Posts Tagged ‘Authentic’

Lamb Youvetsi

There are certain Greek meals that have a reputation for bringing back memories, youvetsi is one of them. And although I was not raised Greek, this is one of those meals that takes my husband back to his childhood just by smelling it. Especially when made in the crock pot, the aromas of lamb, tomato, and cinnamon fill the house with a comforting warmth that brings a permanent smile to his face.

The first picture is from a time I made youvetsi in Greece using a dutch oven, it turned out good, but this time using a slow cooker it was incredible.

Greek Oven Potatoes

Something I don’t like or understand in Greece are strikes. Today is a big striking day. Almost all public services (including schools, all means of transportation, military, church officials, government offices, ect) are closed because the people want a change and striking is a desperate attempt to get some change. Unfortunately, at least from where I am standing, this is just a lose – lose situation. You see, the government has AGAIN made salary decreases. For us this means about 300 euros less each month, basically a whole month’s rent to put it into perspective. But it doesn’t stop there. We are also awaiting an emergency property “tax” that will be around 200 euros each and the worst thing of all, it makes no sense, it is simply the government reaching into our pockets yet again. And on top of that, the government is suspending 30,000 public servants, some of which may be teachers. So, people are striking, not show up for work. And if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Unfortunately though,  the actual chances of the government changing its mind because you missed work are slim to none. A total lose – lose situation!

Keftedakia (Greek Meatballs)

Greek food is very memorable. Whether it is the first time you taste your first gyro sandwich or maybe you are just a sucker for homemade baklava, but regardless of which recipe exactly it is, you definitely remember its origins! The first time I tasted keftedes (Greek for meatballs) or keftedakia (Greek for small meatballs) was kind of an unusual experience. We had just been visiting the in-laws for a couple of weeks and were leaving that morning to drive to Athens, about a 5-6 hour drive from north Greece. Being the wonderful mother-in-law that she is, she made us a picnic for the road.


So, I must admit that cooking Greek food in the US (especially where there isn’t a Greek community or available authentic Greek products) is much more complicated and interesting than I expected. I am not sure how many of you have been facing similar issues when trying to recreate any of my (or other) Greek recipes. I have found that there are some quite huge differences in a few Greek products here compared to there, especially the yogurt and feta quality and consistency. But there are also big differences in the vegetables, specifically cucumbers – American cucumbers are freaking huge; I recommend using the British or mini cucumbers for your tzatziki or Greek salads. The tomatoes, eggplants, and even zucchinis are extraordinarily large too (Texas sized, maybe?)and not as flavorful as the garden grown variety.

On the other hand though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the oversized kitchen with granite countertops, a kitchen island, convection oven, dishwasher, and outdoor grill! I guess the grass is always greener on the other side!!!

Related posts:

Chicken Souvlaki with a Lemon Oregano Marinade

One of the most popular street foods in Greece (maybe after gyros) is called souvlaki. Souvlaki is simply meat on a stick, the most common meat being pork or chicken. It is marinaded usually all night or at least all morning and then grilled to perfection and served either in a pita sandwich or just with homemade french fries and of course, tzatziki.  Souvlaki is also a simple Greek food that can be made at home with only a few ingredients! I love my souvlaki grilled out in the summer time and served with an ice cold glass of beer and homemade fries.
souvlaki 02 Chicken Souvlaki with a Lemon Oregano Marinade

Greek Souvlaki with a Lemon Oregano Marinade Recipe
4 T. Fresh lemon juice
3 – 4 T. EVOO Oil
1 T. red wine vinegar (or just wine)
1 tsp. Greek oregano
1 tsp. Greek thyme, optional
2 – 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 onion, sliced or cubed
salt and pepper


correction+%25281%2529 Baklava

Thank you for your continued patience in my erratic posting, things have been very much overwhelming for me this past week or so and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The first wedding was really beautiful and a great success, tomorrow I am leaving for the second wedding (where I am matron of honor for my best friend from high school). I am so excited for my two great friends to enter into the wonderful roller coaster ride world of marriage; I am a HUGE fan of finding and marrying your best friend and spending the rest of your life loving and learning to love them!

Stuffed Zucchini

Dear readers and faithful followers of Seemingly Greek, 

I need to ask for a little grace in the coming weeks. I have many new recipes to share and I had this perfect “plan” of having all of the images uploaded with the typed out recipes – but, that dream isn’t a reality. It is actually furtherest from the truth… I should be uploading a picture of my living room in an utter mess as I try to get ready to leave tomorrow for the States.

