Friday, 27 July 2007

Xoriatiki (Also known as Greek Salad)

1 Handful Capers To taste
1 Item Cucumber
1/3 lb Feta Cheese
1 Item Green Pepper
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Handful Olives
1 Item Onion
1 Pinch Oregano To taste
1 Pinch Salt To taste
4 Medium Tomatoes Ripe

  1. Cut the vegetables in slices and mix in a salad bowl.
  2. Top with the olives, capers and oregano and cover with "crumbled" feta cheese.
  3. Pour the olive oil evenly.
Servings: 6

Saturday, 14 July 2007

How to cook: Gyros

Tasty Greek snack, savoury lamb and cucumber sauce in a pitta pocket

# 8 oz. (225g) lean minced lamb
# half a tsp. dried oregano
# half a tsp. ground cumin
# 1 clove garlic, crushed
# 2 tbsps. lemon juice
# half a small onion, finely chopped
# Cucumber and Yogurt Sauce (see Greek Recipes menu)
# 1 medium tomato, sliced
# half a small onion, thinly sliced
# 2 pitta pocket breads, slit on edges

Cooking Instructions:

1. Lightly oil a heavy-based frying pan
2. Mix together the onion and garlic and fry gently until soft
3. Put the minced lamb in a mixing bowl, add the onion mixture together with the oregano, cumin and lemon juice then mix thoroughly
4. Divide the mixture into two and shape into patties
5. Cook the patties under a pre-heated grill for about 8-10 minutes or until the meat is cooked
6. Carve the patties into thin slices and serve in pitta pockets with the onion, tomato and cucumber sauce

How to cook: Souvlaki with Pitta Bread

A well liked snack of tender pork and vegetables in a savory pitta roll; just great for people on the move who just want to grab a snack

  • 11 oz. (300g) lean pork shoulder
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 firm tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 8 pitta breads
  • 8 small skewers
  • quarter cup of butter
  • parsley, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper, black and red
  • oregano

  • Cooking Instructions:
  • Dice the prepared pork shoulder and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper
  • Divide the pork into 8 portions, insert onto individual skewers and cook on a grill fire
  • Cook the pittas individually on the grill, coating them with butter
  • When the pork is tender, put them on the pitta (one skewer for each pitta bread) and slowly draw the skewer, leaving the pieces of meat on the pitta
  • Add the onion, parsley and tomato, sprinkle with red pepper and roll up the pitta having first laid it on greaseproof paper, so that when you roll them up, you roll the paper with them
  • Only half of the pitta is to be exposed above the greaseproof paper
  • How to cook: Peasant Omelets

    Flavorful omelets with a colorful mix of red peppers, black olives, onions and feta cheese

  • 12 eggs
  • three and a half ounces (100g) black olives
  • 7 oz (200g) feta cheese, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, cut into round slices
  • 1 lb 2oz (500g) refined oil
  • sat and pepper
  • 2 red peppers, sliced

  • Cooking Instructions:
  • Heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes
  • Remove the olive pits and cut the olives in half
  • Add the olives, red peppers and feta cheese to the onions and cook gently for a further 5 minutes
  • Beat 3 eggs in a bowl then add 2 tablespoons of the onion, olive, cheese mixture
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in another frying pan and pour in the omelet mixture
  • Fry the omelet on both sides then repeat the process until all omelets are done
  • Serve hot
  • How to cook: Cretan Small Cheese Pies (Kalitsounia)

    Delicious little pies that you can nibble at as you stroll around the party, plate in hand

  • 3 teacups flour
  • salt
  • water
  • 1lb. (450g) unsalted cheese, e.g. cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 glass of olive oil for frying

  • Cooking Instructions:
  • Put the flour in a bowl and blend in some salt and water to form a thick dough
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board and cut into round shapes with a pastry cutter or drinking glass
  • Place the cheese, egg and finely chopped mint in a bowl and mix together
  • Place a teaspoon of the mixture into the middle of each round shaped pastry
  • Fold half of the pastry over the filling, pressing the open ends of a fork along the folded end of the pie
  • Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and fry the pies until they are a golden colour
  • Place the pies on a serving plate, sprinkle with sugar and serve
  • Monday, 9 July 2007

    How to cook: Galactoboureko

    Custard filled fyllo with a light syrup.

    1/2 Cup Butter Melted, plus 1 oz for filling
    2/3 lb Caster Sugar
    1 Stick Cinnamon Or some lemon peel
    7 Whole Egg
    1 lb Fyllo Pastry
    1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
    3 1/5 Cup Milk Creamy milk
    2/5 Cup Semolina
    1 Cup Sugar
    1 Pod Vanilla Or 3-4 drops vanilla essence
    2/5 Cup Water

    • Bring the milk with the vanilla pod to the boil gently, (If you are using vanilla essence do not add it yet).
    • Withdraw from the heat, take the vanilla pod out and gradually add the semolina to the milk while stirring continuously with a wooden spatula.
    • Return to a gentle heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture has thickened.
    • Take off the heat, mix in the butter and let it cool for 10 minutes.
    • Beat the eggs with the sugar until they get pale and fluffy and gradually add to the cooled mixture while stirring.
    • If using vanilla essence, add it at this stage.
    • Return to a gentle heat for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously, then withdraw from the heat.
    • While working with the pastry, stir the mixture occasionally to prevent a crust forming on top.
    • Butter a roasting dish approximately 39 x 28 x 20 cm. Prepare the fyllo pastry and fill in exactly the same way as described in Tyropita - Cheese Pie.
    • Bake in a preheated oven, gas no. 4/ 350 grades F/ 180 grades C, for 45 minutes until pale golden.
    • Take out and cool for 10 minutes while you make the syrup.
    • Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the aromatics and lemon juice and boil gently for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened.
    • Let the syrup stand for 5 minutes, then remove the aromatics and slowly pour all over the galaktoboureko.
    • Once the syrup has been absorbed, cut and serve.
    • You may, if you like, replace the vanilla with cinnamon and nutmeg powder.
    • Galaktoboureko is at its best eaten fresh, preferably when it is still warm, but is still good the next day.
    • No need to keep it in a refrigerator unless the weather is particularly hot.

