Thursday, 27 December 2007

How to cook: Cretan Meat Pie

You need:
  • Lamb
  • Phyllo pastry
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • Garlic
  • Cheese
  • Nutmeg
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Boil some lamb (or any meat you want) in lightly salted water. Cut the meat up into little pieces. Season to your liking (salt, pepper, oregano, etc...) Add sautιed onions and garlic if desired. Mix the meat with various cheeses (swiss, mozzarella, kefalograviera) Spread the mixture onto oiled up phyllo (you can make your own or buy ready made but ALWAYS USE OLIVE OIL as this is a Cretan recipe) Roll up the phyllo taking care to tuck in the sides as you go. Bake it until it is golden brown - about 1/2 hour.

How to make: Lahano Salata (Cabbage Salad)

You need:
  • 1 head Cabbage
  • 2-3 cloves Carrots
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Cut the cabbage in half and discard the outer tough leaves and the inner core. Cut each half into quarters and wash under cold water. Place each quarter on its side and slice very thin slices with a sharp knife. Alternately each quarter can be sliced by using a mandolin.
Grate the carrots using a box grater or mandolin.
Place cabbage and carrots in a bowl and dress it with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar or lemon to taste. Toss well and serve. Olives may be used as a garnish. Traditionally, this salad has a tart flavor (extra vinegar or lemon juice).

How to cook: Soupa Nisiotiki (Island Soup)

You need:
  • 2 lb haddock fillets cut in 2" pieces
  • 2 dozen clams w/ liquid
  • 1 lb fresh shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 lb scallops
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tspn pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced fine
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup celerey, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups whole canned tomatoes, drain and reserve liquid
  • 1 cup dry white wine
Directions: In a large saucepan, saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in olive oil. Add the drained tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves, salt & pepper to saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes. Combine tomato and clam liquids, and add enough boiling water to make 3 cups, and set aside.
In a deep casserole, arrange layers of haddock, clams, shrimp, crabmeat, scallops covering each layer with some of the vegetable mixture and the white wine. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add reserved tomato/clam liquid and simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Serve from the casserole. Makes about 10 servings...

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Dakos: Cretan Meze

A traditional meze or light meal on the island of Crete, dakos (also called "koukouvayia") is often called "Greek bruschetta," and is easy to make with few ingredients and no cooking. You can find rusks at online Greek food shops, make your own, or use a thick slice of grilled or toasted crusty country bread (without the water).

* 1/2 of a large round barley rusk (about 5 inches diameter)
* 1 large or 2 small ripe tomatoes, coarsely grated (discard skin)
* 2-3 heaping tablespoons of feta cheese or aged myzithra, crumbled or grated
* extra virgin olive oil
* freshly ground pepper
* Greek oregano (rigani)

Run the rusk under a spray of water (about 4-6 tablespoons) to moisten. Grate the tomato with a vegetable grater (or the large grate on a multi-grater) into a strainer over a bowl so most of the liquid drains off.

Spread the grated tomato on the rusk and top with cheese.

How To: Make Thick, Strained Yogurt

The thick, strained yogurt used in Greek cooking may not be available in your local market. Learn to make your own using commercial or homemade full-fat, low-fat, and even fat-free yogurt. It's not only great for preparing Greek foods, but you'll love it for other uses as well!

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 2-3 hours or overnight

Here's How:
  1. Line a medium-large bowl with a piece of cheesecloth or a clean white dish towel.
  2. Dump a container of plain (unflavored), yogurt into the center of the cloth.
  3. Bring the four corners of the cloth together and lift the yogurt.
  4. Over the bowl or sink, twist the corners to squeeze out the liquid (it will drain through the cloth)
  5. Continue squeezing, putting the yogurt under pressure, to force the liquid out.
  6. When the majority of the surface liquid has been drained, it will start to drip more slowly.
  7. Tie off the top of the cloth just above the mass of yogurt with string.
  8. Place the cloth containing the yogurt in a strainer or colander, and place the strainer or colander in a bowl where it doesn't touch the bottom (so that the liquid can continue to drain).
  9. Place the bowl containing the strainer/colander in the refrigerator and allow to drain for 2-3 hours.
  10. After draining, take the cloth containing the yogurt and put it in the sink (do not remove the string).
  11. Place the palms of your hands on the bag and press down to force out any remaining liquid.
  12. Remove the string, open the cloth, and using a spatula, put the yogurt in a bowl for use.

Note: How thick is thick? The yogurt should be the consistency of whipped butter or cream cheese.

What You Need:

* medium-large mixing bowl
* cheesecloth or clean white dishtowel
* commercial or homemade full-fat, low-fat, or fat-free yogurt, plain unflavored
* string
* strainer or colander

Small Dakos me Ouzo

Small Cretan Barley Rusks with Ouzo
Barley rusks (dakos) are a specialty on the island of Crete and are served in a variety of ways. This recipe is a favorite appetizer or meze that goes well with drinks and beverages, and is a favorite with beer. While dakos are more traditionally made with feta cheese, this recipe calls for myzithra to go with the ouzo in the tomato mixture.
* 8 small barley rusks
* 1/4 cup of Ouzo
* 1 large ripe tomato
* 1/4 cup of olive oil
* Greek oregano
* sea salt
* freshly ground pepper
* 8 ounces of hard myzithra cheese, grated (xynomyzithra)

Peel the tomato and chop in food processor bowl. Add salt, pepper, olive oil, oregano, and a couple of drops of ouzo and blend. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Run rusks briefly under running cold water to dampen, without letting them get soggy.
Sprinkle rusks with remaining ouzo, spoon over tomato mixture and top with grated cheese.

How To Make Greek Frappé Coffee

In Greek: φραπέ, pronounced frah-PEH
A favorite summer drink, frappé is a cool refresher on a hot day for coffee lovers.

Here's How:
1. In a shaker or jar (with a tight-fitting lid), add 2-3 tablespoons of cold water, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, and sugar to taste (1 teaspoon of sugar for medium-sweet).
2. Close tightly and shake for 10 seconds, until the mixture appears to be all foam.
3. Pour the foam into a water glass, add 7-8 ounces of water, 3-4 ice cubes, milk to taste, and stir.
4. Serve with a straw.

1. The purpose of shaking or mixing is to create a large amount of thick foam.. the more the better.
2. If you have a soda fountain-type drink mixer or a small electric drink mixer, put the ingredients in step 1 into a glass to start, create the foamy base, and then add the water, ice cubes, milk, and straw to serve.
3. Alternatively, this can be made without adding the ice cubes if the water is cold and the weather is, too.

