Sunday, September 4, 2011



This extremely interesting pita recipe was sent to me by one of my reads from my regular column in NEOS KOSMOS English Edition. She explained that this recipe had been in the family for over forty years. What is very interesting apart for this unusual pita is that the reader was an Australian but was married to a Greek. I have made it and it is one of the most delicious Pitas I have ever tasted.


 Short crust pastry pre made
 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
 2 onions finely chopped
1garlic clove crushed 2 celery sticks chopped
1/400 gram peeled tomatoes crushed
1cup green or brown lentils
1cup water
¾ cup crumbled feta and pepper
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 medium sized tomato finely sliced in rings
1 tablespoons sesame seeds


 1. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface and line a 20C flan dish Prick the base of the pastry and chill for 20 minutes
2. Blind bake for 10 – 12 minutes in preheated oven 200C
3. Remove beans and bake for further 5 minutes


4. Heat oil and sauté onions and garlic till translucent
5. Add celery and sauté a little further
6. Add lentils and crushed tomatoes and water
7. Add pepper and salt (if adding feta its wise to omit the salt)
8. Simmer for about an hour till lentils are soft and water has been absorbed stirring occasionally
9. Add parsley
10. Put mixture into pie shell sprinkle with feta, garnish with thinly sliced tomato and sprinkle sesame seeds
11. Bake for 15 minutes

 NOTE When I made it I also added a handful of rice halfway though the simmering process as I find that rice helps the setting quicker.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eat Greek, Eat Slow, Eat Healthy

It has been over a week since I posted on my new blog. This is because I was wondering over the requests I have received. So I decided to digress for a while from the recipes and talk about history, traditions, influences and the like and I feel that will give a clear picture of what Greek food today. I will keep it simple and those of you who want to follow up on anything I write there are a few good books written that are not recipe driven. This first short chapter is just a little bout Ancient Greece and I will try and follow the thread to today if that is possible as many things get lost on the way and often in my weekly NEOS KOSMOS column I try to find origins and history and it is impossible. Sometimes the myth itself can be interesting without knowing if it is the real story but at least we know the old saying "where there's smoke ther's fire.... "
I will stress I am not a historian on food, I have though studied Art History and I have an inclination of how things can start and evolve without being always certain as any history is only "right" for those who write it.


To be a chef in ancient Greece was considered of high social standing. Chefs were regarded as artists and were honoured, given money and lands as well as titles if they invented a new dish.
Greece had colonized the Iberian Peninsular, Southern Italy which was known as “Magna Gracia” (Greater Greece), where there are villages and towns in Sicily and Calabria with Greek names and where the people retain a Greek dialect to this day. They founded the city of Marseilles, France, colonized North Africa, and further east in what we know today as Georgia and other parts of the Black Sea. For thousands of years they lived on the coast of Asia Minor and only left the Black Sea area and Asia Minor in 1922 with the formation of Turkey that came about from the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. They planted vines, olive trees in these areas making these colonies very rich becoming the centers of commerce and Greek culture and according to some historians the ancient Greeks were first to recognize and record the excellence of local food and this unique concept eventually led to the appellation of origin regulations for European wine and cheese and other products.
A Sicilian Greek from Gela, Archestratus, wrote in verse on food. “The Luxury of Life” dated 330 BC, which reveals a great deal about Greek food in antiquity. Through his verse we discover much about food all over the then known Greek world.
Later, in 200 AD Athenaeus in his famous book, “The Deipnosophists” (Wise Men at Dinner), we seem to have the major source on ancient culinary habits and it is through him we learn of Archestratus who was a cook as well as a poet and who wondered all over the Greek world recording natural products and recipes. Unfortunately, modern scholars have neglected texts on cookery, as they were not considered literature. We don’t have the book on bread making by Chrysippus of Tyanna or on salt fish by Euthydemus of Athens what we do have though is detailed references to food via the great classical comedies of Menander and the writings of Aristophanes.
When the Romans came to power they made sure that the kitchen had a Greek chef and their children Greek tutors. Over the centuries not only have Greeks influenced but were also influenced by neighbors, conquests and immigration. There are many similarities between Southern Italian, Spanish food and Middle Eastern influence is obvious.
Greek food is produce driven, it is hearty and wholesome, it is simple in content and the spices and herbs are segregated and are not mixed in a way that aroma and taste becomes confused.
Spreads, dips and snacks are commonly called MEZE a word on loan from the Arabic who in turn borrowed it form the Persians, which means "to savor".
Changes in food habits came over the centuries, sometimes fast other times gradual. In the 20th century the French trained chef, Nicholas Tselemendes tried to change Greek eating habits; in 1908 he wrote the first Modern Greek cookbook with content that was far from Greek as he considered Greek food “barbaric”. I am happy to say that he did not succeed; on the whole Greek food has retained its authenticity with changes that have enhanced and not ruined Greek food. In the later part of the 20th century with more affluence many things were added to the Greek diet from the French influence, the Besemel on moussaka, the patisseries have become more French then Greek although these days there are ZAHAROPLASTIA that only make Eastern influence sweets as well as others that make the Middle Eastern version of Baklava which I must admit I prefer.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Welcome to good Greek food and its heritage

