30 November 2010

Recipe 7 - Chicken & Thyme Bake (Ψητό Κοτόπουλο Με Θυμάρι)

You have just come back from a hectic day at work. Cold, tired and hungry, you just want to have a quick shower and enjoy a tasty dinner. You’re way too tired to cook, especially when you want something quickly.

Well, look no further! With this recipe you have no excuse to call for a take away or buy a blunt, tasteless microwave meal. This delicious dish takes 5min to prepare and will be ready by the time you had a shower and dried your hair.

It is way too simple but the sauce created by the tomatoes, wine and olive oil has been described as ‘best ever’, ‘out of this world’, and other similar comments from the people that tried it.

Let’s get on with it though, because I am already starving!!!

For 2 persons you need:

2 pieces of chicken (any part will do, as long as it has the skin on)
100gr Feta cheese
A bunch of fresh thyme
250gr cherry tomatoes (as ripe as possible)
Olive oil for drizzling
Half a glass of white wine

1.    Preheat the oven to 190C (gas mark 5)

2.    Place the chicken in a shallow ovenproof dish.

3.    Loosen the skin from the chicken, crumble the cheese and stuff the chicken with it.

4.    Add a few sprigs of thyme.

5.    Halve the tomatoes and scatter them around the chicken.

6.    Add a few more sprigs of thyme and a drizzle (or more) of olive oil all over the chicken and the tomatoes. Splash the wine over the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

7.    Bake for 25-30min until the chicken is tender and golden. Half way through you can turn the pieces over to crisp the skin on both sides.

8.    Serve immediately. You can accompany the meal with rice, pasta or potatoes. Make sure you have enough bread as the sauce is delicious!

NOTE: In the picture above you can see some potatoes on the side. The recipe for them will follow at another blog.

28 November 2010

Recipe 6 - Kaltsounia (Καλτσούνια)

A very traditional Easter recipe from the island of Crete, this time. I know, I know, it’s not even Xmas yet and I’m putting up Easter recipes already. Well, first of all I love this sweet delicacy and secondly there is no reason why you should wait until Easter to make it!

It takes a bit of effort to make kaltsounia but, believe me, once made they tend to disappear very quickly from the plate. You can make a few more and store them away for 1-2 weeks, to serve with your coffee and tea.

Unfortunately, I do not have many step-by-step photos to go along with this recipe, because the last time I made them (last summer) I only took pictures of the final stages. Don’t worry, though. The instructions are very easy to follow and I will add more photos next time I make them.

Here we go then:

For the dough
1 cup    olive oil
1cup    milk
2 eggs
1 cup    sugar
1 tsp    baking powder
3 tbsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice
1kg    plain flour

For the filling
1.5 kg    Mizithra cheese (if you cannot find this Greek cheese, use ricotta cheese instead)
2 eggs
½ cup    sugar
1 tsp    ground cinnamon

1.    Mix the baking powder and the lemon juice.

2.    Mix all the dough ingredients together (including the baking powder/lemon juice mix) until smooth and it does not stick to the fingers.

3.    Cover it with a towel and let it rest for 1-2 hours.

4.    In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for the filling.

5.    Once the dough has been rested enough, roll it on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1cm thick. (You can split the dough into 3 pieces and roll each one separately if you don’t have enough space).

6.    Cut the dough into circles of around 6-7cm in diameter. (You can cut it in larger ones up to 10cm but obviously you will have to fill them with more filling)

7.    Place a tsp of filling in the middle of each circle.

8.    Slowly bring the ends together to almost cover the filling, pinching it together to stay closed.

9.    Place them in a buttered baking tray.

10.    Brush the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top.

11.    Cook in medium heat for about 20 minutes.

27 November 2010

Recipe 5 - Aubergine Dip (Μελιτζανοσαλάτα)

Unfortunately, aubergines (also known as ‘eggplant’) do not feature much in English cuisine (actually nothing healthy features much in English cuisine, but that’s another story lol).

Part of this is because UK supermarkets tend to over-charge for aubergines, so people cannot be bothered paying loads of money for something they haven’t tried before. I’ve seen prices range between 80p to £1.50 for one!!! However, shopping from a green grocer (which is the right thing to do as they are much cheaper than supermarkets) will drop the price to about £1 for four aubergines. That’s what I call proper pricing!

I think it is important to introduce the plant to anyone who has not even tasted it yet.

