Category Archives: Recipes

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!

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.

Αστακομακαρονάδα The Greek (Lobster Pasta)

Αστακομακαρονάδα (pronounced Astakomakaronada) is a must-taste gourmet plate if you ever find yourself in a Greek island. It is also a favourite for  Kitchen in a Suitcase so I will gladly cook it anywhere a fresh Lobster can be found nearby. You should definitely try it!

First thing first, so let’s take a minute to make sure we know about  fresh lobster. In most of the places I cooked this recipe I was very close to the source.  In Haiti for example I would look at a trusted fisherman to deliver the lobster alive the same day in a bucket with sea water when possible. Lobsters tend to eat themselves when out of their natural habitat until they starve to death so you need to cook them immediately if you want all the flavour to come out. I know it sounds a bit cruel but if you make sure you don’t buy baby -sized lobsters or from areas of extinction and you are not a dedicated veagan then you will survive and most probably forget about it the moment you take the first bite. So here are some tips on buying supermarket lobster. You can also try here for some extra information online.

Fresh lobsters fished the same day in Amorgos island

SERVES 6

Shopping List

  • 1,5 to 2 kg fresh lobsters (alive preferably, medium to big size)
  • 1kg/2 packets spaghetti or linguini (or other pasta depending on your preferences)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 big red onions finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 1kg/6-7 tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes, freshly grated, remove the skin)
  • 1tbs tomato paste
  • 150gr/1 cup white dry wine
  • 1 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt & freshly grated pepper to taste

Chopping the parsley while our good friend Angeliki takes notes for the recipe.

And now what?

In a big heavy-bottom pan with a lid  boil water. Add the lobsters and boil with the lid. Be extremely careful as pipping hot steam will escape. Depending on the size of the lobsters I will usually cook for 10-20min maximum. Usually 15 min should  be enough but you can also pay attention to your lobsters changing colour. They should have a shiny lively orangish colour by now.

Boiling the lobsters

Carefully remove lobsters from boiling water and put aside in a strainer. Keep the water in the pan as we will use it later to boil our pasta right before our sauce is ready for serving so we can keep the texture al dente. Here are some tips for cooking pasta. Clean the surface of the  boiling water from any foamy or greasy lobster extracts with a spoon. Keep also a cup of this lobster broth separately  for your sauce.

If you have more than one lobsters separate half and remove the meat from the shell and claws. If you have a big one cut in half and keep half aside.

The making of the sauce and preparing the lobster meat.

Next step is preparing the sauce. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a big sauce pan and saute the sliced onion in medium heat until translucent, add the sliced garlic and stir for 2 more minutes. Add the freshly grated tomatoes, turn the heat to maximum until the mixture reaches boiling point. When boiling add the wine, cook for 3min approximately in high heat and then turn down to low heat. Add half cup of the lobster broth and keep the other half to add progressively as needed. Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, cloves, sugar, salt and pepper, stir and let it boil for 10-15 minutes.

If need, add more from the lobster broth to keep a nice sauce texture (not too watery not too thick). Then add the lobster meat and boil for another 5 minutes. Always pay attention to your sauce to avoid burning. When the sauce is ready turn the heat off and put aside.

Boil you pasta in the broth according to package specifications, you can add some salt in your broth if you’ld like. Strain pasta, remove the heavy bottom pan from heat and discard any remaining broth. Put the pasta back in the pan, add the sauce and stir vigorously until sauce has covered all pasta nicely. Add the chopped parsley more freshly grated pepper and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top to moisture your pasta.

Serve hot immediately with the whole (or half) lobsters and parmesan cheese  on the side.

Ready to serve.

Let me know how this tasted my friends!

Enjoying the food with good friends is what cooking is all about. Here we are, ready for a delicious dinner in Amorgos islands on summer holidays.

The Jazzmin Cheesecake

There are a few places on earth where a tourist will feel like home upon arrival and Jazzmin is one of them. Jazzmin, physically is a beautiful coffee shop, bar and occasionally restaurant in one of the most unique Greek islands, Amorgos,   but more than that is a social hub, a cocoon of love, serenity  and hospitality amidst the picturesque chora  (main town) of Amorgos. The fabulous owners and good friends  Thodoris and Giorgos who are responsible for this little heaven on earth, will  be there to share stories and information about the island or help you find your way in case you are lost!

Jazzmin

We tasted everything we could from the menu or everything we had time to, cause it’s a long menu with recipes and flavours from Asia to Africa and Greece to Latin America. In case you find yourself in the island do not miss the opportunity for a belly-filling, flavour-exploding breakfast.