What You Need:
* Shaker or jar with a tight-fitting lid or drink mixer
* 1 cup cold water
* Instant coffee
* Sugar (optional)
* Milk (optional)
* Ice cubes
* Straw

The Greek rusks

The Greek rusks are unique in the world.
In Greece one can find either hardtacks or rusks made from qualitative and healthy raw materials known with the Greek name 'Paximadi'.
Undoubtedly, the best paximadi comes from the island of Crete.
Bakeries around the island offer an assortment of organic and traditional paximadi-twice-baked loaves made with chick-pea flour or ancient island grains such as barley-that are dampened under the tap and are sprinkled with local olive oil.
The Greek paximadi is a perfect supplement to the famous Mediterranean diet. It is used at breakfast time, at dinner and lunchtime next to the cheese plate, and as a treat to the afternoon tea or coffee. It is also perfect as a healthy snack throughout the whole day.
The Greek paximadi, and especially the Cretan one, it is exported throughout the world as it is a sought after Greek product.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

How to cook: Youvetsi


* 450gr (1 lb) Barley-shaped pasta (Kritharaki)
* 1/2 Cups of butter
* 1 Onion
* 2 cups tomato juice
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 100gr grated parmesan cheese
* Salt
* 1Kg (2 lbs) Lamb
* Pepper


1. Cut lamb to several medium sized pieces (its important not to cut the meat to small pieces).
2. Peel and dice onion to small pieces
3. Peel and chop garlic cloves to slivers.
4. Heat some butter in deep frying pan or medium sauce pan and lightly sute the lamb pieces along with some chopped onions and the garlic.
5. Add the tomato juice and tomato paste in the pan and mix.
6. Add water in the pan (enough so that the meat is fully covered in sauce) along with some salt and pepper and stir well.
7. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low setting (or very low depending on your stove).
8. Allow enough time for the lamp to become tender.
9. In a pot boil water and add the Barley-shaped pasta.
10. After pasta is ready (check pasta box for cooking time), drain and add about half of it in a baking pan.
11. Add the meat to the baking pan and then add the rest of the pasta.
12. Pour the tomato mixture over the baking pan and use a spoon to even the pasta in the pan.
13. Sprinkle some grated parmesan over the pasta.
14. Bake (in a preheated) oven for 15 minutes at medium heat.
15. Serve hot.

Note: You can use a diferent pasta if you can not find the one mentioned here, if possible, try to find pasta that is aproximately the size of two grains of rice.

Greek Coffee!

Greek coffee is easy to make. First, measure the required cups of water into the briki. The measure should be one of the cups that the coffee is going to be served in. It is advisable not to make more than 3-4 small cups of coffee at a time.
Greek coffee can be made in four different ways. He can be sketos (without sugar, strong and bitter), metrios (medium, usually with one teaspoonful of sugar), glykys or vari glykos (almost honey-sweet) and glykys vrastos - sweet but boiled more then once so it loses most of its froth. Depending on which art of Greek Coffee you like, measure and add into the briki the coffee, a teaspoonful of coffee per cup, and the sugar. For a medium coffee the best balance is to add the same amount of sugar as coffee. Put the briki on a low heat and stir its contents a little, until the coffee is diluted in the water. Hold the briki by the handle all the time as it boils so quickly and spills everywhere. Watch it starting to rise with a bubbly foam. Let it rise - and don't panic! - until it reaches the lips of the briki and then immediately withdraw from the heat. Once the coffee has been made, let it stand for one minute to allow the coffee grounds to settle at the bottom of the briki. Pour a little in each cup, to distribute the froth in all the cups. Then proceed and just fill them up to the brim.
Greek coffee is never stirred once it has been made and served and is drunk slowly. Serve it together with a glass of cold water.

How to cook: Feta and Tomato Slices


* 1 Loaf of bread
* 6 tablespoons Olive Oil
* 2 tomatoes
* Dried Oregano
* Ground Pepper
* 250gr (.5 lbs) Feta Cheese
* Salt


1. Cut 5 thick slices from the loaf.
2. Brush a little bit of olive oil on the slices.
3. Crumble the feta cheese in a bowl.
4. Add a little bit of olive oil, oregano, pepper and salt in the bowl and softly mix it with the crumbled feta.
5. Chop the tomatoes into small cubes and add to the bowl, again mixing softly with the cheese mix.
6. Top each slice with the mix and serve as a cold appetizer.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

"Fast" recipes No2

Cauliflower casserole with tomatoes and spices
Clean and cut a large cauliflower to pieces, sprinkled it with the juice of 1-2 lemons and add salt and pepper.
Brown the pieces in a frying pan with heated olive oil and place them one by one in a boiling pot. When they are finished, slowly brown in the same oil a medium onion thinly cut and add a tablespoon of tomato puree thinned in water.
After it has gone through a couple of boils, empty the frying pan contents in the boiling pot, add a glass of water and let simmer until all liquids but the oil are absorbed.

Pork with spinach
Brown 4 portions of pork meat in virgin olive oil.
In a bowl, thin a tablespoon of tomato puree in 2 glasses of water and add the thinly cut skin of an orange, salt, pepper, and all of use this mixture to sprinkle the meat.
Wash 1 kg of spinach and a bunch of celery. When the meat is half done, add the greens.
The dish is ready when it is left only with its oil.

In a bowl, put 100 g of crushed grain in a little cold water so that it puffs up.
Wash 2 bunches of parsley, a bunch of mint and fresh onions, drain them and slice them.
Drain the crushed grain by hand, put it in a salad bowl and add salt, pepper, the juice of half a lemon and virgin olive oil, stirring slowly.
Add the cut greens, the rest of the lemon juice and a large tomato, cut in pieces.
Serve with bread and freshly washed lettuce leaves.

"Fast" recipes

Granny's fried potatoes
Peel and cut two large potatoes in thick pieces, salt them, sprinkle them with the juice of half a lemon and stir them well. Cover them and leave them for about 45 minutes.
In a deep frying pan, heat up 2 cups of virgin olive oil. Drop the potatoes in the hot olive oil and let them fry with no cover until they get golden.
Take them out with a strainer-ladle and place them on kitchen paper towels so that they totally drain from the excess oil. They are eaten hot.

Fried olives
How to prepare the pap: an egg, salt, pepper, a little hot pepper grated, flour.
Use black olives. Take out the stones and stir them in thick pap that you have prepared earlier. With a spoon, take from the mixture and fry in hot olive oil.

