Ivy on April 20th, 2015

temple of Zeus2

 On Saturday 18th April, 2015 it was National Museum day so we decided to visit the archaeological site of Nemea, which is about 45 km north-west to Assini.
Assini Nemea
The site of ancient Nemea lies in a small upland valley.  Its name derives from the Greek word “nemos”, which means meadow, pasture.  Its location, which was in neutral ground, on the borders of Achaia, Arkadia, Argolis and Corinthia, was ideal for the creation of a panhellenic religious centre and the conduct of the fourth panhellenic games, the Nemean Games.
sanctuary of zeus
The sanctuary only came to life during the summer, when the Nemean Games took place. Therefore, it was always controlled by the nearby city-states, originally by Kleonae, with Argos becoming dominant in the 5th century BC.
The first building activity dates back to the early 6th century BC, when the early Temple of Zeus (Naos tou Dios) and the Heroon of Opheltes were constructed.  Towards the end of the 5th century BC, the sanctuary was destroyed and, as a result, in the following years the games were held in Argos.
In 330 BC, the games returned to Neamea;  this was probably connected with the panhellenic politics of the Macedonians.  At the same time, the Temple of Zeus was reconstructed, on of the first buildings to combine all three ancient Greek architectural orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian);  several buildings were also constructed in order to serve more practical needs:  the “Xenon” (guest-house), the “Oikoi” (houses), the Baths and the Dining Area.
In 271 BC the games were transferred yet again to Argos and after that, the Nemean sanctuary was gradually abandoned.
In the early-Christian era (late 4th-5th century AD) a large agricultural settlement was created on the site.  In 453 AD, the emperor Theodosius banned all pagan activities and so began the systematic destruction of the Temple of Zeus;  its architectural members were used for the construction of a Basilica with a central nave and one aisle at each side.  The settlement was abandoned around 580 AD.
stadium
The Nemea Stadium lies 450 m South-East of the Temple of Zeus. It was closely connected with it, since it constituted the main locale of the Nemean Games, one of the four ancient Greek festivals to be elevated to a panbhellenic status.
According to one myth, the games were instituted to commemorate the death of Opheltes, the son of Lycurgus, King – pries of Nemea.  A second myth though, points to the panhellenic status of the festival, attributing to Hercules the institution of the Games, to offer thanks to Zeus for helping him accomplish his first labour, killing the lion of Nemea.  The Games took place every two years and included musical, theatrical and mainly athletic events.
Around 415 BC, the majority of the sanctuary of Zeus was destroyed and, as a result,, in the following years the Games were held in Argos.  In 330 BC, the Argives decided to undertake a building programme in Nemea and proceed to re-establish the Games there.  Nevertheless, the Games returned to Argos in 271 BC, until AD 393, when the Emperor Theodosius banned them.
stadium seats
The Stadium was constructed in 330 – 320 BC as part of the Argive building programme and remained in use until 271 BC.  Its track was 600 ancient feet long (about 178 m) was bordered by a stone water-channel with stone basins at intervals for drinking water.
Water tank
The starting line, the “Balbis”, consisted of a line of stones, while it also included the “hysplex”, a starting mechanism allowing the athletes to have consistently fair starts to races.
stadium 2
The majority of the spectators sat on the sloping ground, since only a few stone seats were discovered on the west side of the stadium.  The judges, called “Hellanodikae”, had a special platform on the east side of the Stadium, from where they could oversee the Games.
In a natural depression east of the Stadium lie the remains of a rectangular building with a central portico, the “Apodyteirion” (changing room) of the Stadium.  This is where the athletes prepared for the upcoming competitions.
entrance of stadium
In order to enter the Stadium the athletes had to pass through the “Krypte Eisodos” (hidden entrance), a 36 metres long barrel vaulted tunnel,
Nemea stadium
Nemea tunnel
The bath, circa 320 BC, consists of a large square room on the east with four bases for columns to support the roof and a room on the west with two rows of five columns also to support the roof.
baths
The area south of the southern row of five columns is a sunken bathing chamber with two side rooms with tubs or basins and a central pool for plunge baths.
Water Reservoir
South of this area is a system of reservoirs for feeding the proper amount of water to tubs and pool.  The water was brought by a terracotta aqueduct from a spring on the slopes of the eastern side of the valley which marked today by a grove of cypress trees beyond the contemporary cemetery.
Archaeological site of Nemea