Presvitera’s Dolmades

I must admit first that although I took the pictures, the dolmades below belong to my mother-in-law, “the expert dolmades maker”, hence the name! Her name is not Presvitera, rather this is a respectful and endearing name to call a priest’s wife. My father in law is a Greek Orthodox priest and I had the honor of him baptizing me (My Christian name is Styliani) and marrying us – actually we had a very blessed wedding with 6 priests, our marriage is bound to last until the end of time icon smile Presviteras Dolmades  

The (one) time that I tried to make dolmades, the taste was good but the aesthetics were terrible, so you did not get to see my first attempt. Over Easter break, I got to learn first hand the secrets to making perfect dolmades, do not overstuff them! Apparently, I was a little too eager and generous with my rice stuffing. Lesson learned! So, now I share with you the simple, yet delicious, vegetarian stuffed grape vine leaves recipe that many Greek families consider as a staple on their tables.
Presvitera’s Dolmades Recipe: 

Printable Recipe
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2-3 T. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 large lemons, juiced
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock, heated
30 grape leaves, rinsed and drained (from jar or use fresh but boil until tender)

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onion in 2 T. EVOO for a few minutes, then add the rice and herbs and continue stirring until the onion has softened. Slowly, pour in half the heated stock and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked but still very al dente. You do not want to overcook your rice, but you do want it started! Stir in half the lemon juice and remove from heat, cool until easy enough to handle.

Homemade Οrange Spoon Sweets

There is a (mostly) wonderful custom here in Greece that anytime you visit someone’s house, you should “arrive with your hands full and leave with your hands empty”! Basically, you should always bring something when visiting anyone, even if they are family. The exception to this is rule is only if you have already been to visit before in the previous days and took something with you then. Typical gifts are a box of delicious sweets, a bottle of wine, some flowers, or maybe even something you have prepared yourself.

Homemade Tsoureki and Easter

Easter is right around the corner, and today in the Orthodox church we remember the crucifixion of Christ. The church always holds services the previous night for the actual day that the events will occur. Today, this morning actually, is the remembering of the last supper. We ascend to Mt. Zion with Christ and the chosen twelve to enter into the upper room for a special gathering. Once there, we witness the example of Christ abolishing the practice of the Old Covenant and establishing the ritual of the New Covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah, through the Mystery of Holy Communion. The faithful who have prepared also partake in communion during tonight’s evening service. This also will include the memorial of the underserved suffering of Jesus Christ, endured for our sake, so that we might be reconciled anew to God the Father. The Gospel readings go through each account of his arrest, his trial, his conviction, and finally his torture, crucifixion and death at the hands of sinful humanity. Tonight ends with a very heavy heart and understanding of the crucified Christ. Below are the icons of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion of Christ. I hope to make a blog dedicated to the explanation of Byzantine icons and what they represent; I have come a long way from being confused and irritated by the veneration of icons to finally understanding their meaning and place in the church. More on that later though. 

