Greek Salad Madness: Zingy Springy Potatosalata!

Appetizer, Greek, Mediterranean, Potato, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian

Dear Franny,

The sun is slowly coming out of its hiding place and the days are getting dramatically longer, which is a wonderful thing. When the sun is out over here, it is absolutely lovely. The grass blades really ignite like greenfire, emitting a neon green glow for miles and miles. (It is one of the little joys that I get from my hour long commute to and from work everyday.) All kinds of flowers are cropping up in the middle of grass patches, and ducks are quacking all around!

In this spirit, I have found myself starting to experiment again with one of my favorite food categories: Cold Salads!

This recipe is a great way to eat potatoes cold, it is really fresh, and a wonderful side dish to any meat, chicken, fish, veggie burger. It is also really flexible in the way that you make it, you can use boiled or grilled potatoes, big or small potatoes, yellow or white, and probably even sweet! any way you make it, it is DELICIOUSNESS HITTING YOUR TASTE-BUDS!!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 3-4 spring onions
  • Handful parsley (chopped)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lemon’s fresh squeezed juice (depends on how juicy your lemons are, or how lemony you a taste you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • Salt & Pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut potatoes into large bite-sized pieces. (I like to use baby potatoes, so that I can keep skin on, and only have to cut in half).
  2. Boil potatoes in salted water, until cooked through. (quickest test is to poke a knife through one of your ‘taters.)
  3. Once cooked drain and quickly rinse with ice cold water. Dry, transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate.
  4. Slice spring onions thinly. Chop parsley. Squeeze lemon’s juice.
  5. Bring potatoes out of the fridge, and add onions, parsley, capers(with a little brine), lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar. Toss carefully, making sure to coat your potatoes thoroughly with dressing, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the potatoes really soak up the yummy flavors, and serve.

If you are cooking with more Latin flavors, substitute the lemon for lime and parsley for cilantro, forget the capers and add a little chopped jalapeno or chili pepper (or sweet paprika)! For an Indo-infused accent you can of course also add curry powder!

Alternatively if you want to eat it as a main dish, you can turn this into a lettuce-less Nicoise, just add a perfectly boiled egg, some tuna, tomatoes, and green beans (which I didn’t have that day). Please do share you favorite combos or twists!

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Greek Madness: New way to eat Xoriatiki

Appetizer, Gluten-free, Greek, Main Course, Mediterranean, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian

Dear Frannnoula,

After adventuring for so long in the flavours and exotic ingredients of the far East, really understanding and appreciating the methodical way of cooking required for such a cuisine. I have landed back on my Greek feet. And well, the truth is that I love Greek food. As long as I was living in Greece, I never had a shortage of great home-cooked Greek meals, really anywhere you go, everyone just makes amazing food. (It obviously helps that the places I went were: home, Yiayia M.’s home, and Yiayia Z.’s house!) However, now, I need to remember how to make it again!

For warm up round, I decided I would start with the most basic food of them all.

Xoriatiki (horiatiki) is the well known “Greek salad”; the one with no lettuce or ready made dressing(no, ABSOLUTELY NEVER). The key to success and true genius of this salad are found in 2 things. First, only use freshest, most fragrant, in-season, sunkissed vegetables. Second, the better the olive oil, the better your salad will taste. This salad is not a dainty salad, is it a rough cut, rustic type of salad, so no need to whip out your knife skills on this one. In fact, it only tastes right if it is roughly chopped, if you almost need a knife to cut the tomatoes into smaller, actual bite size, pieces.

Last week, when we had some friends for dinner, one of them asked me how I dealt with the quality(or lack thereof) of the vegetables available in Oxford. And my response was “I try to work around it”. So no, this post is not about xoriatiki, as you would have it in Greece, it is about how to eat xoriatiki outside of Greece (and out of season).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 500g (2 cups) Cherry Tomatoes* quartered
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 9 olives sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 100 gr feta (1/2 cup)
  • Oregano

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put a frying pan over medium heat. Once it is warmed up, pour in 1 tbsp olive oil and swirl around to coat the whole bottom of the pan.
  2. Add garlic and onion and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  3. Add peppers and cook until they start to become tender, 5 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, olives, vinegar and remaining olive oil, cook until heated through, 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place on a dish and garnish with thick chunky slice of feta and oregano, and ENJOY!

*You can use any kind of tomato you like, this one is the only one that has a tomato taste, over here. this time of year.

