Xortopita – Greek Greens Pie

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.

For the dough I used my sourdough recipe which, thanks to the long ferment time, turns very elastic for rolling it out. https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/basic-bread-recipe/

For the yogurt sauce see: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/mint-and-dill-yogurt-sauce/

Xortopita - Greek Greens Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients:

Dough

  • ½ cup sourdough starter (or ¼ cup water + ¼cup flour + 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Filling

  • 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

Prodecure:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Wash the greens and drain very well. Then slice them.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the herbs and combine well.
  6. Add the feta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on in a bowl to cool down.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Heat a skillet and roast dry on both sides until browned. Note: We decided to cook them on the open fire.
  11. Serve if warm with yogurt sauce.
  12. Leftovers may be kept in the fried for a few day or be frozen.

Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Guacamole con Tomates

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.

Guacamole con Tomates

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 50 g chopped onions
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1 medium tomato or about 10 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 dash chili powder or other little chili sauce or some paprika powder (optional)

Procedure

  1. Place the chopped onions in a small bowl with cold water (this for about 10 minutes)
  2. In a small bowl mash the avocado with the fork
  3. Drain the onions and add them to the mashed avocado along with the other ingredients.
  4. Combine very well and season to taste

Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Roasted Figs with Camembert Cheese and Honey

Camembert Cheese 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.

Roasted Figs with Camembert Cheese and Honey

  • Servings: 8 figs
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 8 Figs, washed
  • 100 g Camembert cheese or Brie cheese, diced
  • Nutmeg, quantity to taste
  • Salt, only a very small pinch for each fig (I used my basil flower salt)
  • blanched sliced or slivered almonds (alternatively chopped walnuts)
  • 4 teaspoons honey, quantity to taste
  • Fresh savoury or thyme (alternatively dried thyme)

Procedure:

  1. Remove the stem of the figs and simply slice into the figs as if you were quartering them but do not go all the way down. You want the figs to open out like a flower but not fall apart completely.
  2. Distribute the cheese into the center of the figs
  3. Sprinkle little nutmeg and salt on them
  4. Adjust the almonds over the cheese
  5. Bake them in the preheated oven at 200°C/400°F or until the almonds are lightly roasted and the cheese begins to melt.
  6. Arrange the figs on serving dishes spoon the honey over them and add the herbs.
  7. Serve if possible immediately
Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Quince and Potato Cheesy Gratin

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! 

Quince and Potato Cheesy Gratin

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1000 g quinces, cored and sliced (about 5 mm thin)
  • 1000 g baking potatoes, peeled and sliced (about 5 mm thin)
  • 100 g mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 150-200 g Swiss Cheese as for example Gruyere, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 ml milk
  • 100 ml heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½-1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • ½ tablespoon fresh savory chopped (or fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • Salt (about 1 teaspoon) and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  2. Layer quinces and potatoes diagonally in a baking dish.
  3. Place mozzarella and Swiss cheese between the slices.
  4. In a bowl combine all the other ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture equally over the ingredients in the baking dish.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour at 180°C/350°F until the potatoes are soft. If necessary during the cooking time cover with a parchment foil or lid in the case the surface turns to dark.

Variations & Ideas:

  • Instead quinces use apples or pears
  • Instead of potatoes use stale bread or sweet potatoes
  • Replace mozzarella and Swiss cheese with any grated melting cheese
  • Instead of milk, heavy cream, eggs and flour use 500 ml of béchamel sauce
  • Experiment with different spices
  • Cut slices of leftover gratin and fry on all sides for a crispy way to give it new life

    Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Speckgugelhopf with Walnuts – (Sourdough Version)

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.

Variations:

  • 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

Speckgugelhopf with Walnuts - (Sourdough Version)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Activated starter

  • 100 g sourdough starter
  • 100 g water
  • 100 g flour

Dough

  • 175 ml milk
  • 350 g flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 150 g butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 egg

Additions for the taste

  • 200 g country bacon whole, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (pecans works well as well), coarsely chopped

Procedure

  1. 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.