The museum was founded by the University of California, thanks to a donation of Rudolph A. Peterson. Destined initially to serve the research and educational purposes of the University’s excavation project at the sanctuary of Zeus, the museum was subsequently donated to the Greek state and in 1984 opened to the public, as Archaeological Museum of Nemea.

pine tree

 

Besides the exhibits from the Zeus’ sanctuary, the museum collections include finds from various archaeological sites in the Nemea region, which span from the Early Neolithic to the Byzantine times.

Museum

 

For more information continue reading here.

Artifacts in Museum

In the region there are many wineries, so it is worth combining your visit to Nemea by visiting one of the many wineries.

vinesPalivou Estate:

Address: Nemea 20500, Greece
Phone Number: +30 2746 0 24190
Lafkiotis Winery:
Address: Nemea 20500, Greece
Phone Number: +30 2746 0 31000
Lafazanis Winery
Kefalari, Ancient Kleones, Nemea 20500, Greece
Phone Number: +30 2746 031450
Co-operative Winery of Nemea
130, Papakonstantinou Av.
Nemea 20500, Greece
Phone Number:  +30 27460 22210

 

If you are visiting Nafplion and would like to combine a visit to the wineries and learn Greek Cuisine, please contact me at ivyliacopoulou AT gmail DOT com

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on April 9th, 2015

Tsourekia 2015

Tsoureki is a type of Greek style sweet brioche bread.   What makes it different is the kind of butter used and its flavour as mahleb and mastic resins are used, which gives it a unique taste.

This year I decided to make something different, so I made some changes to my recipe.  What makes this Tsoureki special is its lovely shape.  You will make everybody thinking that you have made something very complicated.

Tsoureki 2015
You can find the links to my other tsourekia at the end of the post.

You can also find instructions on how to make this bread in another recent post of mine.

Note:  *If you do not have ewe’s and goat butter you can use any other type of butter or margarine.

Tsourekia with Praline Filling

Preparation time: 1 hour

Baking time: 30 – 40 minutes

Waiting time:  about 2 hours for the dough to rise twice

Makes: 1 large tsoureki 24 cm diametre and 1 normal braided tsoureki

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 kilo strong bread flour (might need a little bit more)
  • 25 grams fresh yeast (you can use dry yeast if you prefer)
  • 225 grams sugar
  • 100 grams ewe’s and goat butter*
  • 100 grams margarine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs (60 grams each)
  • 10 grams (2 tsp) ground mahleb
  • 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) ground mastic resin
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

For the filling:

  • 300 grams praline (nutella or Greek merenda)

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg yolk mixed with a spoonful of milk for glazing

For decoration:

  • Blanched almonds (about 50)

 