Eggs with tomato
Put in a frying pan a couple of big, ripe tomatoes, skinned and thinly cut, salt them and simmer them for about 6-7 minutes, until they absorb their liquids.
Add 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add 4 eggs, sprinkle with pepper and fry in low fire for a few minutes, occasionally stirring around with the sauce.
If you wish, you can add a bit of grated feta cheese.
Serve with their sauce and oil.
Yoghurt pie with olive oil
In a bowl, whisk together a cup of olive oil and two cups of sugar. Add gradually the yolks of 6 eggs, the shavings of the skin of a lemon, a small-medium bowl of yoghurt, 3 teacups of flour (in which you have added 3 teaspoons of baking powder) and the whites of the eggs that you have previously whisked them into meringue.
Place the mixture in a no. 34 baking tray and bake in medium fire.

Olive-bread with rosemary
In a bowl, stir 1 kg of flour with 2 spoonfuls of dry yeast and a spoonful of oregano.
Add a spoonful of sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, 80 g of olive oil, 2 cups of warm water and knead until the dough goes soft.
Leave the dough covered in a warm place until it puffs up. When it does, lay it and spread it on an oiled baking tray, pressing it lightly so that it is flat and even, oil it and make little cavities by pressing the dough with your fingers, where you then place 150 g of Kalamata olives (without their stone) and leaves of rosemary.
Bake in medium fire for about an hour. Serve hot.
Cauliflower casserole with tomatoes and spices
Clean and cut a large cauliflower to pieces, sprinkled it with the juice of 1-2 lemons and add salt and pepper.
Brown the pieces in a frying pan with heated olive oil and place them one by one in a boiling pot. When they are finished, slowly brown in the same oil a medium onion thinly cut and add a tablespoon of tomato puree thinned in water.
After it has gone through a couple of boils, empty the frying pan contents in the boiling pot, add a glass of water and let simmer until all liquids but the oil are absorbed.

How to cook: Lamb and Spinach in Egg and Lemon Sauce

1 Kilo Lamb (on the bone)

3 Spring onions, roughly chopped

1 –2 tbsp. Olive Oil

900 gm Fresh Spinach

2 tbsp. Fresh Chopped Dill

1 Egg

Salt to taste

Juice of a Lemon

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the lamb and spring onions. Brown for 5 minutes over a medium heat, turning frequently. Add enough cold water to just about cover the meat. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer covered for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile wash the spinach and roughly chop together with the dill. Add to the lamb with salt and black pepper to taste. Push the spinach down firmly on top of the meat, cover the saucepan and leave to simmer again for 15 minutes. Mix the spinach thoroughly into the meat, turn up the heat and bubble for 5 –10 minutes to cook the spinach and reduce the sauce.

Beat up the egg with the lemon juice in a small bowl. Turn off the heat and leave the lamb to stand uncovered for 10 minutes. Using a soup ladle, add one ladle of lamb sauce to the lemon mix. Beat in with a fork. Repeat a second and third time. Then, if you can get help at this point, all the better. Hold the saucepan with both hands and tip the sauce to one side of the pan. Ask a friend to quickly add the lemon mix straight onto the sauce then rotate the sauce quickly round and round by moving the saucepan in a circular motion. This prevents curdling, and ensures the lemon reaches every part of the pan.

Reheat almost to boiling, then serve with fresh bread and salad.

Serves 4 - 6

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

How to cook: Fava (purée of yellow split peas)

2 cups yellow split peas
5 cups water
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
olive oil
salt & pepper
black olives for garnish

Clean peas and place in a heavy stockpot with water. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the peas to steep for one hour. Drain, then return to the pot with fresh water just to cover, salt & pepper. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until soft and most of the water is absorbed (about 1 hour). Remove from heat and allow to cool. At this point, you can just put the peas in the fridge until you're ready to use them, or purée them in a food processor (or through a ricer, as our local chef, Agyro does). It depends on the texture you want. The purée also becomes thicker under refrigeration. At service, just mix with a little olive oil, minced onions, salt and pepper. Parsley or capers and black olives make a nice garnish.

Chick peas or the big "fava" beans are also prepared in the same manner
here in Crete -- try it and let me know!

How to cook: Briam (roasted vegetables)

Briam is a very versatile dish. Variations of this vegetable combination can be found throughout the Mediterranean basin. In this case, the vegetables are allowed to shine on their own, without too much intervention. Briam is a perfect accompaniment to broiled fish or lamb chops, but it's also a great meal on its own.

Serves 4-6

1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, halved lengthwise then cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
4 medium tomatoes, 2 cut into large chunks, 2 grated
1 large onion, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced
2 artichokes, quartered, trimmed and par-boiled (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup water or stock
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons dried oregano
black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (reserve ½ cup for garnish)

Pre-heat oven 350F

Place all ingredients in a heavy, shallow baking pan, toss together and bake until tender (about 1 hour), shaking pan occasionally. Resist the temptation to stir the vegetables, as they will turn to mush. Let them caramelize for the best results.

Serve with marinated roasted red peppers, a big slice of feta or manouri cheese and a slice of rustic bread.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

How to cook: Potatoes with snails and fennel


1 1/2 kilo snails
1 large bunch fennel
4 potatoes, quartered
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
3 tablespoons red wine
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the snails in a deep bowl filled with tepid water and cover with a dish. Allow them to stand for 30 minutes. When the snails begin to move, remove the thick membrane covering their orifice with a knife and scrub any other waste from their shell (if a snail has not come off its shell, it is probably not alive). Rinse meticulously under plenty of tap water and let them boil in some saltwater for 5 minutes. Take them out with a ladle, put them into a colander and pour off any excess liquid. Saute the onion with the olive oil in a saucepan, add the fennel, stir and extinguish with wine. Add 1 cup of water and let food simmer for about 25 minutes. Then add the potatoes, snails, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Continue boiling for 30 minutes over moderate heat. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

How to cook: "Ladies fingers" with minted yoghurt sauce

Ingredients (makes about 30)

  • 1 tablespoon of Casa dei Mezzo olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 fresh red birdseye chillies, seeded and finely chopped (or use any mild chilli)
  • 500 grams minced lamb
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • 25 grams pinenuts
  • ½ cup chopped coriander
  • 15 sheets of filo pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Sumac(h) to serve

Minted yoghurt sauce

  • 350 strained Greek yoghurt or labna (labna is available in most Middle Eastern food stores)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock, optional


Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and cook onion, garlic and chilli over low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until onions are soft. Add lamb and cook over high heat, crumbling mince with a wooden spoon continuously until lightly browned. Add spices and tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes, then add chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook for another 10-12 minutes or until stock has evaporated. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then stir in the pinenuts and coriander and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Meanwhile, for minted yoghurt sauce, place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth and well combined, then season to taste, cover closely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Makes 1½ cups.

