Wild greens constitute one of the greatest capital of Cretan cuisine. No one knows exactly how many different species of plants are used for human consumption and helped these people to survive during wars and occupation times. I read that more than 120 herbs from the coastal zones to the higher mountain regions have been identified and counted.
Picking wild greens is a very enjoyable activity and the prepared meals are super healthy food!
For this recipe I used self-seeded Swiss chard form last year who is sprouting here and there in my vegetable garden. A great gift form the nature.
For the “Cretan” flavourful taste, I added mint and dill and some feta.
Usually these greens pies are prepared in the oven and the dough used for this is the filo.
One of the specialties of Sfakia are the “Sfakianopites”: round flat pies filled with local mizithra cheese, pan-fried (without oil or butter) and then, served with a generous drizzle of Cretan honey.
For this pies I used the technique of the sfakianopites and worked very well.
½ cup sourdough starter (or ¼ cup water + ¼cup flour + 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast)
1 cup water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
300 greens (I used the green part of Swiss chards)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped, tender green part as well
3 tablespoons cup finely chopped fresh spearmint
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
200 g crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the sourdough starter with the water and the first cup of flour for the first rising into a big bowl, cover and let sit until spongy. The time depends of the kind of yeast (if using sourdough starter often I combine them the evening before or early in the morning) and the temperature.
Add the the other two cups of flour and the salt for the second rising knead shortly and let lit for about 20 minutes. Now knead again until smooth. I perform this step directly in the bowl using a dough spatula and folding over the bread until done. Let rise a few hour until doubled. During this time prepare the filling.
Wash the greens and drain very well. Then slice them.
Heat the oil and fry the onion until translucent. Add the greens and cook stirring from time to time until the liquid is almost adsorbed.
Add the herbs and combine well.
Add the feta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on in a bowl to cool down.
When the dough is soft, divide it into 6 pieces. Make 6 portions of filling. Note: you may make also more pieces/portions and make smaller pitas.
Roll out the dough to the size of about 15 cm on a well-floured surface. Place the filling on it and carefully close the filling into the dough trying to exclude as much air as possible.
Dust well with flour and slowly roll this out to the desired size. I made round of about 25 cm. Do not staple them, but place them on a well-floured surface until cooking time. Best if you would in team and somebody helps you the roast the pitas while you roll them out.
Heat a skillet and roast dry on both sides until browned. Note: We decided to cook them on the open fire.
Serve if warm with yogurt sauce.
Leftovers may be kept in the fried for a few day or be frozen.
Guacamole is very popular Mexican dip with many variations.
This variation, which includes also the use of tomatoes, is the most appreciated in our family and every times is comes out a bit different as we do not measure the ingredients, we change it a little bit depending on what we have on hand.
This is great as appetizer with tortilla chips, but also with wraps or other dishes.
Figs trees are native in the Middle East and western Asia and had been cultivated since ancient times. Today they are widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. Two crops of figs can be produced each year. The first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year’s shoot growth. The main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in summer (August in Southern Europe) or autumn (September to October in Central Europe). The main crop is generally superior in quantity and quality, but some cultivars produce good breba crops. There are three types of edible figs: some of them need pollination by the fig wasp with pollen for fruiting and some not. In Central Europe where this wasp is not present, the cultivation of figs is possible. This year we had a many figs during summertime (breba crops) and in addition, after the warm September, we are getting many figs again and we are enjoying them.
I would like to present you this simple but very impressive recipe, which is perfect for a starter or appetizer.
Apples and grapes are already places in the storage room or converted in juice. Now it’s the turn for the our beloved quinces; this year we have really a lot of them and I’m looking for to try as much as possible different recipes. We all love sweets and cakes, but as quinces are very versatile, I hope we will travel virtually around the world and bring something new in our kitchen.
This recipe was inspired on an apple and bread ramequin. It is an autumn recipe for and comfort fully satisfying meal; you may serve this for Thanksgiving as well!
Traditionally bakers make this rich Alsatian (southern part of France near the Swiss border) bread in hand-painted earthenware molds, but steel, non-stick-metal or glass molds are fine too. The size of the mold corresponds to about 2 liter. This soft savory Gugelhopf (or Kugelhopf or Gugelhups) is perfect to be served (if possible lukewarm) as appetizer with some wine and it goes always very quickly.
substitute walnuts with pecan or almonds
add chopped rosemary or thyme
substitute bacon by diced cheese
add fried onion rings
substitute pork bacon by dried smoked beef or turkey bacon
1/2 cup walnuts (pecans works well as well), coarsely chopped
For this recipe, you have to activate the starter combining the sourdough starter you kept in the fridge with the same amount of each water and flour (each 100 g). Best do it the evening before and loosely cover in a bowl; it should be ready after about 10-12 hours at room temperature. At this time starter should be very active and spongy.
