Ivy on August 13th, 2014

 

Pickled purslane

I’ve written about purslane (portulaca oleracea) in many other posts.

Purslane in garden

Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. The stems, the leaves and the flowers are all edible.   Ms. Simopoulos states that Purslane has .01 mg/g of EPA. This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish and some algae. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves).

Washed purslane

Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies.

We did not plant any purslane but it suddenly appeared in our garden this year. I guess that the birds may have dropped some in the garden .  All purslane needs to grow is part to full sun and clear ground. They are not picky about soil type or nutrition. But, purslane does tend to grow better in drier soil.

It grew in abundance and we have been eating a lot but it’s impossible to eat it all.  So, what better way to keep the bounty of the season’s harvest for the winter, than pickling it.

tender purslane tops

This year I made this pickle twice.  The first time I added more water (ratio: 2 vinegar – 1 water) which made the vinegar less strong.  I wanted more acidity so this year I reduced the amount of water.  I also added some elixir of vinegar’s nectar, which is an aged vinegar (5 years) mixed with fruit and herbal extracts of peppers, cardamom, ginger etc.  which adds extra taste and aroma to the pickles.

Elixir vinegars nectar

 

I have already made some new recipes, which I will be posting in the future.  Until then you can use the picled purslane in your salads or serve as it is to accompany fish or meat dishes.

jars with pickled purslane

Pickled Purslane

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes: 3 kilo jars

Ingredients:

  • 650 grams tender purslane with stems
  • 1000 ml red wine vinegar, 6% acidity
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) honey
  • 20 hot chilli peppers
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp crashed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sweet chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup elixir of vinegar’s nectar (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry purslane and set aside to dry.  Cut only the tender stems.
  2. Fill the sterilized  jars with purslane.
  3. Put the remaining ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for five minutes.
  4. Set aside until lukewarm and mix in the elixir of vinegar’s nectar.
  5. Divide the vinegar mixture in the sterilized jars, adding the spices as well.
  6. If the pickles are not sufficiently covered with the vinegar, add enough olive oil, until covered.
  7. Store in a closet.

 

 

jar with pickled purslane and spices

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

How to sterilize jars

Minty, Avocado and Purslane Tzatziki

Purslane Salad, Purslane Tzatziki and Carrot Tzatziki (in one post)

Greek style Purslane Pesto

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on August 5th, 2014

Beefburger and Avocado Tzatziki

 

As August is the vacation month in Greece, no one wants to stay at home, although we are not going on vacation.  However, living near the seaside, we do enjoy going to the beach almost everyday.  We go early in the morning and by the time we get back to have breakfast, shower, wash towels and bathing suits, cook and ea,t it’s almost afternoon.  A siesta is a must here in Greece because it’s very hot, especially during July and August and only some free time late in the afternoon.

For this reason, instead of going on a hiatus, I will be posting a few easy recipes.

Purslane for pickling

If you have a garden and see these weeds, do not pluck and throw them away.  It’s purslane, which is a herb packed with vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids.

We have a lot growing in our garden so I will be sharing a few recipes, in other posts, showing you how you can use it.

Well, the easiest way is to incorporate it is in your other salads, espcially Greek salad as it pairs well with it.
avocado
Avocado is such a healthy fruit as well, so why not add it in tzatziki and get advantage of the valuable nutrients and fibre.  Instead of adding mayonnaise in your sandwiches, add a tablespoon or two of this avocado tzatziki, which will transform your food into something much tastier and healthy.  It is essential that the avocado is ripe before using (excerpt and picture from a different avocado recipe, in my Cookbook “More than a Greek Salad“).

avocado tzatziki

 

This  dip is another twist of mine on the classic Greek Tzatziki dip but with a milder taste, as I used roasted garlic.  Instead of cucumber, I used purslane and of course avocado, which is also a rich sorce of Omega-3.  Since avocado has its own healthy fat, I skipped the olive oil.  I used pink Himalayan salt, which also has a lot of health benefits, but if you don’t have any, you can substitute it with coarse sea salt.

This dip is excellent with any kind of grilled or roasted meat but also in salads.  This time, I served it with Greek Mpiftekia and Mushroom Sauce (recipes not posted yet) and healthier Greek roasted potatoes, in parchment paper.

The taste of this avocado dip is just amazing and trust me, you will be making it over and over again!

