the days of Lent, preceding Christmas.

 

Serves 4-6


(more…)

Share

Read More

Chicken and Potatoes with Lemon and Herbs

Adding chicken to the iconic Greek Lemon-Oregano potatoes creates a dish very few people can resist. The potatoes by themselves often steal the show from any kind of meat they accompany, even from roasted lamb; baked together with chicken legs or breast they become the ultimate one-pot dish for every season.

 

I baked it in a very old copper casserole, over several layers of parchment paper, as the traditional inside lining of the is somewhat worn, and there are very few itinerant craftsmen to renew it.

This dish is particularly good on islands like Naxos, or here on Kea, where the local potatoes have exceptional flavor. If you want to cook this dish using small potatoes there is no need to peel them, but I suggest that you halve them, because they taste best when they can absorb the flavorful juices.

 

Makes 4 to 6 servings (more…)

Share

Read More

Chicken with Sour Cherries and Onions

An easy and delicious dish that combines Eastern Mediterranean and Asian traditions.

The tart sour cherries are traditionally cooked with meatballs in Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and since I love the combination of fruit with all kinds of meat, I thought chicken would be great with cherries. Boned and skinned chicken thighs cook fast, so the cherries don’t lose their bright color when the dish is done.

Last but not least, I balance the cherries’ tartness with plenty of sliced Kea onions which are wonderfully sweet.  

 

 

I marinate the chicken with soy sauce and wine, as I do when I make a stir-fry, and this adds an extra layer of flavor.   

 

Serve with just fresh crusty bread, or with toasted pita triangles, like Anissa Helou’s Kabab Karaz. Great with a simple bulgur pilaf, as well as with mashed or roasted potatoes. In the winter it is ideally complemented with David Tanis’ Baked Polenta.   

 

Serves 4-5 (more…)

Share

Read More

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…)

Share

Read More

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…)

Share

Read More