Cut filo pastry into quarters. Lay one quarter on a dry work surface, brush well with beaten egg, then top with another quarter and brush again with egg. Place about 1 table spoon lamb mixture at one end of the pastry and roll up to form a 6cm cigar shape, folding in sides as you go, then brush with beaten egg. Repeat with remaining pastry, lamb mixture and egg. Heat oil in a deep-frying or large heavy-based saucepan to 180°C, then deep-fry ladies fingers, in batches, for 1-2 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and serve with minted yoghurt sauce, sprinkled with sumac(h).

Cretan Garden Vegetables

One more basic feature of the Cretan diet is the large consumption of vegetables and other products of vegetable origin. On average, Cretans are at the top of the scale in terms of vegetable consumption. In fact, they consume three times the amount of vegetables than Europeans! That, too, is part of their secret for a long and healthy life. This dietary habit provides the average Cretan with an abundance of fibers, vitamins, and other nutrients required for human sustenance.
At the same time vegetables contain trace elements many of which are essential in metabolism or for the production of essential compounds, while deficiency in those elements causes metabolic syndromes. Vegetables promote the good operation of the intestines and ward off cancer of the large intestine. Their contribution to the operation of the digestive system is remarkable, and they are rich in vitamins necessary for the metabolism of various tissues. Much of the vegetables consumed in large quantities on Crete are rich in fatty acids which prevent cardiac diseases and most forms of cancer.
The linoleic acid contained in the variety of vegetables consumed by Cretans is a true shield of health! It protects the heart and the circulatory system. Some of the most common garden produce of Crete originates from other regions of the world, e.g. the tomato, which revolutionized the Cretan cuisine and shaped the character of Cretan diet as we know it today.
Cretan tomatoes are naturally ripened and free from hormones. Other agricultural products of Crete, cucumbers, marrows, etc., are cultivated in the lush valleys of the island under the most favourable weather conditions -- no snow during winter and moderate temperatures at the heart of the summer.
Areas that are considered most favourable for vegetable production are mainly found in the south of the island, in niches where even the swallows do not need to migrate further south, to Africa. The garden produce of Crete grows in a natural environment, under the moderate temperatures of a slanting golden sun and within a naturally scented environment. Cretans have a particular affection for the soil that provides them with the means for a good, long life. Technology is good as long as it does not violate and debase their dietary codes the observance of which gave Cretans the title of the lowest heart-attack risk, the lowest death rate, and the greatest life expectancy in the Western world.
Garden produce is cultivated in the southern, coastal regions of Crete, mainly at Ierapetra, Messara, south of Rethymnon, in the coastal area of Selino, of Kisamo and elsewhere.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Cretan aromatic herbs

It is called rosemary, its’ Latin name is Rosmarinus officiualis, and belongs to the family of Labiatae.
It is an evergreen plant, bushy, of dark green color, with dense, very thin, lance-shaped leaves and a very pleasant scent.It is self-sown, grows all over Crete and has been known in Greece since antiquity.
It is being used fresh or dry, in sauces made for seafood and fishes, and as a beverage.
It is being used in the pharmaceutical industry since it has healing properties (weakness, insomnia, indigestion, alopecia, hysteria, cellulite).It also favors apiculture.

It ia a self –sown bush, with lanceshaped, saw-like, leaves, which have an ashen-green color and strong scent.
It flowers in the end of spring and its’ flowers are whitish and cluster – shaped.
The word itself (sfakos + milea) is of ancient origin.
It is mainly used as a beverage, either alone or with malotira and dittany.
When cooking braised meat, red sauces or vegetable dishes, add only 1-2 leaves of sage because it has a very strong scent.
It mainly is a pharmaceutical herb and warming tisane.
By distilling it, you can make an essential oil useful in pharmaceutics and soap making.

The ancient Greeks named it ‘’artemidion’’, since it was Artemis gift to them, so as to cure the wounds that she sometimes carelessly made with her arrows. It is one of the most important healing herbs of antiquity – the plant named ‘’diktamnon’’ of the Dikti mountains since it was considered to be a cure for most illnesses.
The words diktamo or erontas, stamatohorto, livanohorto and many other synonyms are used to name this rare aromatic plant that only grows in Crete, usually in great highs and steep cliffs.
It is a perennial, self-sown moss and has 3 variations, according to the size of its’ leaves: narrow-leafed, broad-leafed and medium-leafed.
It is being used as a tisane, either alone or with sage and malotira.
Two or three leaves are enough for one cup, more of them would make the tisane slightly bitter.
It is a tonic and refreshing tisane, ideal for cold winter nights.
It has tonic, stimulating and healing properties.
Erontas is being used to make a stimulating drink.
Put 30 gr. Of this herb in 1 litre of white whine, soak it for 2 weeks, and drink 1 water glassof the mixture daily, for 1 week.
Avoid long-standing use.
Pregnant women should not use it since it has aborting properties.

Malotira or Malothira. A mossy, bushy and brushwood-like plant that grows in mountain areas.
You can drink it as a tisane, with some honey or combined with other herbs (sage, dittany).

Louisa or lemongrass, with the characteristic smell of lemon.
The plant comes from America but is completely acclimatized in Greece.
It is a bush but can also grow to be a small tree-depending on the pruning and it sheds it’s leaves in the winter.
The flowers grow in bunches, sometimes to the top of the plant.
The gathering of the leaves, sprouts, flowers is done in the summer.
All the parts of the plants are used in healing.
From the leaves – dried – a tisane is made (10-20 gr. For a liter of water), which is a tonic, a remedy for fever, soothes the bronchial tube and the nasal cavity, perspiring, diuretic, against diarrhea and bleeding.
Also, with poultice it is good in nerve pains and headaches, as well as pain in the ears.
The oil is used in industry in several ways (perfumery, confectionery, distillery etc.).

The honey produced in Crete is golden, almost amber, of very good quality and without foreign admixtures.
The bees feed on thyme, other fine Cretan aromatic herbs (found in the Cretan Madares, Omalos and else where), coniferous trees therefore the honey has a pleasant & quiet scent, a rich flavor and therapeutic qualities.
It is eaten row and is also used in pastry making and cooking.
It should be noted that it is ideal for our organism if we eat a spoonful of honey before anything else in the morning and then drink a glass of water.
This activates our metabolism and at the same time the honey is beneficial for the stomach and the nerves.

