6 April 2015

In my kitchen April '15




Καλό μήνα lovely readers and welcome to April!! If you are wondering what Καλό μήνα (Kalo Mina) means - it literally means "good month" and it is a Greek greeting given every first day of each month. It is the Greek way of wishing friends and family a good month ahead of them - a way of wishing you, lovely reader, well.


3 April 2015

Ma's kalamari yemista: calamari stuffed with leeks, currants and pine nuts (καλαμαράκια γεμιστά)





When I first got married, I was fascinated by the way my mother in law expertly cleaned calamari. Nearly five years on, nothing has changed. Where Ma may use a toothbrush to painstakingly clean fish for her family, she often uses a knitting needle to ensure the inside of the calamari tube is immaculately clean. Having grown up on a Greek island, her skill in cooking all types of seafood and her knowledge of how it should be treated and used is truly impressive. Ma's "salty" island blood and passion for seafood has been passed on to her children - certainly my Mr K, so it was early in my marriage that I got to grips with cleaning calamari and octopus - and selecting it at the market. 

29 March 2015

"Fix Hellas" beer battered salt cod, basil infused skordalia and beetroot salad for Greek National Independence Day (Μπακαλιάρος για την 25η Μαρτίου)




In our house this week, we celebrated Greek National Independence Day. In Greece, 25 March is a public holiday, but people of Greek heritage all over the world celebrate the origin in of the modern Greek state, which had its beginnings on 25 March 1821.


20 March 2015

Lenten salad with quinoa & pomegranate (Σαλάτα με ρόδι και κινόα για τη νηστεία)

 

 

Autumn makes herself known when the soft orange-pink pomegranates start to appear on my father in law's trees, like spectacular Christmas ornaments. It marks the start of one of my favourite seasons and always reminds me that my wedding anniversary is not too far away. I can always remember my dad and my father in law enjoying a very happy, animated conversation and a Greek coffee in the garden with an impressive backdrop of pomegranate trees, that were simply heaving with fruit, behind them on the day after our wedding. My father in law took cuttings from his trees and now they grow in my parents garden - and this is the first year that the new trees have produced a very generous and healthy quantity of fruit that is filled with sweet ruby coloured gems.

3 March 2015

In my kitchen: March

 

In my kitchen this month, I am enjoying the rich bounty of late summer produce – tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants from the garden. I am also very excited to be welcoming into my kitchen, over the coming weeks some spectacular autumn produce – figs, pomegranates, chestnuts and more! Thankfully, there are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables in season at the moment, as over the next few weeks the menus in my kitchen are going to be fasting friendly.

1 March 2015

Lenten Onion Pie (κρεμμύδoπίτα νηστεία)

 

 

While Greek food is so much about the seasons and homegrown produce, it is also driven by the festival calendar. We recently started one of the most significant fasting periods in the Greek calendar, Great Lent.

 

This period is called nistia (νηστεία) and traditionally requires you to abstain from meat, eggs, dairy, fish (shellfish are ok), olive oil and alcohol. You are also required to limit the number of meals consumed each day. In recent times, many people do not fast for the whole period of lent (Clean Monday until Easter Sunday) but they do still fast in different ways. For many people, they will not eat meat for the entire period of lent but will still eat dairy. For others, they will not eat meat for the entire period of lent and will also be completely vegan, oil and alcohol free on Wednesdays and Fridays - which are regarded as significant fasting days in the Orthodox calendar year. In addition to this, most people fast strictly during the first and last week of Lent as well as Holy Week, breaking the fast after midnight on Easter Saturday with bowls of mageritsa soup.

25 February 2015

Wild summer greens: Quick skordalia with purslane & horta style warrigal greens

 

 

 

My love for wild greens has not abated this summer. My first love, the sweet green summer vlita (βλήτα), had to vie for attention as my affection for crispy lemony purslane has grown. We have enjoyed purslane slowly braised along with zucchini and vlita in a spicy tomato sauce, as well as a variety of salads - from simple tomato and olive - to a really fresh and punchy traditional Lebanese fattoush, the recipe courtesy of my gorgeous friend, Mama Z. I hope to share the recipe for fattoush with you soon, before the purslane of summer disappears. However, this week I needed a starchy hit - but I had a basket absolutely brimming with freshly picked purslane. The solution - a quick skordalia with purslane (σκορδαλιά με αντράκλα).

 

14 February 2015

Yemista Politika (Γεμιστές Πολιτικά)

 

 

 

Ask any Greek child, what is their favourite dish and I am sure many would answer yemista – a dish of stuffed tomatoes and sometimes eggplant, zucchini or zucchini blossoms and capsicums that are baked in the oven. A childhood love of yemista never fades. The other day Mr K was reminiscing about how the capsicums were always his favourite and he would carefully select them from the big ‘tapsi’ containing the colourful yemista.

 

13 January 2015

Stuffed zucchini flowers with rice, mint & fennel pollen (Λουλούδια κολοκυθιάς γεμιστά)

Like many food bloggers, I am often asked, why do you have a blog? Why do you write about food? Why is it all about Greek food? The simple answer is, when your Greek father in law gives you a dazzling basket of freshly picked, home grown zucchini blossoms – you need to know what to do with them. So much love and hard work goes into home grown produce and I want to be able to treat it with the respect it deserves.

11 January 2015

Kalamari pilaf (Καλαμαρί πιλάφι)


 

Rice pilaf dishes are incredibly popular in Greece and come in varied forms. The most simple pilaf is made with homemade stock, olive oil, lemon and herbs such as bay and cinnamon. Special occasion or ceremonial pilaf, such as the Cretan wedding pilaf is cooked in stock made from quality meat and bones. To enhance the taste of the pilaf, fresh butter is also used in generous quantities. My sister in law's mother, who is from Crete, is well known for her amazing pilaf recipe. I am hoping to learn this dish one day soon. Then there are homely pilaf dishes, which feature regularly on our weeknight menu, such as spanakorizo (spinach rice) or prassorizo (leek rice) - and my mother in law's delicious kalamari pilaf.

7 January 2015

Imam Bayildi (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί)





There has to be a gazillion recipes for Imam Bayildi (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί). It is one of those shared dishes amongst Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and it is very popular in Greece – available on most tavern menus in summer.


The phrase imam bayildi is Turkish for "the priest fainted". It is believed the amount of olive oil used in the dish when first served to the priest was so abundant, it caused him to faint – olive oil being incredibly expensive at that point in time.


4 January 2015

Patzarosaláta: chilled beetroot and garlic yoghurt salad




This has to be one of my most favourite salads - it's a variation on the traditional Greek beetroot salad, patzarosaláta (παντζάροσαλάτα).

In Greece, patzarosaláta, is usually served two ways. The beetroot, along with their greens, are boiled. Once they have cooled, they are sliced and served with a generous dressing of olive oil and wine vinegar. This salad is served alongside a dish of skordalia, feta cheese and bread.