Category Archives: Recipes

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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R&R vegetable soup with a spicy kick

Today Georgia my roommate came to Athens for a short R&R break. This soup is dedicated to her and to coming-back-home-from-the-field  moments in life. I guess we have a lot of them in our house. Enjoy!

SERVES 6

Shopping list
olive oil
2 medium onions cut in big chunks
2 tbs garlic paste
2 zucchinis cut in big chunks
5 medium carrots cut in big chunks
5cm pc  ginger grated
1 tomato grated
salt & pepper

For the broth:
6-7 cups of water
1 chicken broth cube
1 vegetable broth cube
2 bay leaves
4 cardamom seeds
2 dried chillies

And now what?
So let’s start by heating 4 tbs of olive oil in a big saucepan in medium heat. Saute the onions until they get tender and translucent. Add the garlic and continue stirring for 2 more minutes. Now it’s time to add the remaining vegetables and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile  start preparing the broth. Bring to boil the water in a pan and add all the ingredients. Reduce the heat, cover and boil for 15 minutes.

When broth is ready, strain it into the vegetables. Keep aside the 2 chillies to use later. Add salt and pepper. Cover and boil for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Use a blender or a food processor to whizz until smooth. Start blending the vegetables first and keep the liquid part for the end so you can control the density of the soup. Remove the seeds from the chillies and blend them together with the mix to get the spicy kick!

Extras:
I love garlic croutons with most of the soups. In a frying pan add olive oil and 2 tbs garlic paste in medium heat. Cut some bread in big chunks/cubes and fry them until they will turn gold while you stir frequently.

I also like adding some saute mushrooms in this soup. Finish with a few drops of sour cream and balsamic cream.

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?

Check-Point Chili

The story with the strange-funny names started when I was thinking about writing a cook manual for people working with humanitarian organizations. Being a humanitarian myself as a few of of my friends the decision was taken to match recipe names with our daily life experiences. First recipe was the check point chili and the credits go to George for coming up with the name! Of course the cookbook never happened but some of the names remained at least amongst my friendlings.

I shall only give a piece of advice before you start cooking this recipe. You better have enough time cause it will take you approximately 3 1/2 hours…

SERVES 4

Shopping List

700g beef fillet
5 dried red chilies, deseeded
2 cups beef stock
800gr fresh tomatoes grated (or 3 tbsp tomato paste)
2 large onions finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
I tbsp flour
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp oregano
2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Parsley (optional)

And now what?

Preheat the oven at 150 C. Cut the beef fillet in small cubes (approximately 3cm) and discard any fat.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the beef cubes until they get a brown colour. If needed add some more olive oil together with boiled water and scratch the skillets bottom until all beef is cooked.

Heat the beef stock in a saucepan and add the chilies. Cover and simmer for 20 min. Strain the stock and keep the soaked chillies aside.

In a blender or if you want to be more traditional in a big mortar mix the tomatoes (or tomato paste), the onions, garlic and soaked chilies and blend until you ‘have a nice and smooth pomade.

In a skillet, roast the ground cumin for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, the flour and oregano and cook for another minute.

Mix the pomade with beef stock adding the sugar. Salt and pepper to taste, then mix with cumin sauce  and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place the beef cubes into a clay pot or pyrex, add the sauce, cover with lid or foil and cook for 2 and ½ hours.

Garnish with fresh parsley and accompany the dish with yogurt and rice .

Ginger, Lemon & Linguine

SERVES 4

Shopping List

500gr (1 pack) Linguine pasta
2 tsp lemon zest, grated
½ cup dry white wine
4 tsp olive oil
5cm piece of fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crashed
parmesan (optional)

 

And now what?

In a saucepan heat the wine over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and salt. Cover the saucepan lower heat to medium low and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

In a bowl stir 4 tsp olive oil together with the garlic, parsley and pepper. Strain the wine sauce from the lemon zest and add it in the mix. Leave the sauce to rest for a few minutes.

Bring water to boil and cook the linguine for 8-12 minutes (start timing when the water returns to boil). To be sure if “al dente”, bite into a piece of the pasta. In a big saucepan mix together the linguine with the sauce and fresh grated ginger. Season with extra fresh pepper or salt if needed and garnish with fresh parsley.

I usually add some fresh grated parmesan cheese, but you can also do without it,

Did you know? Linguine means “little tongues” in Italian. A thinner version of linguine is called linguettine

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!