    How to cook: Fasolatha

    A hearty navy bean soup in a tomato base

    3 Medium Carrots Sliced
    3 Item Celery Leaves Chopped
    1 lb Navy Beans
    1 Cup Olive Oil
    1 Medium Onion Chopped
    1 Pinch Pepper To taste
    1 Pinch Salt To taste
    1 Cup Tomato Sauce

    • Soak the beans in water from the previous night.
    • Strain the water and place the beans in a pot with new water.
    • Boil for a while and once again strain.
    • Again put the beans in the pot, add the rest of the ingredients, add enough water to make it soupy and slowly boil for an hour.

    How to cook: Fakkes

    Lentil soup in a tomato base

    1 Whole Bay Leaves
    1-2 Clove Garlic Chopped
    1 lb Lentils
    2/3 Cup Olive Oil
    1 Large Onion Chopped
    1 Pinch Pepper To taste
    1 Cup Tomato Sauce

    • Clean the lentils well and place in a covered pot with enough water to immerse them.
    • Boil for a short while and drain the water.
    • Place the lentils back in the pot with water as before and add the rest of the ingredients.
    • Slowly simmer for about an hour.

    Olive oli, a dietary habit of Cretans

    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.

    Fresh Fish
    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!

    Grilled Dishes
    Roast or grilled meat and fishes consist also part of the Cretan diet. However, extra virgin olive oil is necessary for their preparation.

    Oily Dishes
    Oily foods, prepared in combination with various vegetables (beans, zucchinis, aubergines, okras), potatoes and meat, are incomparable when cooked in Extra Virgin Olive oil.

    History of Cretan Diet

    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 scale1. It was established that the inhabitants of Crete manifest the lowest mortality indices with respect to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Researchers then focused their attention on the particular aspects of nutrition responsible for such robust health.

    The history of Cretan diet is very old; its roots lie deep in the Neolithic Age. Today science has no proof, only circumstantial evidence of the dietary habits of Cretans 5,000 years ago. However, a clear picture of those habits emerges from as far back as 4,000 years ago, when the Minoan civilization was at its peak. On the basis of archaeological findings, it seems that ancient Cretans, the Minoans, consumed pretty much the same products that are being consumed by modern Cretans today. Large clay jars (pithoi) were found in Minoan palaces that were used for the storage of olive oil, grain, legumes, and honey. In various pictorial representations2 we can also see the magnificent world of Cretan plants and herbs.

    During the Byzantine period, the Cretans remained faithful to their dietary legacy and cooking habits. On the one hand, urban families were keen on preparing elaborate meals distinguished for their exceptional taste. On the other hand, the rural population subsisted strictly on products grown: greens, fruit, legumes, olives and olive oil. The Cretans, however, applied their accumulated knowledge and imagination to these lowly products producing delicious results. This practice sustained Cretans through adverse times, in periods of successive occupation by the Arabs (824-961), the Venetians (1204-1669) and the Turks (1669-1898). A turning point in the Cretan diet occurred with the introduction of new crops, particularly of the tomato, from the New World

    The conquerors came and went from Crete, but the Cretan spirit, religion, language and cuisine remained unchanged over the centuries!

    For Cretans, the secret of longevity is very simple. They eat anything that their rich soil produces! They consume a lot of fruit, vegetables, greens, fresh produce, legumes, cheese and bread. Cretans use herbs to add flavour to their meals; they make sweets/cakes with natural sweeteners, honey and grape-juice syrup; while the excellent Cretan wine is an indispensable accompaniment to their meals. Cretans do not eat meat or, rather, they did not eat meat until a few decades ago. Meat has always had a ritual quality in Crete, and generally in Greece. In modern times, they consumed meat only a few times a year, i.e. during festivities or, if wealthy enough, every Sunday. The ingenuity of Cretans exploited fully the entire spectrum of ingredient combinations, which resulted in volumes of recipes for meals and deserts.

    Teaching Health & Culture
    Modern Cretans feel the urge to share their secrets of life with the world. Besides their history and culture, they are also willing to share with people their prized cultural heritage known as CRETAN DIET. Cretans would like to let the world know of a gigantic effort taking place on the island to preserve traditional values and nutritional customs, in spite of the influx of promotional activities favouring foreign nutritional habits, mainly that of fast food. Cretan producers and local processing, packaging, and marketing companies warrant that all Cretan products are pure, without chemical substances or other preservatives and additives. Cretan products, being part of a centuries old tradition, are treated with the same respect as that afforded to them by our ancestors.

    Organic Farming
    The natural environment of Crete favours the development "earth friendly" methods of growing crops, particularly with regard to basic agricultural products, i.e. those that have adjusted well to the climate of Crete. In the last few years a group of organic growers embarked on a very significant project: to make publicly available select organic products that would meet the exact requirements of modern consumers.

    This task started from olive groves to expand to garden produce. Demand for such products was very impressive. Every year new farmers join the organised groups of organic farmers, while scientific research in the field of organic farming is flourishing.