Cretan Summer 2018

Souvenirs of our beloved Crete

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Dried Figs stuffed with Almonds and Orange Zest

This year we had a very warm summer and the garden gave us a lot delicious figs, which we shared with friends.

However, it was only during our holidays on Crete after noticing that most of the figs fall on the floor and, as I hate food waste, I decided to try to dry some figs and prepare a great souvenir of the summer in a jar.

The good thing we had for this, beside the figs of course was the sun; the strong Greek sun is best to preserve these figs and for this reason, I searched in the internet how I should proceed.

To make them more special, I decided to modify an Italian recipe (from the *Puglie* region) and so I started to collect ripe but still firm green and black figs and to dry them in the sun!

Figs can be dried halved or cut in two pieces; I opted to cut them into two halves as the effect of the sun would be stronger drying the figs quickly and the rays would destroy all possible parasites.

The best way to dry them would be on a grid, but since I did not have this, I used my normal baking try with a black baking foil, which attracted the sun and kept the heat; in two days, the figs were dry enough, some of them almost to dry! J

If you don’t have the opportunity to collect and dry the figs, you should opt for the dry figs from the store and halve them with a scissor taking care to keep them partially attached.

These figs are an unusual addition to the holiday table and make a unique Christmas gift from the kitchen!

Dried Figs stuffed with Almonds and Orange Zest

  • Difficulty: easy
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You need

  • 50 dried figs, butterflied
  • 1 orange, peel only removed with a vegetable peeler and cut into small pieces
  • 50 almonds
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch o cinnamon
  • 10-20 bay leaves

Procedure

  1. Add a piece of orange peel on one side of the butterflied fig.
  2. Add an almond on each it and cover with the other side. Press them well together.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C/350°F, Check on the color and temperature as cooking time may vary from oven to oven!
  4. In the meantime, combine the powdered sugar with the cinnamon.
  5. Switch off the oven, take out the figs out, dust with sugar and place them in the oven for other 5 minutes.
  6. In order to store them for a long time, place the still warm figs into sterilized jars layered and with several bay leaves between the layers for added flavor. Store the jar in a cool dry place.

Tip1: After sun drying the figs, some of them resulted very dry, too dry for this preparation, for this reason I placed them in bowl, sprinkled them with water (about tablespoons for 5 cups of dried figs) covered them, and placed in the microwave for 2 two minutes. After resting for about 10 minutes they were ready for this preparation.

Tip2: Quartered walnuts and orange zest by lemon or tangerine zest may replace Almonds!

Author: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/

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Dolmades me Avgolemono – Stuffend Wine Leaves with Egg-Lemon Sauce

Spring, sun, flowers, herbs and missing Crete!

During my walk through the garden I noticed that the fist wine leaves were almost big enough to be used for one of my favourite Greek dishes: dolmadakias (diminutives of dolmades)! Now in early spring the leaves are very light, tender and even if even still small, I decided to try to make this without meat (lamb or beef

As the same times I had some asparagus on hand, I decided to prepare also the egg-lemons sauce, which is perfect for both preparations!

Usually for this recipe, we use pine nuts, but as did not have such of them just now at home, I decided to uses some previously roasted pumpkin seeds; and WOW! This was real great!

I collected only about 30 leaves about 10-12 cm wide (yes real small, but tender!) and these made 3-4 cm sized dolamadakias.

Note: this dish often served lukewarm and the lemon leaves would taste even better the next day.

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  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: medium
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You need:

Leaves:

  • 30 young tender fresh grape leaves (double the filling and the sauce if you have big leaves), washed and stem removed

Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ cup rice
  • 1 cup vegetal broth (or simply the hot water you used to prepare the leaves + salt)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, copped
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped roasted pine nuts (or roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce

  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1/2 lemon, grated peel of
  • 1 cup water (I used drained liquid form the stuffed leaves +  the blanching water for the leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional lemon juice