The aubergine is part of the nightshade (Solanacene) family, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, and chilli peppers. Like the tomato, the aubergine is also considered to be a fruit. Tobacco is also a member of the nightshade family. Like tobacco, the aubergine and other nightshade plants contain nicotine, though to a much lesser extent than tobacco. Do not think, therefore, that feeding aubergines to children will land you in prison lol.

The aubergine is very low in calories and fats and rich in fibre content.  100gr provides just 24 calories but contributes about 9% of RDA of fibre. It contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins which are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and are also required for fat, protein and carbohydrates metabolism. The peel or skin of aubergine has significant amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that these anti-oxidants have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases.

Anyway, back to this recipe which is an easy, delicious and healthy dip that goes well as a starter (with bread, of course), a meze or just a spread on your bread.

You will need:

4 large aubergines
1 handful of chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
1 medium onion

1.    Wash the aubergines under a tap and dry them with a towel.

2.    Place them in the oven, at medium heat. Ideally your oven should heat from both sides (above and below). Do not cut the aubergines; just place them on the grill as they are.

3.    Leave them to cook in medium heat for a good 1-1.5 hours. You will know they are ready when the skin has almost burned outside.

4.    Once ready, leave them out of the oven to cool down a bit.

5.    Cut part of the skin off and then scoop the insides into a bowl (they should come off easily).

6.    Using a fork mash them up (DO NOT USE A BLENDER)

7.    Grate the onion and squeeze the grated mass with your hand over the aubergine mixture to release the onion juices. Throw away the remaining onion (we only need the juice). Do not worry if a bit of onion has dropped into the mixture.

8.    Add the lemon juice, the chopped parsley and olive oil and salt to taste, and stir well.

9.    Try it to see if it needs more salt, olive oil or lemon juice. Remember that it is ready once you are satisfied you like the taste.

10.    Refrigerate and serve when needed.


  • This version of the recipe is called 'Politiki'. I prefer it because it only uses the aubergine as the main ingredient, so you get to taste its full flavour without too many add-ons.
  • If you want to, you can add to the mix the grated onion and 1-2 thinly chopped gloves of garlic.

21 November 2010

Recipe 4 - Goat Casserole With Potatoes (Κατσίκα Κοκκινιστή Με Πατάτες)

It is difficult to find goat meat in UK supermarkets and butchers, which is a pity because it is a very popular meat in Greek cuisine. Luckily, I have discovered a local butcher who brings goat meat every now and then, so I grasped the chance to bring back childhood memories.

Although goat is classified as red meat, it is leaner and contains less cholesterol and fat than beef or lamb. This makes it a healthier alternative.

This particular recipe is a hearty, autumn dish, full of flavours and a great energy booster for those cold, rainy, hard working days. Typical of Mediterranean cuisine, it is very simple to make, using very few ingredients and allowing those ingredients to give their flavour without too much fussing about.

The only drawback is that, although very easy to make, it takes a long time to cook (to allow the meat to cook properly so that it melts in the mouth). However, it’s an ideal dish to make on a weekend when you plan to spend your day cleaning the house. You can just leave it to cook slowly while you clean, and you only need to check up on it every half an hour or so.

This particular recipe easily makes 6-8 portions (depending on how hungry you are), for a total calorie count of about 3400 calories (yes, I have counted them all for you!!!). That’s about 570 to 430 calories per portion, not at all bad for a full on casserole dish!

You will need:

1.5 kilos of goat meat, cut in large chunks (better ask your butcher to cut them up for you)

Half a wine glass of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped to small pieces
1 kilo of tomatoes, grated

5-6 large potatoes, cut in chunky pieces

In the photo above I used half a kilo of grated tomatoes and half a kilo of chopped cherry tomatoes. The only reason for that was that I run out of large tomatoes! (Cooking is all about innovation after all). I also prefer to grate the tomatoes when I use them for making a sauce (rather than chop them) because the sauce is smoother and doesn’t end up having little pieces of skin etc in it.

1.    Put the meat in a casserole dish, cover with water and bring to the boil.

2.    Let the meat cook until the water has been used up.

3.    Add the olive oil and onions and brown the meat.

4.    Add the tomatoes, salt pepper and cover with water.

5.    Bring to the boil and lower heat.

6.    Cook in low/medium heat until the meat is ready. This can take as much as two hours (sometimes even more, depending how tough the meat is). When the meat is ready, you should be able to easily cut pieces off the chunks with a fork. During the cooking process, make sure that you add water when necessary (i.e. make sure the meat is always covered in liquid).

