Showing posts with label Greece. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greece. Show all posts

Traditional stuffed peppers and tomatoes - Gemista

Stuffed peppers and tomatoes is a very traditional and popular summer dish in Greece while the vegetables are in season. This is also one of my favorite Greek dishes. The tomatoes are medium size, firm, ripe and juicy. The peppers are small and so tender that you don’t need to peel the skin when cooked. I have experimented with different type of peppers. There are only two types that can be stuffed; bell peppers and cubanelle peppers. Cubanelle peppers have thinner skin than the regular bell peppers. I find them the closest to the peppers I find in Greece.

My mother used to make mainly peppers and tomatoes, but the peppers were the only ones I would eat. Sometimes she’d stuff eggplants too. The eggplants in Greece are also small; what we call here in the US baby eggplant. When my mother made this dish during the summer, she made it mainly vegetarian. On occasion she’d use ground beef. The vegetarian version is with rice and different vegetables. When I make the vegetarian version, I use chopped carrots, and if I stuff zucchini or eggplant, I will incorporate the flesh in the stuffing along with herbs like parsley and dill.

There are many different versions of gemista – or yemista. My mother in law used raisins and pine nuts in the vegetarian version. The raisins give them a sweeter taste and the pine nuts some crunch.

I often make this delectable stuffed peppers, tomatoes and eggplant dish. Living in the US we can find these vegetables year round, (they are being shipped here from warmer climates). Sometimes I will make them vegetarian style, and other times I will use ground turkey. I usually make enough so that I can give some to my daughters. They also freeze well, especially the peppers. Tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini are best eaten first if you are planning in freezing some. You can place the uncooked stuffed peppers in a separate dish, cover them tightly with saran wrap and aluminum foil and freeze them. When you need them you can take them out, pour some olive oil, a little bit of tomato sauce, season and bake them in the oven. They will taste as good as the day you made them. Another option is to cook all of them, and freeze the stuffed peppers in an airtight container. When you need them, you can take them out of the freezer early in the morning, then warm them up in the oven for about ½ hour till heated through. Now you have dinner ready in minutes.

These will take an hour to prepare and about two hours to cook in the oven. But it’s worth all the effort. Enjoy them with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a slice of feta and some fresh crusty bread on the side. A glass of red wine will also go nicely.

Enjoy!

Stuffed Peppers, Tomatoes and Baby Eggplant

Makes 13 servings about 15 oz each serving

½ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 lbs ground turkey
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped dill
1 cup chopped eggplant (the flesh)
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (the flesh)
½ cup rice
3 large tomatoes
5 cubanelle peppers
5 baby eggplants
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
14 oz diced tomatoes

Directions
Wash, clean and peel the baby eggplant (as you see in the picture).   Hollow out the eggplant and chop the flesh. Set aside. Wash the tomatoes. Hollow out the tomatoes and chop the flesh. Set aside. Wash the cubanelle peppers, cut the top, and remove the seeds. Set aside. Wash, peel and chop the onion. Set aside. Wash, peel and shred the carrots. Set aside. Wash and chop the parsley and the dill. Set aside.

In a large skillet add the 1/2 cup olive oil, and the chopped onions. Sauté till lightly browned. Add the ground turkey. Sauté till cooked through. Add the carrots and the flesh from the eggplant and sauté. Add 1 cup of the diced tomato flesh. Add the 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup water and cook till the rice is slightly cooked. Add the salt and pepper. Stir. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large oven proof pan, 13x10 assemble the vegetables. Take one by one and fill with the mixture. When the pan is full and all the vegetables are stuffed, drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper, the remaining cup of the chopped tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes. Add 1 can (14 oz) of water. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours, uncovered, till the vegetable are tender and slightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and serve.

Nutrition Facts Serving Size 15.708 oz (445.3g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 272
Calories from Fat 124
Total Fat 13.8g
Saturated Fat 2.1g
Cholesterol 26mg
Sodium 139mg
Total Carbohydrates 27.8g
Dietary Fiber 10.5g
Sugars 9.8g
Protein 13.8g 







After Greek Easter holiday customs, traditions and celebrations



This year our Greek Easter was the same time as the Catholic. The holiday is already gone but we don’t stop wishing everyone Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen) and Hronia Polla (meaning = many years) till Holy Pentecost which occurs 50 days after Easter Sunday.