Cretan olives

Taken big green olives (tsounates), wash them and then crush them with a flat stone taking care not to break the pip.
Put the olives in a big pot and pour boiling water over them.
Let them stand for half an hour. This way their color does not fade.
After draining them, put them in a big glass or earthenware jar full of fresh water.
Change the water morning and evening for 5-6 days.
This will draw the bitterness.
It might take a couple of days longer.
Dissolve half a cup of salt in a glass full of lemon or sour orange juice.
Pack the olives in this ‘’brine’’ and pour some olive oil to cover them.
This will prevent the olives from ‘’breathing’’, otherwise they will go mouldy.
Recipe designed for a five –kilo jar.

Or seliniotikes or alatsolies.
Use small, black olives.
First wash them and then soak them in water for three days.
After draining them, layer them in a straw basket with coarse salt on top of each layer.
Leave 25 cm at the top of the last layer so that when you shake the basket every 5-6 days, the olives can be evenly salted.
Remove the excess salt with a big sieve 18-20 days later.
Wash, drain and oil the olives by hand before serving.

Use big black olives.
Slit them making sure not to touch the pip.
Soak them in water and freshen them for 5-6 days as for the above Tsakistes.
Pack them in a jar with water where you have dissolved a small quantity of quicklime (the size of a walnut per kilo).
After 4-5 hours remove, drain, and soak the olives in vinegar for one day.
Drain and preserve them in olive oil.

Cretan Rusk

Crete is a mountainous island and its’ economy mainly depended on stockbreeding and agriculture.
The lifestyle of the Cretan people was hard, yet absolutely adapted to the island’s geological and financial environment.
Therefore, the general conditions, the products available in the island and the geological created special nutritional habits, adapted to the needs and potentials of the Cretan people.
One of these foods, probably the most characteristic in Crete, is the rusk.
It was created due to the need, of stockbreeders in particular, to eat bread that would be kept in a ‘’proper’’ state and would be tasty and nutritional at the same time.
Therefore, the Cretan rusk became an inserable friend for all those who had to be away from home for a long time.
Due to its’ particularly good taste and the great variety that was created with time, the rusk is always found on the Cretan table, next to the bread, and has taken up a special place in all the social and festive manifestations of the island’s residents.There are many varieties of rusks with common characteristics, such as: the materials they are made of (cereals), their dry, hard, harsh texture, the fact that they are extremely tasty and easy to digest and above all their origin, to which they owe their name = Cretan rusk.
We have the following rusks: those called horiatika and eftazima, the barley, wheaten and rye rusks, the sweet rusks and the very special ‘’boukies’’ (bites) with their pleasant, neutral taste – a fine sweet, ideal for accompanying tea and coffee.
A first – class Cretan rusk is the rusk called Eftazimo, which is made of chickpeas and wheaten flour.
It also contains salt, pepper, red peppers and bay leaves.
It has a very special taste, its’ color is bright yellow, it is very tasty and you can find it in various sizes, the most common being the square one.
It is a traditional product, exclusively made in Crete, is considered to be a formal bread and is being offered in weddings and important celebrations.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Cretan Cheese

Cheese consumption on Crete is the largest on a world scale! Cretans do not actually see food as some sort of medicine; they know how to enjoy different tastes. The taste of Cretan cheese, gruyere and its varieties (kefalotyri, kefalograviera), sweet and sour soft cheese and other dairy products is unsurpassed! A significant source of calcium and proteins with high biological value, the Cretan cheese plays a significant role in Cretan diet. It is said that cheese is a source of saturated fat, but Cretans who eat a lot of cheese are not found with high levels of cholesterol. This is probably due to a balanced diet, which prevents the building up of harmful substances in the human organism. Indeed, the Cretan dietary prototype provides an impressive balance of nutritive elements that are precisely those required by the human body to remain healthy.
Recent scientific research correlated the effects of protein break-down in the dairy products with the prevention, treatment, and evolution of tumour growths in the breast and prostate! Currently, there is extensive research going on in Crete and France to develop new methods for the treatment of such tumours on the basis of related scientific results!

Milk is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, pholic acid, basic minerals and amino-acids. The activities of goat- and sheep-raising on Crete are deeply rooted in myth. It is said that the dairy products of Crete provided nourishment to the great god, Zeus, who was born in a cave on the island and nursed by a goat, Amaltheia. Since then, the character of goat- and sheep-raising on Crete has seen but little changes. Stock-raising is only in terms of small animals, goats and sheep, that roam free in the scented pastures of the island. There are no organised stock-raising units and all animals feed on the wild plants and herbs.
This traditional form of stock-raising exploits traditional knowledge accumulated throughout the centuries. The only difference is that milk processing does not take place inside or outside sheep-folds any more, but in modern processing units which balance traditional forms of processing with approved standards of hygiene. The Cretan gruyere is exceptional in taste, as it is the case with other types of local cheese.

How to cook: Fried Kalitsoùnia


# For the dough
2 kilos flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup tsikoudià
3 glasses water

# For the filling
1/2 kilo mizìthra cheese
1/2 kilo anthòtiro cheese
1/2 kilo malàka cheese
3 eggs

Prepare the dough with the flour, olive oil, tsikoudia, water and salt. Combine with the anthotiro, mizithra, malaka cheese as well as the eggs. Roll out a pastry sheet and cut circles in the size of a saucer. Spoon some filling on each piece, fold, and seal edges by pressing very well and then fry in plenty of oil.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

How to cook: Lamb Fricassee

This delicious fricassee of lamb recipe, is made with the traditional Greek avgolemono sauce (egg and lemon sauce).
The flavour of the lamb cooking with the lettuce and then the sauce added at the end is simply fantastic.
The lemon counteracts the richness of the lamb and creates a creamy sauce.

1.9kg lamb
10 spring onions
3 lettuces
2-3 tablespoons dill
3/4 teacup butter
2 egg yolks
juice of 1-2 lemons
salt and pepper

Cut the meat into medium portions, wash and put in a casserole with the butter.
Prepare the spring onions by chopping the white part finely and the green leaves into longer pieces (1 inch long).
Add them to the meat with 1/2 teacup water and salt and pepper and bring it to boil, covered.
Test to make sure the meat is cooked, if not and it is dry add a little more liquid until meat is cooked, (it does not need to be in much liquid.)
Cut the lettuces into pieces around 1 inch long. Chop the dill finely.
When the meat has absorbed all the water (be careful not to let the onions burn), we throw the lettuce and dill in to the meat, along with a bit of salt and pepper and about 1 tablespoon of water so the lettuce will not stick.
Let it simmer, covered, for a few minutes. The lettuce will cook in the steam.
Beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons water. Add the juice of 1-2 lemons and beat in.
Take a bit of the hot juice from the bottom of the saucepan and add it to the egg and lemon - avgolemono - and mix it all in with a fork.
Take the lamb fricassee off the heat and slowly, a little at a time, add the egg and lemon sauce to the meat. The main thing at this stage is to be careful not to curdle the eggs.
Shake the casserole to mix the juices together.
Return to low heat just long enough to warm the food so the egg and lemon sauce take the same temperature as the meat.
Be very careful not to overheat and the eggs harden.


