Di Roberto

by Dimitris Theodoratos, bartender/mixologist at The Bar Project.

Once upon a time there was a Sicilian cook, he had 58 years of age, 24 years in the Greek islands with the most Mediterranean aura one can smell. This imbibe is inspired and dedicated to his existence. He is called Roberto.

Di Roberto

  • 50ml mastic liquer
  • 25 ml Aperol
  • 10 ml lime juice
  • 5 ml vanilla syrup
  • top up with Prosecco
  • Rosemary

And now what?

Add a spring of rosemary, the mastic liquer, Aperol, lime juice and vanilla syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Muddle the ingredients slightly to release the aromas of the rosemary and shake. Strain in a cocktail glass filled with ice and top up with Prosecco wine.Garnish with a rosemary spring.

Strawberry Pie

Stawberry pie

Strawberry pie goodness

So here I am back to Goma after a good break back in Athens and other places. This time the strawberry pie story starts with myself crossing the borders from Rwanda to DRCongo. Waiting for my passport to get stamped across the DRC side a couple of young ladies with huge baskets full of freshly picked strawberries started harassing me to buy some. My travelling adventure and the 3 pieces of luggage I was carrying full with training materials for a workshop I had to facilitate in Goma didn’t allow much space for more shopping at the time. However here I am a day later asking from our house lady to spot some strawberries for me. Still no thoughts about strawberry pie. An hour later she comes back with a plastic bag and a couple of kilos of tiny freshly picked strawberries that smelled like heaven. Childhood memories popped up when I was spending my summers at summer camp up to Taigetos mountain and part of our Sunday activities included picking wild strawberries to cook giant baking pans of strawberry pies. So here is the puzzle of events and a recipe of strawberry pie. With love from Goma.


Breakfast at Goma. Strawberry pie, sage tea and some fine tunes to go along with the sunny Sunday morning.

… and in case you are looking for those fine tunes to accompany your Sunday morning breakfast. Check out  Sleepy Bedtime Mix For Young Ones by Henry Chinaski at Pinchy & Friends website

 Shopping List

For the dough I looked at a fantastic friend’s website My Easy Gourmet for some tips and a pie dough recipe

  • 330gr/2 cups of flour
  • 220gr of butter (I used vegetable shortening as I had difficulties locating unsalted butter in Goma)
  • 110gr/1 glass cold water (I used a couple of ice cubes to drop the temperature down)

For the filling

  • approximately 1 1/2 kg of strawberries hulled and quartered if they are big  (mine were tiny)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar preferably  (but whatever sugar should work as well)

And now what?

Start with preparing the filling. In a heavy bottom sauce pan add the strawberries and the lime juice. Cook, stirring occasionally in very low heat for 40-45 minutes. This will bring out juices from the strawberries.

Add the caster sugar and bring to boil over high heat. Stir frequently. At this stage is better you stay on top of the pan and keep an eye while stirring for 15 minutes. Reduce hit if you feel your strawberries are burning. All you need a syrup-liked mixture. Set aside to cool down to room temperature.

In a bowl add the dough ingredients and mix with your hands. You may also use a food processor. Then cover in cling or baking sheet and put aside in the freezer for 30 minutes. I didn’t have either so I used a super market bag instead that worked well.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Remove dough from freezer and use 2 baking sheets or 2 pieces of plastic bag in my occasion to roll the dough. You will need approximately a 2cm thick dough layer for your base. If your dough feels sticky you can place back in the freezer for another 10 minutes before removing from the baking sheet or plastic bag.

Place the dough in a 22cm round baking pan. This is only a guide so be creative about the pan. This time I used a small size square pyrex baking pan for example, which is what we had in the kitchen. Trim the edges with a knife and prick the dough with a fork several times. Place the remaining dough in the freezer again.

Bake the base for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. While baking pay attention and use a spoon to push down any rising dough or instead put a baking sheet and add some uncooked rice on top to keep the dough from rising. If you use rice remove after 15 minutes so you allow your pie to get crispy.

Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and using the same technic as before roll it to a 1cm thick layer. Then cut to 1cm wide strips with a cold knife.

Add the filling in the base and place the strips on top of the filling. Bake again at the preheated oven to 200 C for 25 minutes. When ready put the pie aside to cool down a little bit before cutting into pieces. YOu can remove from baking pan and let it cool down on a oven rack. This will keep your pie crispy until next morning.

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Bon apettit.

Konstantza’s Christmas Qurabiyas (Παραδοσιακοί Κουραμπιέδες)

Icing our Qurabiyas

Icing our Qurabiyas

Qurabiya in Iranian Azerbaijain or Kurabiye in Turkish or Kourabies in Greek, is a shortbread-type almond biscuit very traditional in Middle East and Greece. Particularly in Greece ,baking Kourabiedes would be what Christmas smell like. Though the recipe is relatively simple to make, the details ,tips and secrets of past generations, is the key for success. Today in our kitchen we are proud to present a recipe that back dates to early 19th century. Our friend George, joined us today from Crete island, a few days before Christmas to bake with us his great-great-great grandmother’s recipe. Konstantza who is George’s grandmother is honoured on the title for sharing her family’s recipe and secrets.