While it feels great when Greek Easter is the same time as the Catholic, it does have its ups and downs. The stores are busier, you can’t find everything you need, and the lines at the checkouts are atrocious. However, I can’t help but feel this exhilaration when our Easter is the same time as the Catholic. The Greek church is full of people during the Greek Holy Week, and especially on our Good Friday (we don’t call it Good Friday; in Greece, and in Greek our Good Friday is called Great and Holy Friday – but that’s for another post).

After we celebrate our Easter Sunday, by stuffing ourselves with lamb (a recipe post for another time), meatballs (link), tzatziki sauce (link), tsourekia and red colored egg, then we try to detox the following few days. In Greece, while life goes on the same way as before the holidays, the good wishes continue till Holy Pentecost. When you meet or call someone you know, or when you enter a store to buy something, you wish them Christos Anesti (Christ is Risen), and they respond with Alithos Anesti (He is truly Risen). Or with the most common wish Hronia Polla (many years).

There are a few holidays after Easter that people celebrate. The Sunday after Easter is the Sunday of Thomas which commemorates the appearance of Jesus to his disciples eight days after his resurrection. When Jesus first appeared to his disciples after His resurrection and said: “Peace be with you”, Thomas was not present and did not believe it. Eight days later, the Sunday after Easter, the disciples gathered again while Thomas was present. That’s when Jesus appeared once more and Thomas believed and said: “My Lord, my God”. Anyone who is named Thomas, or Tom, even the female version of Thomas which is Thomai (pronounced: Tho-ma-eé) celebrates his/her name day on this day. That’s when we wish them “Hronia Polla”.

The other holiday that is celebrated after Easter is St. George’s. It is on April 23rd but if it falls during our Greek Holy Week, the celebratory day is moved to Easter Monday. St. George was a Christian martyr, but he is also depicted in icons as the dragon slayer. Anyone named Georgios (the Greek name for George), George, Georgina, Georgia, will be celebrating their name day. Even though St. George’s day is not a public holiday in Greece, if it’s celebrated on Easter Monday, it’s considered a holiday. This year, St. George’s day falls on Sunday April 23rd, which is also the Sunday of Thomas. There will be many homes in Greece who will be celebrating.

Since my brother was named George, and later on my father in law, I always, in a way, felt St. George’s day as a holiday. I used to send them a card and in later years called them and wished them Hronia Polla.

While I was growing up, my mother made preparations for my brother’s name day. Relatives and friends would come and visit, to wish him Hronia Polla. On many occasions my mother ended up making tsourekia (link) and koulourakia (link) again, since we basically devoured them. Along with tsourekia and koulourakia she’d offer the chocolate sweets that you’d find at the local zaharoplasteio (za-ha-ro-pla-steéo)-sweet shops- that carry everything from chocolate sweets, to beautiful decorated cakes, ice cream, and anything you heart desires. I haven’t found a sweet shop here in the States that’s anything like the sweet shops in Greece.

The next big religious holiday is Holy Pentecost. This is a three day holiday in Greece. Holy Pentecost is celebrated each year on the 50th day after Easter Sunday. Pentecost comes from the Greek word Pentikosti (Pe-nti-ko-steé) which means 50. It’s the day the Holy Spirit appeared to the Apostles while they were gathered around in one room. After the appearance of the Holy Spirit, tongues of fire sat upon each of the Apostles thus giving them the ability to speak in different languages. There are many icons depicting this. And so it begins the teachings of the Gospel and Jesus work as we know it nowadays.

When Holy Pentecost is over, we stop wishing everyone Hronia Polla, or Christos Anesti. The Easter or Pascha (Pa-ska, as it is called in Greek) season is over.

Hronia Polla and Christos Anesti!

Enjoy!