Snapshots at Jazzmin with friends

On this trip we also had the unexpected opportunity to sneak into Jazzmin’s kitchen and bake together a New York-style cheesecake with an Amorgian goaty kick. One of their signature recipes.

The yummy Jazzmin Cheesecake

Thank you Jazzmin for sharing this yummy recipe with us. We look forward to another one next summer.

Shopping List

Crust

  • 250gr/1 packet of digestive crackers
  • 100gr butter (soft at room temperature)
  • 3tbs/100 gr sugar

Filling

  • 500gr yogurt (preferably Greek  style yogurt, very thick)
  • 500gr non-salted  creamy goat cheese-“ανάλατη μυζήθρα” in Greek (in Jazzmin they will use locally produced fresh goat cheese and this is the little -big secret of the recipe, however you can always use any cream cheese)
  • 70gr/2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5gr/1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 400gr/ 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs

And now what?

Pre-heat oven at 175 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit

Lets start making the crust together with Thodori. Start by finely crumbling the digestive crackers in a bowl. Add the 3tbs of sugar and the butter and mix well with your hands or pestle.

The make of the crust

Place the crust mixture in a round  30cm/9 inches pie pan and press firmly with your hand to fix the base. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes maximum.

Arranging and baking the crust for 5-10 minutes

In a large mixing bowl add yogurt, goat cheese or cream cheese, vanilla powder, sugar, eggs and salt (all the ingredients for the filling) and use an electric mixer to blend well if available. You can always use a whisk instead.

Theo mixing the ingredients of the filling.

Theo blending the mixture

Pour the filling mixture in the prepared pie pan and bake for 60 min at 175 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit. Chill overnight and enjoy some Jazzmin goodness.

Final steps and our cheesecake is in the oven. Enjoy!

Rainbow salad with roasted peppers

Shopping List:

  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 4tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • 2tbs vinegar
  • 1 finely chopped big tomato
  • ½ cup parsley or coriander finely chopped
  • 5-6 fresh mint leaves finely chopped
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

And now what?

Pre-heat the oven, at 200 degrees C (approximately 400 degrees F).

Wash the peppers and towel dry. Place them in an oven tray and roast for 30 minutes or until they start getting a black skin. Turn the peppers and roast for another 20 minutes the other side.

When they are ready, place them hot in a zip-lock plastic bag . Keep them zipped in the bag for approximately 10 minutes to get moisture. This will help you remove easily the skin later.

In a heavy bottom frying pan heat the olive oil in medium heat. Add the sliced garlic until it will start turning brown. Then remove from olive oil and add the onion. Sauté onion until they will get translucent (approximately 4-5 minutes in medium heat). Sprinkle the sugar over the onion and add the vinegar.

Add the tomato and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

In the meantime remove the skin from the peppers with a knife, remove the seeds and cut in big slices. Add the sliced peppers in the frying pan together with the other materials . Turn off the heat, place in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and add the parsley or coriander.

You can enjoy this salad cold or hot!

Fotini’s homemade lemonade (Concentrate)

Fotini's homemade lemonade

Summer came scorching in Athens and it’s time for some Granny’s homemade lemonade. We had Fotini my super-grandmother visiting us in Athens this weekend and we decided to pick her brain and little hidden secrets for a fresh homemade lemonade. This is an easy to make lemonade syrup that you may keep in the fridge for days. You can dissolve with water each time you want and enjoy fabulous lemonade. You can also use in cocktails.

Shopping List
  • 2 glasses and a tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 glasses fresh lemon juice (no pulp)
  • 2 and 1/3 glasses water
  • a lemon cup (discard the pulp)

Tip: Always use the same glass or cup or any other mean of measurement.

And now what?

Add the sugar, water and the lemon cup in a pot, bring to boil and shimmer for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved and the lemon cup is bringing out smells and flavours. Put aside to cool down to a temperature that your finger can hold inside the liquid for 10 seconds (this is a practice they used the old times in Greece to check the right temperature to add the yeast in the yogurt), this is approximately the body temperature so if you actually have a thermometer you can measure it precisely. We prefer the old trick! Then you add the fresh lemon juice and stir to blend. At this stage you can taste and add more sugar or lemon juice depending on your preferences. Put in bottles and refrigerate.

Put ice, fresh lemonade concentrate and water in a glass and enjoy. I usually dissolve 1 to 1 part. I sometimes decorate with fresh mint leaves and a slice of lime.

Fotini emptying the lemon cup from the pulp

The lemon cup ready to boil with the syrup

Fotini giving instruction to Georgia

Boiling the sugar syrup with the lemon cup.

Mixing the fresh lemon juice with the sugar syrup, after discarding the lemon cup.