  1. Now it’s time to add the ingredients for the dough. Add the milk, the 350 flour, the salt, the butter and the egg.
  2. 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.
  3. Dice the bacon into 5-8 mm cubes and roast in in a pan. If it loos to much fat, drain it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it at least doubles the volume. This may take about 2-3 hours.
  7. 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.
  8. Wait a few minutes before unmolding and serve it possible lukewarm.

Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

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Day 40 Stay at Home or In the Garden: Vegetable Tart with Seeds

Parwin suggested this versatile recipe for a “Stay at Home recipe exchange” game. This came out so delicious, that I thought it would be a good idea to share this for our friends.

As the recipe does not specify the ingredients, your are really free to use what you have on hand and make a delicious meal for you family.

Below I will give you the recipe and here my choices.

  • Dough: home made with sourdough
  • Pesto: red and green pesto Genovese
  • Vegetables: red peppers and defrosted green tomatoes form the garden (picked in fall as we removed the plants form the vegetable garden), sliced red onion
  • Seeds: pine nuts, pumpkin, chopped roasted pistachio
  • Herbs: parsley, basil and oregano
  • Salt: Basil salt

Vegetable Tart with Seeds

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Dough: readymade or self-made (any kind, but not sweet)
  • Pesto (any kind)
  • Vegetables, sliced or in small pieces, fresh or defrosted
  • Seeds as pumpkin, sesame, almonds, pine nuts (any kid)
  • Fresh herbs as parsley, oregano, thyme or basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Procedure

  1. Place the dough on you baking try.
  2. Spread the pesto over the dough.
  3. Add vegetables.
  4. Top with seed.
  5. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Bake about 25 min at 180°C or as needed (time depends on the dough and the toppings); you may also bake it at higher temperatures, but simply check when the bottom is ready
  7. Remove from the oven and serve with fresh herbs.
  8. Place salt and pepper on the table.

  https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Day 39 Stay at Home or In the Garden: Green Bean Terrine

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.

Green Bean Terrine

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Salted water
  • 400 g grean beans (I used the flat ones), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 small tin of mushrooms (200 g drained)
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 ml heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons cooking liquid from the beans
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C-
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Whisk the eggs with the cream and with the cooking water. Season with the ginger, salt and pepper.
  5. Line a terrine with aluminum foil and coat it with oil.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until firm and until the tip of a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. 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.

Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Day 22 Stay at Home or In the Garden: Greek Chickpeas Soup

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.

More about the history of this soup and the recipe: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/revithia-soupa-greek-chickpeas-soup/

 

 

 

Day 17: Stay at Home or In the Garden: Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Olives

We prepared this recipe by Papa D  for the first time long time ago during for our annual cooking games (for South Afrika).

This easy, quick and simple recip turned very popular in my family, because it is well balanced in flavours, the red onion gives a special touch and it looks always beautiful.

Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 250 g green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced (alternative white sweet onion)
  • 1/2 cup olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Boil bean in salted water until just tender.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a small bowl prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Drain bean, add the other ingredients, season with salt and pepper, stir and cover immediately.
  4. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the beans in a serving bowl.

Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

Day 12: Stay at Home or In the Garden: Soft Sourdough Pretzels

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!

Soft Sourdogh Pretzels

  • Servings: 12 small pieces
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Dough

  • 1/2 cup active starter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup soda ash
  • 5 cups water

Topping

  • Coarse salt or better fleur de sell

Procedure

  1. Put starter, sugar, water and 1 cup of flour in bowl and stir well. Let sit covered for about 2 hours to proof.
  2. Add rest of flour as well as all the other ingredients and knead dough until smooth and not sticky.
  3. 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.
  4. When dough has risen, punch down.
  5. 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.
  6. Allow pretzels to rest for about 30 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, prepare the glaze: boil water with soda ash. Reduce heat. Also, preheat the oven to 250°C/ 475°F.
  8. 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.
  9. Score the thicker part of the pretzels and sprinkle with the salt.
  10. Let rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
  11. 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.

Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/