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast with some of the lukewarm milk.
  2. Melt the butter and mix in the sugar.
  3. Adjust the hook on your mixer.
  4. Put the flour with the salt, the mastic, the mahleb and orange zest in the mixer bowl and mix on low speed to combine.
  5. Add the yeast mixture as well as the remaining milk and mix.
  6. Add the melted butter with sugar and continue mixing on low speed.
  7. Beat the eggs with a fork and add to the mixer.  Mix until well combined increasing the speed until the dough forms into a ball around the mixer hook.  (If sticky add a little bit more flour).
  8. Cover the dough with a napkin and leave it for about an hour (depending on the room temperature) to rise and double in volume.
  9. Knead the dough and divide the dough into four pieces of 300 grams each.  Shape each piece into a round ball.  The remaining will be braided separately to form a classic tsoureki or you can use it as a fifth layer, adding more praline.
  10. Roll out the first ball into a disc around 24 cm diametre or a little bit bigger. It is important that all the discs are made the same size.
  11. Cut a piece of parchment paper 30 x 30 cm and put the rolled dough in the centre.
  12. Spread 1/3 of the praline on it leaving a margin of 2 – 3 cm uncovered. Lay the second one on top spreading praline and continue with the third and fourth.
  13. Use the base of your spring form pan to shape your bread and cut excess dough. (Leftover dough will be used to make the other tsoureki).
  14. Slide the base under the parchment paper.
  15. Place a small round object in the middle and using a sharp knife make 4 cuts.  Divide each quarter into 4 equal pieces so that you have 16 sections.  While making the first two sections twist each piece twice in opposite directions and join the ends.  The right will be twisted to the right and the left to the left.  Continue with all the remaining sections.
  16. Decorate with the almonds.
  17. When done add the ring of the form on the base and secure.
  18. Cover with cling film and a kitchen towel and let it rest and rise for another hour.
  19. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon milk. With a pastry brush, evenly brush the egg mixture over the risen dough.
  20. Preheat your oven to 180o C /  350o F and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven or until a nice brown colour is achieved.

Wishing you all A Happy Easter!

Easter eggs 2015
You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Tsourekia with Chestnut Filling

Tsourekia with Lemon Marmalade Filling

Vassilopita Tsoureki

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on April 2nd, 2015

Skordalia pasta

This recipe is one of those recipes where it will leave you wondering “why didn’t I think of this before?”.

During the fasting period of Lent, I get very creative when creating new recipes. This recipe may be very simple but then many other simple recipes are delicious but it always needs someone to think about it first.

When I had some leftover skordalia (garlic dip) from the 25th of March, I thought that the traditional Italian recipe of aglio (garlic) e olio (olive oil) are ingredients already included in skordalia, so why not combine it with pasta?

I do not recommend that you try this recipe with the traditional skordalia with potatoes but make the one with bread and walnuts. The bread has the texture of grated cheese and the walnuts add a wonderful taste and crunch, plus it makes the dish very healthy.

Apart from adding salt when boiling the pasta, I did not add any additional salt when preparing the dish, as there is salt in skordalia and the olives are brined.

I used whole wheat pasta which I combined with courgettes, Greek throumbes olives and fresh mint, which pair well with the other ingredients.

We loved it so much that in the future I will be making more skordalia, just to use it in this dish.

Penne Skordalia with Courgettes and Olives

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  15 minutes

Serves:  3

Ingredients:

  • 300 grams whole wheat penne
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp courgettes
  • 4 small courgettes
  • 20 olives (throumbes or kalamata), pitted
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 4 heaped tablespoons skordalia

Directions:

  1. Prepare skordalia.
  2. Heat water in a large pot, add salt and cook pasta according to package instructions, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meantime heat the olive oil in a non stick frying pan and saute the courgettes on both sides.
  4. Add the olives and saute for a few minutes and add the pasta and mix.
  5. Finally add the skordalia and fresh mint and mix.  If necessary add a little pasta water and mix .

 

 

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Whole Wheat Penne with Courgettes, Feta and Tomato Chutney

Penne with Grilled Vegetables

Penne with Mushrooms and Marinara Sauce

Penne with Seafood Medley

Penne with Chickpeas and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Butternut Squash Cake with Greek coffee

 

My birthday was two days ago but since we are now living alone in the village I did not plan to make a cake. However, on Sunday morning, I unexpectedly had a call that some friends of ours were visiting Nafplion and would come over to visit us.

As we are fasting for Lent, I had bought some butternut squash the previous day at the farmers’ market to make Kolokotes.  As it was quite big, I had already roasted half of it to be used in other recipes, so I decided to use it in the cake.

