30 December 2016

Recipe 48: Moustokouloura from Lefkada (Λευκαδίτικα Μουστοκούλουρα)

Moustokouloura are very popular cookies throughout Greece and one of my favourite kind of cookie. The name derives from the Greek word 'moustos', which is the juice from the grapes before or during fermentation.

Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to make these cookies in the UK, because it is very difficult to find the main ingredient. That ingredient, 'petimezi', is basically a type of grape molasses. It is used in Greek cuisine and especially in deserts. However, I have come across a number of UK websites which do sell Greek products, including petimezi. If you can find it, buy it and make the cookies!!! They are a great accompaniment to your coffee or tea.

This specific recipe comes from the beautiful island of Lefkada, in the Ionian Sea.

1200gr white flour
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup petimezi
Half cup cognac
2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp baking soda
Sesame seeds, for the finish

1) In a bowl, mix well the flour with the olive oil.

2) Dissolve the baking soda into the cognac.

3) Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the water, sugar, petimezi, cognac and cloves.

4) Knead well, adding a bit of water if needed.

5) Slightly oil your hands and make small cookies by rolling a bit of the dough with them. Then roll each cookie in the sesame seeds.

6) Place the cookies in a slightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 180C. You can bake until they are hard or until they are softer, depending on how you prefer them.

Recipe 47: Tzaletia from Corfu (Τζαλέτια Κέρκυρας)

If you like corn maze (or corn meal, as otherwise known), you will love these delicious cookies. This is a traditional Greek recipe from the island of Corfu (there are other alternative recipes from other parts of Greece).

400gr corn maze (καλαμποκάλευρο)
200gr butter
Half a cup water, lukewarm
1 tbsp juice from an orange
1 tbsp water
Half tsp orange zest
Half tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar

To finish:
Juice from one orange

1) Place the corn maze in a bowl.

2) In a frying pan, melt the butter.

3) Once the butter is hot, add it to the corn maze. Stir the mixture very well and cover the bowl. Leave the bowl covered overnight.

4) The next day, add the lukewarm water into the mixture, followed by the tbsp of orange juice which you have stirred into the tbsp of water first. Add the orange zest, salt, sugar and knead the mixture well.

5) Cover the dough and leave it to rest for 1 hour.

6) Cut the dough into small pieces and shape them into any shape you like. Butter a baking tray and place the pieces in rows.

7) Bake them at 180C until they get an orange colour.

8) In another bowl, mix the orange juice with a bit of water. Put the sugar on a plate.

9) When the cookies are ready, leave them to cool down a bit and dip them quickly into the orange juice. Then turn them over into the plate of sugar and serve.

Recipe 46: Celery and Lemon Vichyssoise with Prawns (Βισισουάζ Σέλινου και Λεμονιού με Γαρίδες)

Another tasty soup from my favourite book on soups, "New Covent Garden Soup Company's Book of Soups". Very easy to make too.

Ingredients (serves 6):
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
350gr celery, cut into 1cm slices
225gr white of leek, sliced
450gr potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 strips of lemon rind
seeds from 5 cardamon pods, crushed
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp sugar
900ml chicken stock (recipe here)
150ml single cream
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice, to taste
110gr cooked and peeled prawns, roughly chopped

1) Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, celery, leek and potatoes. Cook gently for 5 minutes covered, without colouring.

2) Stir in the lemon rind, cardamon seeds, celery salt, sugar and stock.

3) Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

4) Cool a little, remove the lemon rind, then puree using a liquidiser.

5) Stir in the cream and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

6) Add the prawns and reheat gently without boiling.

29 December 2016

Recipe 45: Red Lentil and Coconut Soup (Σούπα με Κόκκινες Φακές και Καρύδα)

I never used to be a big fan of red lentils. But I am now! Having used them in a few soup recipes so far, I find them delicious and very filling. Not to mention the fact that they are healthy.

This particular soup can be eaten hot or cold. It's very tasty and reminds me of the sauce in a traditional Greek style fricassee.

Ingredients (serves 4):
100gr red lentils
1 heaped tsp turmeric
1 tbsp coarsely grated ginger (πιπερόριζα)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 litre vegetable stock (recipe here)
400ml coconut milk
2 leeks, well washed and sliced
50 gr baby spinach
2 limes, cut into wedges

1) Tip the lentils into a large pan and add the turmeric, ginger and garlic.

2) Pour in the stock, then cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened.

3) Pour in the coconut milk, stir in the leeks, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.

4) Add the spinach and cook just to wilt it.

5) Spoon into bowls and squeeze over the lime juice.

Recipe 44: Yoghurt and Barley Soup (Σούπα με Γιαούρτι και Κριθάρι)

Whenever I see barley in a soup recipe I know immediately that this is going to be a fulfilling soup, perfect for the winter cold. And indeed, this soup didn't disappoint. It was very easy to make too, using ingredients I had left over from other cooking days. Apparently, this particular soup is in the Guardian's '10 best barley recipes' list.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic gloves, chopped
4cm piece of ginger (πιπερόριζα), peeled and grated
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Half tsp chilli powder
zest of 1 lime
200gr pearl barley (κριθάρι, όχι το ζυμαρικό)
150gr red lentils
400gr chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock (recipe here)
200gr Greek yoghurt
salt and pepper to taste

To finish:
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, very thinly chopped
Juice of limes

1) Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Fry the onion for 3 minutes, or until it starts to soften and take on some colour.

2) Add the garlic, ginger, spices and lime. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring all the time.

3) Add the barley, red lentils and chopped tomatoes to the pan, stir well, cook for 1-2 minutes and then pour in the stock.

4) Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, or until the lentils have almost disappeared into the soup and the barley is very tender. If it needs more water then add some.

5) Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until hot and fry the onions for 8-10 minutes or until dark golden and crisp. Make sure they don't burn. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

6) When the soup is cooked, add plenty of seasoning, stir in the yoghurt and allow to heat through. Do not boil!

7) Add the lime juice in the pan. Laddle into bowls and serve topped with the crisp onions.