Fasolada (Bean Soup)

Let’s face it. Summer is pretty much over here in the UK. My thoughts are turning to soothing comfort food. I needed something comforting the other day and I remembered this simple bean soup that uses the best of seasonal vegetables and delivers in flavour and nutrition. I haven’t been so organised lately, long working hours and a family to keep on track has taken up a lot of my time. I am going to make another batch of this rich and thick soup for the week, so I know I have a bowl of goodness waiting for me at lunchtime. Just remember to soak your beans in cold water the night before you plan to make it.
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Koulourakia (Greek Cookies)

These are vegan, healthy and easy to make – although I had an epic fail the first time I made them! The recipe for these delicious Greek biscuits came from Kyria Georgia, our wonderful holiday landlady from Aroni in Chania, Crete. She brought these upstairs to us fresh from the oven (she came every other day with one of her fabulous home-cooked dishes :-)) needless to say – they were demolished very quickly! These are my favourite cookies to have with my mid-morning coffee on my balcony and think about my next trip to Greece 🙂 The original recipe featured ammonia bicarbonate (this is really old school Greek and makes the biscuits extra crispy), however, the strength of the one I ordered must have been industrial as it tasted like petrol! I have adapted the recipe a bit – but these came out really well and were fun to make! Continue reading “Koulourakia (Greek Cookies)”

Mushroom Stifado

Most people are used to eating Beef Stifado but this is just as tasty (with the same spices etc) but the meat is replaced with mushrooms. Its best to use a really firm mushroom such as chestnut or portobello so they keep their firmness through the cooking process. I like this served with rice and a little tzatziki on the side! Continue reading “Mushroom Stifado”

Veggie Gamopilafo (Wedding Rice)

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Ok – so this looks kind of plain! BUT……it is so tasty and easy to make. Thank you to Kyria Katerina from Stavros, Chania for introducing me to Cretan Wedding Rice! Just when I thought I knew about Greek food up popped another surprise. We were served this rice with traditional Cretan bread and garlic, fresh olives, feta and salad! delicious 🙂 This rice is quite wet almost like risotto  – I have adapted of course as it is most often served or cooked with meat and meat stock. Continue reading “Veggie Gamopilafo (Wedding Rice)”

Greek Butter Beans (Gigantes)

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This is a staple at any Greek taverna – it is almost impossible to find giant butter (Lima) beans in the UK but standard butter beans will do. It is always worth using dried beans (soaked overnight), the taste and texture are very good but if you are in a hurry you can use tinned butter beans which are also good and cheap!. This humble bean (very much overlooked in the UK) is great for heart health, diabetes prevention, increased energy levels, enhanced digestion and good blood circulation – again I stand in awe of the Greeks and their ability to take basic ingredients and make a delicious meal for a very small cost. You can buy this dish (Gigantes plaki) in a tin  – but once you have made them yourself there will be no turning back! The other benefit of eating beans like this regularly is that they fill you up, making you less likely to snack on other things 🙂
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Spinach and Feta Pies

This is my take on my favourite guilty pleasure for breakfast when ever I am in Greece. The first thing I do is find the local bakery and suss out how good the spinach pie is! My absolute favourite is the village style spinach pie (spanakopita) made in a massive round baking tin and fresh out of the oven – I have never really cracked the art of using phyllo pastry – a bit fiddly for me but when at home in London these are the next best thing. It’s not often I include any dairy in my recipes but I will make an exception for a high quality feta !

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Lagana Bread

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We all have a bit more time on our hands at the moment so it is a perfect time to have a go at some things we don’t normally have time for. I don’t mind admitting that I am rubbish at making bread 🙂 but this Greek Lentern bread is perfect as it is not meant to rise very much (which is great for me as my bread never does!) It’s very similar to focaccia and is a flat style loaf covered in sesame seeds. Traditionally eaten on Clean Monday this is a lovely, simple recipe (you can tell I am missing Greece!)

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Kolokotes – Sweet Pumpkin pie thingys!

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With all of this doom and gloom about Covid-19, I wanted to post some recipes that you can actually get the ingredients for! and that, of course, are healthy, tasty, cheap and nutritious. With most people now working from home in the UK we might have a little more time to cook and prepare food (well, I have both kids at home now so not really!) These Cypriot delights are great for during Lent and have definitely grown on me over the years – they are a sweet little parcel with squash, bulgur, sultanas and cinnamon – all good ingredients. The Cypriots know a thing or two about making the most of available ingredients and these are a real Greek/Arabic fusion – delightful! My 5 year old just told me ‘these are soooo good Mum’ little does he know what the ingredients are mwah haha!
**You prepare the filling at least 2 hours before assembling**

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Tomato Fritters

 

I am all about not wasting food – it is a throwback from my upbringing – if you grew up and money was tight then you learnt to use all food in the fridge and cupboards and be creative! I always end up with some leftover tomatoes in my fridge that have gone a little soft so this recipe is perfect for using them up and getting a quick and tasty lunch or dinner. The Greeks have made an art form of using what’s in season and making a few ingredients taste amazing – poor mans food is my kind of food!