Smyrneika Soutzoukakia in Domatosaltsa - Sausages from Smyrna in Tomato Sauce and as appetizers with Tzatziki sauce

Smyrneika soutzoukakia or sausages from Smyrna is a very traditional dish in Greece. Its originality comes from Smyrna thus the name Smyrneika. Smyrna – which is now called Izmir - is situated in the outskirts of Turkey across from the island of Chios, Greece. You can get to Smyrna from Chios by ferryboat in only 30 minutes. The dish is brought to Greece by Greek refugees from Asia Minor in the early 1920’s when the Greek and Armenian genocide took place.

Smyrneika soutzoukakia are served, traditionally, over rice, mashed potatoes or French fries and are usually made with ground beef. My mother and sister in law used to mix the rice with the ground beef. I have a Greek – quite old cookbook - that states the same. In this recipe, I decided to omit the rice, and instead of serving them over rice, I served them over orzo. I also used ground turkey instead of ground beef. You can use ground beef if you would like. It tastes equally good.

You can serve the soutzoukakia (sausages) with tzatziki sauce as an appetizer, with my domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) that I specifically created for them, or you can cook them in the domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) and serve them over orzo, rice, mashed potatoes. I have also served them in the past with gluten free orzo, and instead of regular breadcrumbs in the meat mixture I used gluten free breadcrumbs. The sausages can also be fried once you lightly coat them in flour.  I don't usually fry any foods, so these ones I baked them in the oven.  Enjoy!

Smyrneika Soutzoukakia - Ground turkey sausages from Smyrna

Makes 30 servings (approximately 1.3 oz each)

2 lbs ground turkey
½ cup shredded onion
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. olive oil to coat the cookie sheet

Peel and shred the onion and the garlic. Set aside. Wash and chop the parsley.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, the bread crumbs, the parsley, the shredded onion and garlic, the cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Mix well together and shape into 3" long sausages. About 1.3 oz each.

The sausages (soutzoukakia) before they go into the oven

Preheat oven to 400° F. Use the ½ tbsp. of olive oil and brush a cookie sheet. Place the sausages on the cookie sheet and bake for about 40-45 minutes turning around in between, till lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.

After they come out of the oven

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1.284 oz (36.4g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 74
Calories from Fat 38
Total Fat 4.2g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 31mg
Sodium 124mg
Potassium 97mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.7g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 0.2g
Protein 8.6g

Domatosaltsa For Smyrneika Soutzoukakia

Tomato sauce specific for Smyrneika soutzoukakia to dip or to serve with the soutzoukakia over rice, orzo or mashed potatoes.

Makes 6 servings (approximately 8.3 oz each serving)

¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
14 ½ oz diced tomatoes
15 oz tomato sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cumin

In a large saucepan, sauté the diced onion in the olive oil. When the onion is transparent, add the diced garlic. Sauté for a minute or two, but don't burn it. Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce (the can and the cup) and one cup water. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Add the cumin, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add the oven baked cooked sausages.  Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Serve over orzo, or rice or mashed potatoes.  Or serve the domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) on the side as a dipping sauce for the soutzoukakia.

Served over orzo in domatosaltsa (tomato sauce)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 8.148 oz (231g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 131
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 8.9g
Saturated Fat 1.3g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 983mg
Potassium 643mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.8g
Dietary Fiber 3.6g
Sugars 7.9g
Protein 2.8g

Tzatziki Sauce
Makes 28 servings (approximately 2 tbsp. each serving)

16 oz reduced fat sour cream
8 oz Greek, Non-Fat, Plain Yogurt (oz)
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 tsp. garlic
2 tbsp. dill
2½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients together, refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (31.4 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 43
Calories from Fat 32
Total Fat 3.6g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 6mg
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.3g
Dietary Fiber 0.1g
Sugars 0.4g
Protein 1.4g

Served with Tzatziki sauce and with the Tomato sauce as appetizers

Note:  The sausages freeze well by themselves.  The same with the tomato sauce.  You can freeze them if you are making a big batch of either of these dishes (except of course the tzatziki sauce).  I froze them in the past and heat them up in either the microwave or in the oven.  Or I would defrost the sausages and the tomato sauce and then cook them in low heat till heated through.   