I'm new at blogging, bare with me as I have a lot to say about Greek food.  I'm driven to do this for several reasons, first my heritage and the love of the real Greek food I grew up with, but most of all to tell people that Greek food is not souvlaki and lamb on the spit. On the contrary Greek food is highly vegetarian. Lamb on the spit is something that happens once a year as rule and souvlaki is Greece's national fast food and it stops there.
I grew up with legumes, and lots and I mean lots of vegetables dishes. I was a skinny child I'm told, this is not true, my grandmother saw me that way. Yiayia Theodora was constantly trying to feed me butter to fatten me up but I preferred olive oil on my bread with salt and oregano, try it its delicious.  Yiayia herself did not eat meat all her life, she did though eat fish.
I bought my children up with the same food, but we did eat meat and still do but in moderation. There was always one indulgence that I catered for, potato chips cooked in good olive oil and the battle would be on, forking each other so that they would not be cheated in the count.
Contrary to most belief Greek cooking can be very simple to prepare with the exception of a few dishes and even those you learn to organise yourself so they are not to difficult, I will come to these dishes as we go along and you get to know the simple ones first.
In this blog I will also go into the regional aspect of Greek food, talk a little about the culture, the geography, the population shifts and all the influences. This all takes time as you can guess so be patient there is a lot on the way.
Slow eating to me is to learn once again to sit around a dining table as we did, the way I bought my children up, enjoy each others company and savour the food in front of you. To have a bowel of salad in the middle of the table, fresh bread in a basket, a glass of wine that I believe as the tradition has it should only be drunk with food, water in a jug and never any soft drinks. Soft drinks for my children only came to the house at their birthday parties and these habits are learned, they don't drink them and their children are being bought up the same way.
For today I will start of with a regional salad from the Peloponnese, the citrus growing region of Greece. In my research I have come across an almost identical version form the citrus growing region of Valencia in Spain with only one difference, where's the Greek version has onion the Spanish version has pimento. One needs to take note of this as food in the Mediterranean often has many similarities and it has to do with geography and the climate.  The Greek version is called "Maniatiki Salata" (Salad from Mani). Mani is a region in Greece far south very barren and grows practically nothing, it is very beautiful though and worth a I'm digressing... the citrus trees are in fertile areas of the Peloponnese, mostly in the northern part called Achaea and next to Mani is Messinia which is famous for olive oil and Kalamata olives.


INGREDIENTS:   3 - 4 medium sized potatoes boiled and sliced
                               1 small onion peeled, cut in rings and put in cold water for about 20 minutes
                               8 - 10 pitted kalamata olives
                               1 orange peeled and quartered or cut in rings
                               3 - tablespoons good Greek olive oil
                               Sea salt and black pepper grated on top with caution

METHOD:           Arrange everything in the order give, drizzle with the olive oil and season
                              This like a mini meal and can be eaten any time

                              KALI ORXI