Saturday, December 3, 2011

Taking a moment to breath

I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my sanity. These are my thoughts for the past 3 months.

This past summer I spent in Greece and somehow got the bug that it is time to move on from this place I live in now. What is it about the Greek sun, the soil, the chaos, the extreme heat that make you want to live there and make it work. I think it is the sea, that blue Aegean sea that beckons us to dive in and feel it's salty licks. To take a walk in a village and everyone to know you. To sit at the village cafe in the middle of the day when most are taking siesta and enjoy the quiet while sipping on a frappe. To hear the "tzitzikia" (native crickets) sing their tune as loud as they can. To enjoy what is our heritage and try and preserve it.

So that is what I dream of now, while December has creeped in and I await the next 7 months to go by so that I can be there again. As I take a moment out of my day to breath I realize that I need to breath in the hot summer air. I need to meditate under the Greek sun. To walk on a pebble beach and smell the salt in the air. To sit at a tavern and taste fish that was swimming in that sea that morning and now it is grilled and lemon topped on my plate waiting for me to savor it.... Speaking of which... next recipe will be grilled red snapper.

Well that is all I will say for now... Till later..

Baking a pie

Who was the person to use the phase "it's as easy as baking a pie" and knew what they were talking about? All I can say is that they do not have a clue.

Baking a pie can be easy. If you have the ingredients, know a good filling recipe and have time... lots and lots of time. But, I have realized that making a pie does not mean you have to create the dough yourself, or make a mess in the kitchen. Here is my favorite apple pie recipe that anyone can make and make it theirs.

By 2 pie shells frozen (but leave them on the counter for 1/2 before filling)

4 apples, pealed and thin sliced (the thinner the better as they cook faster)
1 cup of brown sugar (loose packed)
pinch of salt
zest of lemon
mint (if you choose)
pinch of cinammon

1 egg yolk with a drop of water and 1/2 tsp of sugar

Take a large ziploc bag and place in all your ingredients. Seal the bag and shake it well. Leave it in the fridge overnight. Take out along with your pie shells 1/2 before preparing pie. Then take the filling, place in one pie and use the second to over the pie. Cut out a few shapes if you wish for decoration. Then dust pie with some water.

Place in the over at 350 for 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the pie. Take out when you see it start to turn away from white color and brush lightly with the egg glaze. Place back in over to complete cooking.

Leave out for a 1/2 before serving. YUM YUM YUM!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fluffy omelet

Sometimes you want a really good omelet without having to go out to eat. Well, this one is simple and tasty!!!

You will need:
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1tbsp plain breadcrumbs
a slice of parmesan cheese or emendal
1 tsp of oil (vegetable is best)

Place oil in a pan and heat at medium. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and pour in pan. Cook on one side until no longer wet, then flip on the other for browning.

You can choose to add onions (but make sure they have been sauteed in advance), or an type of breakfast meat that you have chopped into smaller pieces.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Traditional dishes made easy ... Pastichio - Greek Baked Ziti

When I was 12 my mother showed me how to make this dish called "Pastichio". Basically it is pasta, meatsauce and a white cream sauce (bechamel). You would think now, that this would take about 30 to 45 minutes maximum to make. Well, my mother had me in that kitchen for about 4 hours... OMG, I never thought I would be able to make this on my own.

With time and many many many tries, I have mastered this dish to about 40 minutes, including the baking... So, here goes...

Try to think about what your dish is. This one is pasta with 2 sauces. So, let us try to make it just as simple as that.

The recipe:   PASTICHIO

1 lb pasta (preferably a noodle with a large hole - penne, rotini, pastichio noodles)
5 table spoons of butter (3 tbsp for the bechamel and 2 tbsp for the pasta)
3 cups of milk (whole, or even 2%)
1 quart 35% cooking cream (heavy cooking cream)
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese (here you can alter or include romano, mitzithra, monterey jack)
3 - 4 tbsp of white all purpose flour
pinch of nutmeg, salt, pepper
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground beef (I like lean but you choose which you would prefer)
1 cup bread crumbs (you can use corn chips, corn flakes - whatever you wish that is dry and a bread)

Food processor: 
2 roasted red peppers
1 onion
1 garlic head (or 1 tsp of chopped garlic)
1 tsp dry or fresh parsley
1 can of whole tomatoes ( or if you have ripe fresh tomatoes that is also good)

2 pots are needed.

1st pot: Boil your pasta al dente (once cooked and drained place in your lasagna pan and place over it the 2tbsp of butter. Leave to the side

2nd pot: At same time as pot 1 is boiling, heat the oil and then place in the meat to brown. Once the meat is cooked place in the mix from the food processor, cover and cook on medium for 20 minutes.

Once Pasta is removed from 1st pot, place in there the 3tbsp of butter to melt, then add in the flour to create a rue. Once the mix is starting to brown a bit add in the milk and the cream. Let that heat to a quick boil, then stir in the cheese and the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring till you see it start to thicken. Once thick like a soft pudding remove from heat.
Your meat from pot 2 should be done. Place that over the pasta that is in the pan, move it around a bit so that it blends with the pasta. Then cover that with your bechamel sauce. sprinkle with a bit of dry cheese and breadcrumbs. Place in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven when the color on the top has started browning. Let sit for 20 minutes... ready to serve and enjoy! Note you can always serve following day. To many it is preferred... if you can hold off till then...


Monday, July 18, 2011

Travelling back in time...

Some times we come to point in our journeys where we actually go backwards although still moving ahead in a positive way. This is what is happenening to me now. I will be going home. Yes... HOME! Although born in the States and lived on this side of the Atlantic for the most of my life, I consider Greece to be my home.

My parents, both born and raised till their mid teens in Greece, are more American than I feel sometimes. Although I am very proud to be from the US and grateful for the advantages I had growing up to be born there, I still feel lovesick over this small country in the Mediterranean.

Political upheaval, financial distress, anarchy, greed, cheating foreigner and each-other, I still find that there is the purity of our ancesters. Those who fought foreign invaders, stood up for what they believed in, hid in caves to save their lives, their religion, their purity.... Those who gave us the language we speak, the foods we love to eat, the dances we celebrate with , the songs we rejoice to... Those who gave us our culture, our language, our pride.... At least this is what it is for me. I am proud to be of Greek Heritage.

And in a few days I will be landing at an airport I do not know to take a Metro I have not taken before, to get to the city that I wil not recognize, and walk up to the top floor of our family building and take a peek at the Acropolis just before I enter my grandmothers home and drop in her arms.

My Yiayia (grandmother) who's name is Afroditi, is the root of our family. She has been holding us all up and made all of us who we are today. A mother of 4 children, all living, widow for the past 38 years, an immigrant to the US at age 55 only to return back to her home almost 25 years later. Now she sits on her large roof-top terrace and reminisces about the past. She waits for her grand-kids and great-grandkids to visit her. She waits for someone to come and hear her stories.

For now, I sit in my home in Canada and wait for the next few days to pass to that I can begin my journey back... back home.

I hope to see my family and some old friends. I look forward to meeting my husbands extended family in Crete. And I anticipate the sun kissing me and the sea calling me in for a visit. I smile in anticipation and promise to share my experiences.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New laptop

Got a new laptop and Cathy is forcing me to post something. So here I am! Posting! What though should I post? Should I say how much she annoys me sometimes? Hot about the fact that she invites me to her house and does not offer me coffee? Yeah, can you believe some people???

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm back!!!!!!! And a PR to boot.