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Minced lamb with chickpeas

Minced lamb with chickpeas

The original recipe is called Keema Chole and is Indian, belonging to Punjabi cuisine. It exists in many traditional versions, but this is not one of them. I prefer a somewhat drier and faster version by Mark Bittman that I saw on NYT Cooking, made…

Grassfed beef  with borlotti beans

Grassfed beef with borlotti beans

It’s funny how borlotti or cranberry beans also have two names in Greek: chandres (beads) or barbounia (red mullet, yes really). They are so beautiful that I almost feel sad when I see them lose their color cooked. Their slightly sweet and hearty tasty, quickly…

Free-range chicken with runner beans

Free-range chicken with runner beans

At home we prefer traditional or free range chickens. Their taste is incredible, the rearing conditions are humane and their nutritional value is higher. Even though the difference in cost might seem high, 2 large 3 kg hens with proper management, can provide at least 4-5 family meals in relation to a couple of small chickens that will provide 2.

Once our chickens are delivered from our beloved free-range farm in Ioannina, Western Greece, I set aside a whole chicken for the Sunday dinner that we will share with our friends and divide the other two into thighs, breasts and carcass with wings. The breast will become a homemade deli meat or a quick stir fry, while the carcasses will each make soups or broth and chicken pie. As for the thighs, usually they are slow roasted in the oven, as in this recipe here. Of course, for this dish, you can use a the whole chicken in portions. However, in this case, you will need to remove the breast 10 minutes before the end of cooking time so that it does not dry out.

Jointing a chicken is very easy to learn by watching one of the many videos available. It’s easy to do if you have a good, sharpened knife and a big chopping board. Nevertheless, you can always ask your butcher to do it for you.

On to the green beans and the twist of this traditional recipe. As they are baked in the oven, essentially steamed by the sauce, they remain green and crunchy. My kids seem to prefer this version to the usually overcooked, very soft, green beans that can result when using the stove top. Let the younger children help you wash them and snap them in half by hand while you trim their edges and any side fibers. Let older children help trim the beans with the knife on a cutting board.

Ideally, use an ovenproof casserole, otherwise you will need to do the first portion of the cooking on the stovetop in a large heavy bottomed pot and then empty it in a lidded baking tray for the oven.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps clarified butter or olive oil
  • 4 free-range chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 100 ml wine
  • 50 ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 kg flat green beans, trimmed
  • 500 gr. grated tomato
  • 200 ml water
  • 1/2 a bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the casserole over a high heat and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken thighs well with the butter on all sides and set aside. Add the onions with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spring onions and carrots. Return the thighs to the on the bottom of the hull and pour over the wine and vinegar. Allow to evaporate, then the tomatoes and water. As soon as it boils, cover, lower the heat, let it simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 200 C.

Layer the green beans over the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cover, bring to the boil and place in the oven for 45 ‘. Check to see when the meat is done, remove it, stir the green beans well and place the thighs back in the casserole, but on top of the green beans this time. Cook uncovered for another 20 minutes to reduce the sauce and brown the skin of the chicken. Once browned, take out of the oven, sprinkle with finely chopped dill and serve.

Greek “Briam” traditional veggie traybake with sausage

Greek “Briam” traditional veggie traybake with sausage

This is a classic summer dish that I keep making well into October as the produce and the weather is still so summery. A little bit of sausage goes a long way in persuading my kids to happily down this trayful of veggie goodness. As…

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

This is my mum’s recipe, which was usually the centerpiece of our birthdays as children. I still rely on it for my own children and for their friends. It is a delicious cake, dairy free, moist and firm enough to cut into any shape the…

Grassfed beef in lemon sauce with green beans

Grassfed beef in lemon sauce with green beans

This is such a classic Greek summer recipe. Bringing wonderful aromas and nourishment in the same dish, combining the fresh tastes of green beans, lemon and herbs. The best way to prepare green beans is in good company. Casual conversation and plenty of helping hands, really do make light work. Don’t be wary of accepting of help from eager children, as long as they know how to handle a small paring knife. An elastic bandage placed in advance on one’s thumb before trimming, can come in useful as well. Imparting knowledge becomes more successful, it seems to me through sharing tasks in relaxed company. I also think that sharing kitchen tasks allowed neighbors of older generations to get through infinite chores ans still keep up to date with the latest gossip.

