Monday, April 29, 2013

Cauliflower Pan Fritter

cauliflower does some pretty weird stuff.
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables on the planet.  You can boil it,stir fry it, deep fry it, put it in soups and casseroles with any other vegetables, eat it raw, dip it and even make flower arrangements out of it!!!  You'd think with so many options for preparing cauliflower, Yannis and I could agree on one.  That would be wrong.  Yannis, like most Greeks, likes his cauliflower boiled to mush, slathered in olive oil and sprinkled with vinegar.   I like mine barely steamed and topped with a bit (OK, quite a bit), of butter, salt and pepper.  Yannis also loves deep fried cauliflower with cheese sauce on top.  I prefer my cheese to go au gratin in a casserole of cauliflower.  This winter as I started doing a lot of pitas, I hit on cauliflower and cheese and low and behold, Yannis and I both think it's a hit.  One less thing to disagree on in the kitchen!  Try it and let me know if you agree too.

Cauliflower Pan Fritter

1 1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped fine
2 green onions, white only, chopped fine
2 slices bacon , chopped , optional
1/4 cup grated graviere cheese
4 eggs,
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teas. baking powder
salt and pepper
2 T. dill
frying oil

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat oil in medium size fry pan and cook as an omelette. Be sure to use plenty of oil and a good teflon pan. Flip once; sprinkle with additional cheese, if you like. This is great with tomato slices and olives, a little crusty bread and of course, a little rose wine; assuming this is dinner, otherwise, champagne if it's breakfast!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Shrimp Risotto

--other things that lay nicely on a bed of rice (non-vegetarian)
Rice may be the second most widely produced food in the world, but in our home it is the food we produce the most of! It is the one thing everyone in the family absolutely loves, except me.  That is, until I made risotto with shrimp. I enjoyed this dish so much that I had to hold myself back from seconds and thirds.  Tonight I will make risotto with shrimp for Yannis birthday celebration.  I like to make my family their favorite foods on their special day, but lamb chops are just too smelly and they don't lay nicely on a bed of risotto.  Shrimp, like rice, is another food the Karakalos family all enjoy.  It looks like I finally hit on a recipe I can make to please the whole bunch.  So we'll celebrate with risotto tonight, and  when Anna and Pano get here, and when Théa gets here, and when Ari and Ariane get here, and when the Swedes come over, and when the Dutch come up, and when the Norwegians visit,.and for my birthday party...yeah, oh yeah!

Shrimp Risotto

1/2 cup butter
1 carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup risotto rice,  Arborio
1/2 cup white wine, slightly warmed
5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
20 medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
2 Tables. butter
2 Tables. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

In a large skillet, sauté the onion and carrot in the butter for 2 minutes; add the rice and sauté until golden brown; add the warm wine and cook until the wine evaporates.  Add enough broth to cover the rice, stirring frequently; keep adding broth for the next 20 minutes, just covering the rice, untill you use all of the broth.  Meanwhile, sauté the shrimp in the butter, oil and garlic untill browned, add the sprig of rosemary and simmer for 2 minutes; remove the rosemary and add salt and pepper.  When all the broth has beenadded to the rice, remove from the fire and stir in the parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately, putting the shrimp over the rice as you serve it.  This amazingly tasty dish is nice with a simple green salad and a nice white wine!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cheese Cake

A biiiiirthday treat for the Aries
The argument continues.  This time Yannis and I are both wrong.  We both thought for sure that cheese cake originated in New York.  Cream cheese didn't arrive in Greece untill recently, so we, like most Greeks, think cheese cake is an American delicacy, which the Greeks call tseezkek.  I found out that in absolutely every corner of the world people are making some version of cheese cake.  I was very surprised to learn that the first recorded mention of cheese cake was by the ancient Greek physician Aegimus.  He wrote on the art of making cheese cakes and he included two recipes for making cheese cakes for religious uses in his writings.  I'm going to make my sister's recipe for cheese cake, which I think is the best one on the planet, for Yannis birthday treat.  I'm sure it's not even close to the original Greek's recipe, but I know it will taste divine!!

Cheese Cake

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup graham cracker or vanilla cookie crumbs
2 Tables. brown sugar
mix crust ingredients and press into a 9" pie plate, put in freezer

1 1/2 cup sugar
4 8 oz. packages cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sour cream or full fat yogurt
1 teas. vanilla
1 teas. lemon juice

Beat the sugar, butter and cream cheese together till smooth and fluffy; blend in the cream, flour, vanilla and lemon juice; beat in the eggs, one at a time; stir in the sour cream or yogurt and pour into pie crust.  Bake in 350 F./180 C. oven for one hour.  Turn the oven off, leave the door open a little and let the cheese cake remain in oven for 5 hours.  Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.  The cheese cake tastes better the longer it sits before eating. Serve with your favorite fruit, sauce, syrup and whipped cream.  Take a good long walk after eating for digestion so you can come back for seconds.....

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pork and Celery Egg-Lemon

I have had to change alot of my ways of thinking and doing things since moving to Greece, especially when it comes to food. Years ago when we would go out to eat, I would keep sending main dishes back to be heated up; the Greeks think the flavor of food is better at room temperature.  I would also return vegetables and salads swimming in olive oil, not realizing that copious amounts of oil on a dish reflected the chefs generosity toward us.  One can never have enough oil to dip the fresh bread in at a Greek table, whereas when I grew up we only served bread for special occasions and with spagetti.  And then there's celery. I used to think celery was only used for dipping, or in soups and salads, never as a main dish.  (I never knew the Greeks used to make garlands out of celery for the sacred games either).  I must say that my life has become much more flavorful and full of really useful information, now that I've learned to eat and think like a Greek!