I had some leftover sprinkles from the last Birthday cake I had made so I mixed it with some roasted almonds and sprinkled it on top to make it look more festive.

Vegan Butternut Squash Birthday Cake

 

The cake is very easy to make and no mixer is necessary to make it.

I made the cake with almond milk, cane sugar and olive oil which makes it a very healthy one.   If you do not want to roast butternut squash, you can use canned one.  In the cake you can add either mandarin or lemon zest.

As I was experimenting with the glaze, which is an original idea of mine, I made a small quantity first to see how it tasted and since I like it, I added more ingredients to make more.  The amounts mentioned in the recipe are not exact but a rough estimate.  The cake itself is not very sweet so don’t be afraid that you will make it too sweet by adding the glaze on top.  The glaze is delicious and adds a lovely taste to the not too sweet cake.

Butternut Squash Mandarin Coffee Cake with Butternut Squash – Almond Glaze

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Baking time:   50 – 55 minutes

Serves:  8

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

  • 400 grams (about 2¼ cup) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice mix
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet ingredients:

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) almond or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red vinegar
  • 110 grams (1/2 cup) butternut squash purée
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup mandarin juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest or mandarin zest
  • 200 grams (1 cup) cane sugar

 

For the glazing and decoration:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/3 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Butternut squash purée (as much as it takes – about half cup)
  • 60 grams blanched and roasted almonds, divided
  • 1 tbsp colourful sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a 18 cm (7 inch) baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180oC and roast the almonds.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients (except sugar and lemon zest) together.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients together with the sugar and lemon zest
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon until well until combined.
  6. Bake on the middle shelf for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove to a wire rack to cool and prepare the glaze.
  8. Sift the icing sugar in a bowl.  Add vanilla and cinnamon and gradually add some pumpkin puree.  Mix to the consistency of cream.
  9. In a food processor powder 1/3 of the roasted almonds and add to the glaze and mix.
  10. Pour the glaze in the centre and let it spread.  Using a spoon distribute it evenly towards all directions.
  11. Decorate with some of the roasted almonds.
  12. Coarsely pulse the remaining almonds and mix with the sprinkles.  Sprinkle them on top of the cake.

Butternut Squash Cake

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Vegan Chocolate Chestnut Cream Cake

Vegan Olive Oil Cherry Cake

Vegan Chocolate Carrot Cake with Chocolate – Tahini Glazing

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on March 26th, 2015

Thrapsala or calamari risotto

Thrapsala (Illex coindetti or short-fin squid) are of the same family as calamari but much more cheaper, at least here in Greece, but equally delicious.

As I do not find the time to post my recipes immediately, they have been waiting patiently for the right time to be posted, the first one being cooked three years ago.  I now have three recipes using Thrapsala (Short-fin Squid).  All these recipes are cheap, filling but very delicious.

Now that we are going through the period of the Great Lent, I decided that it was about time to post them and I hope to be able to post a few more Lenten recipes before Easter.

The first recipe is a risotto, combined with aromatic herbs.

The risotto is cooked in one pot as these squid were small but if you use calamari, I recommend that your fry the calamari on high heat first, for only two minutes maximum, as otherwise they will become tough and set aside. Then cook the risotto and add the calamari at the end.  (If you have never cooked risotto see the link below).

 

Thrapsala – Calamari (Squid) Risotto

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cooking time: 40 – 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo thrapsala (illex coindetti – shortfin squid)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, whole + 1 cup more green leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 can (450 grams) tomato concasse or 500 grams pummaro
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 100 ml white dry wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup aromatic herbs (I used myronia, parsley and mint) or other herbs such as kafkalithres, oregano, thyme, fennel fronds, dill, chives etc.
  • 500 grams Carolina rice
  • 1 organic vegetable bouillon dissolved in 1 litre water

Directions:

Clean thrapsala and cut them into smaller pieces (see step by step instructions here).

