I had the privilege to meet an amazing couple, Christel and Pavlos Pavlidis. They produce an award-winning tzatziki that is simply exquisite. Smooth, great taste, love the texture. I can't say enough. For more, please check out their website at ARGO fine foods.
Tonight I will be making a spinach-leek pie using phyllo pastry.
Rough recipe for filling follows, kids.
good amount of baby spinach, washed and chopped
1 big-ass leek, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces and sauteed in olive oil
2 spring onions, chopped
crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper
some olive oil (extra virgin, of course)
Oh and yes, some dill!!!!! Half your sheets on the bottom of pan (each brushed with a mix of butter/olive oil), filling, other half of sheets on top. Bake at 350 F until golden brown top. Voila. In the meantime, disappointing news on Greece's ranking as far as countries with largest gaps between the rich and poor.
Undocumented Afghan migrant children sleep in a forest on the outskirts of Patras, Greece.
(Source: © 2009 Moises Saman/Panos Pictures)
A champion of human rights in Greece just sent me this link from Human Rights Watch about the state of migrants and asylum seekers back home. It's a disturbing piece, and reflects the previous government's attitude and failures from a policy perspective on this issue.
Please take the time and read this. Click here. Also there's one blog I like with particularly interesting commentary on migrants/refugees in Greece.
My little cousin (OK, she's in her 20s, but I think of her as my baby cousin) Mariangella visited me this weekend, and it was a great opportunity to cook something that makes us embrace autumn (and it sure has arrived). What else but gemista. This recipe is an adaptation of my friend and colleague, Eleni Melirrytou, from Athens.
3 large ripe tomatoes
2 green bell peppers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 small butternut squashes
2 large potatoes, peeled, and cut into wedeges
1 cup of tomato passata
1 large slice of feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked white rice
tomato pulp from tomatoes
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp mint, chopped
salt and pepper
Wash and dry vegetables. Cut a slice off the top of tomatoes and peppers and scoop out the pulp (Eleni mentions that it's important not to thin the skin too much). Lightly salt the insides of the vegetables. For the butternut squash, remove skin before you cut in half (from top to the root), and scoop only the seeds/pulp in the bottom half of the squash. Lightly salt the squash as well. Keep the tomato pulp and place vegetables to the side.
Preheat oven to 185 degrees C. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a sauce pan, and saute onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice, salt, and pepper and give it a good stir with a wooden spatula. After one minute, add the tomato pulp, and cook off for another minute. Remove from heat, and add parsley, mint, and 1/4 cup of oil. Give it a good stir again! In a large baking tray, arrange your vegetables upright. Fill the vegetables with the pulp/rice mixture 3/4 of the way (do not fill all the way to the top of the hollowed-vegetable) and fill each vegetable with just enough warm water to fill them (this will help to cook the rice). Replace the tops (except for the butternut squash of course).
Arrange the potatoes in between the gaps and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Pour the passata over the vegetables. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hours 30-40 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the tops of the vegetables start getting burnt (you want to get that deep dark brown/almost black colour, but there's a fine line for this).....and then use your discretion to remove towards the end. One note, about 40 minutes into it, check some of the tomatoes and peppers and make sure to add a little bit of more water (since it will have evaporated). Sprinkle some feta inside the vegetables (right on top of the rice mixture). Let the vegetables stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Ah, before I forget, Eleni loves to add 1/4 cup of pine nuts, and 1/3 cup of sultana raisins in the mixture along with the parsley and mint. We couldn't find any pine nuts, and I forgot the raisins. The addition of feta is my preference (not everyone adds it in Greece).
Lunch today consisted of yellow split peas as a spread topped off with an olive and sun-dried tomatoes (fava, as we say back home). The title of this post is a shout-out to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro and its even more beautiful people for having just been awarded the Olympic Games for 2016. Many of us recall (1997) the joy and celebration when it was announced that Athens would host the 2004 Games. How the years go by, eh?
There's really no connection between this fava recipe and Rio other than that I made it on this happy day. Congratulations again to Rio and see you in 2016. I'm totally going.
2 cups of yellow split peas, rinsed under cold running water
8 cups of cold water
1/2 white onion, unchopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of olive oil
juice of 1 small lime
1 tbsp of white wine (not necessary)
1 tbsp of balsamico (most Greeks like to use standard red-wine vinegar I think)
olives and sun-dried tomatoes for topping
salt and pepper
In a medium size pot, add water, peas, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, removing with a tablespoon the white foam that forms. After 1 minute of boiling, reduce to a STRONG simmer for 1 hour. Add salt, stir, and cover and reduce heat to a GENTLE simmer for another 20 minutes. You are looking for the peas to get soft to the point where you're getting the texture of a dip. Remove from heat, add some fine pepper, white wine (the housemates had some left over which I stole), balsamico, and lime juice. Give it a good stir. Remove bay leaf. Individual portions can be served with an olive and 1 chopped sun dried tomato. You can dress it with a red onion that's sliced....or sprinkle some oregano if you wish. Some recipes for this call for one to remove the onion, but for me it just softens to the point where it melts away practically.
Healthy option, loaded with protein, and I got a bag of yellow split peas from Waitrose for 49p. What a deal. Fava is synonymous with one of my favourite places in the world, Sandorini.