Vegetarian Pastitsio

Don’t exit just quite yet if you don’t like the word, “Vegetarian”. This wonderful alternative to the classic dish, Traditional Pastitsio, is made with mushrooms and zucchini instead of ground meat, but trust me that it is still full of flavor and maybe even more addictive. If you don’t believe me, believe my Greek husband, he approved it and has already requested it again soon!With a slightly healthier spin, this dish is still very Greek. The sauce still has a hit of cinnamon and the béchamel still has a hint of nutmeg. In this recipe, the amounts are more slight so if you prefer a bolder taste then use a little extra spice!
pastitsio mushroom Vegetarian Pastitsio
Vegetarian Pastitsio “Greek Lasagna” Recipe: Serves 6-8
1/2 kilo (~1 lbs.) variety of brown and white mushrooms*
1-2 medium zucchini, chopped*
1-2 medium white onions, chopped
1/8 cup EVOO
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp. Greek oregano
salt and pepper
1/2 T. tomato paste
1/2 – 1 can crushed tomatoes
 a little less than a 1/4 cup dry white wine
1 all-spice berry
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 – 1 pkg. pastitsio or bucantini noodles (substitute just penne would work too) 
1/2 – 3/4 cup Kefalotyri (Ramano or another hard cheese)
Saute onions and zucchini in the olive oil on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, add the garlic and bay leaves and cook another 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chopped mushrooms and clove(s) and raise the heat to medium high, add the wine and tomato paste. Cook until almost all the wine has cooked off, then add the can of tomatoes, salt and pepper, cinnamon, and oregano, lower to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest.
*You can easily replace your veggies with anything of your choice: mixed spinach greens, eggplant, or anything you’d like, don’t hesitate to make it your own! 
Cook your noodles in a large pot of salted water until al dente, with a slight bite or firmness remaining (about 10-12 minutes).
Béchamel Sauce Recipe:
1/2 stick butter (~50-75g.)
1/2 cup AP flour
5 cups warm whole milk
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 – 1 cup grated hard cheese (vlahotyri, romano, parmesan, ect)
salt and pepper
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
More hard cheese to grate on top
Add butter to a medium large saucepan and melt on medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until turns a warm golden brown, about 5-7 minutes depending on your heat. Continue whisking briskly while you steadily stream in your warm milk making a nice roux. Make sure you do not have any lumps, if you start to see them forming, simply whisk faster (you can use a mixer if you have a whisking beater). Now, bring to a slight boil while stirring with a wooden spoon. You want your roux to thicken but not turn into a batter. Remove from heat and cool slightly for 5 minutes. Whisk all of your eggs together and slowly stream them into your roux, mixing quickly to avoid scrambling. Now, add your cheese and seasonings.
Once everything is ready, you can preheat your oven to 190°/375° and assemble your dish. Lightly oil your small – medium baking dish and mix 1 ladle of your béchamel sauce into your veggie mix and 2 ladles into your drained pasta. Lightly oil and add enough veggie/tomato sauce (not béchamel) to coat the bottom of your dish. Then, add 1/2 of your noodles. Follow with your veggie sauce and then repeat with remaining noodles. Top with the remaining béchamel sauce and grated cheese. Bake in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes. You want your edges to be bubbly and the cheese to be golden brown. Rest at least 30 minutes before serving to help set-up and make easier to dish out and hold form!
This time, I only had less than half a package of pastitsio noodles, but I didn’t realize it until I had already started cooking. I substituted the bottom noodles for regular, flat lasagna noodles, it worked perfect; minus the bountiful pasta difference in the pictures. 
veg pastitsio Vegetarian Pastitsio

Although this dish takes a little effort and a lot of cleaning pots and pans, it is totally worth it. Make it once or twice and you will get the hang of it in no time!

Semolina Halvas

So, I must confess this morning that as I am updating my blog, I am enjoying a latte with regular milk . I made it only one week being completely vegan icon sad Semolina Halvas I think if I had more resources I could last a lot longer, but my main excuse is that I just missed coffee too much! I will continue to restrict my dairy and am committed to not eating meat until after Easter. I hope this training leads to stronger self control . . . even when it isn’t convenient! 
halvas cluster Semolina Halvas
Enough about me, I want to share a very popular sweet that IS Lent appropriate. Semolina halvas is usually made in the shape of a cake and sliced, but I made mini halvas bites. This recipe is so simple and easy, yet so tasty and delicious it is the ideal Lenten snack. 
There are two types of halvas. One is made with ground sesame seeds and usually mixed with cocoa or vanilla forming a kind of sweet yet chalky snack. And this one, which is made with semolina or a kind of cream of wheat textured grain. You gently heat in a pan, mixing everything together and then let it set up in whatever shape you desire. The bite sized pieces turned out perfect in my opinion! Topped with cinnamon or almond slivers and you have an ideal sweet. 
halvas trio Semolina Halvas
Semolina Halvas Recipe: Makes 2 mini muffin pans, or a medium – large cake mold
1 cup light oil (EVOO, sunflower, or canola, or a mixture)

2 cups coarse semolina
1/2 – 1 cup nuts: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, ect, chopped finely or processed quickly
Cinnamon and a few nuts for topping

Homemade Lamb Gyros

angle gyros Homemade Lamb Gyros

I would say that gyros (pronounced yee-ros) are Greece’s number one fast food item, with pizza, crepes, and club sandwiches following. These quick, satisfying, and very reasonably priced pita wraps are quite tasty too, especially when you find a busy store that makes them fresh. A typical gyro can be made with pork, chicken, or even lamb that is slowly cooked by rotating in circles (γύρω in Greek means to go around, hence the name!). The meat is cooked until crispy and then is shaved off and loaded into a pita with your choice of toppings. A Thessaloniki gyro is filled with meat, fries, onion, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard, and a common addition is tzatziki, spicy cheese, or a paprika sauce for a more intense flavor. If you do not like the crispy meat, a very common alternative is to order a souvlaki gyro. Souvlaki is pork or chicken that is skewered and grilled on an open charcoal fire. Both options are really great for an occasional on-the-go meal, but I want to share a much healthier homemade lamb gyro recipe. 