Put them in a bowl with water and 1 tsp baking soda and let them soak for about an hour.  Wash them well and drain.

  1. In a pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent.  Add garlic as well as the green spring onion leaves and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the thrapsala (squid) and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add wine and mix until the alcohol evaporates.  Add salt, pepper and tomoato and tomato paste.  Add a little bit of water until thrapsala are covered, cover with lid, lower heat and simmer until soft, for about 20 minutes.
  3. Continue as if you are making a risotto.  Add rice and continue adding more water, until the rice is cooked, for about 15 – 20 minutes.
  4. Five minutes before the end mix in the aromatic herbs.

Thrapsala calamari risotto

The next recipe is Thrapsala (short-fin squid) stuffed with Black (Cuttlefish Ink) Couscous.  It’s based on my recipe for stuffed Calamari with rice but with couscous it’s something totally different and very delicious.

Thrapsala me mavro kouskous kai revithokeftedes me pligouri

Thrapsala (Illex) stuffed with Black Couscous

Preparation time: ½ hour

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Servings: 3

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely cut
  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic, mashed
  • 1 kilo thrapsala (Illex) (about 8 medium pieces)
  • 130 grams black couscous with cuttlefish ink
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 packet tomato passata (500 grams) or 3 medium fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and blended in a food processor
  • ¼ cup water (just enough to rinse the food processor)
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat half of the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent.
  2. Add the tentacles (half of them chopped into smaller pieces) and sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Add the rice, mix until it is wet and add the wine. Wait until the alcohol evaporates and add half of the pureed tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  4. Lower heat and simmer until the fluids are absorbed.  Mix in the parsley.
  5. Stuff the Illex and secure with a toothpick.
  6. Add the remaining tentacles as well as the remaining tomato and olive oil on top.
  7. Bake in preheated oven to 180oC for half an hour. The turn them over and bake for 10 more minutes.

Thrapsala illex stuffed with black couscous

The third recipe is a delicious squid stew with mushrooms.  I deglazed the dish with white wine which makes the sauce much lighter but if you like you can use red dry wine as well.

Thrapsala with Mushrooms

Stewed Thrapsala (illex) with Mushrooms

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cooking time:  1 hour 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo thrapsala (Illex – short fin squid), cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup olive oil divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove roasted garlic, mashed
  • ½ cup white dry wine
  • 500 grams tomato pummaro
  • 1 vegetable bouillon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 portobello mushrooms, cut into slices

Directions:

  1. Wash and drain the squid.
  2. Peel the mushrooms or just wipe them with kitchen paper and cut them into slices.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a non stick frying pan and sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes and set aside.
  4. Add 2/3 of the remaining olive oil in a wok or other deep frying pan and fry the squid on high heat for a few minutes.  Transfer them to a metallic bowl and clean the wok.
  5. Add the remaining olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Put the squid back in the wok and add the wine.  Cook for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates.
  6. Add the tomato juice, the vegetable bouillon, the bay leaf, rosemary and pepper.  Cover the wok with the lid, lower heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the sauce thickens.
  7. When cooked add the mushrooms as well as salt and cook together for a few more minutes.
  8. Serve with rice pilaf.

.

Thrapsala with Mushrooms2

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

How to make the perfect risotto (with many risotto recipes)

Kalamaria or Thrapsala Gemista (Stuffed Squid)

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on March 22nd, 2015

Tahini Bread

 

Tahinopsomo is a beautiful star shaped bread filled with tahini and honey based on the Cypriot recipe for Tahinopita.  However, this is much easier to make by just following the simple technique I used.

We can bake it in round baking tin in order to make it look more like bread but if it is well shaped you can bake it in any baking tin.

Cutting tahinopsomo tahini bread

It is a delicious and healthy snack for any time of the day and for those fasting during Lent and want to avoid oil, you can leave it out.

