Gkioulpassi

Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 31st, 2013

Gkioulpassi

Gkioulpassi is a dish which comes from Asia Minor.  It is usually made with lamb but it is also often made with lamb, port and veal.  Slits are made in the meat and spices, garlic and cheese are added in the meat.  It is wrapped in greaseproof paper with vegetables and spices and  slowly cooked for three to four hours in a «gastra», which is an earthenware or fired clay deep pot with a lid.  However, if you don’t have this pot you can still wrap it well in greaseproof paper and cook it on low heat for a few hours. The fat from the lamb melts away and flavours the other meat as well, keeping the meat succulent, tender and juicy.

collage Gkioulpassi

I first tried this recipe last summer when my friend Vivi Hadjinicolaou cooked it for us in Assini.  As she explained to me this is a traditional recipe which her in-laws brought with them to Assini when they became refugees after the persecution of the Greeks from Asia Minor. My friend cooks it in a wood fired oven which makes the meat even more delicious but unfortunately I’ll have to cook it in my old oven here in Athens. I haven’t cooked this recipe yet but I am confident that it is going to be perfect.   The above pictures were taken in a haste on my mobile phone.  I will update the post and add the pictures after I cook this dish on New Year’s Day. 

gkioulpassi with hasselback potatoes

Update 1/1/2014

As promised I am updating the recipe.  I added more peppers and carrots which were not included.  I also added coarse sea salt, cumin and paprika. After two and a half hours, I opened the greaseproof papers to take a look inside but it still needed cooking.  I carfully covered it again with the paper and cooked it for half an hour more.  This time I removed the papers.  I added another tray with hasselback potatoes on top and cooked it for 40 more minutes, raising the temperature to 180 degrees C.

The final result was delicious, especially the lamb.   I strongly recommend it but next time I will be making it, I will make it only with lamb.

Mushrooms with bacon ala creme

Gkioulpassi, a traditional recipe from Asia Minor

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Cooking time:  3 hours and 40 minutes

Serves: 6 – 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo lamb from the shoulder
  • 650 grams pork from the shoulder
  • 500 grams veal from the shoulder
  • 250 grams kefalotyri cheese, cubed (I added kefalograviera Amphilochias)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut in slices
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut in slices  (I added 4)
  • 4 red sweet peppers (Florina type), deseeded and cut in slices (Iadded 6)
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic
  • Salt and freshly grated black pepper (1 added 2 tbsp coarse sea salt and lots of grated pepper)
  • Cumin (0ptional)
  • Paprika (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 allspice berries

Directions:

Make slits in the meat and add pieces of garlic, salt and pepper in the meat.

Make more slits and put small cubes of cheese in the meat.  (I combined all the spices in a bowl and in the end there was about 1 tbsp leftover).

Rub it with more salt and pepper as well as oregano and olive oil.

Add the vegetables as well as the remaining cheese, spices and wrap well, two or three times, so that steam will not escape.

Tie the parcel with kitchen string and add some moisture to the greaseproof papers by wetting it with water.   (I wrapped it in three sheets of greaseproof paper and a final wrap in aluminum foil).

Preheat oven to 180o C (350o F). Put the parcel in the oven, (after 15 minutes) lower the temperature to 165o C (330o F) and cook for three (to three and a half) hours.

gkioulpassi with peppers and cheese

Serve with baked potatoes.

gkioulpassi and hasselback potatoes and muchrooms ala creme

 

 

 

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 27th, 2013

Psaropita

We Greeks like making «pites» ( Greek savoury pies) using whatever ingredients we have at hand.   In my cookbook «More Than A greek Salad», I have 15 recipes for «pites» using different types of phyllo with various fillings such as spinach, chicken, artichokes, leeks, cheese, meat,etc.

Collage Pittes

I had some frozen polluck fillets which I wanted to use in order to accompany the Turkey Soup I made today.   Originally, I was planning to make some fish croquettes but I remembered that last week I bought a package of phyllo, which I did not use, so  I decided to make a pie instead.

I used some of the leftover ingredients I had from Christmas, but you can easily make this pie from scratch, without using leftover gravy or fava soup or turkey meat.  All you need is boiled vegetables and broth.   From the ingredients given below, I used less than half the amount.  When I finished making the filling, there was still some liquid in the frying pan, so I added some bulgur wheat to absorb the juices.  Instead you can add some rice, trahanas or even quinoa.  I used graviera, which is one of the Greek cheeses I like in pitas but feta or halloumi can be used instead.

The phyllo I used is called «phyllo kroustas» and is the one used to make baklavas.  The phyllo sheets will be about the size of the baking tin, so when adding the bottom layer, make sure that with each addition, the phyllo will cover one of the sides of the baking tin as well, in order to enclose the filling inside.  Of course, if you like, you can make your own phyllo from scratch or use «horiatiko phyllo» (provençal style phyllo), «sfogliata» (puff pastry) or «kourou» phyllo instead.

As I said I used polluck but you can use cod, salmon, tilapia or other fish fillets.  Don’t use any kind of fish you don’t like as you won’t like the pie either.

