All posts tagged: food

Greek Bruschetta

Sunday dinners are my favorite. Sundays mean I have more time to carefully prepare a dinner for my family, rather than rushing after work to whip something up. I like to thoughtfully put a meal together. Sunday also means my yiayia is usually over at our house. One night, not even ten minutes before dinner was to be served, my yiayia asked me if we were having dakos (an appetizer with a rusk bread, tomatoes, and soft mizithra cheese). I shook my head no, and the playful smile left my yiayias face. That look of disappointment is something I never want to see again—I had to do something about it—and fast. Though dakos is easy to make, I didn’t have the ingredients for the dish on hand. As I frantically combed through my kitchen I found pita bread, tomatoes and feta cheese—basic staples in a Greek kitchen. Plus, out of luck, a coworker had sent me home with fresh basil that day. That was all I needed to make a Greek style bruschetta. Bruschetta is like …

Calamari Stew

Living in landlocked Utah, I don’t get my seafood fix as often as I would like to. But when I do, I like the dishes that can be enjoyed year round and are easy to create, like this calamari stew. In the summer, calamari stew is superb served plain with a glass of ouzo. In the winter it’s equally superb served over a bed of rice. I serve it in the spring and fall, too. It’s a winner no matter when it’s served it, as my dad and I recently did at Salt Lake City’s annual Taste of Greece fundraiser. We literally cooked a vat of calamari stew, nearly 20 pounds of calamari alone. No matter the batch size, this dish is made the same, cooked slowly in a rich tomato sauce and given the final touch of olives and capers. If you’ve ever prepared calamari you know the simple rule for tenderness—cook it fast (such as on a grill) or cook it slow (as in a stew like this one). Never in between unless …

Fried Feta with Sesame Seeds

Fried feta with sesame seeds is combination of salty and sweet that creates maximum flavor. Save Print Sesame Coated Fried Feta Recipe type: Meze/Appetizer Serves: 2 pieces   Sesame coated fried feta is one of the easiest dishes, ready in minutes. Ingredients 8 ounce block of feta cheese 2 eggs ½ cup of flour ½ cup sesame seeds Olive oil, for frying Honey, for drizzling Instructions Cut the feta into squares or rectangles about ½ inch thick. Crack the eggs in a bowl wide enough to fit the feta and beat lightly with a fork. Add the flour on a plate. On a second plate, add the sesame seeds. Coat each piece of feta in the flour, and then the eggs, and then the sesame seeds. Be sure to coat well with each step, so all sides are covered. In a frying pan, heat olive oil (enough to shallow fry) over medium to high heat. Carefully add the feta and fry until nicely golden colored, and then flip and fry on the other side. Drain the feta …

5 Things to do in Crete

Of the thousands of Greek islands, one holds a very special place in my heart—Crete. With sandy shores, rugged terrain, bustling nightlife, ancient treasures, and world-renowned gastronomy, Crete is a feast for the senses. Everyone agrees Greek hospitality rates a ten on a scale of ten. However, Cretan hospitality rates a 20. Cretans robustly share their traditions with friends and strangers over endless drinks and abundant food, providing an experience like nowhere else in the world. But that’s only half of it. My Greek roots span much of mainland Greece, but my Cretan roots are what I am most proud of. My yiayia and other Cretan women have taught me the most about cooking, and I’ve danced in Cretan groups my whole life. Whenever I step foot on Cretan soil, a feeling of pride and excitement rushes through me. Crete is the largest and most populated island in Greece, making it impossible to get the full feel of Crete in anything less than one week or just one trip. But let’s try. Let’s pack our …

Baklava

Everyone knows BAKLAVA. Layers of flaky phyllo pastry blanketed with ground nuts plus plenty of spice (and everything nice), soaked in a sweet honey syrup. Many consider baklava as the gold standard of Greek desserts. I’m not sure if this constitutes a mortal sin against Greek culture but I will say it anyway: I’m not the biggest fan of baklava. I do like lamb though, so hopefully that admission keeps my credibility up. At one point, I honestly considered not including a recipe for baklava on my blog. But then Zeus and his immortal pals conspired to change my mind. Two things happened in one week. I told my Yiayia Saltas, quite casually, that one of my clients wanted to learn how to make baklava. The next day she shows up with her own baklava recipe, handwritten just for me. That same day, I scanned through my late Yiayia Metos’ recipe book for a dinner recipe. Her recipe book is a treasure trove my mom and I hold onto. Many of her recipes, from desserts to main …