7.    When the meat is almost ready, move it to one side of the casserole and add the potatoes in the other. Taste the sauce and add more salt/pepper if required. Cover again with more water and bring to the boil again.

8.    Cook further for a while until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce has reduced. By now the meat should really be soft enough to melt in your mouth (try it!)

9.    Serve with fresh bread (which you should ideally dip into the sauce to eat like a true Greek!)

18 November 2010

Recipe 3 - Stuffed Tomatoes (Ντομάτες Γεμιστές)

This is one of the signature dishes of Greek cuisine. A delicious dish, full of flavours, which is suitable to vegetarians and meat eaters.

It tastes as good when re-heated, so you can make loads of it and store it in the fridge for later.

Note: The ingredients below are for 4 stuffed tomatoes. If you plan to make more, then increase the ingredients accordingly:

4 large beef tomatoes
2 small courgettes
1 carrot, grated
1 large onion, grated
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of parsley, thinly chopped
2 gloves of garlic, thinly chopped
4 tbsp rice (basically use 1 tbsp per tomato)
Pinch cumin
Salt/pepper to taste
Pinch sugar

1.    Cut a thin round slice off the top of the tomatoes and scoop all of their pulp out with a teaspoon. Be very careful not to cut the walls of the tomato when doing this.

2.    Scoop the pulp of the two courgettes.

3.    Shred the pulps in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients, apart from the sugar. Stir the mixture well.

4.    Rub the outside of the tomatoes with a bit of sugar (not too much).

5.    Stuff the tomatoes with the mix and cover them with the sliced tops.

6.    Place the tomatoes in an over proof dish and pour over them some olive oil mixed with a grated tomato.Add a bit of water and olive oil until it reaches about a quarter of the height of the tomatoes (in the picture below I have not added the water in the over proof dish yet).

7.    Cover the dish and cook in 250C until the rice is cooked. Uncover the dish and cook for a further 10min. (in the picture below I have not used much water/olive oil as the people I cooked for did not want too many calories lol…usually there is a lovely sauce left over in the dish, which demands some bread to go with it!)


•    Although normally without meat, you can add mince to the mix if you like. Just make sure you have cooked the mince properly first, before adding it to the mix.

•    If the tomatoes are cooked but the rice inside is still crunchy, pour some of the water in the dish over the rice mix and let it cook for a while longer.

•    Sometimes, you will find that there is leftover mix after you have stuffed the tomatoes. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY! Add a bit more rice in the mix, place it in another over proof dish, cover it just about with enough water and cook it in the oven. You will have yourselves a rice dish full of flavours to go as a side with your tomatoes.

•    In the last 10min of cooking you can sprinkle some grated parmesan on top of the tomatoes for added taste.

•    Apart from tomatoes, Greeks also use large green peppers and large courgettes to stuff. Follow the same process as above for them too.

•    You can also cut potatoes in medium size chunks and place them sparingly amongst the tomatoes in the oven dish (make sure you add a little bit more water). You will have some really tasty potatoes to go with your stuffed tomatoes!

17 November 2010

Recipe 2 - Wine Biscuits (Μπισκότα Κρασιού)

If you need some delicious biscuits to go with your coffee, tea or your drink then look no further. I love these biscuits because the more you chew them the more flavour they release, making them quite addictive!

This is a very simple recipe and the ingredients cost very little, so you can make loads of biscuits without breaking the bank. Your guests will like you even better for having such a treat with their drink 

300gr    olive oil
50gr    freshly squeezed orange juice
150gr    icing sugar
250gr    dry white wine
150gr    sesame seeds
1 tsp    baking powder
1 pinch     of salt
800gr    plain flour
200gr    corn flour

1.    In a bowl mix together the olive oil, orange juice and wine.

2.    Add the icing sugar and mix well to dilute it.

3.    Add the remaining ingredients and mix them to make a soft dough.

4.    Roll the dough until about 2-3mm thick

5.    Cut it in circles of about 3cm in diameter (I use a shooter glass to cut the dough in circles).

6.    You can gather the left over dough and roll it out again, so that nothing goes to waste.

7.    Place in a buttered baking tray and bake at 160C for about 25min