Pork and Celery with Egg Lemon Sauce

3 lbs. of lean pork, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
2 Tables. flour
1/2 cup white wine
1Tables dill, finely chopped
10 celery stalks, leaves  included
salt and pepper
juice of 2 lemons

2 eggs
The Celery preferred by The Ancient Greeks.

Saute the pork, onions and garlic in the butter till golden brown, stir in the flour till dissolved, add salt and pepper, dill, wine and enough water to cover; (2 potatoes, wedged may also be added), simmer, covered for about one hour or until the pork is tender. Cut the celery in half lengthwise and add to the pork mixture, simmering until tender. Meanwhile, separate the eggs, beating the yolks and whites.  Stir the whites and yolks together and beat in the lemon juice; slowly stir the egg/lemon mixture into the meat, cover and remove from fire; allow to sit awhile before serving.  Your favorite salad and plenty of bread for the great sauce is all you need to make this one terrific meal.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Minnesota Fudge Cake

Fudge baths make you look approx. 30 years younger
(give or take a few minutes).
Minnesota is consistently rated as one of the best educated and healthiest poplulations in the U.S.A. Minnesotans are also expected to live the longest.  I'm convinced the reason for these statistics is the fact that every mom, aunt, uncle and grandmother makes Minnesota Fudge Cake on a regular basis. You will find this cake at every birthday party, family reunion, coffee morning and dessert table in Minnesota. We all know that chocolate decreases the risk of a stroke, increases insulin sensitivity, is full of antioxidants, is a great mood elevator, improves vision and even quiets coughs.  Chocolate consumption even improves blood flow and makes you smarter.  So the next time you're tempted to go see a doctor, do what the Minnesotans do and bake a fudge cake...guaranteed to make you feel better!!

Minnesota Fudge Cake
5 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 squares (oz) unsweetened chocolate
1 3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 teas. red food coloring
1 1/2 teas. soda
1/2 teas. salt
3 cups flour

In a small saucepan beat one of the eggs, add one cup of the sugar, the chocolate and 3/4 cup of the milk. Cook, stirring, over low hear, until the chocolate melts and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Mix the butter and remaining sugar until it is fluffy; add the vanilla and coloring. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the dry ingredients (mixed together), alternately with the remaining milk, beating until smooth. Blend in the chocolate mixture. Pour into 3 buttered and floured layer pans. Bake at 350F./180C. for 25-30 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cream of Tomato Soup

Solving the age old
soup-in-the-'stache problem
For years I knew what I would be eating for lunch every Friday.  In elementary school our cafeteria would get simmering tomato soup every Friday and fill the school with it's wonderful aroma.  When I got to Catholic school they made a pretty good version of tomato soup too, and at home my Mom would serve Campbell's Tomato Soup with fried egg sandwiches every Friday till the Pope let us off the hook from fasting meat once a week.  
Now I make tomato soup from the beautiful fresh tomatoes available all year in Greece.  I always think of my daughter Anna when I make this soup. It is her all time favorite!!  
So, since it's Lent,  it's almost Friday,  I'm thinking of my Anna, and I have a sack of tomatoes, I'll get cooking up some good memories... and a great soup!

Cream of Tomato Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
5 large tomatoes
1 T. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic
3 cups chicken stock
1 t. sugar
salt and pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
fresh basil leaves for garnish

Saute the onions, celery and carrots in the butter for 10 minutes.  Add all of the rest of the ingredients, except the cream and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to simmer the soup for 35 minutes, uncovered.  
When the tomatoes are very soft, put the soup through a sieve.  Gently heat the soup with the cream.  Serve with croutons, fresh basil leaves and a dab of sour cream or yogurt.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spetses Island Baked Fish

Summer is almost here. It's time to start island hopping again.  Yannis and I love to travel and going to the neighborhood islands is one of our favorite things to do with friends and family, or just the two of us.  Every island has it's own landscape, myths, heroes and flavors. Today I'm making a wonderful recipe from Spetses, an island just around the corner from us in Poros.  
Booboo got 'tude
Spetses is a pine-covered island with secluded coves, clear waters with superyachts and traditional wooden fishing boats. It attracts an upmarket clientele from all over the world.  I always think of Bouboulina, the only woman to be given the staus of admiral of the navy, the re-enactment of the torching of the Turkish flagship in the harbor and the famous Baked Fish when I visit Spetses.  You'll have to go there yourself to experience all the delights it has to offer, but you can enjoy a little taste of this beautiful island when you bake their famous traditional fish. So put on a little Greek music, open a nice bottle of wine and take off for an island adventure!

Spetses Island Baked Fish

One 2 1/2-3 lb. sae bass or snapper
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup butter
1 T. tomato paste, diluted in 2 T. water
1/2 cup white wine
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped tomatoes, without skin
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
2 T. fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper

Clean the fish very well, place it on a baking pan and sprinkle the belly with salt and pepper. Mix the diluted tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and green pepper, dill, wine, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture over the fish; sprinkle with half of the parsley and half of the bread crumbs; lay the sliced tomatoes over the fish, sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and bread crumbs.  Bake in a medium oven for one hour, checking occassionaly to see that it has enough juice; baste with the juices from the pan if necessary or add a little wine. It is done when a nice crust has formed over the fish.  Serve with a salad, potatoes or rice.  A good white wine goes perfectly with this island meal.