Collage Avocado Purslane Tzatziki

Minty, Avocado and Purslane Tzatziki

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Ingredients:

  •  200 ml Greek Yoghurt 2%
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic, mashed
  • ½ tsp Himalayan salt (or use coarse sea salt)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup purslane leaves, finely chopped
  • Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp)

Directions:

  1. Mash the garlic with the salt.
  2. In a bowl add the avocado, garlic and lemon juice and mix to combine.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.

Minty, Avocado Purslane Tzatziki

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Purslane Salad, Purslane Tzatziki and Carrot Tzatziki (in one post)

Greek style Purslane Pesto

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Kagianas with poached egg

When Patrick Keeley contacted me by e-mail to be the featured chef of their T.V. show “All the best” with Zita Keeley, I was really excited.  The cruise ship they partnered with, the “NOORDAM” would be visiting Nafplion in a couple of weeks and they would have six hours, for me to cook and show them around on a culinary tour around Nafplion.

Zita and Ivy

I started looking for interesting places to show them around.  Some I already knew and the I google searched to find more.  I visited all the places I had chosen and spoke with the managers, to get their permission for the filming.  My husband and I walked accross the places we chose, to see how long it would take to visit each place.  However, some of these places were finally marked out as the six hours became five.

As my house is 7 km from Nafplion and some precious time would be lost to and from my house, I asked a couple of restaurants if I could cook there and “Kipos” restaurant was kind enough to provide a gas stove for me to cook outside.  You can read more about the tour and the places we visited here.

I was a little bit nervous to appear on T.V. but everybody was so friendly that I soon forgot all about the camera. Most of the preparation was done at home.  I had all the ingredients in raw form, then I had all the ingredients again, washed and cut.  The tomato was well drained.  Then I had the tomato cooked, which only needed heating and the eggs cooked.

Table with ingredients

Even with all that preparation, we still spent about two hours at the retaurant because after cooking we sat down to eat and chat.

bell peppers

We visited the farmers’ market where we bought some of the ingredients needed for the recipe.

eggs and tomatoes

You can find the traditional recipe of Kagianas in a link below.  However, I made it adding more ingredients such as sauteing an onion, garlic and bell peppers.  I made it hot by adding some boukovo, which is hot Greek chili flakes.  I added half a teaspoon which makes it mildly hot but if you prefer it really hot, just add some more. My husband was there helping me with whatever I needed, he drove us to the distillery and took a lot of photos and videos for me.

I am posting a small part of the cooking procedure.  I hope that one day we can see the whole episode :)

While filming, Zita asked me if we could put a lid on top in order to cook the eggs.  I had never thought about it before but I knew that they would cook with the steam which would be created.

I tried it at home the next day with the leftover sauce and they came out wonderful!

Kagianas with lid on

Hot Kagianas with Bell Peppers, Feta and Poached Eggs

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2 (as a main dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ¼ of 3 different kinds of bell peppers (red, yellow, orange)
  • 5 tomatoes (about 1 kilo), peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) boukovo (Greek chili flakes)
  • Salt (not too much as we added salt on the tomatoes and feta is also salty)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup feta (about 80 grams)

Directions:

  1. Score tomatoes with an X and put them in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes.
  2. Drain and peel tomatoes.
  3. Cut them into cubes and remove seeds (optional).  Put them in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let it drain for five minutes.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet or non-stick pan and sauté the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and mix for a few seconds.
  5. Add the bell peppers and sauté until soft.
  6. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  7. Add boukovo, oregano and pepper. Keep mixing until all juices have evaporated and the mixture becomes a dense sauce.
  8. At this point, when it cools, it can be kept in the fridge for a day or freezed for a long time.  (Just thaw, heat and add the eggs).
  9. Add the eggs to the tomato mixture.  Add some sauce on the egg whites until they are cooked.
  10. Add some pepper on the yolks.
  11. Crumble feta on tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes.
  12. Serve with crusty bread to sop up every bit of the delicious sauce.

Or put a lid on top, turn the heat down to low (or if cooking on a ceramic stove top, turn off the heat), cover with the lid and wait until the eggs are cooked with the steam, about five minutes.

