Greek food! I love it! It's healthy (possibly the most healthy cuisine in the world), versatile, cheap and can be quick and simple or gastronomically extravagant; what more could you want from a pabulum? It's history is not only ancient but it is also the forerunner of all western cuisine. Do you think of France when you think of food? Guess who they got their knowledge from? The Greeks! Obviously. I'll spare you the “everything comes from the Greeks” lecture, I'm sure you've heard it all before, even if you haven't see “My big fat Greek wedding,” but the fact is that there isn't a cuisine in the world that hasn't got some linkage to Greek food.
Ok, maybe calling it Greek is a misnomer, when what we really should be referring to is the area around Greece and the Mediterranean basin that spreads from the Caspian sea in the north, France in the west, North Africa in the south and the middle east and beyond. That's why, when eat Turkish, Lebanese, Israeli, French, Syrian, and even Saudi Arabian (and so on) there will be a common thread in what you are eating: herbs, olive oil, dairy, legumes, fish, lots of vegetables, wine and not so much red meat as many would expect. Sure it is actually true that when I flirted with vegetarianism some years ago, my auntie thought it was perfectly fine for me to eat Lamb, but on the whole, Greek cuisine prizes vegetarian options over meat. Its partly to do with the many fasting days that the Orthodox church requires, when Greeks are not allowed to eat meat (and sometimes dairy). Indeed, religion and mythology are tightly bound up in Greek food. Athena gave the olive tree to the Greeks, Gaia the apple tree, the Quince is associated with Aphrodite and you could write a book about herbs and the Gods!
With all this in mind, I, Andrew Yiallouros a.k.a The Good Greek, feel well placed to show you all the joys of Greek/Mediterranean food; my mother is from Athens, Monastiraki, no less, which to Athenians is the same as a cockney being born within ear shot of Bow Bells) and my father is Greek Cypriot (from Famagusta or a peasant as my mum likes to refer to him) and so I encompass a wide variety of styles and knowledge in the umbrella that is Mediterranean food. Check out my CV at the bottom of the page and my facebook page here! From refined Athenian fare to rustic dishes from the villages and Islands, and with a little bit of “fusion” thrown in! To this end, why don't you try this sample menu:
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Tzatziki served with warm pita bread
If you're having a party tonight, what better way to feed your guests than a selection of dips!
Here's the classic Greek dip, often used as a starter or as a sauce to go with souvlaki (Kebabs):
You will need:
a large tub of Greek yoghurt or Greek style yoghurt
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
half a cucumber
a table spoon of olive oil
a teaspoon of sugar
a table spoon of fresh mint or a teaspoon of dried mint
salt and pepper to taste
Watch the method on my youtube channel here
Or here it is in text:
Grate the cucumber into a sieve and squeeze the water out. Put the yoghurt in a bowl, add the cucumber, crushed garlic, and the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Put it into the fridge for about 30 minutes or more to let the flavours come out and then serve with some warm pita bread with a garnish on top! Mmmmm, tasty!
Add Black Kalamata olives (Available from many supermarkets and Delicatessens) for a truly Greek beachside experience!
Try adding Tiropitta (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC9-kDi0I4I) for a bigger meal!
Easter Lamb belly (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPGjwkqsC-0)
served with a Mushroom and butter bean risotto or rice…
A little recipe, that shows, as my mother said when meeting my Italian brother in law (Stef Ispani of Ponti’s fame), “The Italians and the Greeks are close enough!”
Mushroom and butter bean risotto
buttery Mushroom and butter bean rice:
You will need:
a knob of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
500g of risotto/rice
1800ml of water with stock
500g of mushrooms (any will do but Chestnut are good for this one)
a tin of butter beans
500g Feta and cheddar cheese/a hard Greek cheese (crumbled and grated)
1 handful of fresh chopped parley
salt and pepper (to season)
Here’s the method in a video, or in the text below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYXzcUwBYts
Put the knob of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in pan and add risotto, fry for few minutes stirring constantly and then add 900ml of water with stock per 250g risotto and then simmer, again stirring often; in another pan fry an onion until brown, 2 cloves garlic and some chestnut mushrooms and then add butter beans and another nob of butter, add to risotto and continue to simmer and stir until creamy, add cheddar cheese and fetta and some chopped parley, pepper, stir and serve!
If using rice:
Put one part rice to two parts water (you need much less water than the risotto requires) with stock dissolved in it into a saucepan and bring to the boil and simmer until all the water has gone. Put the butter in with the rice and mix it in. Then follow the rest of the instructions above for the mushroom part of the dish and mix it with the rice and serve!
Serve with a light red wine or rose'
Selection of cut fresh fruits
Shot of Tsikoudia/Raki (A traditional way to end a meal and goes really well with fruit like watermelon, melon and grapes)
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