Collage Psaropita

Ingredients I used to make the turkey soup:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves, mashed
  • 4 small potatoes. cubed
  • 4 carrots, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup bell peppers, various colours
  • ½ cup corn
  • 4 sprigs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup leftover fava soup (optional)
  • 1 cup leftover turkey meat (optional)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp spice mixture
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 11 cups turkey broth (or water with chicken bouillon)

Cook the vegetables until soft.  Discard the bay leaves and drain the vegetables.

Psaropita (fish pie)

Preprations time:  1 hour 30 minutes

Baking time:  30 – 35 minutes

Yield:  12 pieces

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet phyllo 450 grams (10 – 12 sheets)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 400 grams haddock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves, mashed
  • ¼ cup leftover turkey gravy (or add 1 tbsp flour)
  • 2 cups boiled vegetables from turkey soup
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp bulgur wheat
  • ½ cup parsley and dill, finely chopped
  • 250 grams graviera, grated

Directions:

  1. Defrost the fish and sqeeze out any water.  Make sure that it has no bones.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir a few times.
  3. Add the fish and while sauteing it, break it into smaller pieces. If you do not have any leftover gravy, add the flour and mix to make a roux. Add the cooked vegetables and broth and season with salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes and turn off the heat. Add the bulgur, mix and set aside until it cools. Mix in the parsley and dill, as well as the cheese .
  4. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
  5. Brush a large, shallow baking tin (32 x 38 cm) with olive oil.  The remaining olive oil will be used to brush the phyllos.
  6. Add half the phyllos, one at a time, making sure to cover all the sides and brushing them with olive oil. Add the filling and spread it to go everywhere.
  7. Fold excess phyllos, one at a time, towards the centre, brushing them with olive oil.
  8. Add the remaining phyllos on top, one at a time, brushing them each time, with olive oil.
  9. Use the brush to tuck the edges into sides of baking dish.
  10. With a sharp knife, score the phyllo into square pieces.
  11. Wet your hands or the brush with water and gently sprinkle some drops on top of the phyllo.
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. Serve warm or cold.

Fish pie

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 25th, 2013

kourabiedes with candle

Kourabiedes are shortcrust cookies which are coated with icing sugar. A very significant factor to have tasty kourabiedes lies mainly on the quality of butter used. Ewe’s milk butter or a mixture of ewe’s and goat milk butter is used but if you can’t find any, you can substitute it with regular butter, although the taste will not be the same.

star shaped kourabiedes

We can shape them by hand by making small round balls around 23 – 25 grams each which can be flattened or give them a moon shape or even use a cookie cutter.  The time of baking will depend on their size and your oven.

Kourabiedes 2013

Kourabiedes, adapted from Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Makes: 65 x 23- 25 grams each

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams (1.1 lbs) ewe’s butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams (0.4 lbs) blanched and roasted almonds
  • 300 grams (0.6 lbs) icing sugar (sieved)
  • 650 grams – 700 (1.4 – 1.5 lbs) all purpose flour
  • 1 shot (30 ml ) brandy
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For coating:

  • 2 tbsp citrus blossom water
  • 300 grams (0.6 lbs) icing sugar

Directions:

  1. Blanche and roast the almonds in a preheated oven to 180o C (350o F), for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then coarsely cut them into large pieces.
  2. Sieve the sugar. Then sieve the flour separately.
  3. Beat the butter with the icing sugar at low speed until incorporated and then beat at high speed for ten minutes until it becomes white and fluffy. Add the brandy and vanilla and stir.
  4. Stop the mixer. Change the paddle to the dough hook, add the almonds and continue stirring, adding the flour gradually until the dough is soft but not sticky on the hands.
  5. You can use a cookie cutter or manually shape them into crescents or round balls and place on a baking tin lined with parchment paper, spaced apart.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, depending on your oven. (They will be very soft but will firm up when then cool).
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  8. Using a spray bottle spray them on both sides with citrus blossom water.
  9. Turn them upside down on a dry surface and using a sieve, sprinkle some icing sugar and then turn them over again. Continue sieving until they are coated and then place them in a platter.

Note: The icing sugar used may be sieved and used again.

A similar recipe is included in my cookbook «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

 

Christmas2

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 21st, 2013

Melomakarona

«Melomakarona» (honey cookies) is a traditional recipe made during Christmas.  The cookies are made with olive oil and drenched in a honey syrup, with lots of walnuts on top.

making mandarin syrup

Last year I made these unique  Melomakarona which are full with the aroma of mandarin and I have made them again this year with  minor changes. Living in a place surrounded with mardarins, I wanted to make good use of the mandarin marmalade and mandarin liqueur I had made.  I used local citrus floral honey, fresh mandarin juice which I incorporated in the syrup, mandarin peel and in the filling I added mandarin marmalade until the walnuts could hold together.

 

Filling1

Greek olive oil varies in quality, depending on the region.  I used  a very mild olive oil which has a subtle, fruity taste.  In case the olive oil you use is too strong, you can mix it with sunflower oil. In order that they become of equal size I weighed each piece of dough to be about 35 grams each.  You can stack them in a bowl and don’t have to worry as the olive oil will prevent them from sticking to each other.

filling

Then I shaped them in my hand making a disc of about 7 cm diametre and added a teaspoon filling in the centre.  I wraped each side over the filling and then sealed the edges.

