The Greek meat pie

I was born in Kefalonia, an island in the Ionian sea, and lived there for the first 12 years of my life. I have no relatives there, my father was just working there. Not even friends. Unfortunately I have lost connection with my early classmates.

I love this place and nowadays I visit it whenever I can as a tourist although not as much as I would like to, consider the fact that I live in Belgium.

However, I have a way to “be there” whenever I like, by making the traditional local dish: the meat pie.

I don’t even know if this recipe is the authentic one, nor do I care. And that’s because it’s the one my mother took with her in her book of recipes when we left the island and the one we had for so many years at the table when we had some exceptional occasion.

Plus it’s delicious! Give it a try!

Ingredients

1 Kg of beef or lamb cut into cubes
2 large tomatoes
100 gr risotto rice
250 gr of grated feta cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
2 cloves of garlic
150 ml white wine
150ml water
Parsley finely chopped
Salt, pepper

For the dough
250 gr flour
150 ml olive oil
150 ml white wine
A pinch of salt

Add the butter in a pan and sear the meat together with the garlic.

Add the wine, allow to evaporate, add the water, lower the heat and simmer for half an hour. Cut the tomatoes in small cubes and add them to the meat.
Simmer for another 10 minutes, remove from the fire ,add the remaining ingredients (rice, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper), stir and leave aside.

In a bowl, prepare the dough by first stirring the oil, wine and salt, and gradually adding the flour until a soft dough is obtained that does not stick to the hands.

Divide the dough into two and open two layers, the one for the base slightly larger. Butter a pan, spread the base sheet. Add the filling and close the pie with the second sheet.

At the center of the pie make an opening  with a knife- If the pie gets dry you should be able to add some water.

Bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 1 hour.

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Grilled halloumi with rocket, beetroot and orange

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Halloumi is for Cyprus what is the feta for Greece: The cheese for which it is known as a producer country all over the world. Similarities stop somewhere there, as halloumi, thanks to its ability not to melt in the high temperature, is ideal for the grill!

And it takes less than 4 minutes to bake! When ready it can be used as a main ingredient in salads, in hamburgers as a substitute for meat bu t also to be consumed just as pleasantly and neatly.

Ingredients (serves 2)

200 gr haloumi
300 gr rocket salad
1 small beetriit
1/2 orange
Salt and Pepper
10 ml olive oil
3 ml balsamic vinegar
Walnuts coarsely cut
Raisins

Wash and dry the rocket, cut the beetroot into thin slices and the orange in small pieces.
Place the olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic in a deep bowl and mix. Add the rocket and beetroot and mix lightly with your hands.
In a deep dish place the rocket and beetroot.
Cut the haloumi into a pieces 2 cm thick and bake them in a hot pan / grill 2 minutes maximun from each side.
Add the halloumi to the dish and garnish with the pieces of orange, some walnuts and a few raisins.

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Chicken breast with orange, honey and cinnamon

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The chicken breast has a big advantage: It requires minimum cooking time, making it ideal for days with limited time available for cooking. However it has also a disadvantage: it has kind of flat taste, so you gonna need a flavor boost.

In our case the orange, the honey and the cinnamon will play the role of the flavor enhancer, giving a Mediterranean / oriental tone, will the chicken will remain juicy and delicious.

So if you love sweet flavors in the main course, or if you want to try something different, this is a perfect recipe: Easy, fast and delicious.

Ingredients

2 pieces of chicken breast with the skin
Juice of 2 oranges
2 tsp honey
2 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp allspice
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

In a pan heat the oil and place the chicken pieces with the skin down and cook for 5 minutes over high heat.

Once the chicken golden brown, turn over and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the juice of two oranges, lower the heat, add the cinnamon and allspice, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the honey and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken and simmer the orange sauce for 5 minutes.

Serve with couscous

 

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Beef casserole with greek pasta

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If for some reason I was forced to eat one and only one dish for the rest of my life, and I had a choice, then, no doubt, this would have been the youvetsi aka: some kind of meat in the casserole with greek pasta.

Fortunately such a scenario is imaginary therefore I can enjoy the greek pasta in all its variants, among other multicultural and delicious meals.

But the greek pasta will always have a spot on my table, mostly because it reminds me of where I come from but also keeps me on track when I’m not sure where I am going to.

Enough with the drama, let’s cut to the chase. This food needs patience and a good pot that  closes tightly and slowly cooks food keeping all  flavors within.

Let’ s go.

Ingredients

700 g beef into small pieces

1 large onion

1 small carrot

1 stalk celery

1 tsp tomato puree

1 can chopped tomatoes

2 glasses of water

2 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

1 tsp of each: allspice, cinnamon and clove

1 sprig rosemary

50 ml red wine

salt pepper

250 gr greek pasta

grated parmesan cheese

olive oil

Spices are always better when freshly grated

Add olive oil in a deep pan and sear the meat until it has a nice brown color.