Kagianas with poached eggs

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Kagianas or Strapatsada

Kagianas with Kafkalithres and Pesto

Kagianas with Syglino Lakonias

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on July 23rd, 2014

Chickpea salad2

When it comes to creating a new recipe, I just follow my instict, which fortunate enough for me, it always works. I’ve made many chickpea salads over the years and today I wanted to make something totally new.

 

Bulgur pasta and quinoa

I knew the recipe would work just as well with pasta, rice or quinoa as I have used it in the past but never used bulgur with chickpeas and never combined bulgur with pesto. However, if you choose to substitute with any one of these, each one would require a different way of cooking.

Coriander pesto

Another dilemma I had was what kind of pesto to use.  I had two kinds in the deep freezer:  mint pesto and coriander (cilantro) pesto with kafkalithres and myronia.  Although I knew that mint would work very well with feta, I decided to go with the coriander pesto.   I know that there are a lot of people who hate coriander, especially here in Greece, but as I grew up eating coriander in salads in Cyprus and I love it.  I also love the other herbs I used in the pesto such as kafkalithres, myronia and parsley.  In this pesto I had added almonds but, as a rule, I never add cheese when I deep freeze it.  See a similar pesto recipe where I explain what kafkalithres and myronia are.

If the pesto is frozen, you do not have to thaw it, provided the rest of the meal is still hot and  it will melt in no time.  If you do not have this particular pesto, try it with something different such as parsley pesto for example, to make a tabbouleh chickpea salad :)

Feta is a staple in all Greek households and although I had graviera, kefalotyri and halloumi, I preferred to use the feta, which practically melted in the dish, and together with the pesto, it was absorbed by the bulgur, adding so much flavour to the dish.

Although I have never used canned chickpeas, I am sure you can still make the recipe if you want to use canned chickpeas.  I don’t know how much fluid there is in a can but surely it will be less than a cup, so add some water, until you have 1 cup, which heat in order to dissolve the bouillon.  If you use homemade broth, that would even be better, so just heat a cup and add to the bulgur.

Chickpea salad with Bulgur

Chickpea Salad with Bulgur, Feta and Pesto

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  1 hour

Serves:  5

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams uncooked chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 organic vegetable bouillon
  • 1 cup broth from the cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup bulgur wheat, coarsely ground
  • 80 grams feta
  • ½ cup coriander pesto

Directions:

  1. Soak chickpeas overnight.
  2. Next day drain, add fresh water and boil.   Skim off any foam forming on top with a slotted ladle, until no more is produced.
  3. Cook until they are almost soft.
  4. Drain them and put them back in the pot with tap water.  Rub them with your two hands in order to remove some of the chickpea peels.  By adding water to the pot the peels float, so put a colander in the sink and drain whatever floats.
  5. Put more water to cover them and bring to a boil.  Add salt and vegetable bouillon and cook until the chickpeas are soft.
  6. Drain the chickpeas in a bowl and reserve 1 cup of broth.
  7. Put the chickpeas back in the pot, add the bulgur wheat as well as the broth, mix and when it comes to a boil turn off the heat.  Cover the pot with a lid.
  8. In 10 – 15 minutes the bulgur will absorb all the broth.
  9. Add the pesto and mix.  Crumble the feta and mix again.
  10. Set aside to cool before serving.

I love serving them with fresh, marinated anchovies!

chickpeas with anchovies

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Penne with Chickpeas and Roasted Tomatoes

Revithosoupa (Chickpea Soup)

Revithia sti Gastra (stewed chickpeas)

Revithokeftedes (chickpea patties)

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on July 22nd, 2014

Cherry Liqueur2

Making liqueurs is very easy and you will find a few links of previous liqueurs I have made at the end of this post.  It can get even easier and cheaper if you preserve fruit and I will explain why.

Years ago I used to discard the leftover syrups of the fruit preserves I made.  I would save some to wet the sponge cakes I made and most of it was wasted.  However, experimenting I started using them in my recipes by substituting sugar with the leftover syrups.  Many of the Greek desserts are drenched in syrup so instead of making one from scratch, I substituted that syrup with the  fruit preserves syrup, adding the flavour of the fruit to the recipe as well.

I then experimented with the Cherry Espresso Liqueur back in 2009 and since then I do it all the time.  I don’t just use any syrup but try and use the same or a combination which will match.  Some other recipes I remember using leftover syrup is in Mahalebi, Halvas (see chocolate halvas), Panna Cotta, Baklavas (recipe in my cookbook), Cheesecake etc.

