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Stuffed casserole peppers

Stuffed casserole peppers

Although “gemista” (stuffed oven-baked vegetables) are served in every Greek house during the summer, with infinite variations, stuffed casserole peppers can be made all year round. The only difference is that in winter I prefer to fill long red sweet Florina peppers, while in summer…

Skillet calamari with zucchini

Skillet calamari with zucchini

This skillet calamari with zucchini is incredibly fast, flavorful and nutritious. If the calamari is cleaned, it takes only 10 minutes to prepare, it needs very little cooking over a very high heat. My cast iron pan is ideal for this and I am so…

Braised beef with zucchini

Braised beef with zucchini

This braised beef with zucchini (or courgettes if you prefer) is a classic Greek summer dish. By early summer, the farmers’ market stalls are filled with bright green zucchini and sun blushed tomatoes, perfect for this delicious casserole.

This looks like summer Sunday lunch to me

As my grandmother used to make it, it also reminds me of the brightest childhood summers. Joining the family for Sunday lunch after a quick swim sun bleached hair and rosy cheeks, the scent of the sea and Coppertone oil drifting in the air around us.

Although the beef is slow braised until almost melting for about an hour and a half, this can be prepared the night before and chilled. As always allow for a slightly longer cooking time for grassfed beef, making sure Then you can quickly prep the potatoes and zucchini and finish off in half an hour while the rest of the family are washing off the sea salt and hanging out swimsuits and towels in the happy chaos that usually follows a family’s return from the beach.

You will be gently frying the potatoes and zucchini before adding them to the braised beef, to help them absorb the tasty sauce. The potatoes will be almost disintegrating and thickening the sauce, while the lightly fried zucchini will lightly steam on top, perfectly cooked. You can skip this part with very little difference to the potatoes, but the zucchini might become mushy and watery.

The potatoes help thicken the sauce

Braised beef with zucchini recipe

  • 1 kg grass fed beef, in portions
  • 4 tbsp olive oil or ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
  • 500 ml homemade stock, hot
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 400 gr. tomatoes, grated
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, in thick chunks
  • 8 medium zucchini, in thick chinks (if large cut in half first)
  • Optional: chopped mint and parsley to serve

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on high heat. Pat down and dry the meat with kitchen paper and season. Add 1 tbsp of the oil to the pan, then brown the meat in batches on all sides. Set aside. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions. Sauté the onion until translucent then add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook for 30″, then add the meat and juices to the pan. Add enough hot stock to almost cover the meat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and gently cook for 1 hour. Add the grated tomatoes, bring to the boil, then continue to simmer leaving the lid ajar, only partially covering the pan.

In a large frying pan, add the rest of the oil and gently fry the potatoes until they change color a bit. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the pan. Season well and stir through. Add the zucchini carefully to the hot frying pan and gently fry in batches until they get a little color. Remove with a slotted spoon. Once the meat is done and the sauce thick, add the zucchini on top and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the zucchini is cooked through. Taste and season if needed. Serve with feta or kalamata olives and the chopped herbs

Though soft the zucchini keeps its shape, while the meat is soft enough to cut with a fork
Pea soup

Pea soup

This pea soup is fast, delicious, nutritious and is made with minimal effort and prep. We all have days when we just don’t feel like cooking, but still want something healthy, tasty and good value with household staples. I’ve used frozen fine peas here. If…

Salt cod with chickpeas – Bacalao con Garbanzos

Salt cod with chickpeas – Bacalao con Garbanzos

Salt cod with chickpeas is also made in the island of Crete , however, we will be making Bacalao con Garbanzos, a version of the traditional Spanish recipe. This is a healthy, colorful, aromatic dish packed with nutriens from the vegetables, pulses and fish. It…

No-knead turmeric bread with sunflower seeds

No-knead turmeric bread with sunflower seeds

Now that you’ve learnt how to make your own no-knead bread and may even have tried the olive bread with herbs, it might be time to change it up a little with this dutch oven variation for turmeric bread with seeds, a bright yellow crumb and a distinctive aroma and flavor. It accompanies cheeses and chutneys very well and becomes very nice bruschetta with some yogurt and leftover curry.

We will add an extra ingredient to the basic dough and the use the rolling technique to add the seeds and spices. Here I’m using a basic combination of turmeric with black pepper. You can alternatively use poppy seeds, anise or cardamom seeds. Pick two at a time until you come up with your favorite combination. Don’t forget that you can use the same dutch oven variation for turmeric bread dough, to make a small loaf every day with a different “stuffing” of seeds each.

Turmeric Bread recipe

  • 700 gr. lukewarm water
  • 10 gr. active dry yeast
  • 1 kilo white flour
  • 15 gr. turmeric powder
  • 15 gr. salt
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: a pinch of nigella seeds for sprinkling

Mix the flour well with the turmeric and salt. Pour the lukewarm water into a large basin and mix with the yeast. After that, add the flour and stir very well until all of it is wet. Then, cover the basin with wrap and make a couple of small holes. I leave on the counter for 2 hours and then refrigerate for at least 12 hours, ideally a whole day. For flour you can experiment with any flour or with a mixture of different kinds you like. As a base I use white or yellow flour here to enhance the yellow color.