Procedures

  1. Bring about 1 liter of water to boil and place the leaves in hot water. Drain the leaves after 3 minutes (preserve one cup of water). Set aside and don’t discard the water.
  2. Fry the onion in the oil just until translucent, add the rice and the broth. Reduce to simmer.
  3. Add the herbs and seed, cook until the water is adsorbed for about 6-8 minutes, the rice will not be cooked through, but this just fine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place a small amount of this filling (about 1 teaspoon or more if the leaves are big) on the backside of the leaf near the stem and then close it. For this step, I first fold the left and right side of the leaf toward the center and I roll it up starting from the side of the stem (like the spring rolls).
  5. Place one tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of you pot, and then place the stuffed leaves one by one, near each other, opening side down so that they don’t move. If you have more leaves you some leaves to cover the bottom of the pot or (even better) a few thin sliced potatoes (addition to your meal)!
  6. Try to make two layers of the leaves in the pot (size depends on the leaves and the pot!)
  7. Grate le lemon zest, set aside; juice the lemon and set this aside as well.
  8. Place parts of the peel or additional lemon slices over the stuffed leaves, cover with the water (add to the water previously salt to taste), add about 1 third of the lemon juice as well.
  9. Cover with a small plate the stuffed leaves, so that they don’t move while cooking. Cover with the lid and simmer for about 40 minutes (adding some more water if needed). Drain out the liquid and use it for the sauce.
  10. If you have rice leftovers, cook them in a small saucepot with water as a risotto until done.
  11. For the egg-lemon sauce blend together the egg, the lemon juice the lemon zest, the drained liquid from the stuffed leaves, the cornstarch and the olive oil.
  12. Very slowly heat the sauce in a small saucepot until it thickens (do not let it boil but add more water if needed). Adjust salt and pepper. If you need add more lemon juice to taste.
  13. Serve the stuffed leaves with this sauce.

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

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Stuffed Zucchini Flowers- Kolokytholouloutha Yemista

 

 

Stuffed-Zucchini-Flowers

This Greek stuffed zucchini blossoms recipe (Kolokytholouloutha Yemista/Κολοκυθολούλουδα γεμιστά) makes a delightful appetizer and the recipe is similar preparation wine leaves.

A friend of me gave me her zucchini flowers, but winter and summer squash are perfect as well. If picking your own fresh blossoms, pick early in the morning do so in the morning when they have just bloomed or buy it in the morning at the farmer market. Remove the pistil inside of the blossom as it is bitter.

As usually there are many different recipes of this dish, some of them don’t ask you to fry the onion prior filling, I tried both variation and both are delicious as well.

I hope you enjoy this stuffed zucchini blossoms recipe!

Remember: When picking zucchini blossoms, do so in the morning when they have just bloomed or buy it in the morning at the farmer market. Remove the pistil inside of the blossom as it is bitter.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers- Kolokytholouloutha Yemista

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/Stuffed-Zucchini-Flowers

You need

  • 30 zucchini flowers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1 cup rice, as Carolina
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zucchini or potatoes (peeled) slices to cover the bottom of your pot, optional
  • 2 cups water, warm
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Procedure

  1. Trim the bottom of the flowers, remove pistil and remove any small outer leaves around the blossom. Place in a bowl with lukewarm for 10 minutes. Rinse with fresh water set them upside-down to dry.
  2. Fry onion and garlic in a wide skillet until translucent.
  3. Add rice, tomatoes and water. Simmer until the water is adsorbed.
  4. Add parsley, mint and half one quarter cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well.
  5. Cover the bottom of your cooking pot with zucchini or potatoes slices if the bottom of your pot is too thin in order to avoid burning.
  6. Gently open the flower and use a spoon to fill them and close with the petals to seal the filling. Don’t overfill them!
  7. Place the filled flowers on the lined pot.
  8. Add broth and drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Place an inverted place on the flower to fix them and cover with a lid.
  10. Cook at low temperature until liquid is completely adsorbed. Switch off the heat and let cool down a bit. You may also place use a baking mold, cover as described ad bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F for about 40 minutes (switch off after 30 minutes).
  11. Served at room temperature with Greek yogurt.

Harbour of Chania

Harbour-of-Chania
I love travelling and I always had this habit of falling in love with the places that I have seen and visited.

On Crete I fall in love with the sea, the skylines, the rocks, the dry vegetation, the smell of the herbs of the fields and in the lonely landscapes.

This time I felt in love can fall in love the spectacular sunset in Chania Harbor after the rain. The wind was blowing away the clouds and the rain; at the fist moment we only could see some strong light coming though the now thinner clouds, the reflections in the sea and in the clouds itself became so amazing that I had to take my camera and try to catch this magical moments.

Even just now, looking again that photos, I’m missing Crete and I would be love to be stay there and stop the time!

Melitzanopita – Greek Eggplant Pie

Melitzanopita--10

Spinach and cheese Greek pies are something delicious, they are very popular and you can find them ready to east in many places.