Designs onelomakarona

I put them on a baking tin, lined with parchment paper, seam facing down.  You can use a  grater, an egg cutter or even a fork, which is even easier.

Melomakarona with egg cutter

Attention must be taken regarding the baking time.  My oven here in Athens is quite old and needs more time for baking than usual.  You will either have to reduce the temperature around 170 degrees C or bake them a few minutes less.  Mine were baked in approximately 22 minutes.

melomakarona shaped with fork

I can assure you that if you love the taste of mandarin, you will love these aromatic cookies.  Even if you don’t add the marmalade or the mandarin liqueur, adding mandarin juice, mandarin peel and zest are enough to give these melomakarona a wonderful aroma.  This year, I did not have any mandarin marmalade, so instead I added can sugar and citrus blossom.

Christmas Cake 2013 3

This year I made homemade marzipan decorations for my Christmas Cake, which I dipped in white chocolate.  I had some leftover white chocolate so after dipping the Melomakarona in the syrup,  I then dipped the last then of them in the chocolate.

White chocolate melomakarona2

They smelled and tasted amazing and those who tried them gave me rave reviews. Mandarin Melomakarona, recipe adapted from «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» 

Makes: 60

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups (250 grams – 8.8 oz) good quality mild olive oil  (1 cup olive oil and ½ cup sunflower oil)
  • 1 cup (230 grams – 8.1 oz) sugar (this year I used brown raw cane sugar)
  • 1 cup (250 grams – 8.8 oz) fresh mandarin juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 30 ml mandarin liqueur (or other liqueur or brandy)
  • About 7 cups (1kilo – 2.2 lbs) all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp cloves, powdered
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, powdered
  • 1 – 2 tbsp mandarin zest (from 3 -4 mandarins, only a very thin layer)

For the syrup:

  • 400 grams (14.1 oz) sugar, (almost 2 cups)
  • 500 grams (1.1 lbs) citrus blossom honey (a few more tablespoons to drizzle on top)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mandarin juice
  • 1 mandarin peel
  • 1 piece of whole cinnamon

Filling:

  • 200 grams walnuts, coarsly chopped
  • A few tablespoons mandarin marmalade*
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Additional ingredients:

  • 150 grams walnuts, finely chopped
  • Leftover honey syrup (or honey)

* Instead of mandarin marmalade you can add 4 tablespoons brown cane sugar and 2 tablespoons citrus blossom water, mixed with the walnuts and spices.

White Chocolate Coating (for about 15 melomakarona)

  • 200 grams white chocolate
  • 100 ml light cream
  • 1 tsp butter
  • A few drops of vanilla essence

Directions:

  1. Start by preparing the syrup by adding sugar, honey, water, mandarin juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and  mandarin peel in a pot.  Mix and bring to a boil.  It will soon bubble and form froth.  Reduce heat, skim and simmer mixing a couple of time, for 8 – 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. Sieve the flour and mix with mandarin zest, cloves and cinnamon.
  3. Beat the olive oil and sugar well for about 10 minutes on high speed. Mix the baking soda in the mandarin juice and add to the mixture (be careful as it will bubble). Add the mandarin liqueur.
  4. Change to the K paddle or to the dough hook and add the flour mixture gradually until the dough does not stick on the hands.  (If your mixer does not have the above paddles, use your hands).
  5. Preheat oven to 180o C / 350o F.
  6. Line a baking tin with parchment paper and taking some dough the size of a large walnut, shape melomakarona round and then slightly flatten it.  Add 1 tsp walnut mandarin mixture and fold again into a round or oblong shape, to enclose the mixture.  Turn the melomakarono over and on the side without any seems, press the cookie on a box grater or an egg cutter horizontally and vertically, to form a pattern on top.
  7. Place on the baking tin spaced apart and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, depending on your oven, or until they just start to get a light colour.
  8. When they are baked, dip them while still hot in the syrup for about 1 – 2 minutes.  Turn them over and remove with a slotted ladle in a colander until they cool. (At this stage they can be dipped in the white chocolate)
  9. Place them in a platter, drizzle some raw honey on top and add lots of walnuts on top.
  10. To coat them with chocolate, put the chocolate to melt in a bain Mari.  Add cream and stir to make a smooth cream.  Add vanilla and butter and stir until combined.  After dipping the melomakarona in the syrup, let them drain for a few minutes and dip them in the hot chocolate.  Using two forks carfully remove them on parchment paper until they dry.

A similar recipe with pistachios and chocolate is included in my cookbook «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!»

 

My new cookbook «More Than a Greek Salad»

 

Christmas En 2013

 

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 16th, 2013

panna cotta 1

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert made with heavy cream. «Panna» means cream and  and «cotta» means cooked.  In panna cotta heavy cream is sweetened with sugar and thickened with gelatine.

A dessert such as Panna Cotta with heavy cream is surely delicious and very easy to make.  However, it is loaded with calories, as any other dessert.