Beefteki, the Greek burger!

Beefteki yemista me feta tyri, Stuffed Beef Burgers with Feta Cheese

In two weeks from Monday (yesterday) it will be Clean or “Pure” Monday (the start of Greek Lent) and this officially begins the season of fasting. The fasting ranges from extreme devotion, traditionally meaning abstaining from all meats and seafoods, dairy, and oils; moderate fasting and abstaining from either meats or dairy; and occasional fasting and refraining from your choice of something, maybe chocolate and sweets. This is technically the last week of food indulgences. Two weeks before Lent, you are urged to give up meat, and one week before, you give up dairy, this is to allow your body time to adjust. I personally am going to definitely abstain from meat and I will try my hardest to not eat dairy or oil, but the last one will be the most difficult I think. I am going to at least try to only use only olive oil and no butters, margarines, or other oils. We will see how it goes, unfortunately I have never been great at discipline and abiding by the rules. BUT, don’t worry about my recipes getting too boring, I have a few un-Lent recipes already made and waiting to be posted for you, and I plan on getting a bit more creative in the kitchen!

If you have eaten many Greek meals, this should be high on your list of favorites. Unlike the traditional American hamburger, these juicy and tender beef burgers are typically served without bread (although it is common to eat in a pita on the go). They are, however, commonly served with Greek oven potatoes The combination of meat + potatoes + tzatziki is an unbeatable combination.
greek burger beefteki Beefteki, the Greek burger!

Stuffed Beefteki Recipe:

Greek Beef Stifado

Braised beef with pearl onions in a rich sweet and spicy tomato sauce. Greeks definitely know how to cook a heart warming meal, and I am usually impressed with each new dish that I taste. There are more popular classics like gyros and moussaka, but there are also some more unknown classic Greek dishes that must be tried. This is certainly one of the must try dishes, and if cooked right you should have a melt in your mouth piece of beef with sweet and tender onions all complimented together with a sweet and spicy tomato based sauce! 
Beef Stifado w1 Greek Beef Stifado

Greek Beef Stifado Recipe:  Makes 2 servings
2-3 T. EVOO
2 good braising steaks of beef, whole or cubed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 small cinnamon stick
3 fl. oz. red wine
1 T. red wine vinegar
sprig of fresh rosemary, I didn’t have at the time
1 bay leaf, torn 
1 T. tomato paste or puree
1 1/2 – 2 cups hot water
8-10 pearl onions
1-2 tsp. raw sugar
s/p (salt and pepper)

Beef Stifado w Greek Beef Stifado

Sear meat on all sides in hot oil until pale golden brown, add garlic with cinnamon stick and cumin, cooking a few minutes or until very aromatic. Add wine and vinegar, cook until bubbling 3-4 minutes, add rosemary and bay leaf with tomato paste and half to three quarters of the hot water. Stir well adding salt and pepper, making sure to coat the meat. Cover and cook gently for 45 – 55 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary to retain sauce for cooking and later. Add onions and shake to mix with sauce and sprinkle sugar over onions, try not to stir from this point because the onions will fall apart after tender. Cook another 30 minutes on a low temperature, watching carefully and shaking the pan gently to coat and toss onions in pan. Remove the large herbs from pan and serve with potatoes, rice, or just a fresh salad. 
This can also be cooked in the oven, but you will need to increase the cooking time to almost 2 1/2 – 3 hours, adding onions the last 45 minutes. 
Beef Stifado w2 Greek Beef Stifado
This plate is traditionally made with rabbit, but since I couldn’t imagine cooking little Peter Rabbit or Thumper, I opted for the beef substitute. Either meat you choose is sure to be a delight. Stifado originates from ancient Greece, but was only popular among the more aristocrat crowd or families where the fathers were hunters, today it is more commonly enjoyed by all levels of society.  

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Hi! My name is Jacquline. Welcome to my blog. I hope you will find some delicious Greek food recipes and enjoy the read along the way! Kali Orexi :)


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