Seafood and Fish: Thalassina kai Psaria in Greek

The seafood caught in the Mediterranean Sea are the tastiest fish you will find anywhere in the world. There are many varieties to choose from with unique flavours that the Greek style of cooking simply enhances with simple fresh ingredients, without losing the original taste.

Many people in Greece eat seafood on a regular basis. Hardly surprising, when you consider the geography of Greece, made up of many small islands and even on the mainland, you are never very far from the coast. Fishing has been a major industry in Greece for thousands of years. Visit any marina and you will see a selection of small and large fishing boats, supplying the local markets and tavernas with the day's catch.

There are many different methods of preparing seafood and various fish recipes to make, however, as with many Greek meals, the emphasis is on the natural flavour and Greeks will most often prepare the fish dishes quite simply with some fresh herbs, lemons, extra virgin olive oil and a few extra ingredients to make a fantastic, memorable meal.

Seafood is sold at most taverna's, and you will also find taverna's specialising in fish, these are called Psarotaverna. A visit to one of these taverna's is a must when visiting Greece. Instead of being offered a menu and choosing a fish meal, you will be invited into the kitchen and shown all the fish they have on offer that day, and asked to inspect the fish to ensure the freshness. These taverna owners take great pride in the quality and freshness of their food and meals they serve and are happy to show you. You also get to see how clean they keep their kitchens!

Once you have chosen the fish, you can then discuss how you would like the fish prepared. A popular way of cooking fish is on the barbecue - psistaria, over the hot coals to give it a beautiful flavour. This is also a favourite way of cooking fish in most Greek homes. As you stroll through any village on a summer evening you will smell the aroma of fish cooking on the barbecue.

Octopus are also a favourite in Greece and if you visit an island you will probably see the octopus hanging up to dry outside the local tavernas, a popular way to prepare them before barbecuing them for an appetizer or meze.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

How to cook: Horta

Ta xópta, literally translated, is wild greens or green vegetables.

Horta grows wild in the hillsides and is still hand- picked by villagers. It's a medley of edible wild greens, simply braised in a little water and seasoned with olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper. It's usually served cold or at room temperature. The combination depends on the season and availability. Horta can be used as a variation for spinach pie, which is rustic and delicious. Save the cooking liquid, which contains the golden vitamins. The juice can also be added to vegetable drinks or soup stock. For the purpose of availability outside of Greece, and preferred cooking techniques, the following theory is recommended.

Allow at least ½ pound of raw greens per person (arugula, black mustard, dandelion or beet greens, curly endive, sorrel, spinach, kale or collards).
Certain greens require longer cooking time, so add them to the pot in stages.
For instance, simmer kale and collards until tender, then add arugula during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
A good rule of thumb is the tougher the raw greens, the longer the cooking time.
Add salt or acid (lemon or vinegar) when you're ready to serve because they can turn bright green vegetables brown.
Use stainless steel or any other non- reactive cookware.

General guidelines for six servings

4 pounds of raw greens
1/2 cup olive oil
2 small gloves garlic, finely chopped
3 leeks (white part only) cleaned and sliced
1/2 fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 cup fresh dill, chopped (optional)
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse greens thoroughly and remove tough stems. A water saving-technique is to fill a clean sin or basin with 6 inches of fresh cold water, add trimmed greens, and submerge a bit to allow sand to fall to the bottom of the sink. Transfer greens in small quantities to a colander and rinse again. We have a saying in cooking school “How many times should you rinse the spinach? Until it’s clean!”


1. In a large heavy stock pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds.

2. Add leeks and sauté until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté 30 seconds more (browned garlic will turn bitter).

3. Add greens that take the longest to cook (kale, collards) and simmer until tender (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

4. Add more delicate greens like arugula or spinach along with the fresh herbs and simmer just until wilted.

Serve in a bowl with a little cooking juice, splash of lemon and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. To serve as a side dish, drain with a slotted spoon and add the flavorings at the last minute.

Cretan Food, Wine, Spirits and Organics

Ahh Cretan food! Of course the locals know it, that the Cretan diet is the best in the world, according to the World Health Organisation.
The locals just know, instinctively and via strong traditions, how to live life, and this includes how to enjoy good food.

Proudly, Crete now has one of the highest registrations of organic produce in all of Greece, which is a wonderful way of continuing land practices unchanged over centuries and ensuring healthy eating and a healthy planet.
Whatever your tastes, you will find something wonderful about Cretan food. Is it the atmosphere? Is it the air? The mountains? The soil? The fresh water? The Mediterranean? Is it the farmer or the cook? This will take a few hours of diálogo dialogue... so let’s pour another wine and discuss…

Dópio local, is a great Greek word to know if you are travelling. It can refer to just about any food or drink or preparation, and ensures your hosts know you want the real thing. Ask for dópio crassi local wine.
At a taverna you could simply say dópio fagitó… local food. Your hosts will know what you mean. At a fishing village of course ask for dópio psári local fish.
One of our favourites. Dakos whether you eat it for breakfast, lunch or as a snack any time of the day, always satisfies.

Village Food and Rhythms
In the village, the natural rhythms of the harvests influence what is fresh and natural to eat.
In October, the stafília grapes have been harvested and the sultanas dried, so each house has abundant quantities of sultanínas sultanas, bursting with the summer sun trapped inside.
After the grape harvest and the all important trip to the einopoiío οινοποιίo wine factory, the scrappy left-over grapes are made into mustalevriá. This sweet wholesome dish is traditionally made from the músta must, the squashed skins of the grapes left over from winemaking.
In the village in November, each breakfast was karídia walnuts as they were plentiful. Sometimes simply karídia and méli walnuts and honey.
Later in January, the trees were full of mandarínia so these sweet treats were a feature at most meals and coffee breaks.
After the grape harvest and the wine making, our kazáni is fired up. This is the local still, making a potent white spirit from the wine grapes. Many pleasant hours are spent sitting around the fire making tsíkoudia, which is a labourious process for those responsible, consisting of 10 minutes hard work followed by 2 hours of hard drinking.
Occasionally, to line our stomachs, we pop some potatoes in the hot coals and eat them steaming fresh from the fire. The sweet smell of the tsíkoudia made from the must of the grape harvest and wine production will always remind me of the fun and relaxing parea at the kazáni in our village…
After winter rains, hórta flourishes, and yiayias are busy out in the country lanes with their bags collecting the lush wild greens. There are actually many different types of hórta…getting to know them and how to cook them is one of the pleasures of life in the village, and learning about Cretan food.
As you sit relaxing in the kafeníon, don’t be surprised if a ruddy faced shepherd comes in bearing mizíthra fresh goat’s cheese from the mountains. This freshness is one of the great qualities of Cretan food.
Around Christmas time, those with squeamish stomachs should stay away from the butcher as he kills the pigs for the village. Our kafedzís, who used to be the town butcher, still performs this service in late December for all the families with pigs. As he knew I was squeamish, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, he would make the hand sign for cutting his throat and say na spháxo ta vorúnia – I am going to kill the pigs - want to come and watch? He never tired of making this joke and others which would always make me laugh, and him and the rest of the kafeníon laugh at my grimaces and squirms. Pork is a popular Cretan food.
One unusual tidbit for visitors to know about is gliká tou koutalioú, literally ‘sweet of the spoon’. These are preserves, usually home-made, served on a tiny plate with a tiny spoon to newly arrived visitors (at any time) or at a coffee date in the home.
These are a very handy thing for any Cretan (Greek) housewife to have in the cupboard, as the sugar preserves the fruit, it doesn’t readily spoil and is a handy fall back when ‘the cupboard is bare’. The flavours can be as varied as the gardens and orchards around the village, and also seasonal, we love the síca fig jam made with fresh figs.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