In my  new cookbook apart from most of the Greek traditional recipes, I have added the recipes I was cooking while I was on diet in 2011, when I lost 18 kilos in 6 months.  Although in my cookbook I have not included the traditional Greek desserts, as that would need a new cookbook by itself, however, I have included a chapter with some desserts I have made over the years which are suitable either as a snack between meals or much lighter in calories.

Desserts are not excluded from the Mediterranean Diet, provided they are consumed in moderation.  This is the reason why they are on the top of the Pyramid.  This means that if you wish to lose weight, you are allowed to eat a dessert once in a while.  If it is a full fat dessert, you will have to try to have portion control and not go overboard.  You can either choose to eat a couple of tablespoons of a rich panna cotta or eat a filling dessert which is much healthier and with half the calories.

In this recipe which I made yesterday, I have used heavy cream and Greek yoghurt with 2% fat.  The cream is sweetened with honey which is a much healthier choice, which also adds flavour to the cream.  I don’t know a lot of people who don’t like Greek yoghurt with fruit and honey!

To make the dessert I used fresh cherries, which I froze during the summer.  I could have used Sour Cherry Spoon Sweet to serve on top of the panna cotta but since I had the fresh cherries, I made a light compote which I gelled.  If cherries are sweet, a very small amount of sugar is necessary to make a light syrup and some gelatine leaves to make the jelly.  If you want the syrup sweeter you can add some stevia.  If the jelly is left at room temperature, it will not gel completely, so it can be easily added on top.  Instead of cherry compote you can prepare a compote with other seasonal fruit, such as quince, apples, pears etc., or if you are living in the Southern hemishpere strawberries, apricots etc.

cherries

In order to speed up the procedure of gelling, you can put your glasses with the first amount of fruit, in a pyrex and fill it with ice cubes or cold water and refrigerate.

panna cotta chilling

In the cookbook I have a lot of of information on how to preserve vegetables and fruit.  This way you can enjoy fruit and vegetables during the seasons they are not available but also know that your food is all natural with no preservatives in them and it’s much cheaper than buying canned food.

I give you both the full-fat and low-fat versions of this dessert and this is up to you to decide which one you prefer to make.

Panna cotta 2

Panna Cotta

Preparation time:  5 minutes

Cooking time:   5 minutes

Chilling time: a few hours

Ingredients:

  • 500 ml heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 gelatin leaves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or 2 vanillin ampoules)
  • 1 lemon peel (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp neutral oil

Directions:

  1. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with tap water for five minutes.
  2. Put the heavy cream, sugar and lemon peel in a small pot and heat until lukewarm.  Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine leaves (without the water). Mix until they dissolve and finally mix in the vanilla.
  3. Wet a paper napkin with the oil  and lighly oil your cups or bowls.
  4. Remove the lemon peel and divide the mixture  in the bowls and put the cups back in the ice cubes.
  5. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  6. Unmold and serve with some fruit preserve on top.

Panna Cotta with Cherry Jelly

Low-fat Panna Cotta with Cherry Jelly

Serves: 8

  • Ingredients:
  • 250 ml heavy cream (you can reduce calories by using low fat cream)
  • 400 ml Greek Yoghurt 2%
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 lemon peel (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or 2 vanillin ampoules)
  • 7 gelatine leaves

Cherry Jelly

  •  500 grams frozen (or fresh) cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 gelatin leaves

Directions:

  1. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with tap water for five minutes.
  2. Put the water, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon stick, in a small pot and boil for 5 minutes. (Alternatively use 1/4 cup leftover syrup from fruit preserves which dilute with 1/4 cup water, to make it less sweet.  Put it on the heat and boil  for a minute).
  3. Put the cherries in a 2 litre pot and add either of the two syrups.  Bring to boiling point and cook the cherries for 2 – 3 minutes, pressing a few to release their juice.  Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel.   Add the gelatine leaves and mix until they are dissolved.
  4. Add 4 – 5 cherries in each bowl (I prefer to make it in small glasses) with a few tablespoons syrup.
  5. Put them in the fridge and wait until they set.
  6. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with tap water for five minutes.
  7. Put the cream with honey on the heat and when it becomes lukewarm remove from the heat.
  8. Add the gelatine leaves and mix to dissolve.  Add the vanilla essence and mix.
  9. Set aside until it cools.
  10. Add the yoghurt and using a hand mixer mix until they are incorporated.
  11. Divide the mixture over the jelly leaving space to add more cherries on top.
  12. Refrigerate until panacotta sets.  Add more cherries with syrup on top and serve.


Panna cotta 5

In my new cookbook «More Than A Greek Salad», I have included a low-fat panna cotta recipe which I made with light cream, yoghurt and cream cheese.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 11th, 2013

Book Cover 14 Dec 13

I have the pleasure to announce that my second cookbook has just been published on The Amazon Kindle.

Rocket, Pear, Pomegranate and Feta Salad

Rocket, Pear and Pomegranate Salad

As I have a love for food and a sweet tooth, ever since I can remember myself, I used to carry a few extra kilos.

Vegan cherry cake

Nistisimo (Vegan) Cherry Cake

I went on my first diet after adolescence and since then I have been battling to control my weight.

