Category Archives: Finger Food

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.

Chil-lic Paste

This is a very basic chili-garlic paste that you may use for cooking or as a side on the table to spice up a meal as you like. You can keep it refrigerated for a month. I use it as a topping for pizza most of the time. My favourite combination would be pizza with goat cheese, chilic paste and caramelized onions. A combination I discovered in Haiti.

So let’s make some chil-lic.

Shopping List:

The procedure is as basic as the materials. This time I will leave the pictures to guide you. Enjoy!

  • 8 chilies (red and green)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil

And now what?

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Stavros Grandma Garlic dip (or the traditional Skordalia)

In Greek “skordo” means garlic hence the traditional name of this dish “Skordalia”. Usually accompanies a fried hake plate. Stavros, a master of this dip and also my roommate in Athens for the past 10 years learned the recipe from his grandmother and since then is one of our favourite dips in the house.

SERVES 4

Shopping list

5 medium potatoes
6 garlic cloves
2/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt
1/6 cup vinegar

And now what?

Boil the potatoes with the skin until very soft (use a fork to check the softness of the potato). Approximately 30-45 minutes.

In a big mortar you blend ¼ cup olive oil, the garlic cloves and a pinch of sea salt until you have a nice smooth paste.

Stavros getting ready to start his creation...

Remove the skin from potatoes and add in the mortar. You can transfer the mix in a bowl if there is not enough space in the mortar and continue blending the mix until smooth. Keep adding olive oil while blending the ingredients. The olive oil should be totally absorbed by the potatoes.

Add the vinegar and continue mixing. When the mix has absorbed all the liquids is ready.

If needed add salt to taste.

Tips from Stavros?

Ask your friends to clean the garlic for you otherwise your hands will be smelly for a week.

Call your mother to be sure you remember the recipe correctly.

Use extra virgin Kalamata olive oil if possible or the best quality of olive oil you can get.

Stavros Lena and Mimi during preparations and final testing...

Pizza Dough

Pizza is one of my favourite dishes. It is easy to make and also a good excuse to use any left overs or veggies that are turning bad in your fridge. You can be extremely creative by topping up the dough with whatever you can imagine. My favourite base sauce is canned tomato paste shimmered for a few minutes with onions, loads of garlic, oregano and a bay leaf and sometimes grated fresh tomato. There were times though that I just used ketchup,spicy sauces or even creamy-white cheese sauce. I usually make pizza dough once per week or even once per two weeks and keep it in the fridge.

George handling the pizza before final cut!

MAKES 6 MEDIUM SIZED PIZZAS

Shopping list

4 1/2 cups flour (all purpose flour)
1  tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup virgin olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
additional flour for dusting

And now what?

Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. stir in the oil and cold water with your hands until all the flour is absorbed. Mix for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and sticky. Sprinkle some more flour in as needed.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and cut into six equal pieces. Line a sheet pan with baking paper and lightly oil it. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and gently shape them into balls.

Place the dough balls on the sheet pan and slip the whole pan into a large ziploc or plastic super market bag. Put the pan in the fridge overnight to rest. They will keep in the fridge for 3 days (or in the freezer for up to 3 months).

My dough-balls resting before refrigeration.

When it is time for pizza remove the dough from the fridge 2 hours before. Dust the counter with flour, place the number of dough balls down you are going to use, and sprinkle with more flour. Gently press them into flat disks (about 1/2 inch thick). sprinkle with a bit more flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest.

I usually shape the dough with a rolling pin or a big bottle but if you feel like trying the Italian way. Deep your hand into flour and give it a try…

lay it on the pizza peel,pan or straight on baking paper and top lightly with your favorite sauces, cheeses, veggies and meats. Keep in mind that this is a pretty thin crust; so a little topping goes a long way.

Preheat the oven in high temperature, place the pizza close to the bottom of the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The edges will puff a little bit, darken and crisp up. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait a few minutes for the toppings to set before slicing and serving.

Looks delicious, isn't it?

Popeye Chimichangas

Shopping list

SERVES 4

2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups small mushrooms, finely sliced
3 fresh green chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 gr spinach leaves, torn into pieces if large
1 cup Cheddar cheese (or any other cheese of your choice), grated
8 flour tortillas, warmed
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

And now what?

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened and slightly transparent.

Add the mushrooms, chillies and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, or until just wilted. Add the cheese and stir until just melted.

Spoon an equal quantity of the mixture into the centre of each tortilla. Fold in two opposites sides of each tortilla to cover the filling, then roll up to enclose it completely.

Heat the oil for deep-frying (until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds)  in a large deep saucepan. Deep-fry the chimichangas two at a time, turning once, for 5-6 minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper before serving.

Tips: You can always adjust the spicy-level by adding or reducing chillies according to your own preferences!