How to cook: Cucumber Sauce

In Greek: Tzatziki

Salt, to taste
Fresh garlic, to taste
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil (the greener the better I say)
1/2 lg. cucumber
1 lb. sour cream or plain yogurt

Empty sour cream into medium sized bowl. Peel and shred cucumber in seperate bowl, then squeeze pieces of cucumber to drain the water out of it. Add to sour cream, and mix together. Use a fork or spatula (do not put in food processor!). Add olive oil and vinegar to sour cream. Taste as you go along. Then add your fresh Garlic, add as much as you like. Then add salt to taste as well. Once it is all mixed together, it is ready to eat!!! And it is yummy!

How to cook: Artichokes with Dill

In Greek: Anginares Me Anitho

12 md. globe artichokes
1 slice lemon
3 tbsp. flour (optional)
1/2 cup chopped scallions, whites only
1/4 cup olive or other oil
1 lemon, juice of
3 cups water
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp. finely chopped dill
3 tsp. cornflour
Cold water
2 eggs
Chopped dill, for garnish

Wash artichokes well and cut off stem close to base. Have ready a bowl of cold water with the juice of 1 lemon and some lemon slices added. If desired, stir in 2-3 tbsp. flour, as this is quite effective in preventing discoloration.
As each artichoke is prepared, rub cut surfaces with a lemon slice from the bowl and place in bowl until all are prepared. Cook as soon as possible after preparation. Remove 3 or 4 layers of leaves until the tender inner leaves remain. Scoop out choke and pink thorny leaves from centre, using a spoon or melon ball scoop. Cut in half.
In a large pan gently fry spring onion in oil until soft. Add juice of 1/2 lemon, water, approximately 2 tsp. salt and a good grinding of pepper. Bring to the boil. Drain prepared artichokes and add to pan with dill. Return to a slow simmer, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until artichokes are tender. Stain cooking liquid into a pan and boil until reduced to half original quantity (about 1-1/2 cups). Keep artichokes hot in a slow oven.
Mix cornflour to a paste with a little cold water and stir into simmering liquid. Stir until thickened and bubbling and leave to simmer gently. Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until light and frothy and gradually add remaining lemon juice. Gradually pour in simmering stock, beating constantly. Return to pan and stir over low heat for a minute or two to cook the egg.
Pile artichokes on a warm platter, pour sauce on top and sprinkle with chopped dill. Serve as a light meal or as a first course.
Serves 4 as a light meal, 8 as a first course. Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

Olive Oil in Cretan Diet

In the Cretan kitchen olive oil plays a dominating role. There is practically no dish, which is not served with olive oil. Even today in daily life Cretans prefer a vegetarian diet with beans and other pulses, greens, vegetables and grains, cheese, pasta and potatoes. Meat dishes are reserved for special events, when they host guests or go out for dinner together with friends and family.

Salads are drowned in olive oil, so are fresh feta cheese and vegetables. Dipping bread into the juicy mixture of oil and tomato juice at the bottom of the salad bowl is a delicacy no one should miss when visiting Crete.

There is increasing scientific evidence that there are positive health effects from diets which are high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, and which include fish, nuts and low-fat dairy products. Such diets need not be restricted in total fat as long as there is not an excess of calories, and emphasize predominantly vegetable oils that are low in saturated fats and partially-hydrogenated oils. The traditional Mediterranean Diet, whose principal source of fat is olive oil, encompasses these dietary characteristics.

The term traditional Mediterranean dieta has a specific meaning. It reflects food patterns typical of some Mediterranean regions in the early 1960s, such as Crete, parts of the rest of Greece, and southern Italy.

The incorporation of olive oil in the dietary habits of the Cretans dates back to ancient times. The writings in Linear A and B tablets ascertain that Minoans used it in their nutrition dating at least as far back as 1800 BC.

Today, Cretans consume large quantities of virgin olive oil in all their foods. They use generous quantities in their salads, in their fried dishes (fish, potatoes, etc.), in boiled greens, in soups, in all oily dishes, in pastries and even in the preparation of pork!
Salads of fresh vegetables are an indispensable dish of the Cretan cuisine. However, they need fresh, extra virgin olive oil.
Boiled greens and legumes make up the basis of the Cretan Diet. But they are complemented with extra virgin olive oil.
Roast or grilled meat and fishes consist also part of the Cretan diet. However, extra virgin olive oil is necessary for their preparation.
Virgin olive oil is incomparably superior for the frying of all foods. This is so because it boasts great tolerance in high temperatures, whilst other oils break up into units detrimental to human health, but also due to the fact that it adds to fried food better flavour than other oils. It is "accused" of adopting a slight odour after 2-3 uses. This, however, does not present a drawback. On the contrary, it is proof of its naturalness! This is the case because the dark green hue it produces after a few uses stems from the "cooking" of the natural coloration which it contains, and which is not contained in processed oils such as refined olive oils and naturally in seed oils!
Of course, virgin olive oil may be a bit more costly than refined olive oils or seed oils (that do not darken), but it is definitely worth its preference!
Oily foods, prepared in combination with various vegetables (beans, zucchinis, aubergines, okras), potatoes and meat, are incomparable when cooked in Extra Virgin Olive oil.

