Greek island food

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

greek wrap

After a couple days with my friends in Rome, I hoped on a cruise that sailed through the Mediterranean. Our first stop was in Santorini, Greece, the idyllic island with the famous blue domed churches. We climbed a staircase for about 20 minutes in the hot sun and had to dodge donkeys on the way. The view from the top was spectacular and perfect for a honeymooning couple.

We walked around the island and when hunger struck, I tried to find a falafel. For some reason, every donair shop was out so I just got a plain vegetable wrap. The pita was warm, chewy and soft and the vegetables were crisp and refreshing. The tahini and tzatziki sauce were tasty on the fries.

Lily in Santorini

A few days later we stopped on the famous party island of Mykonos. We found a nice restaurant in the village near the pier and enjoyed a feast. I ordered a few items that I had never tried before and was very excited for the authentic meal. We got a delicious beet salad with yogurt and dill that was creamy but very light.

The next appetizer that I tried was the zucchini fritters. They were in a thick batter and a bit chewy with a crunchy exterior. They were much heavier than the beet salad. One of my favourites was the fried feta which came with onions, peppers and zucchini fried in with the cheese which we ate on bread. Wow, it was amazing. The cheese thickened a bit and was slightly stringy and the flavours of the veggies were infused into the cheese.

mykonos meal

The last item that we ordered was a big flop. We ordered a strong cheese which came on top of bread with slices of tomatoes and tzatziki on the side. We all found the cheese unbearably overpowering and let it be. The cheese was so strong that I could not even get the taste out of my mouth the next day. I had an amazing time in Greece and have always loved their food. I can’t wait to find these new recipes.

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Pola’s Summer Salad

July 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

To celebrate the beginning of the summer, my friend threw a party and served this amazing summer salad. When I asked her how she made it, she said that she basically threw together some ingredients that were in her fridge. The salad was very fresh and juicy and like a fusion of a greek and fruit salad. It is one of the best salads that I’ve had in a long time and I will be definitely taking this to my next bbq.

watermelon cut into 3/4 – 1 inch pieces
strawberries cut in half
cucumbers cut in quarters lengthwise and into 1 -1 1/4 inch pieces
red pepper cut into long thin strips
cooked quinoa
crumbled feta
sliced almonds
dried cranberries
roughly chopped dill
roughly chopped mint
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a big bowl, toss and serve.

Rainbow Swiss Chard Pie

October 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

My daughter loves Greek food, and has since the age of two. For years her family birthday celebration was held at her favourite Greek restaurant. Everyone found it intriguing that a young girl of Indian descent would have such an appreciation for Greek food .We would joke that she must have been Greek in a past life.  To this day she argues that feta is a legitimate snack.  

After some coaxing, my daughter convinced me to make homemade spanokopita. I was surprised at how simple the ingredients are and that spanokopita is fairly easy to make. I decided to try substituting the spinach for rainbow swiss chard which is how I came up with this recipe. Swiss chard is much firmer than spinach and contains less water which makes it easier to roll.

Swiss chard is a part of the chenopod group of vegetables along with spinach and beets.  Chard has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and the phytonutrients in chard help regulate the body’s blood sugar levels. Surprisingly, one cup of cooked chard contains 3.5 grams of protein.

Cooking time 75 minutes
prep time 45 minutes
bake time 30 minutes
Makes 6 pies
Oven temp 375 F

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tbsp (25 ml) olive oil
1/2 cup (125 ml) diced onions
7 cups (1.75 L) rainbow swiss chard
1/4 tsp (1 ml) sea salt
1/4 (65 ml) cup chopped dill with stems removed
1 cup (250 ml) crumbled feta cheese
1 cup (250 ml) ricotta cheese

250 grams (1/2 pound) phyllo pastry
1/4 cup (65 ml) olive oil or butter for basting

Directions:
1. Cut the stems off swiss chard and slice into 1/8 ” pieces and place into a bowl and set aside. Cut the swiss chard leave into 1 inch pieces and set aside.

2. Heat a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Cook until the onions are transparent about 1-2 mins. Add the chard stems and cook for 3-5 mins until tender.

3. Add the chard leaves and cook covered for about 2-3 minutes until chard wilts.

4.Uncover and cook for another 5-8 minutes until the chard is thoroughly cooked and most of the moisture evaporates.

5. Add salt, turn off heat, add dill and stir.

6. Transfer the chard into a small bowl and allow to cool.

7. Add ricotta and feta cheese to the swiss  chard and mix together.

8. Gently unroll the phyllo pastry and place on a flat cutting board or baking sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel to prevent drying.

9. Take two layers of phyllo and place on  flat surface. Take 3 heaping tbsp of filling and place near one corner of the phyllo.

10. Slip your hand under the phyllo and gently fold over and tuck in the corner.

11. Fold again.

12. Fold in left side.

13. Roll forward.

14. Tuck right side in.

15. Roll forward and tuck in the ends.

16. Place upside down on a baking sheet and brush with oil or butter, applying extra to folded pastry. Turn over and do the same on the other side.

17. Bake in the oven at 375 F for 30 minutes or until the pastry becomes flaky and golden.

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