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Greek Almond Macaroons - Ergolavi or Amygdalota Gluten-free

You can find these cookies at the sweet shops all over Greece. I always loved them, and wanted to make them. Since I can't find them in North America, the closest recipe I came up with, tasting anything close to these cookies, were the coconut macaroons that I used to make every Christmas while we were in Canada. When a neighbor in Greece told me that the only thing these cookies needed were some egg whites, ground almonds and sugar, ...well then, I had to try to make them on my own. With a little of experimentation I perfected the recipe ingredients and here they are: the Greek Almond Cookies or Ergolavi (I have no idea where the name "Ergolavi" came from, and I don't think anyone in Greece does either*) or Amygdalota (meaning made from almonds) as they are called in Greece. They are easy to make and they are gluten free. Enjoy!

Makes 27 servings approximately 1.2 oz each

3 cups finely ground almonds - pulverized
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 egg whites
½ tsp vanilla
1¼ cup slivered almonds

Melted butter for the cookie sheets and the palms of your hands to roll the cookies -- about 6 tbsp.

Beat the egg whites with the sugar. Add the pulverized ground almonds, and vanilla. Mix well together. Grease 2 cookie sheets generously with butter. Also, grease your palms with butter while shaping the cookies. Shape them into 1 1/4" balls. Roll in slivered almonds. Place on cookie sheet far apart. Cookies will spread.

Before they go in the oven

Bake at 325° F oven for 20-25 minutes till the edges are brown and they are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. Let them cool before removing them from the pan, and place them in an airtight container or they will dry out.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1.097 oz (31.1g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 134
Calories from Fat 67
Total Fat 7.4g
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Total Carbohydrates 15.6g
Dietary Fiber 1.8g
Sugars 13.0g
Protein 3.6g

Ready to serve!  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


*Note: If anyone looking at my website knows where the name "Ergolavi" has come from, please feel free to email me or put it in the comments below.



If you try this recipe and like it please comment below. If you like what you see on this blog, feel free to follow it and share with your friends.  If you have any questions post them in the comments box.



In case you are wondering why I haven’t updated my blog in 4 months, there is a good reason for it. I was in Greece for the whole summer; something that I wanted to do for a long time. I had been back to Greece other times of the year, but I hadn’t been back there during the summer since 2000. I had forgotten how hot and stifling it can get in the summer months; but it was something that I wanted to do for a long time so I welcomed the heat and the warmth of the bright sun.

We left in the middle of June and returned in the middle of September. It was an anxiety-ridden preparation since we had to take my little shih tzu, Nappy, with us. Papers needed to be prepared for his departure, shots that he had to get and getting to the Secretary of State for signatures so that we can bring him back. Then my preparation for the trip began. What to take, how much can I fit in the suitcase, and what do I need to put in my carry on.

The day arrived and we, along with my Nappy, boarded the plane for Frankfurt, Germany and then to Athens. After 20 long hours of travel (our layover time in Frankfurt was four hours) we all arrived in Athens, safe and sound. As soon as I got off the plane, I took a deep breath and while choking back my tears, I inhaled that distinct smell of warm weather mixed with the smell of pollution, and the occasional smell of pine resin.

We stayed in Athens for a couple of days, then rented a car and drove up to Salonika, the city that I was born. On the way up, we stopped at a seaside restaurant and sat at a table under an umbrella, watching the water crash to the shore, while waiting for our lunch to arrive.
Kamena Vourla beach on the way to Athens.  This seaside town is only 2 hours north of Athens.

You are probably wondering what our lunch consisted off. It was, of course, the traditional gyro with french fries, while my shih tzu had the chicken kabob. (I’m sure the Greeks around me were looking at me funny).

We spent a month and a half in Salonica.
The White Tower in Salonika. 