Ancient Greeks
Hippocrates, the father of medicine
Ancient Greeks believed that Virgin Olive Oil is beneficial to human health and recommended it for afflictions such as:

* Dermatological problem
* Lacerations and burns
* Gynecological diseases
* Inducement of vomit
* Ear infections
* Birth control
* According to the code established by the father of medicine, Hippocrates, olive oil was held to be beneficial for over 60 therapeutic uses.

Modern Medicine
Today, the modern medicine confirms that Virgin Olive oil is beneficial for one's health and its consumption is recommended for many instances such as:
* Cardio - circulatory illnesses
* Prevention of breast cancer
* Prevention of prostate cancer
* Control of stomach ulcer
* Control of diabetes
* Sexual impotence
* Diet for children and athletes
* Diet for the aged

The Secret Of Cretan Longevity
Anzel Keys' renowned study of seven countries, which was published in 1980, revealed that the health level of Cretans was the highest in the world. Cancers and cardio-circulatory disease were rare, since out of 100.000 people on Crete, there were only 9 deaths attributed to these diseases as opposed to 466 in Finland. It was further proven that this was largely due to the dietary habits of the Cretan people, whose basic ingredient is olive oil.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

How to cook: Lamb stew in clay pots

In Greek: Yiouvetsi


1 kg of lamb (chops/neck, whatever)
3 sliced onions
1 litre/1 quart of tomato puree' or tomato paste for cooking
Some olive oil
1kg/2lb of 'rice' pasta available in Italian or Greek delicatessens (called Krithara'ki)
Salt, pepper and oregano seasoning

In a clay pot (or heavy cast iron pot), put the oil and let heat in an oven at high setting. Add the sliced onions and brown.
Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper and place in the pot to brown the sides.
When the lamb starts cooking, place the tomato over it and add the same amount of water.
Let it heat for about 1 hour until the lamb feels soft and much of the water has evaporated (add water if needed).
Remove from the oven, and put the 1 kg of 'rice' pasta. When the pasta is cooked (another 10 minutes), remove and serve hot.

How to cook: Spaghetti with lobster

In Greek: Astakomakaronada


1 big lobster
2 large onions chopped
4 whole cloves
1 tsp cinammon
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 can of tomatoes
1 tbs tomato paste
1 small glass of wine
1/2 bunch of parsley chopped
1/2 pack spaghetti

Fill half way a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add lobster and let cook for half hour.
Take lobster out of pot and set aside. Keep water aside as well. Remove shells and cut meat in small pieces.
Heat oil and saute onions and parsley. Add lobster and stir. Add wine, tomatoes and paste. Add cloves, pepper and cinammon.
Simmer until all water is absorbed. Bring the water, where the lobster was cooked, to a boil. Add spaghetti and stir every 5 minutes.
Let the spaghetti cook and then drain. Place butter in pot and let it melt. Add some salt. Saute spaghetti and remove from heat .
Use a large bowl to mix spaghetti with lobster sauce. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

How to cook: Moussaka

(serves 4-6)

500 gm minced lamb (or Beef)

Can of tomatoes

1 finely chopped onion

Finely chopped garlic (to taste)

1 kilo aubergines

500gm potatoes

75 gm butter

Milk 500ml

Plain flour 75gm

Grated cheese

1 egg

A large glass of white wine

Olive oil

Small stick of cinnamon

3 cloves

Large pinch of oregano

Cook the potatoes, drain, cool, slice and set aside.

Slice and salt the aubergines. After 15 minutes wash and drain the aubergines and gently fry in olive oil – set aside.

Gently fry the onions and garlic in more oil until soft, remove from the pan and set aside. Increase the heat and brown the meat (minced lamb may produce a lot of fat which can be skimmed or drained).

When the meat is browned, reduce heat, return the onion and garlic to the pan, and add the wine cinnamon, cloves and oregano. After a couple of minutes add the tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer for 30 minutes.

A béchamel sauce is made by gently heating flour in butter, when the flour and butter have become a paste the milk is gently added. When this has been done add 50 gm of grated cheese (Edam is ideal if you have nothing from Greece) and the yolk of the egg.

The four parts of the Mousakka now come together. Oil a suitable oven dish and layer potatoes, aubergine, meat aubergines, potatoes and finally fold the sauce over the top.

Grate more cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 45 minutes (150C).

Serve with salad and crusty bread.

How to cook: Soutsoukakia

Cumin and Garlic Meatballs in Tomato and Wine Sauce
'The Mediterranean diet is currently considered by Nutritionists as a modus vivende that endows people with longevity and sound health, with Crete at its epicentre, as supported by research conducted on an international scale.'

These cumin-flavoured meatballs may be casseroled or oven-baked with potatoes - here is the oven version.

500g minced meat (lamb or beef)
130g bread, soaked in white wine

2 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
1 heaped tsp of ground cumin
1 small onion, grated
half tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium egg
1 dessert spoon olive oil

Squeeze the bread dry, place in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix together with your hands. Leave the mixture for half an hour in the fridge then shape into cigar shapes (a good thumb size). Put into a shallow oven dish and add equal amounts of parboiled potatoes, cut into similar sizes.

Now take 1 tsp of cumin seeds, half tsp salt, 1 clove of garlic, a small onion, a glass of white wine, half a glass of olive oil and a 400g tin of tomatoes, put all into a liquidiser and liquidise. Taste for salt then half fill the tin with water and add. Liquidise again then pour all over the meatballs and potatoes. Cook at Gas Mark 6, 180C for about an hour, checking after 30 minutes.

Serve with shredded white cabbage, carrot salad and lots of fresh bread.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

How to cook: Perdika me Domata (Partridge with tomato)

1-2 Pinch Cinnamon (To Taste)
1-2 Pinch Clove (To Taste)
2 Whole Green Onions (Finely Chopped)
4-6 oz Olive Oil
1 Whole Orange peels (Grated)
2 Tablespoon Parsley (Finely Chopped)
6 Whole Partridges
2-3 Medium Tomatoes (Finely CHopped)
  • Clean the partridges very well.
  • Fry the partridges and the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, parsley, orange rind, cinnamon, clove and a few cups water.
  • Cook on medium heat for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Serve with steamed white rice.

How to cook: Chtapodi Laborigani (Octopus with Oil and Oregano)

2.20 lb Octopus
6 oz Olive Oil
1-2 Pinch Oregano (To Taste)
1-2 Pinch Pepper (To Taste)
2-3 Pinch Salt (To Taste)
3 oz Vinegar

  • Wash the octopus and remove the ink bag.
  • Place the octopus in a pot with the vinegar and a little water.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer until tender.
  • Cut the octopus into small pieces and add the salt.
  • Beat the oil, vinegar and oregano together and pour over the octopus and serve.