Remove the meat from the  pan and in the remaining oil fry for 3 minutes the chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic.

At this stage add the spices (allspice, cinnamon and cloves) and the tomato paste

Add the wine and cook for two minutes over high heat until the alcohol evaporates

Add the chopped tomato, water and rosemary.

Finally add the meat and cook in slow heat for 1 ½ hours

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

In an ovenproof dish put 250gr of greek pasta plus the content of the pot, plus water so are food is fully covered.

Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes at 200⁰ C.

Remove the foil rasp same parmesan cheese on top and keep cooking for 10 more minutes at  180⁰ C

No food style needed bonus picture :)
No food style needed bonus picture 🙂

 

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Spanakopita (Greek Spinach pie)

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Spanakopita is the most popular of the Greek pies and for a good reason as the combination of spinach and feta is delicious, especially when it has as wrapping a thin and crispy handmade dough.

Spanakopita is also popular in Greece, among locals, especially in places with strong agricultural history, mainly because of the ingredients: Cheese, eggs, vegetables, oil and flour were never a problem to find and most of the times an “inside job”! Nowadays farmers are less but tradition remains.

But the secret is in the dough. In fact, the thinner the layers are the more delicious and crunchy the pie is . And the more the leaves the better. You will need some practice,but, hey homemade is the best!

Ingredients

For the filling
½ kg spinach
1 leek
Chopped dill – parsley
1 egg
250g feta cheese
Salt, pepper
¼ nutmeg
30g breadcrumbs
Olive oil

For the dough
300 g flour
25g olive Oil
7g vinegar
1 tsp salt
150 ml water

Mix the ingredients for the dough. Divide into 4 pieces and set aside to rest.

Add the spinach and the chopped leek into a bowl. Squeeze them with your hands until any excess liquid is removed. Drain all liquid and transfer to a clean vessel.

Add the egg, crumbled feta cheese, chopped dill and parsley, breadcrumbs and the spices: pepper, salt depending on the saltiness of feta, and freshly ground nutmeg.

Mix well the filling and set aside.

Oil a baking pan and start opening the first layer of your dough with a rolling pin in the size of the pan. Place the first layer carefully and add some olive oil on top with a brush. Do the same with the second layer. Spread the filling into the pan and follow the above procedure with the remaining two layer of dough.

Scribe pieces in advance, sprinkle with water and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

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Souvlaki

souvlaki

Greeks eat a lot of souvlaki, but not at home – unless we order them. Grill houses, taverns and restaurants have undertaken the task of forcing small pieces of pork into wooden straws and grilling them.

Good souvlaki is not easy to find: It must have fat, but not too much, it must be juicy but not uncooked, it has to be cooked but not dry. A balance is needed.

I started making homemade souvlaki when I moved to Belgium because of the luck of specialized grill houses and I developed the following recipe. And although I do not have a charcoal grill, this is the closest you can get with just a frying pan and an oven.

They are so delicious that if you make them once, you will definitely make it a habit.

Ingredients

1kg boneless pork tenderloin
Wooden straws

Salt
Pepper
100 ml  olive oil
Oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp honey
1 onion
1 green pepper
3 tsp vinegar

Cut the meat into cubes. Pour all the ingredients of marinade (except onion and pepper) into a deep bowl, stir and add the meat. Cut the onion and pepper in thick slices and add them to the marinade

Cover and leave in the refrigerator for at least two hours

Pass the pieces of meat into the straws and bake in a pan (ideally grill pan) until they get nice color from all sides. .

In a preheated oven at 180 degrees, place the sksouvlakis for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with bread, greek salad and tzatziki.

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Baklava with olive oil

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Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey and it is the king of syrup-based desserts in Greece.

And while the original recipe – the one from the kitchen of the Topkapi Palace made in order to satisfy the Sultan of the Othoman empire – is based on rich flavor butter, my mother makes baklava with olive oil.

More specifically my mother, as most of the older greek housewives, makes baklava only once a year when the new production of olive oil is out- somewhere around the end of November.

The symbolism has also a flavor impact, as fresh extra virgin olive oil gives a more “earthier” taste. This does not mean that if you have access to a good butter that your baklava will not be tasty. However I respect the tradition and using olive oil as memories is one of the reasons to cook.

Ingredients

For the filling

1 package phyllo dough
300g grated walnuts
250 ml olive oil
5g cinnamon,
Cloves

For the syrup

300g sugar
250 ml water
300g sugar
2 tsp honey
half orange
1 stick cinnamon

Mix the grated nuts with cinnamon.