Every time you want to make bread, first prepare your counter with a little flour on your counter. Then take the dough out of the fridge. Sprinkle with a little flour, so that the dough does not stick to your hands. Pull out a piece of dough about half a kilo. The dough is very elastic, so it helps to cut it with the kitchen scissors.

Method

Place it on the floured surface and very quickly fold the edges towards the center, going around to form a ball. Turn the ball over with folds under it and sprinkle with flour.

The dough is very soft. Therefore, roll it out gently into an oblong shape, approximately 2-3 cm thick.

Afterwards, layer the sunflower seeds and black pepper all over the surface.

Roll up the dough carefully, without pressing it too hard. Fold the edges of the roll inward and turn it with the folds facing downwards.

Then turn the loaf with your hands around the sides, to give it a round shape again and let it rise for 40′ on a piece of parchment paper.

Before you baking your loaf, make two deep parallel slashes into the dough with a sharp bread knife and sprinkle with nigella seeds, if using, and flour. Afterwards, prepare the spot where you will place the hot dutch oven and make room for the hot lid next to it. Then, take the pot out of the oven using gloves. Set it down in a safe place, take off the lid and leave one glove on the lid (otherwise, I tend to forget how hot it is and, as a result, grab the lid with bare hands). While holding the parchment paper taut with both hands, transfer the loaf as it is into the center of the dutch oven carefully. After that, use GLOVES to cover it and put it back in the oven.

Bake covered for 20′ and for a further 10 minutes without the lid. If you are making a larger loaf, adjust the baking time by 5′. The maximum baking time, if you use all the dough, is 30 ‘ covered and about 20 ‘ without the lid.  Finally, allow the loaf to cool before cutting.

Braised cabbage with lamb – Kapuska

Braised cabbage with lamb – Kapuska

Winter cabbages are so sweet and tasty, especially when braising gives the such a silky taste. Stuffed cabbage leaves may very well be my winter favorite, but we’ll leave those for another day. In this recipe we are looking a a very easy, fast, midweek,…

 Skillet chicken with creamed beat leaves

 Skillet chicken with creamed beat leaves

If you’re looking to add more greens to your plates, this is a great start. Beet leaves are delicious, sweeter than spinach which will score points with the kids and so pretty. Combined with ever popular chicken and cream that makes everything taste better, its…

Whole braised cauliflower kapama

Whole braised cauliflower kapama

Kapama is a traditional way of braising in Greece, by placing a pot on top of a baking tray. I first tasted cauliflower kapama made the traditional way at my Aunt Sophia’s. This is an everyday, simple dish, usually served during the period of Lent before Christmas. So she was quite surprised at my enthusiasm for such a simple dish.

This recipeis a slightly dressed up version, keeping with the original flavors, but preparing the cauliflower whole as seems to be the fashion these days. This way, the upgraded version makes a nice centerpiece for out vegetarian friends or for dinners during Lent. It’s also more attractive to the kids, who are very interested in cutting wedges of the red cauliflower to reveal a white heart.

Aside from a nice, round, medium sized cauliflower, you will need a large flameproof casserole pot, suitable for both the oven and the stove. I tend to use my dutch oven for this. Do check the the cauliflower fits the pot, before you start. Ask me how I know…

By braising in the oven and then in the steam of the sauce, we get a beautifully cooked cauliflower, both tender and holding its shape with a bite to it.

 Recipe

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 70 ml vinegar
  • 500 gr tomato, grated
  • 3 allspice berries
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: kalamata olives and chopped parsley for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Remove any wilted leaves from the cauliflower and submerge in water with vinegar to get rid of any previous occupants. Rince and dry. Cut of the end of the stem, so that it sits well. Using a paring knife core the base of the stem. Coat with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and roast in the oven for 15′.

In the meantime heat a large pot on a medium heat. Add the remaining oil, onions and a little salt and cook for about 5′, until soft. Add the garlic, stir and add the tomato paste and all spice. Cook stirring for 30″ then add the vinegar. Allow to reduce for 2′, then add the tomato and season. Brind to a mediume boil for 5′.

At this stage the cauliflower should be ready. Transfer to the pot carefully and baste with the tomato sauce. Cover and put in the oven for 30′. Check half way through cooking time and add a little water to loosen the sauce if needed.

Once it’s done, transfer to a large serving plate spooning over the sauce. Serve with the olives, parsley and a little olive oil.

Greek Sofigado stew with quince

Greek Sofigado stew with quince

Sofigado is a traditional recipe from the Ioanian island of Lefkada made with yearling goat or lamb. Modern versions include beef, but the strong deep-flavored sweet and sour sauce really complements darker red meats. As potatoes used to be scarce towards the end of autumn,…