The bread is made with a yeast dough similar to what we use to make pizza. For filling I added tahini with honey and cinnamon. If you are vegan, you can replace honey with sugar.

collage tahinopsomo

Star Tahini Bread

For the dough:

Ingredients:

  • 800 grams bread flour or all purpose flour
  • 1 cube of fresh yeast or 1 sachet (8 – 10 grams) dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (leave it out if you do not want to add it)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

For the filling:

  • 150 grams tahini
  • 2 heaped tablespoons honey
  • Cinnamon

Note:  In Greece there is tahini mixed with honey sold in supermarkets but if you want to make it yourself just add enough honey to the tahini, mix and taste until it becomes sweet enough to suit your taste.  If you want it vegan, add sugar instead of honey but you must add a few tablespoons lukewarm water and mix it until it becomes runny, so that the mixture becomes spreadable.

Directions:

  1. In a bowl add the yeast with 1 tablespoon flour, sugar or honey and lukewarm water to make a batter.  Set aside until it bubbles.
  2. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add the flour, (olive oil) and salt and mix on low speed.
  3. Add the yeast mixture, mix and then add the water gradually (you may not have to add it all) and mix again until the dough is ready and does not stick on the mixer bowl or your hands.    If you don’t have a mixer, you can make the dough by hand.
  4. Cover with cling film and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour, depending on room temperature.
  5. Line your baking tin with parchment paper.
  6. When ready, punch the dough to deflate and knead again for a couple of minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and shape them into balls.
  8. Roll out the first ball into a disc about 25 cm diametre.  It is important that all the discs are made the same size.
  9. Place the first disc on the baking tin and spread 1/3 of the tahini mixture on it. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  10. Lay the second one on top spreading the tahini mixture and continue with the third and fourth. The last one will be the top of your bread.
  11. Place a small round small object (a glass or a small bowl) in the middle and using a sharp knife make 4 cuts to form a cross.  Divide each quarter into 4 equal pieces so that you have 16 sections.  While making the first two sections twist each piece twice (or three times) in opposite directions.  The right will be twisted to the right and the left to the left.  Continue with all the remaining sections.
  12. Cover with cling film and a kitchen towel and let it rest and rise again.
  13. Preheat your oven to 180o C /  350o F and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven or until a nice brown colour is achieved.

Enjoy with a cup of Greek coffee!

Tahinopsomo with Greek coffee

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Tahinopita

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on March 16th, 2015

Chickpeas with spinach

Chickpeas are one of my favourite legumes which I cook quite often in many variations.

This time I combined them with spinach,  which makes a delicious and healthy vegan dish, perfect during the period Lent.

If you do not have the aromatic herbs I have used you can leave them out or substitute with some parsley.

Chickpeas with Spinach collage

Stewed Chickpeas with Spinach

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams chickpeas
  • 1 kilo spinach
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
  • 1 organic vegetable bouillon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 grams pummaro
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh fennel fronds, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons kafkalithres (Tordylium Apulum, small hartwort), finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash spinach and cut it into smaller pieces. ((We can also use frozen spinach).
  2. Soak the chickpeas from the previous night.
  3. Boil and skim.
  4. Strain and return them to boil for 15 minutes and strain again.
  5. Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent.
  6. Add the spinach, the bouillon and garlic and stir together for a minute. Add the chickpeas, salt, pepper, tomato and  enough water to cover the chickpeas.
  7. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, lower heat, and simmer for about another hour or until the chickpeas are soft.
  8. Five minutes before the end, add the herbs and mix.

stewed chickpeas with spinach

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Revithosoupa (chickpea soup)

Chickpea Salad with Bulgur, Feta and Pesto

Penne with Chickpeas and Roasted Tomatoes

Revithia sti Gastra (stewed chickpeas)

Revithokeftedes (chickpea patties)

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on March 11th, 2015

Marshmallow Cake for Elia

Today is Elia’s Birthday.  I can’t believe how time flies and she is already turning 23.   Happy Birthday sweetie!!