We visited places that I craved to see, ate foods that I could not get the same taste here in the States (something to do with the produce over there; I think less preservatives) or simply don’t exist, and took pictures. Tons and tons of pictures. We went to the beach and my Nappy came with us. We went to Chalkidiki where all the popular and clean beaches are.
My little shih tzu, Nappy at Kallithea Beach, Chalkidiki

We had our anniversary meal at Ergon Deli at Porto Sani Village - a resort village that operates from April to October. The food was exquisite and the presentation even better. We had fries smothered with different cheeses from other places in Greece, zucchini fritters, taramosalata (carp roe spread mixed with garlic and day old bread) melitzanosalata (grilled eggplant dip) and a beautiful baby arugula salad drenched in balsamic vinaigrette.
Ergon Deli meal at Sani Resort.  You can find more about Sani Resort in the following link:

At the beginning of August we began our second leg of the trip – our way to Chios island. We drove back to Athens, took the ferry boat and arrived in Chios on a Sunday afternoon. The island was busy with tourists from all over Europe and Turkey. The sun was bright and the sky was so blue you’d think a painter decided to take the blue color in the palette and paint it.
The Mills in the city of Chios

The whole time we were there, we were hoping for a cloud to pass by and conceal the sun for a few minutes. Unfortunately, no (or should I say “fortunately” for us?). We accepted it and enjoyed it, because we knew back home we’d have plenty of cloudy days.

While at our stay in Greece we tasted everything we could get our hands on. From gyro and their cheesy fries,
Cheesy fries and gyro!

 to gelato ice cream,
They have the most delicious mini ice creams.  The perfect size to satisfy a sweet craving!

and their syrupy sweets,
Syrupy sweets!

to fried calamari and grilled octopus, fresh caught the same day (I’m sorry but I forgot to take a picture of that meal;  I was too absorbed digging into it.) We walked to most places even in the heat. The island had a breeze all the time and it felt good even if it were hot.

The three months went by and we had to come back. I came back refreshed, with new ideas for creating recipes for my website. I’m not sure if they will taste as good as the ones I had over there; but I will definitely try to recreate the tastes and flavors. I learned how to make a St. Fanourios cake that is celebrated on August 27th. And smyrneika soutzoukakia (ground pork or beef sausages from Smyrna – thus the word smyrneika). And I perfected my spinach pie by adding more greens (horta)[1] to it. Going back was another extraordinary experience; and even though I’ve been back to Greece numerous times every time I go back is an added appreciation of how beautiful that country is.

Stay tuned for new recipes. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures while I prepare to post my take on melitzanosalata (eggplant dip).






[1]Greens or Horta are the collard greens, mustard greens, dandelions, dark green endives. All these are used, along with spinach, in spinach pie or just by themselves to make hortopita – a medley of greens into a pie.

Ground turkey spaghetti sauce or Makaronia me kima

Per my daughter’s request, I’m posting my Greek style Bolognese sauce or Makaronia me kima (pronounced ma ka ro nia me kee mah) , which approximately translates to “Spaghetti with meat sauce”, or as I have always called it “spaghetti sauce”. My daughter happened to walk in as soon as I finished making this sauce. She commented that the house smelled wonderfully from all the herbs and spices, and asked if I could make some and freeze it for her to have on hand, when she is on her own. Of course, I granted her request.

Bolognese sauce originated from Bologna, Italy, and while this style of meat sauce incorporates vegetables in it, like carrots and celery, the Greek style spaghetti sauce, like my mother used to make, omits these vegetables. I have tried it with shredded carrots and diced green peppers, when I have the time; but most likely, I will make it the way it is made below. The Greek version is quick and quite easy. No long hours of cooking so that the wine will evaporate like the Italian version. Within an hour, you have a sauce that you can serve either on whole-wheat pasta, gluten free pasta or over spaghetti. You can substitute the ground turkey with ground beef, as the actual Greek translation of “kima”(kee mah) means ground beef (my mother always made it with ground beef). Sprinkle some shredded romano cheese, or like my mother used to shred kefalotyri (pronounced ke fa lo ty reh) similar to romano cheese, or kasseri (pronounced ka se reh) cheese which is similar to provolone or muenster cheese but a bit harder when it’s aged. Enjoy!

