All posts tagged: foodblog

Helen’s Oatmeal Cookies

I recently browsed through my late Yiayia Helen Metos’ recipe book, filled with her recipes plus clippings from recipes she found from the paper or given to her by friends. I was told from my mom that her oatmeal cookies were everyone’s favorites, so I had to test for myself. Results: these cookies are amazing–so wonderfully soft and chewy that I just had to share her timeless cookies. Enjoy! Save Print Helen’s Oatmeal Cookies Recipe type: Dessert/Cookie Serves: ~40 cookies   Ingredients ¾ cup shortening, softened to room temperature 1 cup brown sugar ½ cup granulated sugar 1 egg ¼ cup water 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup flour 1 tsp salt ½ teaspoon baking soda 3 cups oats, uncooked Instructions Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Place shortening, sugars, egg, water, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat thoroughly. Sift flout, salt and soda; add to shortening mixture, and mix well. Blend in oats. Drop teaspoons of dough onto greased cookie sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes. Notes For variation, add ½ tsp cinnamon and ¼ …

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 …

Lamb Kleftiko

DISCLOSURE: I don’t condone stealing. There is just one instance, however, where I do pardon a certain group of thieves because their act of stealing eventually gave the world a glorious gift. The thieves I’m speaking of are the klephts, an indigenous population that descended from the Greeks who fled into the mountains to escape—and from which to fight—the Turkish occupiers of Ottoman Greece. The klephts snuck from the mountains to steal grazing lambs or goats, then retreated back to the mountains to cook their stolen goods. The meat was seasoned with oregano and thyme or even wild garlic, placed in an underground pit and covered with soil and branches on top to trap the aromas and the smoke while cooking. Doing so helped to avoid detection from their adversaries. This sneaky style of cooking later became known as kleftiko—the food of the “klephts” or thieves. Over time, the method moved from underground pits to outdoor wood-fired ovens. These days, we make LAMB KLEFTIKO indoors, baked in any conventional oven. The lamb is either assembled …

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 …

Pastitsio

Aside from public speaking and swimming in the ocean, there aren’t many things that intimidate me. I will talk to any stranger who will listen to me on a subway in New York City. I will kill a spider for my arachnophobic big brother. I will fall, scrape my knees, and get back up just to fall again a dozen times. But attempting to bake PASTITSIO, one of the most beloved meals in Greek homes? Forget about it. Assembling layers of creamy pasta, juicy minced meat, and a thick béchamel sauce sent shivers down my spine just like the movie Jaws. But after watching in the wings for 20 something-odd years, I found my courage. All it took was one step-by-step lesson with a my yiayia. Then a few attempts on my own. And, of course, eating many variations and flavors of pastitsio around the globe to help create a recipe all my own. Now I have the confidence to serve pastitsio to the world’s toughest food critic. Pastitsio chefs have their preferences. They may …

Festive Blue & White Cookies

Every March 25th my friends and I celebrate Greek Independence Day with a festive get together. We eat a delicious Greek meal that includes all of the favorites from salads to dessert and everything in between. And, when we can find good salt cod, we make bakaliaros skordalia (fried cod and garlic sauce), which is traditionally eaten on March 25th in Greece. We all sport obnoxious amounts of blue and white clothing from head to toe to display our Greek pride. Recently we’ve even added a blue and white theme to our menu. An example are these blue and white cookies. The cookies are made with blue velvet cake mix, some butter and cream cheese for a gooey texture, and finished with white chocolate chips. They are so simple to make that you can task your kids to whip them up—and so they can be the ones stuck with the blue hands when rolling the dough together. Take a break from the traditional recipes and give these fun and festive cookies a try, they’re truly …

Yemista (Stuffed Vegetables)

Yemista (or Gemista) is a Greek word meaning “to be stuffed with.” You may have grown up just calling it stuffed tomatoes or peppers, or zucchini. Many chefs and amateur cooks have created their own take on this traditional Greek dish, finding that most of the variety will come from the filling. Yemista is typically served by hollowing out vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and sometimes potatoes, and then filled rice, herbs, cheese, and ground meats. This is a dish you can let your imagination run wild with, creating stuffing flavors of your choosing to fill your favorite vegetables. I have two versions of yemista: this classic recipe made with rice and herbs, and another that combines cheese and sour Trahana (a Greek pasta made of wheat flour kneaded with milk that you can find in Greek specialty markets or by ordering online). It’s a tasty dish however you choose to prepare it. Plus,  your guests are guaranteed to leave both satisfied and…stuffed. Save Print Yemista (Stuffed Vegetables) Author: Eleni Saltas Recipe type: Vegetarian Serves: 6-8   Ingredients 5 …

Pork Celery Avgolemono

I can’t seem to get enough of pork celery avgolemono. Literally, I can’t get enough of it. (Hint: Mom, when you read this please feel free to make a batch). A chunky stew, pork celery avgolemono consists of bites of tender pork and celery, plus leeks and seasonings, finished with a bright egg lemon sauce. My mom makes it often throughout the year, and more often when it turns cold. But somehow often is never enough for me. The dish can be made two ways. If you choose stovetop, you’ll add and cook the ingredients in a large pot slowly as you would any stew. My busy-bee mom prefers the second method, via Crockpot, leaving the main ingredients to slow cook together for the day. With both methods, you add the avgolemono sauce as the final touch, mixed in with the pork and celery just before serving. Stovetop or Crockpot—the choice is yours. I include both recipes below. Both produce the same gratifying result. And both require a fresh loaf of bread to soak up …

Pan-fried olives

Olives are among the oldest foodstuffs in the world and Greeks have cherished this giving fruit on their dinner tables for centuries. A simple drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of oregano on top of a bowlful of green or black olives make for easy table finger food. Olives of nearly every variety, especially the famous Kalamata olive, always compliment the horiatiki salata (Greek village salad) and are a great addition to pasta salads or cooked into baked chicken dishes. Simple can be so beautiful. In my Greek home, a warm plate of PAN-FRIED OLIVES is often resembles a work of art. My dad discovered this appetizer years ago in one of his many cookbooks, and since then he has modified it to his own liking, mostly by just adding different olive and onion types. You can prepare it with any combination of the olives you see here, by adding your own favorites, or by just using a single olive variety. My favorite are the wrinkled Moroccan or Greek thrombes olives and I often use them alone. …

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)

There are two things that are always on my Christmas to-do list. First, I have to watch Kevin McCallister thwart the “Sticky Bandits” in Home Alone and Home Alone 2. My brothers and I never tire of watching bricks being thrown at the heads of Marv and Harry and other torturous, yet hilarious schemes devised by Kevin. It’s too bad uncontrollable laughter doesn’t burn more calories because the second thing on my list is gorging on Greek treats. Step into any Greek home at Christmas time, especially my yiayia’s, and you can’t miss the sweet scents of baklava, kourabiedes, and melomakarona baking in the oven. Those desserts are made year-round, but yiayia doubles down on them for Christmas. Especially melomakarona. We call them melos at our house, and Christmas is not the same without them. Melos are aromatic cookies spiced with orange and cinnamon and spiked with whiskey. What makes melos really shine is the chopped walnut topping and the warm honey syrup the cookies soak in. Like with all cookies, melos are delicious fresh …