I made this cake last Friday, as she visited us on Saturday.  Although I was still not feeling well, after the flu, I managed to make this cake for her with the ingredients I had at home.

Elias Cake 23

I had already bought some of the basic ingredients I need on the day we went to Nafplio and got sick.  We were planning to get fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market on Wednesday but as I was feeling awful, we did not go.  I had to improvise with whatever I had at home.

Fortunately, when I saw the marshmallows in the supermarket, I know that Elia loves them, so I put a packet in the basket.    They came handy as I didn’t have anything else to decorate the cake with.

To make the sponge, I followed my basic recipe but I increased the dose, as I have only one baking tin (28 cm) here in Assini and I wanted to make the cake higher than usual.   I flavoured the sponge with bergamot and used bergamot syrup to wet the sponge, which is her favourite, and I added some “glyko” (bergamot preserve) in the filling.

 

Marshmallows Bergamot Birthday Cake

Ingredients for the Sponge:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (if you like it sweeter, add 1 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/3 cup – minus 2 tbsp – all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • 10 drops vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp bergamot zest (optional)

See step by step instructions here.

When the sponge was ready, after a few hours I cut it in the middle and wet both parts with bergamot fruit preserve syrup.  I put the ring back on the sponge and added the pastry cream.  I cut  3 – 4 bergamot preserves into thin slices, which I layered on top of the cream.

Preparing cake

Ingredients for the Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 heaped tbsp corn flour (starch)
  • 3 tbsp sugar or use 1/4 cup bergamot syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 drops vanilla essence

 

See step by step instructions here.

Ingredients for the whipped cream:

  • 330 ml heavy cream (35% fat)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 4 drops vanilla essence

Whip all the ingredients together until peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to be used.

For decoration:

  • 1 packet marshmallows
  • Colourful sprinkles

After layering the whipped cream over the cake, we can decorate the cake as we wish.

In this cake I used the marshmallows to decorate the cake.

I used 4 – 5 of them, which I melted over a water bath (bain Marie).  Those were used in order for the remaining marshmallows to stick on the sides and not fall.  After putting them around the cake, I used a ribbon to tie them so that they would not fall off.  Some of them slipped and after I tied them, I lifted them back again.  I refrigerated the cake for a few hours before removing the ribbon.  I also cut a few marshmallows into smaller pieces, which I used as decoration on top together with the sprinkles.

Marshmallows tied

It tasted amazing.   I am sure you will love it as much as we did.

23 years old Elias cake

 

No one can resist the aroma of bergamot and the fluffy marshmallows!

Marshmallow Cake cut

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Strawberry Mousse Cake with Chocolate Cupcakes

Strawberry and Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake

Strawberry Red Velvet Cake

Strawberry Chocolate Mud Cake

 

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on March 5th, 2015

chicken vegetable soup

I have not been feeling very well since last weekend.   On Saturday morning we had gone to the farmers’ market  as well as to the supermarket for our weekly shopping and the first signs of feeling a bit exhausted had appeared.  I paid no attention and returning back home  I had tons of things to do, to put everything away, wash some of the vegetables and cooked fish.  By the time I finished it was 4 p.m. and I began feeling the symptoms:   my throat and ears were feeling soar, I began to cough, I had a little bit of fever but most of all I felt that someone had beaten me up and my bones and muscles felt sore.

A visit to the doctor’s recommended rest and to drink lots of fluid.  You need at least eight glasses of fluid a day when you’re sick.

Chicken soup avgolemono was one of the soups my mother would make for us whenever we had a cold and it always did its trick.

This recipe I made is not the classic Avgolemono Soup as I have enriched it with more vitamins and nutrients by adding some carrots, celery, a potato and an onion.

Have you ever wondered why chicken soup is good for you when you have a cold?