Revithokeftedes Nistisimoi

Vegetarian  (Nistisimoi) Chickpea Patties with Minty Yoghurt Sauce

There were times I followed these silly crash diets some friends would recommend to me.  One of them was eating one kind of food a day, for example eating as much spaghetti as I wanted all day, then as much chicken the next day, or nothing but yoghourt, or only boiled courgettes (zucchini) etc.   Really, how much spaghetti, chicken, yoghourt or courgettes can you eat all day long?

whole wheat pasta with sausage courgettes and eggplants

Whole Wheat Penne with Sausage and Vegetables

I have tried various types of diets and although there was some weight loss, it was only temporary, as when you starve yourself, you lose some weight at first, but once you start to eat normally again, you end up gaining it all back again and even more.

Kebab tomato relish and yiaourtlou sauce

Kebabs, Tomato Relish and Yiaourtlou Sauce

If you search the internet, you will find a plethora of information about the Mediterranean Diet, sometimes described in very scientific terms, which will probably only confuse you.  What I have aimed to do in this book is to take all of the research I have done and laid it out in simpler terms, so that you won’t have to spend endless hours cross-checking the information you come across and trying to decide which source is giving the best info.

Tourkakia

Tourkakia (grilled offal)

During the first three years of blogging, I got carried away and lost track of what we (I refer to my family) should have been eating.  Seeing new recipes which I had never tried before made me want to try everything.

Peinirli

Peinirli (Pontian Cheese on Flatbread)

I loved learning more about cooking and the new horizon which was open to me, by using the internet to learn more about other cuisines and cooking techniques, apart from broadening my horizons, it also contributed to broadening my figure!

Salata Rossiki

Salata Rossiki (A much healthier version of Olivier salad)

As that was not enough, to make matters worse, my blogging addiction meant that I was spending all day in front of a computer screen, and I became completely sedentary.

Tahini Yoghurt Sauce with Artichokes

Tahini Artichoke Sauce

The increase in caloric input plus the decrease in physical activity lead to hypertension, high cholesterol, and back problems.

Fava Soup with Caramelized Onions

Fava Soup with Caramelized Onions

I knew I had to change my lifestyle immediately if I wanted to enjoy a healthy middle age, not to mention a long life.

Nistisima Low fat lemon cookies

Nistisima (vegan) low-fat Chocolate Cookies

In 2011 I started my final diet and have maintained my weight loss to this day. If I gain a couple of kilos over the holidays, I always make sure to lose them before I gain too many and they become difficult to lose.

Vegan moussakas with salata me ladolemono moustardas

Nistisimos (vegetarian) Moussakas and Melitzanosalata (eggplant dip)

My wish  now is to inspire more people to start eating healthier!

This new cookbook is a collection of over 250 of the best healthy Greek recipes as well as many of my own, based on the Mediterranean Diet, with no starving and no bland food.  My culinary skills and knowledge allow me to transform classic, traditional Greek dishes with healthy twists that don’t compromise on taste. Although many of the recipes in this cookbook have already been posted on my blog, many of them have been revamped to reflect my new lifestyle.  Unfortunately, these changes have not changed in the older posts, due to lack of time.

Red Pepper Pasta

Red Pepper Pasta

Many new recipes have also been created exclusively for “More Than A Greek Salad”, always based on the principles of the Mediterranean Diet.  The pictures you see through this post are only a small sample.

Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi

The cookbook is divided into three sections.  The first section covers useful information about the Mediterranean Diet, which in fact is not a diet but a lifestyle approach which leads to long, healthy lives with less chance of chronic disease.

Leek and taro soup

Soupa me Kolokassi kai Prasso (Leek and Taro Soup)

The second section showcases those Greek recipes which are based on the Mediterranean Diet.

All the traditional recipes are in the cookbook but also the low-fat, but mouth watering recipes I came up with while I was on a diet.  Those of you who follow my blog already know that during this period I lost 18 kilos over the course of six months.

Xifias (Swordfish) Plaki

Xifias Plaki (Swordfish plaki-style)

The third section consists of a Diet Plan based on the recipes of the cookbook, from which you can choose what to eat.

To share my love and excitement with you, ONLY for a few days, you can now download the cookbook for yourself or as a gift to your beloved ones for only $6.14.  You can download it on your computer using the Kindle for PC.

If any of my food blogger friends would like to review my cookbook on their blog, I will gladly send them a complimentary copy.

Quinoa Cake

Quinoa cake

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Νοεμβρίου 24th, 2013

Apple Crumble

I had some friends invited for brunch today, so last night I made Spanakopita and Tyropita (the last one with homemade phyllo and feta) and this Apple Crumble.

brunch

I have posted many Crumble recipes in the past, so when preparing this one, I did not take any notes. The measurements are not very accurate but I was luck enough that I used a new packet of butter and flour, so today I weighed the leftover to know what I used.  I think I added 5 apples but if you add 6 nothing will go wrong.  The only thing I couldn’t weigh is the corn flour (starch) but I used two heaped tablespoons (not the ones we measure, but soup tablespoons).  That’s roughly abot 4 tablespoons.   I  did not have enough cane sugar so I added some in the apples and some in the crumble and added some crystalize sugar as well but most of it is cane sugar.  To cook the apples, I used water with lemon in which I had put the apples in, so as not to oxidize.  I may have added more or less cinnamon but I think 1/2 tsp is a good amount.

