Roasted Cabbage with Smoked Pepper and Rosemary

At Nolan restaurant in Athens, I tasted a salad of deliciously ‘burned,’ caramelized winter vegetables –pieces of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli— dressed with a lovely Asian-inspired sauce.  “Roasting cabbage wedges at high heat makes them crisp at the edges and tender in the middle,“ writes Melissa Clark in NYT Cooking.

 

 

Her recipe, the very first I encountered of roasted cabbage wedges –many have been published since– inspired me to try my version.

I omitted the anchovies and parmesan, but added both soy and fish sauce, as well as a large pinch of my favorite hot Florina smoked pepper, along with plenty of rosemary, which I think complements beautifully this Asian-Mediterranean roasted cabbage.  Costas and I loved it, and we make it quite regularly these days.

It accompanies beautifully any kind of meat or chicken, but we also eat it with the wonderful olive-oil-fried eggs from our neighbor’s hens, and feta cheese.

 

Serves 3- 4  (more…)

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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


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Broccoli and Pepper Gratin with Yogurt and Feta

We love to eat this vegetarian, olive oil gratin all year round, especially these late fall days using locally grown, deliciously tender and flavorful broccoli, and the last long peppers we gather from the garden.

The tanginess of yogurt accentuated by the crumbled feta beautifully complement the sweetness of the broccoli and the peppers.

 

 

Serves 5-6: 12X9-inch (30X20cm) glass casserole (more…)

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Apples Baked in Sweet Wine with Dried Fruits, and Spices

I remember the baked apples my mother used to make all the time, back when the fruit we got in Athens was not wonderful as Fuji apples are today. Costas who grew up in Volos, remembers the exquisite heirloom apples from Pelion he loved. They have now disappeared as the trees are grafted to uniformly produce big red apples with little taste or aroma.

Fuji are grown in Greece the last few years and they are by far the best –and more expensive.  For this simple, plant-based (vegan) dessert I loosely follow my mothers recipe.

 

Unlike northern Europeans and Americans we don’t add butter to baked apples. I would serve these as dessert, but I know that some people would like to compliment game, poultry or hearty winter meats with baked apples.  

 

6-7 Servings (more…)

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Chicken Soup Avgolemono

Egg-and-lemon-thickened chicken soup is the iconic, typically Greek variation on a much-loved, comforting, winter soup.

It is the traditional one-pot Christmas dish on Rhodes and other Dodecanese islands. Christmas in the Greek islands is not the big feast celebrated in the United States or northern Europe: Easter and the Virgin Mary’s Assumption (August 15) are the important island festivals.

 

The addition of ginger and a piece of lemon peel is my twist on the basic recipe I got from my mother. I think their flavor and aroma deepens the broth’s taste. I prefer making the soup lighter, with vermicelli instead of rice, or even plain — just the broth and pieces of chicken. In that case you may want to add one more egg if you want to make it thicker, creamier.

Sometimes instead of chicken meat,  meatballs such as the Scallion Meatballs,  are cooked in a chicken or meat avgolemono  soup.  

 

 

Until the late 1960s, chicken was considered a great delicacy on the islands. It was the most expensive of all meats and, except for important feasts, it was usually reserved for children and the sick as the lighter of all meats.  The free-range chickens or capons of Greece need a long time to cook, and even then, their flesh can sometimes be tough and stringy. But they make the most delicious soup or youvetsi.

Instead of chicken you can make the soup with de-fatted broth from beef bones or make an exquisite fish soup (psarosoupa) boiling down fish heads, bones, and small fish. I try to always have various homemade stocks in my freezer so that I can make not just soups, but flavor risotto and all kinds of sauces.  

 

 

 Makes 6 to 8 servings as a first course, about 4 to 5 as a main course 

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