Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’
Greek bean soup is almost like a national dish in Greece, although it doesn’t seem to be so popular on this side of the world. Rather, I have seen the infamous Avgolemono soup everywhere including restaurants and even canned on supermarket shelves! I think the reason behind this is because it is one of the humble foods found on every Greek table at least once a month, sometimes once a week. Especially now during times of crisis, there might be some people living off this stuff!
I am sure everyone has heard of Greek yogurt, it is everywhere here. But do you know what makes it “Greek” and do you understand the nutritional benefits over just regular yogurt?
First, Greek yogurt is still simply yogurt! The key factor in making it qualify as Greek is that it is a strained yogurt. It іѕ produced wіthоut adding аnу stabilizers оr gelatin tо the finished product. Since it iѕ а dairy product produced bу the bacterial fermentation of milk, it саn be produced іn small quantities by аnуonе аt home. You juѕt nееd sоmе milk, time and patience аnd thе bacteria wіll do іtѕ job. The end result is a more dense, creamier, and rich tasting yogurt. Of course it is still offered in full, low-fat, and non-fat options.
Finally we are safe and sound in Florida. Our 2 day trip turned into a 3 day journey, but thankfully everyone along the way was really helpful and friendly. The first leg from Thessaloniki to Istanbul was delayed 4 1/2 hours, so by the time we landed (in the rain), got our luggage and dog, found our taxi, and got checked into the hotel it wasn’t worth going downtown. We were completely wiped out from the delays and stress of taking our dog along with us, but we were really happy that our hotel was so nice. We wanted to stay somewhere between the airport and downtown, so we chose Novotel (Istanbul). We also hired a taxi service to pick us up and drop us off – we had 3 suitcases, 1 dog, 1 kennel, and 3 carry on bags. Backpackers Travel (Istanbul) was awesome!!! For about the same price as grabbing a taxi outside, they sent a van and driver to the airport and the hotel the next morning. Besides the rain and ridiculous traffic the night we landed, their service was exceptional and I would recommend using anytime in Istanbul! Like I said before, our hotel was 4 star, and maybe we are just used to the budget friendly 2 star hotels but this one was pure luxury. We were treated like VIPs the whole time and the staff and accommodation was really great! We ended up just ordering room service and relaxing in the room. As much as we would have loved to see the city, we are glad we rested and plan to go back someday! PS. If you ever go to Istanbul, please know that Americans are subjected to a $20 visa – this is good to know before you stand in the customs check line like I did!
Let me explain something before we get to this amazingly simple and delicious recipe. When Americans hear the word “pita” they think of a soft, pocket-like sandwich holder. But when Greeks hear the word “pita” they think of a phyllo encased, typically pizza sliced shaped, pie filled with spinach, cheese, and/or other greens and vegetables. I guess it could be more correctly translated as a cheese or vegetable pie made with phyllo. Either way it is a delight to have around the house and a great way to add some extra fiber and nutrition.
Greek food is great. And Greeks love Greek food. Besides in major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, it is nearly impossible to find any variety of ethnic food, except for pizza of course. No chinese, no thai, no mexican, no indian. I have been lucky and gotten to travel a lot and I have tasted some really delicious ethnic foods – not all of them are “authentic” but I not only enjoy the variety, I crave for it. I love spicy foods – you know the kind that you can’t stop eating because your mouth only gets hotter?! Thankfully my husband loves spicy food too. Sometimes he will sit and eat chips and salsa while sweating because there are too many jalapenos.
I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!!! I didn’t do really anything special, we were and are under a burn ban here so I didn’t even really get to see any fireworks. I didn’t make anything red, white, and blue because that usually involves making cupcakes or some other sugar infused dessert. I have been really trying to get fit and use all the nutrition knowledge that I studied and learned at Baylor University (there must be some benefit from a degree I am not using at all right?