The crumble was delicious but a bit too sweet for my taste,  However, my guests loved it.

Apple Crumble

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  5 – 10 minutes

Baking time:  30 minutes

Serves 9.

Crumble Topping:

  • 300 grams all-purpose flour
  • 180 grams butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, mixed with crystal sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanillin ampoule
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Apples:

  • Water with lemon juice
  • 5 – 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled – cored and cut into thin slices
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 100 grams brown sugar mixed with a little bit of white sugar
  • 100 ml water with lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons corn flour (starch)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC (350o F).
  2. Slice apples and place in a bowl with water and lemon juice.
  3. Grate butter over the large side of the box grater.  Pour the flour on the grater to get all the butter which sticks to the grater and then add the vanillin and salt.  Mix to make the crumbles and refrigerate for half an hour.  Just before adding it on top of the apples, mix in the brown sugar.
  4. Meantime, cook apples with cinnamon, sugar and water (I used the same lemon water and cooked them in a wok), for 5 – 7 minutes.  Leave the lide a little bit open so as the syrup not to overflow.
  5. Mix in corn flour and mix for a few more minutes until the juices set.
  6. Empty the mixture into a  30 x 22 cm ( 12 x 9 inches) baking tin and wait until the mixture cools (it should set).
  7. Sprinkle topping over fruit and bake about 30 minutes or until done.
  8. Serve warm (or cold) as it is or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Apple Crumble cut

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Amazon.com has announced a new promotion tool this past week called the Kindle Countdown Deals.

It gives the authors the opportunity to promote their books but also a big bargain for people to buy books at very low prices.

I have enrolled in this program which starts as from today in the United States and tomorrow in the U.K. and ends in one week.

Amazon launched a dedicated website at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals  and http://www.amazon.co.uk/b?ie=UTF8&node=3415852031 for readers to browse deals.

Here are the links for my e-books.

At Amazon.com:  Volume 1   $0.99

At Amazon.com:  Volume 2  $0.99

At Amazon.U.K.:  Volume 1  £0.99

At Amazon U.K.:  Volume 2 £0.99

The first 53 hours my books will be discounted at 91% so each volume will be sold at $0.99 at Amazon.Com or  £0.99 at Amazon.Uk.  After the 53 hours it will be sold at 61% discount and the next 53 hours at 31%.  At the end of the week the price will be back to normal again.

Here are a few facts about the e-books:

Cypriot cuisine is shaped by the island’s Mediterranean climate, geography, and history. The majority of its recipes are based on Greek cuisine and the Mediterranean Diet, which is one of the healthiest in the world, using fresh, wholesome ingredients. Cyprus’s strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean, situated between the crossroads of three continents, had brought to the island many conquerors and thus its cuisine has evolved into an amalgamation of diverse tastes and textures, with an unmistakable mark that makes it undeniably Cypriot.

These e-cookbooks are based on the cookbook in print under the same tile but expanded with a collection of over 260 of the best traditional Greek-Cypriot recipes and is divided in two Volumes.

In Volume 1 you will find all the savory Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Mezedes & Salads, Dips, etc.

Collage main dishes

 

Some popular Cypriot main dishes are Sheftalia, Kolokassi, Koupepia,  Ravioles, Savoro, Souvla, Afelia, Ttavas, Atthoi, Kouneli Stifado, Keftedes, Souvlakia etc.

Collage salads and Sides

Here are a few sides dishes and salads:  Pilafi Pourgouri, Pilafi me Fide, Kroketes, Salata Horiatiki, Salads with Halloumi, etc.

 

In Volume 2 you will find Breads, Pites (pies), snacks, almyra (savoury pastries), traditional and modern Desserts, etc.

Collage bread, pies, snacks

Koupes, Eliotes, Flaounes, Kifylla, Pittes (flatbread), Glistarkes, Tahinopites, Tyropita/Halloumopita, Pites (Savory Pies, such as Spanakopita, Tyropita, etc.), Kolokotes, Lahmacun, Mini Phyllo Tyropita Muffins, etc.

collage desserts

Traditional desserts such as Shiamishi, Pastitsia (almond cookies), Daktyla, Palouzes, Karaoloi, Kourabiedes, Loukoumia tou Gamou (Wedding cakes), Melomakarona, Baklavas, Cakes / Vassilopita, Kalon Prama, etc.

This period until Christmas and the New Year is a period we exchange wishes.  Instead of sending Christmas cards, why not send an e-book?  We Greeks apart from our Birthdays, we also celebrate our name days, so again instead of sending a Card, with only 0.99 cents you can send a wonderful gift to any of your Greek / Cypriot family or friends, which will be greatly appreciated.

Here are a few of the most common names celebrating thoughout this period:

21st November: Despoina, Maria, Marika, Maro, Marios.

