Σάββατο, 9 Ιανουαρίου, 2010
Today I continue my pursuit of simple light meals that will counterbalance the Christmas and festive days excesses.
When I got back home last night, my good friend from Georgia had brought to me freshly prepared potato and onion piroshkis. I immediately thought that I should make a simple dish with them.
Although out of season in the winter, in Greece we can buy eggplants that basically come from Crete. Especially this year, the winter is a joke, with temperatures well above the season’a averages. So I could not resist to violate the rule of using only seasonal ingredients, and I grilled the eggplants, and seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Κυριακή, 3 Ιανουαρίου, 2010
After all the meat eating of the festive days, it is essential to taste something lighter but tasty! Out of this need I came up with this simple but delicious dish that requires a large fresh fleshy octopus.
I boil the octopus in very low heat (45 minutes per 1 kilo). I let it rest and then cut the tentacles that I will use and grill them until they get the crispy surface on the outside, while they remain juicy inside. I then slice them and dress them in olive oil with a touch o lemon.
I make my own pitta bread in a rather sneaky way. I prepare a mix with flour, yeast, salt and vinegar, but leave it on the watery side. After it has rested for one hour I prepare the bread as if it were crepes, in other words I “fry” the mix in a non-stick pan.
Σάββατο, 2 Ιανουαρίου, 2010
This is an original recipe that was conceived and executed in Munich during my last visit to Manolis and Marion in November 2009.
Marion (Manolis’ wife for the uninitiated) who is an accomplished cook, had prepared among other dishes salt cod in a tomato sauce, and cheek peas in the oven. She had also bought a wonderful delicious sausage from Spain, the one with whole chunks of fat in it. They are very delicious, but require a robust stomach.
As we were discussing about food and tastes, it became apparent to me that the next day we will have a lot of leftovers, a little bit of each dish and a few pieces of the sausage (chorizo). One of the themes of the conversation was the combination of pork products with seafood in Catalonia and the Basque country.
I therefore thought of combining the pieces of sausage left with the cod, and add some cheek peas to the lot. The container of all of these would be a mix of eggs and thinly sliced peppers. I even created a drawing of the dish.
Please disregard the rather dramatic “Teufels Dreieck” which means “Devil’s Traingle” in German. It was the tentative name for the dish, but it was dropped after Athina commented that it was rather unsuitable for such a nice tasting dish.
The dish remains without name to date, but as it is a classical example of “cucina povera”, or “cooking with leftovers”, I decided to name the article accordingly.
The result was more than rewarding. The mix of the sausage and the salted cod worked beautifully, the fish standing up to the ferocious attack of the strong animal. The cheek peas acted like the buffer zone between the two war camps, while the eggs and the peppers softened the impact of the competing tastes. What a dish!
Therefore, in food as in life, we can safely conclude that synthsesis is more than adding things together. This is a good example of the case.
Κυριακή, 27 Δεκεμβρίου, 2009
On the 26th December is the name day of my “brother”, Manolis. We have made it a tradition that every year we get together in my house and celebrate his name day having lunch. The same happened yesterday, and I happy to report the proceedings of this event.
As you may remember, I already had a go at the menu a couple of weeks ago, but as it usually happens, things changed. The ever moving fate brought two regions of the Mediterranean together on the menu. Thessaly of Greece and Toscana of Italy contributed their best products. Spleen sausage (splinantero) from Trikala and Bistecca Fiorentina from Panzano, Toscana.
Lets start from the appetizer, which is like a greeting card of the two regions in an envelope.
This envelope was well received by all participants, who more or less gulped it down in a frenetic mode. This was largely due to the fact that the cheese had melted, it was thoroughly covered by the liquid fat of the pancetta, and engaged in constant dialogue with the acidity of the tomato and the strong sweet flavoor of the parsley. Hard to resist!
Next in line was the spleen sausage, the “splinantero” (σπληναντερο), prepared by a shepherd in a village near Trikala, in the region of Thessaly. This is forbidden food, according to the European Union. This is sausage made from the spleen and heart of muton, wrapped in the “suet” fat (μπολια). For the Greek speaking visitors, I have created an entry in wikictionary on splinantero (the spleen sausage).
Then it was time to greet the Tuscan beauty, La Bistecca Fiorentina! Especially prepared by my friend Dario Cecchini in Panzano, Chianti. I grilled la bistecca over charcoal, as the spleen sausage.
In Greece a lot of people eat meat well done, and so my task was a difficult one, as I personally detest well done meat. In any case, it all worked well and everyone was happy! Manolis more than anyone else, as he devoured the bone!
Every good meal must end with a good desert, may be more than good, to lighten the hearts and the stomachs of the participants. In this case, I made a kiwi tart on the basis of a recipe by Thomas Keller (Bouchon).
A short note on the wines, all of which came from Toscana. We started with Morellino di Scansano Riserva 2000, from Val delle Rose (92 out of 100 in the Wine Spectator). Continued with Alte d’ Altesi 2000 from Altesino (93 out of 100 in the Wine Spectator). For the desert we had Castello di Brolio Vinsanto del Chianti 2004, from Barone Ricasoli.
Πέμπτη, 17 Δεκεμβρίου, 2009
Last week I went for a quick visit to Riga, in Latvia.
The main square at ten o’clock in the morning was quiet, although the Christmas market stalls were open.
This nice girl was preparing her two horses for a ride in town. They live in a farm out of town and come in Riga for the holiday season, offering to tourists a nice horse ride. The two horses pull a two wheel carriage.
I stayed in the old town, at the “Grand Palace Hotel”, and was quite happy there, even though I stayed for only one night. The building is beautiful maintained, and has the features of a mansion. The reception area is the entry hall of the mansion.
I had dinner at the Hotel’s Restaurant, and am happy to say this was a very good choice! Exc ellent service, and way above average food. Here is the amuse boouche, a slice of jamon rolled around grapefruit eith a touch of balsamico on the side.
Κυριακή, 13 Δεκεμβρίου, 2009
In rather damp and chilly weather conditions, you need warm and rich dishes to support you. One of them is cannelloni with beef and parmesan. Cannelloni are time consuming to fill, but the reward for the patient cook is the splendid combination of the filling with the pasta shell, which is a quite different experience from eating pasta.
I do not use ground meat when I can, as I do not like the texture. Instead, I prepare a rich ragu and then break it into threads. The best cust is the short plate.