Kostantza and George making Qurabiyas

Kostantza and George making Qurabiyas

George told us the basis for success lies in the fresh butter made from goat milk, elaborated knitting and attention during the making.

Shopping List (for approximately 100 small pieces)

  • 650gr fresh butter from goat milk  , cool down in room temperature  or melt in low heat.
  • 500gr fresh raw almonds (unsalted).
  • 2 egg yolks.
  • 1 shot of Cognac (preferably Metaxa)or other aromatic liquer (Dark Rum, Whiskey etc).
  • 1 tsp grounded cinnamon
  •  4 tbsp icing sugar for the dough and 500gr approximately for the topping.
  • 1400gr all purpose flour or as the recipe dictates as much as it’s needed for the dough to sit, so be flexible when it comes to flour and Greek grandmothers.

And now what?

Pre heat the oven at 180 C/356 F. Place the raw almonds in a baking sheet and    roast for approximately 30 minutes or until they are crunchy and dry. Then crush them in a mortar slightly to get some big chunks.

Roast the raw almonds in the oven for 30 minutes or until they are crunchy. Then crush them slightly

Roast the raw almonds in the oven for 30 minutes or until they are crunchy. Then crush them slightly

Place the fresh butter in a big mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar. Use a fine sieve to dust the sugar before adding to make sure it will blend nicely with the butter. Then add the egg yolks.

Add the melted butter, icing sugar and egg yolks in a big mixing bowl

Add the melted butter, icing sugar and egg yolks in a big mixing bowl

Mix very well for 10-15 minutes with your hands. Do not use a mixer. Then add the almonds, Cognac and ground cinnamon and keep blending with your hands.

Add the crashed roasted almonds in the mixture and keep blending with your hands.

Add the cognac, cinnamon and crushed roasted almonds in the mixture and keep blending with your hands.

Now is the time to start adding the flour in small batches. The original recipe stands for as much flour needed. For the ingredients above we counted approximately 1400gr flour. The dough will have to be hard and stuffed with flour. The butter will keep the Qurabiya fluffy so don’t be afraid to add more flour than what we propose here if you feel your dough is not stiff enough. It really depends on the consistency of the butter you will use.  As a best practice guide consider the dough should crumbling in your fingers (η ζύμη  να θρουλάει=θρυμματίζεται στα κρητικά οπως λέει και η Κωνσταντζα).

Start adding the flour in the mixture

Start adding the flour in the mixture

This photo will guide you on the consistency of the dough

This photo will guide you on the consistency of the dough

When the dough is ready you can now start moulding the Qurabiyas. Traditionally in Greece we make a half moon shape but it is usually quicker and easier to make small round bites too. The temperature of your hands keep the butter warm and helps in shaping. Place the Qurabiyas in a large buttered baking sheet

Kourabies 8

Shaping time!

It’s now time to bake our first batch. Pre-heat the oven at 180C/356 F and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until the dough gets a golden colour . The baking depends on the size so keep an eye on the oven after 35 minutes.

Once Qurabiyas are baked let them sit and cool down a little bit. Then with a fine sieve dust them with icing sugar until they are all covered with sugar. Once you remove them from your baking sheet you can roll them in sugar to make sure they are uniformly covered.

Top the Qurabiyas with icing sugar

Top the Qurabiyas with icing sugar

Tips and things to pay attention

  • The aroma of Qurabiya comes from the almond and ground cinnamon
  • Do not use a mixer, always use your hands for blending
  • The fresh butter keeps the Qurabiyas fluffy
  • Because it s never really clear how much flour to add, It s better to add more than less
  • Slightly crush the almond, the big chunks add to the flavour
Merry Christmas you all!

Merry Christmas you all!

Whiskey Old-Fashioned

I should start this recipe by referring to one of the  earliest recipes, written in 1895, that specifies the following:

“Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece ice, a piece lemon-peel, one jigger whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.”

Many more recipes followed since these early days. One of the most current ones was shared with me by my close friend Jimmy together with a story.

He used to mix old-fashioned whiskeys at his father’s bar somewhere at the suburbs of New York. His recipe was much enjoyed by elder ladies who were particularly asking for Jimmy’s old fashioned whiskey. This is actually a slight   different version from what he shared with us.

Shopping List

  • 2 oz/shots rye whiskey (usually Canadian Whiskey) or Bourbon
  • juice from 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 oz/shot grenadine home made syrup 
  • 4 dashes Angostura orange bitters
  • 1/2 oz/shot maraskino syrup
  • 2 maraskino cherries
  • 1 orange peel

And now what?

In an old fashioned glass add the orange juice, the Angostura bitters and 1 maraskino cherry. Squeeze the cherry with a pestle.

Fill the glass with ice and add the whiskey and maraskino syrup (this is the liquid where the cherries are preserved in). Stir the mixture with a spoon. Leave the spoon in the glass and top up with the grenadine syrup, maraskino cherry and orange peel.