25th November: Katerina, Catherine, Katy, Korina.

26th November: Stelios, Stella.

30th November: Andrew, Andreas, Andriana, Androulla, Andri.

04th Dececember:  Varvara, Barbara, Vana.

05th December: Savvas, Savvina.

06th December: Nicos, Nick, Nikki, Nikoleta.

09th December: Anne, Anna, Annita.

12th December:  Spyros, Spiridoula.

15th December:  Lefkios, Leftki, Danae, Anthea, Anthoula, Anthi, Adam, Eleftheria, Lefteris, Rebecca.

17th December: Dionysis, Nionios, Dionysia.

19th December: Aglaia, Aris.

25th December: Christos, Christia, Christina, Bethlehem.

26th December: Emmanuel, Manolis, Emmanouella, Emma.

27th December: Stephanos, Steven, Stefanie, Stefania.

1st January:   Vassilis, Basil, Bill, Vassiliki, Biki, Vicky, Vasso.

DON’T HAVE A KINDLE? 
If you don’t have a kindle, you can still download and enjoy these books. Simply download the kindle app to your laptop or desktop and enjoy! 
Download Kindle app here
.

On a last note, if you have already possess my cookbook or will be buying it now, please, please, please, do me a favour and take a few minutes to leave a review at the Amazon store where you bought the cookbook.  Even if it is a gift and you have made any purchase in the past, you can still leave a review.

I have more exciting news to share.  My new e-cookbook in English called «More Than A Greek Salad», with over 250 recipes based on the Mediterranean Diet, with Menu plans to help you follow a healthy diet and even loose weight, is almost ready.

To all my Food Bloggers friends: If you would like to receive a free copy, to prepare any recipe, which you should post on your blog and then write a review on Amazon, please contact me leaving a comment and I will get back to you with more details.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Νοεμβρίου 15th, 2013

Gift

The holidays are just around the corner so it’s time to think what presents to buy for our beloved ones.

gift 2

Here in Greece, we are usually last minute buyers.  We never plan ahead and end up rushing the last minute to buy some presents, not to mention that what’s left from our income is never enough to buy presents for everyone during the holiday.  We usually end up making quick decisions which end up in bad choices of presents.

good luck charm

A few days ago, I was contacted by Zoulovits, which is one of the oldest shops in Athens, if I wanted to review one of their good luck charms.  How could I refuse!  Who doesn’t need some good luck, especially with all that’s going on in our country the past three years?

You may be familiar with good luck charms, from your own culture, as I believe that most cultures have their own, but are you familiar with symbols which are about good luck charms, called «gouri – pl. gouria» in Greece? Some of these symbols are seen as lucky and other symbols are seen as having the ability to bring good fortune.

good luck charm 14

I took a look in their e-shop to choose what I liked.  They have such and amazing collection of handmade «gouria» that it was difficult to choose from.

 

 

pomegranate zoulovits.com--77.77.829-31 (1)

Pomegranates are symbols of fertility, good luck and abundance.

 

 

 

eye zoulovits.com--77.77.825-31

The eye protects you are and your family from the evil eye.

petal zoulovits.com--66.00.711a-31

 

Shoe petals are symbols of happiness and also protect against the evil eye.

four leaf clover zoulovits.com--77.77.824-31 (1)

 

Four leaf clovers are not only for good luck but each leaf symbolizes, love, faith, hope and of course good luck.

olive branch zoulovits.com--77.77.823-31 (1)

 

 

 

An olive branch symbolizes peace, rejuvenation, tranquility and protection.

sailing boat zoulovits.com--77.77.806-31

A sailing boat symbolizes hope, travel and speedy news.

 

Kotinos

I am sure you have all seen ancient Greek athletes, crowned with wild an olive wreath.

The wild olive wreath, in Greek called «kotinos», symbolizes eternal glory and success.

All the designs were beautiful but I loved the one with the olive wreath, without reading, at the time, about what it symbolizes. The following day the courier arrived with the parcel.

In the box, the gift was beautifully packed in a bag and in the bag the good luck charm was in a lovely pouch. The good luck charm was much even better and bigger than how I imagined it to be from the picture.

I hanged it in a lovely spot in house house.  Unfortunately although I took some pictures, the lighting was poor and the picture is not very good.

What I am going to say may seem a little bit fake but it’s the whole truth.  As I said above, the situation in Greece is not good at all and 50% of the younger generation are unemployed.  This charm brought luck to our family the same day it arrived.  I don’t want to jinx it so I am not going to say any more, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Was it a coincidence or good luck I don’t know but whatever it was, we are very happy and relieved. The good luck charms are beautiful and since this brought luck to my family, this year I’ve decided to send good luck charms to people who are important in my life.

If you are visiting Athens, you can visit their shop which is in the city centre, at Ermou Street, Nr. 23 – 25.  You can also buy them through their e-store and they despatch them by courier, anywhere in Greece and Cyprus for only 4.99 Euros.  In case to want to send a gift to other European countries, you can contact them for further information about the price, as this will depend on size and weight.

