Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘Greek’

How to Make Easy Feta Cheese Puffs Recipe with Greek Yoghurt

In Recipe on January 16, 2015 at 16:57

During the holidays, we get those family season’s greeting cards, pictures of new babies, a synopsis of people’s year  – but my mom, she’s different.  In my Greek-American-South African family, most events and conversations revolve around food, even season’s greetings.

Below is a tried and tested recipe, a season’s greetings -written by my mom.

An easy snack you can make with delicious Greek yoghurt and a sense of humour.  Lucky you, this is a secret family recipe revealed.  Enjoy!

” Wishing you a Gastronomic, Festive, Joyous New Year, with lots of New Experiences.  May this recipe be one of them.
GREEK CHEESE PUFFSHow to make Greek feta yogurt bread balls recipe-The Culinary Linguist
(From the hands of Thea Koula,
My only living, wonderful Auntie,
Who is still the best baker)

•DOUGH•

1 medium tub Greek yogurt

1&3/4 sticks butter – (yeah! I said good puffs, not slimming) – you may cut back on the butter, and add half butter – half extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil.  I wouldn’t – when you SIN – you SIN!!!

One t. Salt or less depending how salty your FETA is.

One tablespoon Vinegar – DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP!!!

1/2 kilo  ( 1 lb ) of self rising flour  (more/less) depending on the weather – (you can use wheat FLOUR and 1 t. baking soda)

Mix above ingredients and let the mixture rest for one, or couple of hours. After some gentle manipulation, (we all need to rest, and fluff up).

•FILLING•
200 gr feta cheese ( 3/4 lb)

1/4 of c of good Ricotta cheese (optional) 

One egg white ( save yolk for glazing the puffs)

Pepper / if you like a peppery taste like I do.

 
Mix well – at this point add whatever other cheeses are hiding in your refrigerator shelves.  Waste not!!!

(OPTIONAL)You may add some spinach or sausage or whatever you wish.

Cayenne pepper, etc.

Take a tablespoon of dough in your hand – spread it with your other hand to an open “like” shell to receive the heaping teaspoon of filling on one side. Then close the other end over the filled end, and pinch the ends together.

Sounds delicious, right? Good eating is a religious experience!!!

Place in a well greased pan, brush some egg yolk (diluted with a sprinkle of water) and use either sesame seeds on top, black sesame, or Nigella seeds to give it a finished touch.
We all look better with some finishing touches.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown at 180 (350) degrees.

Enjoy the homemade goodness that you just created with your hands. (it is almost like birth, only easier, faster, and sometimes more satisfying, and does not talk back to you). OOPS, forgive me my darling offsprings.

How to make Greek feta bread balls recipe-The Culinary Linguist

FYI – if you are in need for some carbs after a hard day’s work- use above dough. Fry it in butter and olive oil. While it is hot, sprinkle some (lots) sugar and cinnamon.  Enjoy the fried fritter with a cup of coffee as you listen to the clouds open up and the angels “sing to thee”.

From the Greek Gypsy
Or, Nomad Retiree a.k.a Mom of The Culinary Linguist  ”

**  If you grew up in a Greek family, you often find yourself giggling at food trends and fads that hype what your grandma’s been feeding you for years.  It’s the way food product companies like to colonise homemade traditional foods and ‘discover’ the next best thing to tortilla chips. ViVA Greek yogurt.

How to Cure your Own Olives in Brine: Greek Yiayia Style

In Recipe, Stories on April 25, 2013 at 19:45

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The Culinary Linguist-Homemade-How to Cure Olives-Pickle and Marinate

Olives in Athen’s Greece Farmer’s Market

 

Mom would say, “Only eat 8 olives a day, honey.”  But it was too easy to devour the salty Grecian delights by the dozen. With crusty brown sourdough bread and green virgin olive oil on a flat side plate, nothing satisfied me more than eating Yiayia’s Kalamatas olives in the middle of Chicago’s winter.  To this day, I have a plate solely dedicated to olives and their pips and snack on these pickled fruits year round (and still by the dozen).