Ground turkey spaghetti sauce or Makaronia me kima 

Makes 10 servings

½ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsps chopped garlic
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
15 oz tomato sauce
15 oz diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chopped basil
1-1 ½ cans of water

Dice the onion and garlic. Chop the basil and parsley. Set aside. In a deep saucepan sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add the ground turkey. Sauté till browned. Continue stirring and add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add one–one and a half cans of water; let it come to a boil and then simmer for about an hour till most of the liquid is absorbed.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (183.5 g)
Amount per Serving
Calories 274
Calories from Fat 174
Total Fat 19.3g
Saturated Fat 3.8g
Cholesterol 69mg
Sodium 534mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.0g
Dietary Fiber 1.8g
Sugars 3.5g
Protein 20.0g




Cabbage rolls in Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce)


Cabbage rolls in Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce) is a traditional Greek winter food.  When I was working full time I would make this dish, on weekends – usually on a Sunday - and have left overs the next day.  It’s a dish that I avoided making often because of the time it consumed.  Of course, you are not going to make this dish every week, or you will get tired of it, like any other type of food that you eat often.  There is a less consuming type of cabbage rolls that you can make; and that is without preparing the filling on the stove; but instead mixing all the ingredients together raw.  The only thing you will need to do is boil the cabbage leaves.  I found that type of preparation though, a bit heavy on the stomach.  My mother will always cook the filling on the stove (as per recipe below).  In the past I used to mix it raw, but when I quit work, I decided to make it the way my mother used to make it.  And Dah! No heartburn, no acid reflux, no heaviness on the stomach (this is on individual preference; it does not affect some people like others).  So from then on, I decided, since I love this dish so much, to cook the filling. 

There is also another way of cooking the cabbage rolls, and that is baking them in the oven in tomato sauce.  Instead of cooking them on the stove, you layer the cabbage rolls in an ovenproof pan, in a single layer, pour a 14 oz can of tomato sauce on top, mixed with 1 cup of water, add the ½-cup olive oil, and bake at 350° for about one hour to an hour and a half.   This way is also very delicious.  But for now enjoy this wonderful dish in the Avgolemono sauce. 

Cabbage rolls in Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce) 

Ingredients (Makes 46 servings)

46 cabbage leaves

To boil the cabbage:

8 quarts of water for 1 large cabbage
2 large cabbages about 3lbs each

For the filling:

1 ½ lbs ground turkey
1 cup rice
½  cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped dill
1 tsp salt or according to taste
½ tsp ground pepper
1 ½ cups water

For cooking:

2 1/2 cups water – enough to cover the cabbage rolls
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt

Avgolemono - Egg and lemon sauce:

1 egg
½ cup lemon juice

Directions:

Wash and remove the outer leaves of the cabbage.  Place it in a large pot with water and boil.  As the cabbage leaves soften, remove the leaves by cutting them at the core.  Place them in a colander to strain.  When all the leaves are cooked, leave them in the colander to strain and cool.  Make sure that you don’t over boil the leaves, otherwise when you try to roll them, they will tear.  

In a large frying pan, add the olive oil, and saute the onions and the ground turkey.  Add the rice, salt, parsley, dill, pepper, and water and let it cook for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  The rice will not be fully cooked.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 

At the bottom of a dutch oven, place the small cabbage leaves, enough to cover the bottom of the pot. 
Take one large cabbage leaf, cut the core, and place a teaspoon of the filling on it.  Roll once covering the filling, then fold the sides and continue to roll till you make a nice oblong shape (see picture below).  Place it in the dutch oven and repeat, till done.  These will make about 2 rows of cabbage rolls – 46 pieces total.  Cover the cabbage rolls with the rest of the small cabbage leaves that you have leftover. 

Place the pot on the stove and pour the ½ cup olive oil, ½ tsp salt and 2 ½ cups water and let it simmer for 1 hour till cooked.  When slightly cooled, prepare the egg and lemon sauce. 

Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce):

Separate the egg yolk from the egg white.  Place the egg white in a bowl.  Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon, about ½ cup.  Beat the egg white till frothy.  Add the egg yolk and continue beating.  Add the lemon juice while still beating and slowly pour the mixture into the cabbage rolls.  Swish the pan around so that the egg and lemon sauce will distribute evenly.  Serve. 

 Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving (55.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 97Calories from Fat 60
Total Fat 6.7g
Saturated Fat 1.2g
Cholesterol 15mg
Sodium 71mg
Total Carbohydrates 4.5g
Dietary Fiber 0.5g
Sugars 0.6g
Protein 4.6g
The raw cabbage

The filling

Layering the bottom of the pan with the small cabbage leaves

Assembling the cabbage rolls

Adding the filling

Rolling the cabbage 

Folding the cabbage

The cabbage roll in the final folding stage

Layering the pot with the cabbage rolls - tightly together

Layering with the remaining cabbage leaves on top

The cooked cabbage rolls with Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce) 

The finished product.  Delicious!




Kourabiedes or Greek Almond Cookies in Icing sugar

During the Christmas holidays in Greece, my mother used to make these traditional Greek cookies called Kourabiedes drenched in icing sugar. I used to love these cookies growing up. The only problem was that you had to have a plate to eat them otherwise the icing sugar will be all over your clothes or on the floor. I used to sneak in the dining room where my mother kept the kourabiedes on a glass tray to just sample one, but I had to make sure that I didn’t drop any of the icing sugar on the floor or I’d be in trouble. Kourabiedes are very customary cookies to make during Christmas in Greece. Over the years I began making these icing sugar drenched delights for my own family traditions.  Enjoy!

Kourabiedes Greek Almond Cookies in Icing sugar      

Makes 64 cookies (approximately 1oz each)

1 lbs unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup ground almonds, toasted
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
3.5 - 4 cups flours (keep the 1/4  -1/2 cups separate)
4 cups icing sugar or as much or less as it takes


In a nonstick frying pan toast the ground almonds with ¼ tsp. of the icing sugar. Toast it for about 5 minutes but do not let it brown. Remove from heat and let it cool.

With an electric mixer beat the butter till soft. Add the icing sugar while continue beating. Add the egg yolks, the vanilla, the baking powder, the whiskey and the cooled ground almonds, while beating continuously. Gradually add the flour and beat well. Turn the mixer off. With your hands knead the dough lightly. Pour a little bit of the 1/4 cup flour on your hands so the dough won’t stick to your hands. Keep kneading the dough by adding the 1/4 cup flour over your hands, till done. Add more flour as needed. When the dough pulls away from the bowl stop kneading.   The dough will be sticky.  If it's too sticky, place in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes so it will be easy to form the cookies.

Take about a spoonful of the dough and roll it between your hands into 1'' ball. Shape them into 1/2 moons or ovals or rounds. Place them in an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them in a preheated 350° oven for 18-20 minutes. The cookies shouldn't brown. They should be almost white on top. When the edges become lightly browned take them out of the oven. 

While still warm, place them in a bowl that’s filled with the icing sugar. Coat them well with the icing sugar and place them in a platter. Shift the remaining icing sugar on top. You will have extra icing sugar left over. You can use it as you serve the cookies to freshen them up.  You can drench them in icing sugar or dip them in melted chocolate. Either tastes equally good. The Greek way is with icing sugar.

Nutrition Facts 
Serving Size 0.878 oz (24.9g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 119
Calories from Fat 60
Total Fat 6.7g
 Saturated Fat 3.8g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 22mg
Sodium 41mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.7g
Dietary Fiber 0.4g
Sugars 8.4g
Protein 1.1g



Right out of the oven


 
Drenched in icing sugar


  
Or half dipped in chocolate!




Merry Christmas! Enjoy!


Ground Turkey Meatballs


Fried meatballs, French fries, fried banana peppers and even fried zucchini and fried eggplant were typical Saturday dinner foods while I was growing up in Greece. Saturday was the day that my mother used to do all the groceries (which is still very common there; everything is closed on Sundays in Greece, even now). Her day was packed from early in the morning till around 2:00 in the afternoon. She had to go to the baker for fresh bread to last till Monday; the butcher for meat to have for the weekend, the grocer to get milk and condiments, and the market for veggies. By the time she was all done it was time for everyone to gather for the mid- afternoon meal which was around 3:00-4:00 in the afternoon.

I used to go to school on Saturdays too. School there was 6 days – not 5 as it is here. (I am not sure, but I think now it is only 5 days). So when I‘d come home from school, my task was to help my mother with the food preparation and cooking. I used to love Saturday afternoons. All of us gathered in the house, no matter what the weather. Since these types of foods were mostly cooked in the summer, I remember the hot summer days, with all the doors and windows open, listening to the cicadas while most people were taking their afternoon siesta. The quietness of the summer heat, that you did not only feel but could hear… and yet our house was lively with conversation and recapping the week’s events. I loved those Saturdays and still remember them and cherish them. 