Fried Zucchini Chips

One of the easiest ways to use up zucchini is to slice and fry, plus it’s a tasty way to get your servings of vegetables in for the day. Kolokithakia tiganita (fried zucchini) is a delicious appetizer that’s coated in a spiced beer batter and deep fried to a golden crisp. The trick to these is to make sure the zucchini is thinly sliced, dried well, and dipped lightly in the batter. The result is a crisp treat that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. My little brother gave them high praise by saying they are “the bomb dot com.” Try them and see for yourself. And when you do, be warned that they will certainly disappear from the table in no time. Serve with skordalia (garlic sauce) or the light yogurt sauce I paired with this dish. Save Print Fried Zucchini Chips Recipe type: Meze/Vegetarian   Fried zucchini chips Ingredients 3 medium zucchini 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour Pinch of salt and pepper 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon baking powder 8 ounces of your beer of …

Roka (Arugula Salad)

Roka (arugula) is one of the most underestimated leafy greens, despite packing lots of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s numerous health benefits are well known. Arugula is native to the Mediterranean and is definitely a green that should be added to more plates worldwide. The Greeks eat plenty of arugula as a “Roka Salata” and is traditionally served as just roka, topped with thin slices of local cheese and dressing. To add more essence to the salad, it is common to add walnuts, pine nuts and sundried or fresh tomatoes to the mixing bowl. This is a common salad throughout Greece. Because the strong peppery taste of arugula can be a turn off to some, simply add romaine lettuce to the salad to temper the arugula. I make mine solely with arugula, and just add extra toppings like walnuts for extra crunch, and tomatoes for a juicy bite. The best thing about the Roka Salad is that it takes no time at all to put together, and still stands out on a dinner table. The …

Cabbage and Jalapeno Salad

Wanting to experiment with new combinations, I recently invited a few friends over for a salad tasting party. Surprisingly, the fan favorite turned out to be one with shredded cabbage as the base. Mid-meal, a friend who dislikes cabbage said, “I usually hate cabbage but this is the best salad here.” I agreed and we both quickly reached for second helpings. Ever since that gathering, I get requests to bring my cabbage salad to barbeques and dinner parties. This salad is equal parts juicy and refreshing. Using crunchy and finely shredded cabbage as a base, freshly diced jalapenos are added for a kick. Leeks and lime juice give it zest and tartness. The salad is finished with cilantro on top. Customize your level of heat with more or fewer jalapenos. Serve as a side salad with the grilled lime chicken or stuff it into tacos and wow any dinner guest. Save Print Cabbage and Jalapeno Salad Recipe type: Salad Serves: 6-8   Refreshing cabbage salad Ingredients 1 head of cabbage, finely shredded 3 medium leeks 2 jalapenos, …

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

When I think of grilling, my mind is drawn to the classic burger and hot dog. But there’s an endless variety of what should be thrown on the grill—chicken, shrimp, ribs, fruits and vegetables. Chicken is my favorite thing to grill, as it’s versatile and combines well with creative seasonings and sauces. Before grilling, I marinate the meat for several hours using robust flavors that are often enhanced on the grill. My marinade for this grilled chicken recipe has a zesty lime with cilantro, garlic, oil and honey. Optional add-ins are chili flakes for pop and a shot of tequila for fun—that tenderizes the chicken even more. Sliced avocados and cabbage salad on the side are just what’s needed for a lovely presentation. And if you have any leftovers, dice up the chicken to use in tacos. Save Print Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe type: Main Course Serves: 3-4   Zesty Lime Grilled Chicken. Ingredients 3 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs 4 limes, zested and juiced ½ cup honey ½ cup extra virgin olive oil …

Vegetarian Dolmades

Dolmades are a bite-sized Greek dish made from either grape or cabbage leaves and stuffed with an assortment of mixtures. What makes dolmades so wonderful is their versatility. Stuff dolmades with ground meat (lamb, beef or pork), or go the vegetarian route and create a flavorful rice and herb combination for the filling. Top dolmades with a tomato sauce or avgolemono (egg-lemon sauce), leave them plain, or serve alongside tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip) for dunking. Save Print Vegetarian Dolmades Author: Eleni Saltas Recipe type: Appetizer/Vegetarian Serves: 50-60 dolmades   Vegetarian dolmades with delicious rice and herb mixture. Ingredients 1 (16-ounce) jar of grape leaves 1 cup uncooked long grain rice 5 ripe tomatoes, grated 1 yellow onion, finely chopped ½ cup fresh mint, chopped ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste For cooking: ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ½ cup lemon juice Water Instructions Rinse the grape leaves and remove the stems. Place in a colander to drain. In a large bowl, …