 

Cherry Pit Liqueur

I would like to recap in this post a few things about making liqueurs:
a) You can either use rectified spirit (95 – 97 %  alcohol by volume) or if that is difficult to find you can use vodka.  Don’t use any cheap vodka because that will surely affect its taste.  You can also make liqueurs using gin, tequilla, rum, brandy, whiskey and here in Greece we also use ouzo, tsikoudia, tsipouro, raki, zivania, which are similar to Italian grappa.   Each one gives its distinct flavour.  If you use brandy that will also affect the colour as well.
b) You can use whole fruit or pieces of fruit, pits from cherries or apricots, or the rind or zest of citrus fruit.  Let them macerate in the alcohol for 20 – 30 days or more, until their flavour is released.  The longer you leave them the better flavour you get.  In some recipes the alcohol should be stored somewhere dark such as a closet and other recipes in the sun.  The second technique is widely used in Greece but I am not sure if it is used in other countries as well.
c)  Anything that gives flavour can be made into a liqueur so we can also make liqueurs using flowers, herbs, certain vegetables and of course spices.
d) Liqeurs are usually very sweet.  In order to do this you need to make a syrup which you will mix with the alcohol.  In some recipes the sugar is added together with the alcohol and in others we make the syrup and mix it later on.
e) If we want to combine our liqueurs with spices, we can use cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper etc. (not ground but whole and not too much).
f)  We then remove the fruit, the peels, the pits or spices or herbs etc and drain the liqueur using a coffee filter.
g)  Liqueurs do not need to age but the taste will improve if you leave it to rest for about a month.

Pitting cherries

When I was in Athens last month I made 2 kilos of cherry fruit preserve for my children, who love it.

There was also some leftover “tsipouro” (similar to grappa) in the fridge and since the only one who drinks some alcohol, every now and then, is my son who is now living in Cyprus,  the idea of making liqueur with the pits was a good way to use it.

The tsipouro was about 250 ml.  All I did was to put the the liquor in a jar and add as many pits, covered by the alcohol and let it steep in the fridge for a few weeks.  At the beginning the liquid looked very pale in colour but as time passed  it got darker.

 

steeping cherry pits

Since the liquor was already in the fridge and the quantity I made was not much, I decided to leave it in the fridge.

By the time the macerating time was over we had already eaten and used some of the fruit preserve in desserts, so I was lucky to have leftover cherry syrup to make the liqueur.

Easy Cherry Pit Liqueur with Cherry Syrup 

Ingredients:

  • Cherry or sour cherry pits
  • 250 ml  tsipouro or other alcohol
  • 2 – 3 rose geranium leaves
  • 5 – 6 whole cherries (optional)
  • 250 ml homemade cherry syrup

Directions:

  1. Put the cherry pits and the rose geranium leaves in a jar and add enough alcohol to cover the pits. (You can also add a few whole cherries which break so as to release some juice).
  2. Let it macerate in a dark place for about one month.
  3. Drain the liquor as well as the syrup and mix.

The amount of syrup you add is a matter of taste and it depends on how sweet you want the liqueur to be.  What I do, I add, mix and taste until the desired sweetness.  Don’ t over do it as you might end up drunk :)

However, as you may have leftover cherry pits after making a Cherry Cake, etc., you can still make the liqueur making a simple syrup.

The ratio of the syrup should be 2 sugar 1 water.

Put the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.

Set aside until it cools.

Pour the syrup gradually in the liqueur, taste and adjust.

There! Apart from the steeping time, the liqueur is ready in five minutes with full flavour of cherries and the only thing you buy is the alcohol.

Bottle it in lovely bottles and you have wonderful, homemade gifts for friends and family!

Cheers!

 

Cherry Pit Liqueur2

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Espresso Coffee Liqueur

Strawberry Liqueur

Citrus Liqueur

Limoncello

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on July 12th, 2014

Goat cheese pannacotta with quince

This recipe started when I attempted to make mozarella cheese and failed!

It’s not the first time that amazing recipes are created after an unsuccessful attempt to make something else.  Technically this is not the traditional panna cotta made with full fat cream but a much lighter version made with two kinds of milk and heavy cream.