If you learn a few basics, like sautéing, you can make a variety of soups and sauces. The French word actually means, “to jump” and is a very useful method to learn if you want to take your cooking from good to great! This technique is carried out by cooking food quickly in a hot pan and using a small amount of fat. It is important though not to use too much fat or you will go from sautéing to frying your foods. When properly executed, sautéing does not dry out the food but actually leaves some pieces called “fond” into the pan. These “leftovers” have a wonderful caramelized flavor that you can use to create a wonderful yet simple reduction sauce.
First, lets discuss what foods are good to be sautéed. The best foods must be tender, thin, and portion or bite-sized. Many types of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish are appropriate for sautéing. To prepare thick or dense meats for sautéing, simply slice them thinly before cooking for bite-sized pieces or pound them thin (with a meat mallet or back side of a frying pan) for portion sized pieces. Vegetables, fruits, precooked grains, pasta, beans and other legumes are also candidates for sautéing. Thin, tender items like snow peas, apples and mushrooms may go right into the sauté pan. Thicker, denser items such as carrots and broccoli should be par-boiled before hand.
Presvitera’s Dolmades 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.
Vegetarian Pastitsio “Greek Lasagna” Recipe: Serves 6-81/2 kilo (~1 lbs.) variety of brown and white mushrooms*1-2 medium zucchini, chopped*1-2 medium white onions, chopped1/8 cup EVOO2-3 cloves of garlic, minced1 large bay leaf1 tsp. Greek oreganosalt and pepper1/2 T. tomato paste1/2 – 1 can crushed tomatoesa little less than a 1/4 cup dry white wine1 all-spice berry1/2 tsp. cinnamon3/4 – 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 flour5 cups warm whole milk4 eggs, room temperature1/2 – 1 cup grated hard cheese (vlahotyri, romano, parmesan, ect)salt and pepper1/2 – 3/4 tsp. nutmegMore hard cheese to grate on topAdd 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!
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!
1/2 cup long grain rice*
2-3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper
Recipe taken from a great cookbook called Greece by Rena Salaman and Jan Cutler.
This is the Turkish name for a dish that is also very common in Greek cuisine. There are many foods that are debated over whether it is originally Greek or Turkish, but of course it is difficult to determine because of the 400 year occupation and the population exchange. Probably the only positive aspect of this terrible aspect of history, was one very big recipe swap.
The Greek name for stuffed eggplants is “papoutsakia” which also translates as shoes. But regardless of what you call this, it is a wonderful vegetarian delight. The combination of olive oil, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes melting in your mouth together is really delicious. The key is to really cook your eggplant so it is soft and literally melting in your mouth.
Shroom Veggie Soup: (Serves 4-6)
1 Lg. Onion, chopped
3-4 T. EVOO
1 Lg. (or 2 sm.) Leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 Med. Potatoes, peeled and chopped (I would prefer New Potatoes if I could find them)
4-5 White mushrooms, wiped and sliced
~ About 6-8 cups Homemade stock, hot (or bouillon cube and hot water)
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 tsp. dried Coriander
Dash cayenne (optional)
1-2 tsp. Seasalt (only add if using homemade stock)
~ 1 tsp. Black pepper, freshly ground
Saute the onion with the olive oil on medium low heat until fragrant and translucent. Add the leek slices and mix well; next, add the potatoes. Raise the heat to medium high. Continue to stir occasionally for another 5-8 minutes. Add the oregano, cayenne, pepper, salt, or bouillon, stirring to coat everything. Toss in mushrooms and continue cooking for another minute or two. Add hot stock or water to the soup and continue a steady simmer until potatoes and mushrooms are fork tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly. I usually add a cup of soup to the blender to process and then stir back into the soup pot, this gives your soup a little thicker consistency and blends the flavors all together. Blend even more for an even thicker soup.
Serve hot with a whole wheat crusty bread, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. I think it is great plain too.
To start off this new food blog of mine, I would like to share my first recipe I found from the Sporades islands. Well, I did not actually find it there – it hails from there to be more specific.
It is a simple, yet delicately delicious, “quiche-like” cheese pie. It is perfectly suitable for a mid-morning snack, a light lunch combo served with a salad, or an after-dinner-but-I-am-still-hungry delight. Whatever time of day, a sure to satisfy recipe follows!