All posts tagged: greece

Zucchini Bread

You can always tell it’s the end of the summer by the amount of zucchini bread being made or gifted. The motivation to utilize zucchini in different ways is much higher towards the beginning of the summer, and then suddenly it seems like the zucchini production has tripled and we’re all juggling zucchini. That’s when zucchini bread comes into play. Packed with shredded zucchini, chopped walnuts, and all the right spices, zucchini bread is a delicious and quick way to use up any garden zucchini. Plus, this bread freezes well so you can enjoy zucchini the tastes of summer all year long. Ingredients: 3 cups zucchini, grated (skins on) 3 large eggs 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar (compacted) 1 cup vegetable oil 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon vanilla 3 cups flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 3 teaspoons cinnamon 1 cup chopped walnuts *1 cup chocolate chips (optional) Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour loaf pans (batter should make two 8×4 inch pans). 2. Beat …

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 …

Georgiann’s Koulourakia

Koulourakia comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Some bakers turn their dough into playful circles, braids, or serpentines, and some twist their koulourakia so precisely it looks like a machine pumped them out. Depending on the baker or family recipe, koulourakia is infused with anise, vanilla, orange or lemon zest. And some are left plain with simply the mixings of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. No matter how they’re prepared, koulourakia makes a perfect companion with a cup of coffee. My cousin, Georgiann Pino Petrogeorge has mastered the art of koulourakia. She and I share the same great-grandmother, Anastasia (Tasia) Patsuris. Our yiayia’s (grandmother’s) were sisters with phenomenal cooking skills. You name it—they could make it. Georgiann spent a lot of kitchen time with her yiayia, Georgia Patsuris Sargetakis, and together the two would bake, cook, and share many laughs. Koulourakia, a Greek Easter cookie is one of those treats that sends Georgian back to her yiayia’s kitchen. Over time, Georgiann has modified her yiayia’s recipe to her own favorite tastes, like using vanilla …

20 Beaches of Greece

Let me help narrow the field of amazing Greek beaches to relish. With a coastline of 8,498 miles, Greece challenges tourists and locals alike. In a good way! For every new beach found, another discovery awaits. Whether your mood is mellow or high energy, whether you prefer to lie on pebbles or sink your toes in the sand—you’ll find your perfect beach experience on either the mainland or one of the numerous islands. I’m happy to provide a short list of can’t-miss beaches that my dear Instagram followers assure me are THE BEST. Because I have not combed every single Greek beach, you’ll have to take their enthusiastic words for it. On Instagram, I simply posted a picture with the instructions to leave a comment with a name of their favorite beach in Greece with a short why. The endorsements below came from local Greeks in Greece, as well as Greeks living in America, Australia, South Africa, Trinidad and the UK. The results cover nearly every corner of Greece and range from beaches that cater …

Garbanzo Bean Greek Salad

Well composed and packed with flavorful ingredients, Greek salads can’t be beat. Those flavors, however, do have room to be elevated. Simply use all the Greek salad mixings (tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, olives, feta) as a base and add ingredients you enjoy. For me, the addition of garbanzo beans and avocados takes this classic to new heights and greater textures. Plus, both garbanzo beans and avocados are heart healthy and nutrient rich. This garbanzo bean Greek salad is especially perfect for those fasting from meat or dairy during Lent. Save Print Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad Recipe type: Vegetarian/Salad Serves: 2-4   Garbanzo bean salad: Loaded with vegetables, packed with nutrients, and tossed in a bright Greek dressing. Ingredients For the salad: 15 oz can garbanzo beans 1 English cucumber, optionally peeled and sliced in half 3 cups cherry and golden tomatoes, halved (or 4 diced tomatoes) 2 avocados, diced 1 green bell pepper, diced ½ red onion, diced ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives 8 oz of feta cheese (optional-serve on the side or mix in) For the …

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 Favorite Beaches in Crete

Greece’s largest island, Crete, provides hundreds of beautiful beaches that draws crowds in the summer months. Below are just five of my favorites, plus some extra suggestions for you to check out on your next visit to Crete. Do you have a favorite? Please comment and share 🙂 Falassarna Beach: I’ve taken some of my best photos on Falassarna, catching shots of the big waves and vibrant skies. My favorite beach in all of Crete, Falassarna stretches far along the coast and makes an especially nice spot for sunset lovers since the beach faces west. There’s no need for an Instagram filter or Photoshop, the natural beauty of Falassarna does all the work. Elafonisi: The early bird gets the worm, or better, a sunbed to lie on at the always-crowded Elafonisi beach. Don’t let the crowds deter you, though. Elafonisi is one of the most sought-out beaches in the world for good reason: the pretty pink sand contrasts brilliantly with the tranquil turquoise water. Talk about paradise! Do visit, but be diligent in picking up …

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 …

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 …