Milk

It all started when I went to the supermarket in Nafplio.  When buying milk I saw how cheap AB Vassilopoulos has the milk.   Its price was 0.95 Euro a litre, considering that when I run out of milk in the village I buy it 1.60 Euros a litre!!  That’s the cost of living in a touristic place.  Anyway, I saw that the goat milk was also cheap 1.99 Euro a litre, so I got four litres of low fat milk and 2 litres of goat milk with the intention to make mozarella and the rest for our daily needs.  I had brought some rennet from Cyprus and the idea of making cheese was spinning in my mind for some time now, only I did not manage to find a source for fresh ewe’s milk yet.

I don’t know what went wrong because when reading various recipes I did read that the milk should not be pasteurized but then when I made halloumi, I did use pasteurized milk and it worked.  I don’t know if the milk I used with 1.5 fat was the problem although the goat cheese had 4% fat.

Anyway after waiting for half an hour to see curds, and then half an hour more and getting no results I decided that my attempt had failed.  Instead of giving up I decided to add 330 ml heavy cream, add more rennet and give it another try.

Thermometre in Milk

I repeated the procedure by heating the milk and adding the rennet and waited again.  I waited and waited more.  I spent the whole afternoon waiting for the curds to form.  They were not as thick as I wanted.

It was hot, I was tired and I wanted to go to the beach, so I decided I would not spend any more time trying to make cheese.

There I was with four litres of milk with 330 ml heavy cream with partly formed curds.  Would I through it away?  No way!  The first thing that came to my mind was to make Panna Cotta.   I was lucky enough to have gelatine at home but it was not enough for the entire quantity.

I calculated how much milk I needed for 22 sheets of gelatine and measured the milk.  I used less than half the amount of milk which I heated.  I put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with cold water until they became soft.

Meanwhile when the milk was warm I added 200 grams of white chocolate and 10 drops of vanilla essence and stirred it until the chocolate melted.  I then added the gelatine leaves and and mixed until they dissolved.

adding white chocolate

I poured the mixture in a tupperware bowl and after making something else with the remaining milk we went to the beach.  (What I made with the remaining milk will be posted in a separate post).

Anari pudding

When we came back from the beach it was still lukewarm.  I refrigerated it and next day the dessert was ready.

anari pudding 2

No other sugar was added apart from that in the chocolate.  The cream was slightly sweet but served with spoon sweets (fruit preserves) it becomes just perfect.

closeup of cheese panacotta

I cannot understand the chemistry which made the cheese sink to the bottom and the white chocolate on top leaving the Panna Cotta in the middle but whatever did it, the result was amazing!  Such a light and refreshing dessert which has this wonderful taste of goat milk, chocolate and vanilla.

Each day we try it with a different fruit preserve.  I’ve tried it with fig preserve and quince.  Both amazing but imagine it with cherries, sour cherries… or green seville oranges!

I know that you will not go through this procedure to make this dessert but next time I make it, here is how I would make it:

Goat Cheese and White Chocolate Panna cotta with Fruit Preserves

Ingredients:

  • 2 litres milk, half goat milk and half cow’s milk
  • 24 sheets gelatine
  • 200 grams anthotyros (anari) (similar to ricotta) made with goat and ewe’s milk
  • 10 drops of vanilla essence
  • 200 grams white couverture chocolate.

Directions:

  1. Put the cheese in a food processor with enough milk to blend in order to make a thick cream.
  2. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with tap water and soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the remaining milk until lukewarm.  Add the chocolate and mix until it melts.  Add the cheese cream, vanilla and gelatine (without the water) and mix for a few minutes until the gelatine dissolves.
  4. Place the cream in a large pyrex or smaller bowls or verrines and set aside until it cools.
  5. Refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight, before serving.
  6. Serve with fruit preserves and some of its syrup on top.

 

Pannacotta with Fig preserve

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

  

Other relevant recipes:

How to make Paneer

Healthier Greek-style Pannacotta with Cherry Compote

Panna Cotta with Masticha

Mango Greek Yoghurt Panna Cotta

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Apricot Jam ready2

I have already posted the recipe for making Apricot Jam but this one deserves a separate post just to show you how quickly you can turn some ripe fruit into jam in no time.  It took 15 minutes from start to finish.

I bought these fruit six days ago and after eating as many as we could, they started becoming very ripe.  There were ten apricots left, a peach and a nectarine.  I still had a whole melon in the fridge which is enough until I go to the farmers’ market in two days, when I will buy more fruit, so I decided to make this quick jam.