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Lemon, Oregano potatoes in the Oven (Patates sto Fourno)

A real favourite of mine – these have the real flavour of Greece – oregano and fresh lemon 🙂 Like a lot of Greek dishes, every home serves them slightly differently but the basic elements stay the same. This dish is really easy and will make you look like a chef! Unlike their British roast potato equivalent – these are slightly crispy on the edges and also soft and lemony.

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Mujendra – Cypriot Lentils & Rice

Thanks to Jane Heaney Hodson from Cyprus for reminding me about this little gem! I first had this dish in a Lebanese restaurant on the Edgeware Rd, then Limassol, Cyprus and then again in Isreal. The blend of cinnamon and cumin really lift this dish and make it a lovely winter warmer. The dishes origins are from the middle east and Cypriot cuisine is full of middle eastern influence.  The addition of caramelised onions on top of this hearty recipe will take it to another level 🙂

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Tourlou – Mixed up Veg!

I love, love this dish! It has my favourite flavours of dill and mint and is filling (I may have mentioned I have a truckers appetite!)  I’m on a mission to prove that eating plant based and healthily is not expensive and doesn’t have to be time consuming. We all have to work and run a home etc – so we need easy, go to dishes that are nourishing to our bodies – and this is one of them! Another Greek – throw it all in the pot combo…..

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Black Eye Peas and Spinach

This is a very cost-effective, tasty dish full of iron, anti-oxidants and fibre. I probably ate my own body weight of this last week! However, due to the filling nature of the peas, you don’t need to serve it with anything – no rice or bulgur – unless you are starving! This is the sort of dish that is great to have when friends come over – it’s easy to make and you can leave it simmering on the hob.

***The peas need to be soaked overnight and boiled for an hour but it’s worth it and it keeps in the fridge for a good few days.****
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Aubergine Salad (Melitazonsalata)

I have always avoided making this dish, it looked complicated and a bit of a faff! but I recently went on holiday to Crete and my friends amazing mum showed me how to make it. It’s great with fresh bread as a dip or as a side dish but I also use it as a replacement for butter in sandwiches – filled with crispy salad.

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Spinach Rice (Spanakorizo)

This is a great dish for getting some spinach in your diet, it can be eaten as a dish on its own or as a side dish with fish or a salad. I only use brown rice now, white rice and whole-wheat rice make my stomach bloated and again have been bleached, with a lot of the goodness taken out. Brown rice takes slightly longer to cook but is much better for you and has more protein and fibre than its white counterpart which has its bran and germ removed (why would you do that?!!! take out the bits that are good for you?) Continue reading “Spinach Rice (Spanakorizo)”

Beetroot, Feta & Mint Dip

Oh my goodness – this is one of my summer favourites – light, tasty and as usual easy to make 🙂 The combination of sweet beetroot, fresh mint and salty feta is really refreshing – watch out thought it’s addictive! Beets are high in vitamin C and potassium and are known for helping lower blood pressure. Fresh mint is wonderful for the stomach and digestion, plus feta cheese (the real stuff! either sheep or goats milk or a combination of the two) has anti-cancer properties and immune-boosting properties – that’s why the Greeks are a healthy bunch!
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Fresh Beans in Tomato Sauce – (Fasolia)

What amazes me about some Greek dishes, is how a few ingredients can taste so wonderful! This dish is one of those – it’s sweet and thick and delicious. It’s cheap, easy to make and most of all its healthy. This is a staple in any Greek home, I often swap the above beans for the flatter type – either works equally well.

I am a fan of using whatever is in the fridge or needs using up – so to make the dish more filling I will sometimes add a few chunks of potato, red pepper and carrot.
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Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)

I was first served this soup in Zakynthos after being violently ill for about 4 days and the landlord’s wife of the apartment I was staying in, insisted I had a bowl of this to settle my stomach. I was about 19 at the time and living on my own on the island and at that point was not very adventurous in my taste! The soup was delicious and did indeed settle my stomach. The landlady added a little glug of red wine vinegar just before serving with fresh crusty bread…………delicious and best of all, cheap!!! Continue reading “Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)”