Cooking all of these ingredients, brings out their natural sweetness and help to make the tomatoes as sweet as they are during the summer months!

Hope you had a great weekend!!

Φιλάκια!!

Disney Princess Half Marathon: Ginger Garbanzo and Peppers Salad

Appetizer, Indian, Salad, Thai, Vegetarian

Hi Mati!

I hope that you are feeling better after. your last post.

Well, I am just getting around to writing about my meal last Friday which was a TOTAL success. I got a lot of help from my mom and my aunt that made delicious Salmon and Beef and I took care of the rest.  I really have no idea how working moms do it all. Not that I am a mom or a soon to be mom, but every time I put together an event on a day that I work, I cannot imagine doing the same when children are in the picture.

My weekend was great! Packed and didn’t have much time for resting.  Friday night we had dinner at our place and we  had 13 people over for dinner. Saturday morning we packed the car early and headed towards Orlando with my in-laws for a wedding. That night A dropped me off at the Disney Hotels because I was waking up at 3:00AM on Sunday to ran the half marathon.  Mati, what an amazing accomplishment to finish that race, 13.1 miles running nonstop…well only to take pictures with the different Disney characters.  There were about 13,000 people running, mostly women, there were only 95 men I think.  When I saw the finish line I almost hyperventilated from the excitement. Here are my times and positions:

Francine's Race Times

Then we spent the whole day at Epcot walking and enjoying the beautiful day.

So, what have I been cooking?

Friday I made a yummy Ginger Garbanzo salad with peppers and  a flavorful vegetable curry. I also made Poppy Seed cake for my mom’s birthday and I will post them all separately.

Here are the recipes.

Ginger Garbanzo and Peppers  Salad

I got this recipe about a year ago from the NYTimes- Mark Bittman. Sometimes they have his 4 minute recipe on the front page in the form of a video and I have played with this recipe a lot. I absolutely love it!  And Mark Bittman is great. Take a look at his site: http://www.markbittman.com/ and his site on the NYT.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cumin seeds or ground cumin

3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (rinse canned ones)

3 bell peppers, red, yellow, orange, or green; cored, seeded and diced (You can use all colors too)

1 red onion, diced

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced, or more to taste

1 tablespoon sugar, optional but recommended

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

Directions

1. In a dry pan, toast cumin seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind to a powder using a spice mill, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. If using ground cumin, lightly toast.

2. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients but cilantro. (You can prepare dish up to this point in advance; let sit for up to 2 hours.)

3. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if you like, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

* I did not add the onion because my dad does not like onions much but it adds delicioso flavor to the mix!

בתאבון!

Twist on Greek-Style Stuffed Veggies

Greek, Main Course, Vegetarian

Hi Franeroula!!

What have you been cooking lately?

It’s been really cold and grey outside these days, so I really wanted to make something that would be warm and soothing to my soul. So Sunday, I decided to prepare some baked stuffed Greek-style veggies, with a healthier twist! and they turned out YUMMY!!!!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 coloured peppers (2 green, 2 yellow)
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (400gr)
  • 2-3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • chopped fresh parsley (1 handfull)
  • 8 tbsp white rice (shorter grain {risotto rice})
  • 4 tbsp wild rice (extra long grain)
  • 1/3 cup mixed raisins (large, blonde, regular, currants)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)
  2. Wash all veggies thoroughly. Carefully cut a small little hat out from the tops of each vegetable, set it to the side. With a small spoon hollow out the contents of the tomatoes and eggplant into a bowl, being careful not to pierce the skins. Clean out the peppers, and discard seeds. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt, to prevent from browning. Arrange the vegetables neatly in a baking dish so that they fit snugly against each other, this support is really important once they soften during the course of their baking.
  3. In a large skillet, sautee the onion and 3/4 cup olive oil. Once the onion has begun frying, add the rice. Sautee together. Finely chop the eggplant and tomato contents. Add to the frying pan, with 1/2 can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and parsley. Add 1/2 cup water and simmer. When the majority of the liquid has been absorbed, reduce heat, add the raisins.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp brown sugar into each vegetable, and fill to 2/3 with rice mixture (as the rice will swell up during baking). Pour 1 tbsp water into each vegetable, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sugar again, and close each vegetable’s lid. Pour water to fill can of tomatoes, stir with a spoon. Pour contents over all your stuffed vegetables, add remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for about an hour. Serve while hot with feta.

Can’t wait to read all about what you’ve been cooking up!

Many kisses,

Mati