Grenadine syrup

It’s pomegranate season and the local street food markets  are filled with juicy and delicious pomegranate fruits. Apart from a healthy and flavourful fresh juice  you can also prepare some fresh grenadine syrup and spice up your cocktail bar.

Our home made grenadine syrup, no preservatives no food colouring. Only natural colours and flavours!

Shopping List

  • 2 big pomegranates (ripe, If you are able to scratch the skin using your fingernail and gentle pressure then is ripe). They should give you approximately a big cup of juice
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 12 dashes of Peychauds aromatic bitters or other bitters like Angostura (optional)

And now what?

The process is simple. We do not want to damage the flavours and vitamins so no boiling involved for this syrup.

First you get the juice out of the fruit. I usually use a fine sieve and a pestle to squeeze the seeds and extract the juice.

Squeeze the seeds with a pestle and extract the juices

Once you have the juice, add equal parts caster sugar. This is a recipe for a 1-to-1 simple syrup. I estimate that 2 ripe fruits will give you a big cup of juice thus you should add equal quantity of caster sugar. You can always adjust this based on your taste and the use of the syrup. At the end add the bitters and shake well until sugar is dissolved in the liquid.

Enjoy your syrup with cocktails and sweets.

You can refrigerate the syrup for up to a month.

The Eggplant Dive (Μελιτζανοσαλάτα)

Today we are going to make a super delicious and easy to make eggplant dip. This is a very traditional Greek dip however you will find similar recipes all across the Mediterranean region so I will definitely not claim the origin of the recipe.

Our flavourful eggplant dip on top of an olive oil rusk. Delicious!

Shopping List

  • 6 medium eggplants. That should be around 2 kg, the size is similar to a  tenis ball
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (try to get the best quality you can)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup crashed walnuts (I use my hand to crumble them)
  • 350gr yogurt (you can always use more or less depending on your taste, more yogurt will give a lighter texture to your dip)
  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

And now what?

Start by roasting the eggplants in the grill of your oven for approximately 30 minutes or until your eggplants turn soft and tender inside. You can test with a fork if they feel easily squeezed. Then set them aside to cool down so they are easier to handle. Remove the inside in a bowl with a spoon.

Roast the eggplants. Bring to room temperature and remove the inside in a bowl.

Add half of the olive oil and start blending with a fork. I usually don’t use any food processor otherwise your dip will turn too creamy. Keeping the texture of the materials really brings more flavour and body in this recipe. Keep adding more olive oil until your mix has absorbed all of it, this will only take 2-3 minutes. Then use a garlic press to squeeze the garlic in the mixture, add the yogurt and keep blending with your fork for another minute until you have a nicely blended mix.

Blend in the olive oil with a fork. Add the yogurt and keep blending the mixture. Continue with adding the walnuts, parsley.

Continue by adding the walnuts and parsley as you keep stirring your dip with the fork. Finish with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste. I usually like a stronger taste of vinegar and I will go and add more than 2 table spoons but keep this measure as base and then after tasting add a little bit more.

Enjoy your dip with toasted bread, rusks, tortillas or pita bread.

Zucchini Basil Soup (… or the sick zucch soup)

What do you do when you wake up and your little sister is sick with fever? You cook a nutritious soup delivered to her bed with some remedies.

The zucchini basil soup

Shopping List

  • 1 kg zucchini chopped in big chunks
  • 2 red onions finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 leek cut in strips
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (2 bio vegetable cubes, 2 bay leaves, sage or other aromatic herbs to spice up your broth)
  • 1/3 cups sweet basil leaves chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

And now what?

Remove the skin from half of the zucchinis with a slicer and then cut the skin in thin stripes. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon  of salt and put the skin in a sieve for 20 minutes. Preparing the zucchini skin to top up your soup at the end is optional but it definitely adds a kick in the final presentation and taste. Coarsely chop the zucchinis and put aside.

Chop the veggies

Add 3 cups of water in a sauce pan and add 2 vegetable broth cubes, 2 bay leaves, 1 small piece of sage or other aromatic herbs you would like to taste in your broth. Bring to boil and then keep simmering for 10 minutes.

Prepare the broth and the zucchini skin stripes

Drizzle some olive oil in a heavy bottom pan and saute the onions  in medium heat until they get translucent and soft. Add the garlic then the leek and finally the zucchinis. Keep stirring the vegetables and take care for the onion and garlic not to get burn, if need you may add a few additional drops of olive oil.

Saute the onion, garlic, leek and zucchinis

Add the vegetable broth to the vegetables, salt to your taste, partially cover with a lid and boil for 15 minutes or until your zucchinis turn soft. You can test with a fork the tenderness.

Boil the vegetables for 15 minutes approximately

Remove from heat and start adding the mixture in your blender carefully and in batches. Take care when you are mixing hot liquids in the blender, they can explode! Add the fresh basil leaves in the blender and keep puree the mixture until you have a smooth veloute soup.

To prepare the zucchini skins, boil a cup of water and add them in for 1 minute until they get tender.

Ready to serve.

When you serve the hot soup add freshly grounded pepper, some basil leaves and some tenderized zucchini skin stripes.