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,…
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…
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.
- 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.
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,…
I was very lucky to see a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s for baked eggs on Sunday morning. I happened to have all the ingredients for the Mexican version and decided to try it. I admire him incredibly for his quality, well-designed recipes. His simple presentation…
When preparing beans I usually soak and sprout twice the amount needed for my recipe. Leftover pulses are stored in the freezer for immediate use in another recipe.
What does “sprouting” mean?
First, I wash the pulses well. Then, I soak them in plenty of water, preferably with a little yogurt or kefir serum for 12-24 hours, depending on their type.
The next day, I spread them out in a colander, where I rinse them thoroughly and let them drain. To keep the sink area clear, I rest the colander on a shallow baking tray of the same size. The pan should be shallow enough for the air to circulate freely.
I leave them to sprout for 1-3 days, just covered with a muslin. I make sure to “water” them by rinsing them every 6 hours. I also mix them well, to redistribute them in the colander, as there is more moisture towards the bottom compared to the top.
Once they’ve sprouted, I rinse them well before cooking or storing them in the freezer. On really hot days, I soak & sprout in the fridge.
Why do I put myself (and my beans) through this process?
Mainly because legumes contain nutritional inhibitors that hinder the absorption of nutrients. By soaking, sprouting and cooking or serving with small amounts of meat or fish, you can enrich the meals of young children. They usually eat very small amounts, so every spoonful should be packed with nutrients.
According to the Ministry of Development:
You can find more information in this brochure of the World Food and Agriculture Organization:
Let’s rewarded ourselves for our patience with “Fasolatha” a traditional white bean soup with “apaki” Cretan cured pork.
- 0,5 kg white small beans
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 leeks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper in 3-4 large pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 liters broth
- 200 gr. Apaki or pancetta sliced
- Juice from half a lemon
Soak the beans in plenty of water for 24 hours. Rinse and sprout as described above. It will take 24-48 hours to see the first sprouts.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry all the vegetables for 5 ‘ to soften along with the bay leaf. Add the cold broth and beans, then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 ‘ to 40 ‘. Check often because with soaking beans cook and soften much faster.
When the beans are done, take out the pepper and some of the bean soup with a ladle. Pour it into the blender and liquidize. Strain back into the bean soup, stir well and bring back to the boil for 5′. Meanwhile, quickly fry the Apaki in a frying pan for 5′ and add the lemon juice at the end. Serve the “fasolatha” soup with a little apaki on every plate.
In the midst of this constant barrage of information on modern nutrition, the value of vegetables remains constant and undeniable. In the traditional Mediterranean diet, we very often see imaginative combinations of vegetables with (sometimes only a little) meat or fish, depending on the season…
This is one of our favorite recipes, made throughout late summer and early autumn. With the beautiful Indian summer we’ve been having this October, I was happy to make it with the last fresh corn from the Farmer’s market. Like a farewell to the bright…
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 in less from 20 ‘ in the cast iron pan, as long as you have cooked or canned chickpeas available.
As canned chickpeas are not readily available in Greece, one way is to have chickpeas leftover from this traditional Greek chickpea dish sifneiki revithada. The other is to have already soaked, sprouted and half-cooked chickpeas in the freezer. That’s something I do often. Every time I soak and sprout chickpeas for cooking, I use twice as much and I keep half. Same effort, same time and I have a handy solution in the kitchen for whenever I need it. Take care when boiling the chickpeas, they must be cooked but not soft and mushy, so they should be ready in about 40 ‘. This is how they are used in cold salads or they can continue cooking in the respective recipe.
The minced meat in this recipe comes from grassfed yearling lambs that are raised grazing freely on the slopes of Epirus in Western Greece. With a richer taste, more iron and increased nutritional value, it is meat that is worth seeking out from producers following traditional farming methods. Gradually add the meat into the hot frying pan, so that you can break it up so that it is well browned, either with a fork or with the wooden spoon. Don’t worry if you see it sticking to the bottom, as soon as it cooks, the pan will release it.
For herbs and spices, you can experiment with what you prefer. This version here is milder, for kids that don’t enjoy very spicy flavors. It is a very flexible recipe that seems to always turn out delicious, hence the variety of different versions. It just needs good quality ingredients to turn out great every time.
- 500 gr. minced grassfed yearling lamb
- 4 cups chickpeas, cooked
- 1 cup (200 ml) broth or cooking liquid from the chickpeas
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsps cumin
- 2 tsps coriander ground
- 2 tsps turmeric
- 1 tsp Chili or paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: 2 tablespoons Parsley or coriander finely chopped
Heat the a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan well over a medium heat. Gradually add the minced meat and brown well while stirring. Add the onion and chickpeas and continue stirring over a high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, all the spices, and season well. Stir for 1 ‘ to integrate. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits stuck to it. Lower over a medium heat and let it reduce for 5’.
Serve with rice or Naan bread, yogurt, a little olive oil and the chopped herbs.
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…