Here are a few things you should know:

  1. To make this soup, it is important to use a *whole chicken or pieces of chicken with the skin and bones on. Not only does this improve the flavour, but the bones contain nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and zinc, which can assist our immune cells in fighting off colds and flu.
  2. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine. It thins out the mucous in the lungs making it easier to cough out.
  3. Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene. The body converts this into vitamin A, which helps prevent and fight off infections by enhancing the actions of white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
  4. The main nutrient of the potatoes, which is starch,  supplies energy and carbohydrates. Potatoes are a reliable source of vitamin C.  A medium boiled potato (180 grams) contains about 10 mg of vitamin C, which corresponds to 1/8 of the daily requirements for an adult.
  5. Onions contain quercetin, a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory.
  6. Celery has also anti-inflammatory health benefits, including its protection against inflammation in the digestive tract itself.
  7. Finally the avgolemono sauce not only adds more flavour to the soup but also additional vitamins and nutrients.  Whole eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing a little bit of almost every nutrient we need and of course lemons are packed with Vitamin C.
  8. Two additional ingredients which can be added to a chicken soup (without the avgolemono sauce) is ginger and garlic.  Both have medicinal properties to help fight infections.

collage soup

Chicken Vegetable Soup Avgolemono

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cooking time:  about 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 whole chicken*
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 potato, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Water to cover (about 1 ½ litres)
  • 1/2 cup soup rice (carolina)
  • Pepper (optional)

For avgolemono sauce:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup broth from the soup

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken in a large pot and fill with water to cover the chicken.
  2. Bring to a boil and skim off the froth which will rise on top.
  3. Add the vegetables and  salt.
  4. Cook for half an hour and remove the chicken.
  5. Continue cooking the vegetables until they are almost soft.
  6. When you can handle the chicken, remove skin and bones and cut into small pieces.
  7. Add the rice and cook for twenty minutes.  When cooked add the chicken.
  8. Beat the eggs lightly and add the lemon juice.  Pour some of the hot broth while beating the eggs.  Empty it in the pot stirring continuously for a few seconds, so as not to cook the eggs.
  9. Serve with black pepper on top.

 

chicken soup avgolemono

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Avgolemono Soup

How to make Avgolemono Sauce

Vegetable Trahanas Soup

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on February 19th, 2015

Phyllo wrapped feta

As I said in my previous post, the second week of the carnival is called “Tyrini” (from the word cheese), where only dairy products are allowed to be eaten.  However, most people continue to eat meat and only on Sunday, the last day of Tyrini, the tradition is followed by almost everybody.

So, if you want to keep the tradition alive,  here is a very easy and quick cheese mezes which you can make as an appetizer.

You should fry it on medium to high heat so that the feta melts inside.

You can serve it as it is but the addition of Greek honey on top pairs well with the salty feta and you can accompany it with ouzo, tsipouro or wine.

collage crispy feta

Crispy Phyllo Wrapped Feta

Preparation time:  5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 phyllo sheet
  • 1 piece of feta about 8 x 10 x 1 cm
  • Olive oil to wet phyllo and more to fry the parcels
  • Honey to spread on top
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brush the phyllo with olive oil.
  2. Put the feta slice a few centimetres below the edge.
  3. Wrap the edges around the feta and brush again with olive oil.
  4. Wrap the feta into a parcel.
  5. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and place the feta with the wrapped edges facing down, in the olive oil.
  6. Fry until golden brown and then turn it over and fry it on the other side as well.
  7. Serve as it is or with honey and some sesame seeds on top.

Crispy phyllo wrapped feta

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

 

Other related Recipes:

Saganaki

Tyropita (cheese pies)

Tyropita with Kourou Phyllo

Patsavouropita (the easiest Greek cheese pie)

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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© 2007 - 2014 All Rights Reserved. All recipes, text and photographs on this site are the original creations and property of the author. Do not post or publish anything from this site without full credit and a direct link to the original post. E-mail me with any requests or questions.
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