Growing up, I’d spin the bottom  shelf of the  cupboard to reveal  Yiayia’s hand-picked, home-cured Kalamata olives.  Purple, green and maroon olives floated in one gallon glass jars of oregano, thyme, vinegar and oil.  As a kid, I was powerlifting  the heavy 2 gallon olive jar off the bottom shelf and onto the counter in order to dip my tiny fingers into the oil and vinegar brine to search for the juiciest olives.  As I got older, I’d use an oversized spoon to fish for the tangiest Kalamatas, and strain the brine from the spoon to reveal my bite-size snacks.  When May arrived, it got harder for the spoon to fish for olives at the bottom of the jar.  I’d spend the whole year snacking on the cured fruits and diminished our Greek food provisions we would smuggle in from Greece.  The empty olive jar was an indicator that it wouldn’t be long before we would pack our dresses and sandals for the summer at Yiayia’s house.  Mom would pack a suitcase within a suitcase when we travelled to Athens.  In August, we would return to Chicago with more olives to fill the jar, and enough oregano to make the beagles sniff us out as drug smugglers.

Now, when May arrives I pick 10-20 kilos of Mission Olives around Cape Town, South Africa.  My childhood love for enjoying home-cured olives, fills my own cupboards with a cultural joy and salty olive treats to share in memory of my grandmother’s tradition.

Every step of the curing processes makes me wonder of when and how people discovered this ancient practice.

My Grandparents in Greece, 1930-40', Athena and Elias

My Grandparents, Yiayia Athena and Papou Elias Soupos

My Greek grandmother Athena culinary traditions

Greek love under the olive groves

Mission Olives in South Africa on Francolin Farm

Mission olives growing on branches in South Africa

Was it Athena’s olive tree branch that broke off during an autumn storm?  The branch that fell into the river bed and carried it for weeks into the salty estuary of Poseidon’s sea.  For weeks it may have soaked along the shores until a small family fishing boat arrived near Kalamata and came across the curing olive fruit branch floating in the water.  If they tasted the divine harmony of the Greek Gods’ elements and discovered that the olive fruit tree was not just best for oil, wood and shade, but for it’s fruit too, then let that be the start of a nourishing tradition.

I have been learning about the whole benefits of the olive tree itself recently when I’m not making up mythological stories of food origins. 🙂

With all its rich phytonutrients and phytochemicals (phyto stems from the Greek word-plant), the medicinal compounds from the leaves, fruit, roots and stems, play a major role in fighting bacterial and viral infections/disease as well as boosting the immune system to prevent and treat flus and colds.  The olive tree’s ancient medicinal presence is found in many religious texts such as the Qu’ran, Torah and Bible, and continues to feature in Internal Medicine Journals today.

The oleuropein (the bitter substance in olives) has been founded to inactivate bacteria, and display a number of other benefits in pharmacology research.  Essentially, it is an herbal powerhouse effective for infectious and chronic health conditions.  I like to use olive leaf extract or make olive leaf tea as a preventive agent in my overall health.  Olive leaves are now a staple in my cupboard alongside cured olives. I’ve found ways to use olive leaves in many everyday uses by sprinkling the leaves in salads, porridge, soups, and breads.  Don’t be surprised if I post an Olive leaf smoothie in the near future. I promise it wont be bitter!

For now, I would like to share some delicious combinations of flavours I’ve added to my curing olives over the years.

But first, there are a variety of ways to cure olives.  Check out the Australian Olive Grower Issue #4 for some inspiration.

For the past three years, I have been roughly following a water bath recipe given to me by Francolin Farm.

1. After picking your olives, place rinsed olives in a net bag (the ones you store onion’s  with) and put into a bucket and cover with water. Don’t pack olives too tightly and take care not to bruise them.  I place my olives in a cooler box because it has a spout I can lift open to let the water drain. Some people save water by placing the olives on top of the toilet basin where fresh water gets drained everytime you flush.  Others just fill their bathtub and drain it daily.  It would be nice to find some use for your greywater (olive water) in your garden.  If water shortage is an issue, fill jars with 50% salt and 50% olives.  Gently turn and toss olive jars daily for 2-3 weeks.  Rinse salt and fill jars again with 1 part salt and 10 parts water (see below for olive marinade flavours.)

2. Change water once or twice daily for 2-3 weeks. Simply lift the net bag with
olives out of the bucket and pour off water and replace in fresh water. Taste after two weeks and continue if it is still too bitter.

3. Dissolve 500 grams coarse salt in 5 litres boiling water. Allow to cool.
This mixture is sufficient for approx 2 ½ kilos of olives. Leave olives in this
brine solution undisturbed for one week. Taste, if bitter replace with fresh
brine solution and leave for a further week.  I like to use non-iodized salt or kosher salt.  The other ratio to use is 1 part salt to 10 parts water.

4. Rinse olives several times with fresh water. Cover with brown vinegar for
24 hours. Pour off vinegar and expose the olives to air overnight or a few hours
till dry.  This brings the colour of the olives back to a deep purple/black.  You may notice they lightened in colour when they were soaking.