However other vegetables can be used for this preparation and today I’ve combined Eggplants (Melitzanes) with onion, carrots, peppers, cheese and… walnuts.

This description can be used and adapted to the ingredients you have on hand, but at the end please, season at your taste.

The strong ingredients I needed were tasty enough that today, and this happens very seldom, I didn’t use additional herbs. The result was a very tasty and beautiful vegetable pie!

Melitzanopita – Greek Eggplant Pie

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: medium
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Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/ Melitzanopita-11

You need:

  • 3 big round eggplants or 4 long eggplants, peeled diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil to fry
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 3 carrots, peeled sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded finely diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cups walnuts
  • 200 g gruyere or 150 g kefalotyri cheese
  • 5 phillo sheets (Fillo sheets)
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • A few halve walnuts for decoration, optional

Procedure

  1. Place eggplants on a baking sheet (best if on a heat resistant parchment foil) and broil from on each side stirring form time to time until light browned and soft.
  2. In the meantime fry the onion, carrots and red pepper in a non-sticky skillet with the oil until soft.
  3. Roast the walnuts in the oven for about 5 minutes or until you see they begin to change color.
  4. When eggplant are ready add this to the skillet, toss and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Line your oiled baking mold with 3 sheet of phillo. You may brush the single sheet with little oil. Take care that the borders of the mold need to be covered as well.
  6. Fill the mold with the vegetables, add cheese and roughly chopped walnuts.
  7. Fold the overlapping borders of the sheets over the filling. Drizzle with little oil, fold once (so it makes 4 layers) and cover nicely with the remaining 2 sheets of phillo.
  8. Mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil with one tablespoon of water and brush the upper sheets.
  9. Make 1 cm deep incision to pre-cut portions, top with the halved almonds and bake in a preheated to 180°C/350°F for about 40 minutes or until gold brown.

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Zucchini Pie of Chania –Chaniotico Boureki

Zucchini-Pie-of-Chania--Chaniotico-Boureki

This is a traditional recipe from Crete (Greece) that needs some time to cook, but it’s really easy and can be prepared in advance. As side dish or as full meal this pie is always welcome!

There are many variation of this: some with puff pastry, some with a simple crust and even some without crust! Mint makes this dish very particular and it gives a wonderful taste.

Feel free to change the proportion of the ingredient on your taste or on what available.

My children loved to order this in the restaurant, now we can prepare this at home.

Zucchini Pie of Chania –Chaniotico Boureki

  • Servings: about 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Autor: https://artandkitchen.wordpress.com/ Zucchini-Pie-of-Chania--Chaniotico-Boureki

You need

  • 250 g fillo/phyllo pastry (or 1 big and 1 smaller not sweet pie crust, size depend on your mold)
  • 250 g potatoes, peeled sliced ( or coarsely grated)
  • 500 g zucchini, small sliced ( or coarsely grated)
  • 400 g fresh white cheese (best Greek antothiro or myzithra) or as alternative if you don’t find the Greek white cheese 300 g ricotta cheese + 100 g feta
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 20 leaves mint, chopped (to taste)
  • olive oil
  • 1 -2 tablespoon sesame seeds

Procedure

  1. Prepare all your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven at 150°C-
  3. Grease your mold (I used my round 26 cm cake mold).
  4. Cover your mold with overlapping borders with 2 third of fillo.
  5. Fill with potatoes.
  6. Add half of zucchini.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add half of the cheese and half of mint leaves.
  9. Add remaining zucchini.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Add remaining cheese and mint leaves.
  12. Add some olive oil to taste (I add about 2 tablespoons).
  13. Add the egg but leave one tablespoon for the topping.
  14. Fold the fillo on the borders over filling.
  15. Brush little egg.
  16. Cover with 2 sheets of fillo.
  17. Brush with remaining egg and make incisions (in squares) over the surface.
  18. Spread sesame seeds and some oil (about 1 tablespoon).
  19. Bake at 150°C for 1 1/2 hours.
  20. Increase the heat in the last 10 minutes if necessary until golden brown.
  21. Serve warm of lukewarm.

Note: if you have bigger zucchini they will contain too much water. Put your sliced or grated zucchini in a bowl; add 1-2 teaspoons of salt. Stir. After 30 minutes rinse and drain prior use. Or perhaps another solution is to spread some breadcrumbs on fillo prior filling it with potatoes and zucchini. If you try this please let me know!

Zucchini-Pie-of-Chania-Chaniotico-Boureki-Sliced