Cheesecake with greek yoghurt and strawberries

Cheesecake (7 of 12)

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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Brioche

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Brioche: When the bread meets the cake, where breakfast meets the brunch and when sweet meets savory. The recipe is not very difficult especially if you have some experience of bread making.

Ingredients  

500 g flour
100 g butter
100 ml milk
10 g of dry yeast
50g sugar
1 tbsp salt
2 eggs

Dissolve the yeast in milk and add to flour and two eggs. Knead.

Add the sugar, salt and butter. Knead again.

Allow the dough to double in volume (about 1 ⅕ hour)

Press with your hands the dough to loose the air, place it in greased loaf tin, and leave it covered to rise for another hour.

Brush the loaf with egg wash (beaten egg with water or milk) and bake at 170 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown

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Pastitsio – Greek baked pasta casserole

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The smell of a pastitsio is one of my earliest culinary memories that I regularly reconstruct by making this favourite dish. Even if I have some leftover pasta from another day is the only excuse that I need!: Yesterday’s food has to recycle. And what better way of recycling food than a pastitsio!

Pastitsio is an Italian word meaning “mess” and explains fairly accurately the character of this plate: Spaghetti, minced meat with tomato sauce and bechamel join forces presenting an emblematic dish of the Greek cuisine.

It looks a little bit like moussaka, but the pasta makes a big difference. It’s also easier to make and because it has less fat (eggplant in moussaka absorbs really a lot of oil) is also lighter as a dish.

Ingridients

For the base
250 gr of pasta
2 egg whites
Salt, pepper
Chopped parsley

For minced meat
1 kg minced meat (pork and beef)
1 can chopped tomatoes
Some water
Salt pepper
1 pinch cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic

For the bechamel
100g butter
90 g flour
1 litre milk
2 egg yolks
Salt pepper
¼ nutmeg

The base: Boil the pasta in salted water (al dente). Place them in a ovenproof dish, add the two egg whites, chopped parsley, pepper and mix.

Minced meat: Add olive oil in a saucepan and fry for 2 minutes the onion and garlic. Add the meat and stir. Add the cinnamon, tomatoes and water and lower heat. Cook until dry.

The bechamel: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Pour in the flour, stir constantly with a whisk and gradually add all the milk. Keep stirring, bring to boil, remove from fire, add the two yolks, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir and set aside.

Assembly: In an ovenproof dish with the pasta add a layer of minced meat. Add the bechamel sauce and on top grated Parmesan cheese (or Gruyere).

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Hummus

hummus (9 of 9)

I won’t lie. I am not a big fan of chickpeas in their conventional form (soup), but hummus is another story. In hummus the chickpeas are transforming into a delicious spread that can match almost anything: even breakfast!

Hummus is popular throughout the Middle East, you can also find it in the kitchen of Cyprus, and although is not so popular in Greece the taste fits perfectly in the Greek cuisine. It is no coincidence that large supermarket chains abroad includes it in the Greek palette of flavors, though not particularly common in the Greek table.

The basic recipe has just four ingredients: ground chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Depending on the appetites the proportions of the above ingredients can differ (e.g. more or less garlic), but this is the base You can add more spices and also a good quality olive oil for the final touch.

Ingredients

2 cups chickpeas
2 tbsp baking soda
2 garlic cloves
⅓ cup of lemon juice
2/3 cup tahini
1 tbsp cumin
Salt, pepper

Spicy paprika (optional)
Fresh oregano (optional)
Olive oil

Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of water with a tablespoon of baking soda.

Boil the chickpeas for 1 to 1 ½ hours in plenty of fresh water and a tablespoon of baking soda.

Place in a blender the cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt and pepper and whisk.

Serve with paprika, fresh oregano and olive oil.

 

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Lagana

lagana (7 of 15)

Lagana is a flat bread with sesame that Greeks makes once a year, on Clean Monday,and it looks like the Italian focaccia. Clean Monday is the first day of the Orthodox fasting until Easter, it’s a public holiday in Greece, and it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of fasting food, the custom of flying kites and of course with eating a lot of lagana!

The flat shape of this bread makes it ideal for easy handling and the perfect base for all kinds of tasty dips and spreads!

Ingredients

1 kg flour
200 ml lukewarm water
10 gr dry yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
Sesame

Dissolve the yeast in the water and rest for 10 minutes

Add the water and yeast in the flour and start kneading.

Add salt, sugar and oil.

Leave the dough covered to rest and rise for 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature

Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes and spread it on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with water and on top sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Let the pan covered for 15 minutes to rise and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degrees

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Rabbit stew with pearl onions (stifado)

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This is a typical Greek stew made with marinated meat, in our case rabbit, slow cooked along with pearl onions, tomato sauce and spices. As a cooking method is ideal for meats with low fat and the result can easily be vary according to the marinade ingredients.

Apart from different spices that can add to the flavor, an important role in stifado is played by the wine used in the marinade. Do not forget that the meat will stay in the marinade from 2 hours minimum and up to 24 hours. .

So, a soft white wine will give a mild flavor while an heavy aromatic red wine, such as the Greek “Mavrodafni” or a good Porto, will completely transform the plate giving great intensity and gravity!

In any case, this stew is a dish that takes time, both in the preparation or in the eating procedure. For this reason it falls under the category “Sunday Recipes”!

Ingredients

1 rabbit in pieces
250g pearl onions
1 chopped tomato
Olive oil
Flour
2 tsp honey

For the marinade
2 cups white wine
1 cup wine vinegar
1 shot porto (or Mavrodafni)
2 bay leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 onion chopped
Salt, pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
5-6 allspice

Place the rabbit pieces together with the marinade ingredients in a deep bowl. Cover and place in the fridge over night.

Remove the rabbit from the marinade, wipe thoroughly and flour them.

In a pan with olive oil, fry the rabbit pieces until golden brown.

Drain the marinade from the spices and pour into the pan..

Add the tomato, salt and pepper, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Peel the onions and saute them in a pan.

Add the onions in the pan with the rabbit and cook for another 40 minutes.

Add the honey, cook for 5-10 more minutes and the stew is ready.

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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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Chicken breast with orange, honey and cinnamon

ora (13 of 22)

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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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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Greek meatballs (Keftedes)

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The best thing about handmade meatballs is their diversity. It’s likely impossible to find two handmade meatballs from two different cooks that are identical in taste, and we are talking about one of the most popular food around the world.

Improvisation and culinary traditions contribute to the final result, but there is a general formula that can make life easier for those who have inhibitions about culinary combinations: In ground meat, add soaked bread, onion, fresh herbs, spices and an egg to bind the mixture. Then shape into small balls, lightly flour and fry with olive oil. Vegetables, hot peppers, mustard, ketchup, citrus zest and alcohol a few only additions.

On top of that, the preparation, in particular the shaping of the balls, may involve more than one person making the process ideal for creative moments between relatives and friends. Something like a tasty creative bonding!

Ingredients

400g minced meat (mixed pork and veal)
150 g stale bread
1 egg
Parsley chopped
½ tsp of the following spices: cinnamon, cloves, cumin, curry, Parpa
1 onion
1 clove garlic
20g ketchup
Olive oil

Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in olive oil.

Soak in water stale bread, squeeze well and add to a bowl with the minced meat, egg, ketchup, parsley, spices, onion and garlic.

Mix well and leave covered in the fridge for half an hour.

Shape into small balls, flour them lightly and fry the meatballs in olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely golden.

Serve with green salad, fried potatoes and yogurt dip.

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