As for the meatball recipe, it is my mother’s recipe. She never used a cookbook or followed a recipe. She would just whip them up, and voila, we had tasty meatballs, that were practically gone by the time we all sat down to eat. And then, she would make more. The only difference with this recipe is that I use ground turkey instead of ground beef. I find ground turkey healthier and lighter on the stomach than ground beef. 

Enjoy!


Ground Turkey meatballs
Makes about 29-30 meatballs (about 1.5 oz each)

½ cup grated onion

¼ tsp crushed garlic

1.5 lbs ground turkey

1 cup dried bread crumbs

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
 
½ cup of olive oil for frying

Peel and wash the onion. With a cheese grater, grate the onion and set aside. Crush the garlic in a garlic press. Set aside. In a bowl, mix together the ground turkey, the crushed garlic, grated onion, the bread crumbs, the salt, pepper and oregano. Mix well together till all the ingredients are completely incorporated. Shape into 2” meatballs. In a frying pan, heat the ½ cup of olive oil, but not burning hot. Add the meatballs one at a time and fry till golden brown. You can omit this step and instead, place the meatballs in a cookie sheet and bake them in a preheated oven at 400° F for about ½ hour. Remove from the oven. 

You can either have the meatballs as appetizers or you can incorporate them in the marinara sauce, on my previous post, and serve over hot spaghetti. Take about 4 cups of the marinara sauce, add the meatballs, bring to a slow simmer till heated through, and remove from heat.


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1.129 oz (32g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 97
Calories from Fat 59
Total Fat 6.5g
Saturated Fat 1.3g
Cholesterol 23mg
Sodium 90mg
Total Carbohydrates 2.8g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 0.3g
Protein 6.7g

 






Italian cut Green Beans in tomato sauce


Don't be confused by the name "Italian cut." This type of bean is very common in Greece. You will most likely find these in Greece, rather than the string green beans. 

Since Lent has begun for both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, it is common for believers to give up certain foods this time of the year. Greek Orthodox though have a more strict Lent practice than Catholics. Catholics can have fish on Friday where Greek Orthodox on the other hand, has a stricter fast. During Lent, fish, meat, poultry, and even dairy are not permitted (unless someone has specific diet needs and is instructed by his/her doctor. In that situation the priest forgives or rather allows the individual to eat what his diet needs are).

Every year, while I was growing up, I watched my mother follow a very ascetic fast for 40 days prior to our Greek Orthodox Easter. She tried to make dishes that were rich in flavor but without the meat. The green beans in tomato sauce are very rich in flavor. The use of flat leaf parsley gives it a savory and aromatic taste without the bitterness the curly leaf parsley has. The flat leaf is very common in Greece, whereas the curly leaf is not quite popular there.

You can find flat leaf parsley in any supermarket or fresh produce market. It is usually called Italian flat leaf parsley. This dish is great if you want to abstain from meat one day a week; for those who want to give up meat products for Lent, and for strict vegetarians. Serve it along with some fresh crusty Italian bread and you have yourself a healthy meal.

Italian cut green beans in tomato sauce             


Six (6) servings

½ cup olive oil
½ cup diced onion (1 medium sized onion)
2 tsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 12oz bags frozen Italian cut green beans
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 15oz can water
½ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper

In a Dutch oven sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil till transparent.  Add the frozen green beans along with the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Add the one can of water.  Add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper.  Stir all the ingredients together.  Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Simmer for 45 minutes to one (1) hour until the beans are tender.  Serve warm. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size                                         12.007oz(340.4g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories                                                            224
Calories from Fat                                  166                  % Daily Value*
Total Fat                                               18.4g                           28%
Saturated Fat                                       2.6g                             13%
Cholesterol                                           0mg                             0%
Sodium                                                 580mg                         24%
Total Carbohydrates                             14.7g                           5%
Dietary Fiber                                         5.5g                             22%
Sugars                                                 6.6g
Protein                                                 3.6g