Here are a few things you should know when making this jam:

You do not necessarily have to use the combination of all three fruit.  I added the nectarine and peach just because I had them.  You can use only apricots or combine them with other stone fruit, such as plums, prunes, etc.

  • Instead of using a pot, a non-stick frying pan will help reduce the time as the juices evaporate much quicker.
  • The amount of sugar to be added, depends on how sweet your fruit is, so just before the end you can taste and adjust by adding more.
  • You can substitute sugar with honey.
  • When mixing the fruit with the sugar at the beginning, if the fruit you are using are not very juicy, you can add some water, a little each time, until the sugar gets wet.
  • During the last five minutes, you need to stir it at regular intervals as it may stick to the pan.
  • For flavouring, I used rose geraniums and lemon zest, which add an amazing taste to the jam but if you cannot find rose geraniums, you can add vanilla, ginger or cardamom, if you like.
  • I did not peel the apricots and the nectarine.  The peel of the apricots is very thin so it’s not necessary to remove it.  If you like you can remove the peel of the nectarine.  See how to remove the skin in my post for Peach and Nectarine Jam.

Apricot Jam in a jar

Easy Apricot and other Stone Fruit Jam in 15 minutes

Preparation time:   2 minutes

Cooking time:   10 minutes

Makes:  1 jar about 500 ml

Ingredients:

  • 10 ripe apricots, stoned
  • 1 nectarine stoned and cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 ripe peach, peeled, stoned and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 geranium leaves
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

Apricot Jam

1.  Wash and cut the fruit in the frying pan.  Add the sugar and rose geranium and stir until the sugar gets wet.  Put on the heat.   By mixing and pressing the fruit the juices will begin to be released from the fruit.

Mash the fruit

 

2.  Continue mixing and mashing the fruit.  A lot of juices will continue to be released.  At this stage add the lemon zest.

Mix apricots and add the zest

 

3.  When you see that the juices have evaporated, the jam is ready.   Wait until it cools and store in a sterilized jar, in the fridge.

You can use this jam on bread and butter for breakfast but also on top of Pasta Flora or on cheesecakes, crepes, ice cream, yoghurt etc.

1Apricot Jam

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Lemon Marmalade

Mandarin Marmalade

Fig Jam

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on June 21st, 2014

Penne with roasted tomatoes

People tend to avoid eating dried legumes during summer but combining them with pasta we have a  delicious, vegan, summer dish not only full of flavor and taste but also rich in protein, fiber, carbohydrates and vitamins. The only fat in the dish is the olive oil, which makes it a very healthy dish.  Leftovers are even better the following day and the pasta can even be eaten cold as a salad.

By roasting the cherry tomatoes they become even sweeter.  The chickpeas add body to the dish, the gherkins add a crunch and the pesto and roasted garlic more flavour.  The capers balance the sweet taste of the tomatoes making this dish irresistible. The preparation can be done beforehand, even two or three days before. I usually cook more chickpeas and keep some in the deep freezer, for days when I am really busy and want a quick but nutritious meal.  Of course, if you use canned chickpeas then the cooking time is also much less. Another trick is to roast cherry tomatoes and preserve them.  You then put them in clean, sterilized jars, fill them with olive oil and keep them for a very long time in the refrigerator. I do the same with roasted garlic. The olive oil is a natural preservative, so be sure to replace it if you use some and always keep them covered with olive.   If you do not want to roast garlic just add a few cloves in the pan when roasting the cherry tomatoes. This way the next time you make your pasta dish you will not need more than 20 minutes. If, however, you decide to do everything from scratch, you will need about an hour and thirty minutes, provided you cook everything simultaneously.

collage Roasting cherry tomatoes

Penne with Chickpeas and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 1 hour and 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, oregano
  • 200 grams of cooked chickpeas
  • Salt
  • 250 grams whole-wheat penne
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 gherkins, cut into slices
  • 10 green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint or other pesto of your choice
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Directions:

Pre-cooking some of the ingredients:

Soak the chickpeas from the evening. Bring to a boil and skim them. Change the water and when they begin boiling, add salt and simmer covered until soft. (If you do this in advance, let them cool, put them in a bowl with a lid and refrigerate.  If you cook a larger batch you can store them in zip lock bags in the deep freezer).