If you feel like trimming fresh beans is just a task you simply do not have time for, prepared frozen beans will do fine, waiting patiently in the freezer until the time comes to liven up your plate.

  • 1 kg stewing beef in small portions
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 100 ml white wine (omit if serving tochildren)
  • 800 ml homemade stock, warm
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 kilo green beans, prepared, fresh or frozen
  • Juice and zest of an unwaxed lemon
  • Half a bunch of mint, just the leaves, finely chopped
  • Half a bunch of dill, without the thick stems, finely chopped

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot, while drying the meat with a paper towel. Add the olive oil to the pot and brown the meat well on all sides in two batches. Set aside, then add the onion and carrot to the pot and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, rubbing the bottom of pan with the wooden spoon to incorporate the caramelized juices from the sautéed meat. Add the garlic and the meat and stir well. Add the wine and allow to evaporate. Season and add enough stock to almost cover the meat. Cover the pot and allow to simmer at a low heat for approx. 45 ‘, checking occasionally to see if you need to add more stock.

When the meat has softened, add the lemon juice and place the green beans on top. Cover and simmer for about 25 ‘. Do not stir the beans into the sauce, as they essentially be cooked through by the steam, allowing them to keep the bite in them and not end up soggy.

Check the seasoning. Add the zest and herbs and shake the pan to distribute. Cook for 5 ‘ without a lid to allow any excess liquid from the green beans to evaporate. Once the sauce has reduced, serve warm.

Braised yearling goat with peas

Braised yearling goat with peas

Potato, rice, pasta… Potato, rice, pasta. And yet there are so many other combinations for meat. It is not a modern tendency not to rely on starches every day. It is the wisdom in all the traditional kitchens that maximizes nourishment at the family table…

Zucchini e fiori risotto

Zucchini e fiori risotto

I love spring and all the variety and freshness it brings. One walk through the Farmer’s market and there is just such an incredible choice of produce. You just need to be extra careful and cook it while it is super fresh. I mean winter…

Stewed Octopus with pasta

Stewed Octopus with pasta

I have been meeting the most wonderful people from all over the world at the Onion Athens‘ cooking workshops over the past few months. I adore sharing traditional Greek recipes just as much as learning participants favorites too. Just last week Garry and Cindy mentioned how they would love to try out some seafood recipes while staying in Athens and that gave me the push I needed to finally share this wonderful recipe for tender, slow cooked octopus and pasta.

Traditionally all octopus needs is to be left to slowly simmer in an empty pot for about an hour to release it’s aromatic, flavorful juices. Resist the urge to add water as it will turn hard and chewy. Just leave it on it’s own as there is no chance of it burning at a low temperature. the combination of the rich flavor with short cut pasta, traditionally called “kofto” (κοφτό) makes it a favorite with children too. Mine love it, which is very fortunate as it also very rich in iron and B12. If fresh octopus is not available, frozen will be fine. Some Greeks will even freeze it as they swear it tenderizes it a bit more.

Ingredients

  • 1 octopus, approx. 1,5 kilos, beak and and eyes removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 350 gr. pasta, ditali or “kofto”

Put the whole octopus in a pot, cover and set over a low heat to braise for about 1 hour until soft. Boil the pasta in salted water for half the recommended cooking time and drain. Wash out the pasta pot, dry it and set it over a medium heat. Add the oil then gently cook the onions for 5′. Add the garlic, allspice, bay leaves and cinnamon. Rub the tomato paste into the oil with a wooden spoon, then add the stewing liquid from the octopus. Chop the octopus into bite sized pieces while bringing the sauce to the boil. Add the pasta and octopus pieces. Season, stir well and simmer gently for 5′-10′ until the pasta is cooked through. Keep some hot water at hand to add little by little, if needed, for the pasta to cook completely.

Roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary

Roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary

Probably the most iconic Greek roast dinner, a classic choice for Sunday lunch or Easter, lamb is the go-to crowd pleaser in most Greek homes. This is my grandmother’s version with tiny slits filled with garlic and rosemary to scent the meat that she called…