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.

When you eat, do as Cretans do

by Stevi Moshogianni

Imagine a place where the stark sunlight turns fruits and vegetables into honey. Where you crush olives for their oil and that oil goes to your salad. This place is Crete, an island in the southern Aegean Sea in Greece. It is not a coincidence that Cretans have one of the highest life expectancies in the Western world.

Would the lucky inhabitants of this island happen to have a complicated diet? No! In fact Cretan food is simple, based on olive oil - most Cretans make their own olive oil - vegetables, pulses, herbs, fruit, cheese and fish. Red meat plays a minimal role.

How to incorporate Cretan food into your daily diet

- Use only extra virgin olive oil as your main and only source of fat. When in the late 1950's American scientists came to Crete to study the secret of Cretan longevity and the virtual absence of cardiovascular disease, they only had to look as far as the bottles of olive oil the Cretans used daily. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat that has tremendous health benefits. It also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage. Olive oil protects against heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and even asthma.

- Drink a glass of red wine per day with your main meal. Red wine can raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and prevent LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) from forming. Red wine may help prevent blood clots and reduce blood vessel damage caused by fat deposits. Note that Cretans do not drink alone. Wine is drunk in the company of friends and family and it is seen as a social practice.

- Limit sugar and replace it with honey (not for infants under 12 months though). Honey is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you must use less: one-half to three-quarters of a cup for each cup of sugar in your recipes. For dessert eat fresh fruit. Choose from what is in season and eat your “dessert” daily.

- Eat red meat only a few times a month. Replace red meat with fish. Use pulses as an added source of protein. Cretans eat lots and lots of snails as a source of protein too!

- Eat fresh cheese. Most of the time, Cretans eat “myzithra” (a fresh cheese made of ewe's milk or sometimes goat’s milk) and “anthotiros” (a mild, soft cheese that tastes like something between cottage cheese and mozzarella). Choose to eat unprocessed yoghurt, without added sugar, as natural yogurt contains live bacteria that fortifies the immune system.

- Eat vegetables that are in season, organic and locally produced. Eat lots of greens. Cretans eat three times more vegetables than the average Westerner. This results in a lower risk of cancer of the large intestine and a stronger heart and circulatory system.

- Eat wholemeal bread and pasta. Cretans love to eat “paximadi”, a type of rusk that they soften with olive oil and water. When they add olives, tomato, myzithra cheese and oregano, it’s called “dakos” - and is a super meal on its own!

- Use herbs to make teas, do not just use them in cooking. Τhyme, oregano, marjoram, mint, rosemary, camomile, sage, and diktamos (also known as Cretan dittany- which is analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic) are hugely available.