Note: his is left to mature (ferment) until ready to be used to mix into a dough.
Now it’s time to add the ingredients for the dough. Add the milk, the 350 flour, the salt, the butter and the egg.
Knead with the hock until it looks smooth and it begins to loosen from the walls. Cover and let rise until it doubles the volume. Depending on the kind of your culture, this can take 4-8 hours.
Dice the bacon into 5-8 mm cubes and roast in in a pan. If it loos to much fat, drain it.
Bring bacon and nuts into the risen dough it over several times. I don’t knead it in order to keep the dough as soft as possible.
Make a hole into the center of the dough and place it in the prepared tin (please butter it before; you may also use the fat of the bacon).
Cover and let rise in a warm place until it at least doubles the volume. This may take about 2-3 hours.
Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes in the lower half of an oven preheated to 200°C. If notice that during the baking time the surfaces begins to turn to dark, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Wait a few minutes before unmolding and serve it possible lukewarm.
Make a surprise to your family serving a slice of this vegetable terrine with some spiced sauce as the Canary mojo rojo. This served with a hunk of crusty bread, any salad greens, cheese, cured meat, smoked salmon or what you like, makes an elegant brunch or a light meal for warmer days.
Boil the beans in salted water add the green beans and cook for 10 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the beans.
In the meantime fry onion and garlic with the oil until just tender, then add the drained mushrooms. After one minute, remove from the heat.
Whisk the eggs with the cream and with the cooking water. Season with the ginger, salt and pepper.
Line a terrine with aluminum foil and coat it with oil.
Pour a few spoons of egg mixture, arrange over this first half of the beans, then the mushrooms mixture, after this the second half of the beans and finally pour gently the remaining egg mixture.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until firm and until the tip of a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the foil Serve warm or cold.
Note: Traditionally this kind of preparations should be cooked placing mold of the terrine into a bigger mold (roasting pan) with boiling water. I did not do it in this way and the simple baking in the oven worked well for me.
Missing Crete and missing Greece, we made a culinary excursion to Sifnos preparing and enjoying a super simple and delicous chickpeas soup called “revithia soupa” (ρεβύθια σούπα).
The ingredients for this soup are super simple: chickpeas, lemon, oilive oil, onion, water and salt.
As traditionally these soup is prepared in the night from Saturday to Sunday with the remaining heat of the wooden oven and we really used the wooden oven the day before, this was just the right moment for this soup.
These days we stay more at home and we make all meals with ingredients from scratch.
A few days ago, I began to think about pretzels, I really wanted some and I had a pretzels recipe which worked for me. My old recipe is now 5 year old and in the meantime, I switched for commercial yeast and to sourdough.
It was time to revise my recipe and to adapt it to my currently needs.
I changed also the glaze bath to baking soda to ash soda; I also decided to change the shape from 24 mini pretzels to 12 medium-small pretzels.
Proofing time had to be changed. I started with my work in the afternoon and as I realized that these would never be ready for dinner, we placed the dough overnight in the fridge and continued the next morning in order to have the pretzels for lunch.
The result was awesome; I will make these again soon!
For this recipe, we used soda ash (sodium carbonate) but with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) it will work as well. The important this is respecting the boiling time!
Put starter, sugar, water and 1 cup of flour in bowl and stir well. Let sit covered for about 2 hours to proof.
Add rest of flour as well as all the other ingredients and knead dough until smooth and not sticky.
Place dough back in bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Note: you can relent this process and place the bowl in the fridge overnight. Next day remove form the fridge and let finish to rise.
When dough has risen, punch down.
Divide dough into 12 portions and form rolls of about 60 cm or the size you like. Take care that the center of the roll should be thicker. Shape the logs into pretzels and place them on greased tray or over parchment foil.
Allow pretzels to rest for about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the glaze: boil water with soda ash. Reduce heat. Also, preheat the oven to 250°C/ 475°F.
Remove pretzels gently from the trays (2 trays with each 6 pieces), place them one by one into the boiling baking soda solution (I could place max 2 of them in the solution at once). Boil for about 30 seconds on one side, then flip them over and boil 30 second on the other side. Remove them using a large slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper or simply greased.
Score the thicker part of the pretzels and sprinkle with the salt.
Let rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake at 250°C/ 475°F for about 15 minutes or until they are a medium to dark golden brown. Note: bake in two batches if your oven does not allow two trays simultaneously.