Place in a pan three layers of phyllo dough

Sprinkle a thin layer of the cinnamon mixture.

Continue alternately adding a sheet phyllo and a layer of nuts / cinnamon.

Place on top three layers of filo pastry.

Cut baklava into pieces and place a stick of clove into each piece.

Drizzle with the (slightly warm) olive oil.

Bake in preheated oven at 150 degrees for 80 minutes.

Place the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and bring to boil. Wait 2-3 minutes and withdraw.

Pour the cold syrup to the warm baklava.

Allow the baklava to cool and absorb the syrup for at least one hour.

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Greek macaroni pie

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A humble but delicious dish of the homemade Greek cuisine with either leftovers or easy to find ingredients: pasta (maybe from the previous day), feta cheese, eggs and milk. And all the above among a handmade crisp dough that makes the difference.

As I was writing in the recipe for spanakopita “..the secret is in the dough. In fact, the thinner the layers are the more delicious and crunchy the pie is . And the more the leaves the better. You will need some practice,but, hey homemade is the best!”

The following version is the classic one with the feta cheese. Feel fry to try a mixture of cheese; just add some salt to the filling if nessecerry.

Ingredients

For the filling
200 gr macaroni
200 ml milk
4 eggs
500g feta cheese
Pepper

For the dough
300 g flour
25g olive Oil
7g vinegar
1 tsp salt
150 ml water

Olive oil for the pan and leaves

Mix the ingredients for the dough. Divide into 4 pieces and set aside to rest.

Boil the macaroni in salted water.

Mix gently the eggs with the milk, add the feta in small pieces. Add also the macaroni.

Mix well the filling and set aside.


Oil a baking pan and start opening the first layer of your dough with a rolling pin in the size of the pan. Place the first layer carefully and add some olive oil on top with a brush. Do the same with the second layer. Spread the filling into the pan and follow the above procedure with the remaining two layer of dough.

Scribe pieces in advance, sprinkle with water and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

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Baby back ribs with bbq sauce

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Although pork is popular in Greece, when we talking about ribs we refering to lamb meat. Pork for greek people is more related to steaks, souvlaki and, of course the famous gyros. .

On the other hand, on the other side of the Atlantic, ribs are made of pork, prepared in barbecue marinated with delicious sauces.

But because we do not always have the comfort of grilling outside, this recipe is adapted for baking in a regular oven in our houses.

The long cooking time will compensate you as the meat becomes so soft that it peels off the bone and melts in the mouth.

Ingedients

1.5 kg of baby back ribs
Juice of 1 lemon
salt
pepper
cumin
paprika
coriander
oregano

For the bbq sauce

200 gr brown sugar
200 gr ketchup
3-4 Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp mustard
2 oranges (juice)
100 ml bourbon
Salt
2 tsp apple cider
tabasco (optional)

Cut the ribs into pieces, place them in a bowl, pour the juice from a lemon and mix

Add the spices (salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, coriander, oregano) and stir to go everywhere.

Put the ribs on a pan and bake for 1.5 hours at 180 degrees.Turn once.

Make the barbecue sauce by adding all the ingredients in a saucepan. Stir with a wire in medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Keep a small portion of the sauce in a bowl and leave the rest in the saucepan.

Remove the ribs from the oven, dip them into the sauce and place them in a ovenpan.

Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes at 170 degrees

Ready!

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Cheesecake with greek yoghurt and strawberries

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After a short break youvetsi.gr is back with a favorite dessert recipe to celebrate: Cheesecake with greek yoghurt and easy strawberry jam.

It’s been awhile since the last update of this blog but personal matters kept me away from the keyboard. But I am back, making a sweet restart with a favorite dessert, a cheesecake.

My own version of this New York style recipe has a greek tatch as i include greek yoghurt, which goes very well with creamy cheese.

Ingredients


For the base
300 g digestive biscuits
100g dark chocolate
90 g butter

For the cake
500 g creamie cheese (philadelphia)
250 g greek yogurt
Juice from 1 lemon
120 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

For the jam
400 gr strawberries
200 gr sugar
2 slices of lemon

Grate the biscuits and add chocolate and melted butter.

Place the biscuit on the bottom of a cake form

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees

In a deep bowl, put the cheese, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix. Add gradually the eggs.

Add the mixture on top of the cookie and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let it cool and put in the fridge for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and add the strawberry jam.

 

For the strawberry day jam
Wash, clean and cut strawberries in the middle. Put them in a bowl along with the sugar and slices of lemon, cover and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours

In a medium heat pan, simmer the strawberries.

Allow to cool and place on top of the cheesecake.

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