Each year they have a good luck charm symbolizing a «home».  This «gouri» symbolizes the warmth and safety of having a family and roof over your head.  For each sale, one (1) Euro goes to the Villages called SOS, where children with no family are fostered and taken care of.  The house is made of bronze, decorated with a read cord and a small red pomegranate. spiti zoulovits.com--88.88.888-31

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Νοεμβρίου 10th, 2013

Sausage galette

Now that we are still in Athens, I’ve been cooking a lot for the family.  When there’s no leftover food from lunch, I usually prepare something for my men to eat in the evening.

A few days ago I made pizza but when I began making the dough, the flour was not enough so I used some durum hard whole wheat, an Italian variety produced in Greece, called Simeto.  The ratio I added was about 2:1.  At the time I did not think of taking pictures because I have already posted  pizza recipes, but I was amazed by the difference it made both in texture and in taste.  

whole wheat dough

When I use all purpose flour the dough becomes elastic and it takes quite some effort to roll out the dough.  It also rises a lot, probably because of more gluten content, and when baked it rises and becomes more like a thin flatbread with ingredients on top.  This dough was easy to roll and it did not rise a lot.  The crust was delicious are tasted more like whole wheat biscuit than dough.  My family loved the crust as it as it was thin and crunchy.

The other night, I wanted to prepare something easy for supper, so this time I decided to make the dough using this whole wheat flour, given to me by the Grocery for the Mediterranean Diet.

whole wheat durum flour

I was intending to make some «loukanikopitakia» (aka pork in a blanket) to use some leftover sausage from another recipe I made but then I realized that this wouldn’t be enough, so instead I decided to make a galette and improvise with ingredients I had in the fridge.  I had some lountza (smoked pork fillet) which I had brought along from Cyprus, I had leftover boiled chicken, after making avgolemono the previous day, I had leftover cheeses from making the pizza and of course there’s always ketchup and mustard in the fridge.

The main ingredient of this galette is the sausage.  Living in Greece I used one of my favourite Greeek sausages but feel free to add your own favourite type.  Lountza can be substituted with pasto or with other smorked pork or other charcuterie of your choice and leftover chicken can also be substituted with other leftover cooked meat.  Cheese, such as anthotyro or ricotta, can also be added in the filling.  Feta is salty, so if you want to add some this will depend on how salty your other ingredients are.

Any kind of cheese your use for pizza can be used but you can also try grated halloumi, graviera or other Greek cheeses.

The reason I fried the sausage first, was to remove as much fat as possible.  Lountza on the other side has no fat at all and can be eaten raw but when fried its taste transforms into something amazingly delicious.  Boiled chicken is rather bland, so after removing bones and skin I chopped it into smaller pieces and lightly sauteed a couple of roasted garlic and flavoured the chicken.  The sausage and lountza were then cut into small pieces and mixed in with the chicken.  I did not add any salt, herbs or spices as I wanted the flavours of the sausage and lountza to be highlighted in this galette.

The sauce I used was just simple ketchup and mustard, mixed together.  I made some extra to serve it with, as it matches well with the galette, so if you want some leftover, just mix more of these ingredients.

Collage Galette with Sausage

 

Although I was a bit worried if the dough would rise properly, it rose perfectly and the rolling of the dough was easy peasy.  I didn’t even need to flour my working surface.

The crust was delicious and its texture was more like a soft biscuit rather than bread.  The filling was delicious but this will depend on what ingredients you will use.  If you use prime quality ingredients, you are bound to get prime quality results.

 

Galettes baked

Rustic whole wheat Galette with Sausage

Makes:  5

For the dough:

Ingredients:

  • 600 grams whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cube (21 – 25 grams) fresh yeast
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup tepid water

For the filling:

  • 600 grams pizza cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 slices lountza (smoked pork fillet)
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves and a little bit of olive oil
  • 200 grams sausages
  • 1 cup leftover cooked chicken

For the sauce:

  • 5 tbsp ketchup
  • 5 tbsp mustard

Directions:

  1. Prepare the dough (see step by step instructions) and let it rise, covered in a warm place.  No extra olive oil was used in this recipe.
  2. Cut the sausage in the middle, lengthwise and if you like you can cut it into smaller pieces and fry it in a nonstick frying pan. Place it on kitchen paper and set aside until you can handle and cut it into smaller pieces.
  3. Wipe the frying pan and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and lightly fry lountza on both sides. Set aside and cut it into smaller pieces.
  4. Add the garlic in the frying pan and press it a little to mash it. Add the chopped chicken and stir a couple of times, just to flavour it.  Add the sausages and lountza back in the frying pan and mix all together.  Set aside to cool.
  5. Knead the dough a couple of times and divide it into five equal pieces.
  6. Roll out the dough until it reaches 20 cm diameter.
  7. Mix the mustard with ketchup and spread 1/5 over the dough.
  8. Put the cheese in the middle of the dough, leaving about an inch margin.  Add 1/5 of the filling and cover with cheese.
  9. Fold 5 – 6 cm / about 2 inches edge of the crust over the filling, pleating the crust.
  10. Line a large baking tin with parchment paper and place the galettes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF and bake the galettes for about 30 – 40 minutes or until golden.

Galette cut

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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