While the chickpeas are cooking, wash the tomatoes, cut them in half, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, pepper and oregano, (add garlic as well) add the olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° C for half an hour. (When they cool, you can keep them in the refrigerator).

Boil the penne in salted water for 15 minutes or according to package instructions. (If they are cooked ahead, after the draining them, add some olive oil and mix to coat them.  That will prevent them from sticking together.  Store covered, in the fridge).

I store leftover pesto in the deep freezer.  You can either put it in ice cubes or in small bowls.  You can cut it easily without thawing and when you add it to the hot pasta, it will melt in a few minutes.

As regards roasted garlic, I always have some in my fridge.

Preparing the dish:

  1. Add a tablespoon olive oil from the roasted garlic and mash the garlic in the frying pan.  Roast for a couple of minutes and then add the cooked pasta and roasted tomatoes with some of its juice as well as the chickpeas and stir until heated.
  2. Finally mix in the pesto, capers, pickled gherkins and parsley.
  3. Taste and if necessary add a little salt.
  4. Serve with freshly grated black pepper on top.

Penne with roasted tomatoes2

 

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Penne with Grilled Vegetables

Penne with Mushrooms and Marinara Sauce

Penne with Seafood Medley

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Mezes

The usual Loukanikopitakia we make in Greece are those called Pigs in a Blanket made with frankfurter sausages, wrapped in puff pastry. The other day I made Galaktoboureko and had some leftover phyllo sheets*.  Instead of making the usual Tyropitakia I saw some Kalamata sausages** in the fridge, I had leftover parmesan from my last recipe and a leek.  I combined these ingredients, added some feta as well  as spices and made this amazing, unique “mezedaki”.  A mezes (or mezedaki) is food to accompany wine, ouzo, tsipouro, beer etc.

filling with bechamel

The second time I made them I added some bechamel*** as well.

Collage loukanikopitakia

Note:

* During my last working experience in a restaurant in Cyprus, I found out, to my surprise, that the phyllo sheets were half size of the ones we get in Greece.   Therefore, depending on their size you may need more phyllo sheets.

**These Greek Kalamata sausages are flavoured with savory (throumbi) and cumin (kymino).    Feel free to use other sausages you like.  If they have an intense taste, you can leave out the spices or use other spices of your choice.

*** Adding bechamel is optional but helps the filling hold together better.

Loukanikopitaki inside

Loukanikopitakia:  Spicy Phyllo Wrapped Sausages with Parmesan and Feta

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cooking time:  15 minutes

Makes:  24

Ingredients:

  • 1 Greek Kalamata Sausage (200 grams)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek,  only white part, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup grated parmesan (or other cheese such as graviera, halloumi, kasseri)
  • 100 grams crumbled feta
  • ¼ coarse sea salt (depending on saltiness of cheese)
  • ¼ tsp red sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp my spice mixture
  • 4 phyllo sheets cut into 6 stripes each
  • 1 cup olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tbsp bechamel (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove the skin of the sausage and finely cut it.
  2. Heat the olive oil and sauté the leek and onion until translucent.
  3. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes.  (Drain any excess fat from the frying pan).
  4. Add the spices and cheese (bechamel) and mix.  Taste and adjust salt, if necessary and set aside to cool.
  5. Cut the phyllo lengthwise into six stripes (about 8 cm wide) and add 1 tbsp of the sausage mixture on the top.  Fold to form a triangle and continue wrapping towards the opposite direction until the end.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a clean non stick frying pan and fry the triangles until golden on both sides.
  7. Put on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

Spicy Loukanikopitakia

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

Rustic Whole Wheat Galette with Sausage

Sausage Rolls and Tyropita with Tangzhong Starter

Gemista me Loukanika (Gemista with Sausages)

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Hounkiar Beyendi

 

The dish is called hünkâr beğendi in Turkish, which means “the sultan was satisfied”.   The French chef serving  sultan Murad IV (who was sultan from 1623 to 1640) , combined his knowledge with French cuisine to prepare a dish which would satisfy the sultan and he fully succeeded, creating  this delicious dish. This dish was made popular in Greece, when the Greeks of Asia Minor were forced to leave Turkey and come to Greece.  I learned about this recipe from a friend, whose grandparents were from Constantinople.