4. Pack olives in clean warm sterilized jars. Pour over 25 ml olive oil per
jar. Make a brine of  300 grams coarse salt to 4,5 litres water (or 1:10 ratio). When brine mixture boils pour in 250 ml wine vinegar.  The vinegar is not necessary, but many people love the taste of red wine vinegar instead of the rich olive taste.  The art is getting all flavours to balance, in true Grecian culinary wisdom -Everything in Moderation. Pour hot brine mixture over  . . . . .  But wait!  This is where your creative olive marinade flavours get to feature.

Let your imagination go wild.  In addition to your brine (whether it is the vinegar and salt, or just 1 part salt to 10 part water ratio.  The salt ensures that the olives cure without bacteria growing and spoiling the fruit.  If you notice some white film, don’t stress.  You can scrape it off or leave it to add flavour as some people believe.  Before filling the jars with olives, add your favourite pinches of spice and intuitive amounts for your olives to marinate in. Then, place olives into the jar, filling the jar to the brim. Pour your salt brine over and seal jar immediately whilst the liquid is hot. Some people pour oil over to seal the jar.  This is optional.

Olives in a Moroccan marinade

Olives are tossed in salt, lemon, bay leaves, pickled garlic, and rosemary in a barrel marinade

Some flavour marinades I’ve done in the past:

Smoked Chipolte Chili Powder and Rosemary

Mustard Seeds and Laurel Leaf

Greek Traditional: Lemon Juice, Lemon Rinds, Rosemary and Garlic cloves

Herbaliser: Basil, Oregano, Lemon and Thyme

Nasturtium and Peppadew

Lemongrass and Ginger

Cumin seeds, Cayenne and Lemon

Miso and Ginger

Celery Seeds, Bay Leaf and Tarragon

Sage and Rainbow Peppercorns

Acha Masala

Smoked Paprika and Lemon Slices

Lavender Flowers, Cloves and Cumin

Cardamom, Peppercorn and Cinnamon

Red curry powder and Turmeric

Carraway Seeds, Celery and Carrot

Spices and Herbs to put in Olive marinade

Food as our medicine: Herbs sold at in Athens, Greece Farmer’s Market

Olives sold in Athens, Greece

Different types of Olives: Brined, Pickled, Dried, Salted, Cracked, etc.

Share your olive marinades and enjoy!

Greek Glory: The Kebab Pita at Thanasis

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2011 at 12:54

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I had a layover in Athens back in 2008. The first stop I made when I got out the airport was at Thanasi’s Greek kefta kebab pita joint.  I sat in the middle of Monastiraki square and savoured each bite.  The pita kebab filled my tastebuds with the celebrated spices that have influenced Greek cuisine for centuries. Thank goodness for the spice trades of India and Persia for the saffron and paprika. Thansis’ pita kebab consists of a fresh grilled pita with spiced ground lamb molded and grilled on a steel stick over hot coals. The tzatziki, yoghurt, onion, cucumber, dill sauce, calms the pungent flavours of the kebab and softens the chew of the fire grilled pastry pita. All the delicious flavours fit in the palm of your hand. The pita kebab is a whole moment of all major food groups wrapped tightly in wax paper.  It has the vegetable crunch from the onion and cucumber, fruit of the tomato, diary cream of the yoghurt, and finally the spiced meat kebab grilled on the open fire for the juiciest flavour in the Attica province.  I’ve yet to get the secret spices he puts into the kebab, hmmmm.

Now, fast forward to 2011 in Athens, Greece and I am busy buying shoes with my sister, Koko in Plaka instead of getting the secret ingredients.  The rest of the family sat down to Thansis’ glorious menu of authentic Greek cafe food.  When we did arrive to Thanasi’s with our new Athenian sandals, everyone was pleasantly satisfied and I ended up eating the lasting flavour bites from their plates. The whole place was bustling and I got inspired to do a ‘mini’ photo shoot of “Behind the Grill: at Thanasis”

The owner, Thanasi, was quietly sitting in the back of the restaurant, and smiling for the camera.  The food photographed simple and beautiful but what’s best was what came from the 4 metre grill and the men and women behind the scenes.  I didn’t ask how many kebabs they serve a day, but no doubt they are serving hundreds of amazing Athenian food memories for tourists and locals. Thanasi has been doing the right thing for the past 50 years, supporting a hardworking team that serves a quality product all grilled and rolled up into proud Grecian flavour.

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