Charring eggplants

 

This dish is made either with lamb or veal but the star of this dish is the eggplant puree.   I made several changes to the original recipe.  The eggplants are charred until the flesh acquired a smokey taste.  Then a roux is made together with the salt and spices.

charred eggplants

I also added some cumin together with the nutmeg.  The flour was roasted in olive oil until the flour started lightly browning, which always gives an amazing taste to the bechamel.  Then the eggplant puree was mixed in the bechamel, as well as some cheese.  The traditional cheese used for this recipe is either kefalotyri, kaskavalli or even kasseri.  This time I made it with Pamigiano Reggiano which added a wonderful taste to the puree.

Melitzanosalata with Roasted garlic

When I bought the veal I was planning to make a different recipe.  Instead of cutting the meat into small pieces, as stated in the recipe, I cut it into thin slices of about 1 1/2 cm, which I dredged into flour.  I made the veal stew using more spices which I usually add when making  stews, such as a cinnamon stick, all spice berries and a bay leaf.  My children do not like garlic so I reduced the amount from 3 cloves to 2.   Also instead of adding sugar to the sauce, which I usually avoid and instead I usually add honey, on that day I had made apple sauce which I used instead.   Instead of adding concasse tomatoes, I added passata as well as tomato paste and water. By adding the tomato paste and water there was leftover sauce but I do not regret it as it was really delicious and I made good use of it.  I was surprised to see my daughter  adding some of this sauce to her toasted sandwich.  The rest was used a couple of days later to make a quick chicken stew.  All I did was to cut the chicken breast into very small, thin slices, I added salt and pepper and sauteed the chicken.  Nothing else was needed but the leftover sauce and the meal was ready in fifteen minutes.  I served it again with eggplant puree and accompanied it with rice pilaf.  I boiled some broccoli florets for three minutes which I put in iced water immediately.  I then cut the florets into smaller pieces and I mixed it in the rice together with some crumbled feta.

Hounkiar Beyendi Chicken

This is surely a dish which I will be making over and over again.

charred eggplants

Hounkiar Begendi (hünkâr beğendi)  

Preparation time:  30 minutes

Cooking time for the eggplants: 1 hour  

Cooking time for the stew: 1 hour  

Serves: 6-8  

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo of round beef (or rump or silverside)
  • 80 grams all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of apple sauce
  • 1 cup red dry wine
  • 500 grams of tomato Passata
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  5 all spices
  •  1 cinnamon stick
  •  500 ml water (fill the carton of tomato passata)

 For the Eggplant Purée:  Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo (4) eggplants
  •  ¼ cup olive oil
  •  1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  •  2 cups hot milk
  •  100 grams grated parmesan (the traditional cheese used is kefalotyri)
  •  1 tsp salt
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  •  A pinch of cumin
  •  A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1.  Wash the eggplants and pierce them with a fork all over.
  2. Char the eggplants over open flame until black outside or place them on a baking tray and bake for about 1 hour turning once. Turn them over half way through. Set aside to slightly cool and purée in a food processor.
  3.  Heat the milk in a pot.
  4.  In another pot heat the olive oil, add the flour and spices and stir with a balloon whisk to prepare the roux.
  5. Pour the milk and keep stirring with the balloon whisk.
  6. When it starts thickening, add the mashed eggplants as well as the parmesan and mix well until incorporated.
  7. Remove the purée from the heat and serve as a side dish.
  8.  Simultaneously you can start cooking the meat.
  9. Wash and cut the veal into small pieces or thin slices ​​ 1 ½ cm thick.   Season with salt and pepper. Pour the flour into a zip lock bag and dredge the meat, a few pieces each time.
  10.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the meat on both sides.  Do not put too many pieces in the frying pan. Remove the fried meat in a pot and continue frying the remaining.
  11.  After removing the meat, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Mix in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Pour the onion with the olive oil in the pot with the meat. Put it back on the heat and add the wine. Boil for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates and add the apple sauce, tomato paste and tomato passata as well as all the spices.  Fill the carton of tomato with water and add to the pot. Put the lid on and when it starts boiling, reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Taste and adjust salt.
  12.  Just before the meat is cooked prepare the eggplant puree.

Eggplant puree

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.

 

Other relevant recipes:

How to make your own Apple Sauce

Veal Stroganoff with Ryzokeftedes

Giouvetsi (veal with orzo)

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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