22.4.15

why Greek women live so long

Women in Greece up until now had longer telomeres than men and therefore outlived them, according to this Harvard University study. Take note of the over-representation of women in this vintage family photo (my great-grandmother sitting in centre, front-row).

My grandmother was a legend when it came to her cooking prowess. Her food was influenced by her upbringing in Asia Minor.



21.4.15

the laughing boy

Today is a sobering day. It marks the anniversary of the coup d'état of 21 April, 1974, the start of the Greek dictatorship which lasted a total of seven years. That regime was supported by the U.S. government and remains a dark chapter in Modern Greek history.

Maria Farantouri sang a memorable performance of a song at the first concert given by legendary composer Mikis Theodorakis in Greece after the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. The song is the popular song "To gelasto paidi" ("The laughing boy"), whose composition actually has its origins in Ireland.

The song is a call for the spirit of democracy, which should never be taken for granted.

Have a good evening folks.


19.4.15

#therealmykonos: Easter in the Aegean

Christos Anesti, to all. For those not familiar with that expression, it translates to 'Christ has risen', which all Greeks along the cascade of faith (from academic atheists to devout Greek Orthodox Christian grandmothers) say from midnight on Holy Saturday and onward for forty days. It is one week since I had the pleasure of spending Easter Sunday feasting in Mykonos. A massive thank you to Vicky Kousathana, my dear friend, who hosted me at the fabulous boutique establishment Terra Maria Hotel. My lovely room was conveniently situated over her uncle's bakery. Nothing like waking up in the morning with the beautiful fragrant smell of masticha.

My top-secret food project brought me to the island, and I will be sharing in the coming months some of the recipes and knowledge on my quest to discover a bit of old Mykonos on a plate. I have coined the hashtag #therealmykonos to underscore that there is much more to the island than sushi in the summer, and Moet champagne along the shores of Super Paradise Beach. Not to dispute the sheer fun associated with summer on the island, but there are layers of tradition which Mykonians value, and perhaps that is no more evident than around Easter. Hence, my visit.
Preparing glorious kouloures (the Easter bread-coils, a specialty in Mykonos) by Yannis Vamvakouris in his bakery during Holy Week 


My friend Thanassis' mom prepared a legendary feast on Sunday along with her husband and children. This was the centerpiece at the table.


The patriarch. Mr. Panagiotis Kousathanas. The man is a legend when it comes to meat. Responsible for the lamb, kokoretsi, giaxni, and kodosouvli.


The group of friends.


Afternoon in Gialos.


Kodoslouvi.

Until next time, my friends.

26.3.15

happy independence, Motherland

In the spirit of freedom and history, wanted to extend a happy Greek Independence Day to all our friends, and neighbours. I am a patriot, not a nationalist, of note.

Traditionally, we eat our version of fish and chips in Greece on March 25th, although instead of chips, we munch on a flavourful thick garlic sauce called skordalia which complements the fish itself. Oh, and the fish tends to be cod. Check out a recipe from The Cooking Odyssey here.



Work entitled PARIS-ATHÈNES: Didier Martin

22.2.15

my darn good banana bread recipe (inspired by Susan Jane White)

Mylittlebaklava should be rebranded mylazyblogger. Anyway, I felt like sharing on this mildly cold Geneva Sunday a recipe for a very moist banana bread I baked yesterday in my lazy weekend boredom. The inspiration for this came from my dear Irish friend and critically acclaimed cookbook author and nutritional cook Susan Jane White (The Extra Virgin Kitchen). Susan Jane's recipe is a twist on the traditional banana bread using rye.


As noted, my version was an inspiration, but as I have no gluten allergies, the only thing our recipes share are the banana itself. And the cinnamon. And the coconut edge. I was frankly too lazy to schlep myself over to get the ingredients needed (e.g. rye, dates, and colleagues). Susan also makes her very own Nutella to top of her wonder bread. I used the commercial jar. She is the real deal. And I am the diva.

In essence, what was in the cupboard, I grabbed and did my magic.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4 small bananas mashed with a fork (they were super ripe), save a few slices for topping
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I add it to everything)
1/2 cup granola (I used a mix with hazelnuts that was a Swiss brand, which gives extra layer of flavour and texture)
small handful of shredded coconut (I had some from an Indian food brand)

HOW YOU DO IT:

Preheat oven (fan) at 165 C, folks.
1. Mix dry ingredients first. In a medium size bowl, sift flour, and add baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set this to the side.
2. Break out your electric mixer, and cream butter with sugar in a separate (and larger) bowl. Do this for 5 minutes at medium-to-high speed. Then add brown sugar. And two eggs. Mix for one more minute at medium speed. (if you don't have an electric mixer, go vintage and mix by hand like our grandmothers did).
3. Slowly add flour, again mixing at medium speed so you don't have an explosion of flour in your kitchen (or face).
4. Finish off by adding rest of the ingredients, mix for one more minute. You are looking for a nice batter that is not too loose, nor too thick. Middle way, like the Buddha says.
5. Pour batter into a rectangular bread tin that has been buttered up (I had a smaller tin). Add 4-5 slices of banana you have reserved as a topic. Makes for a nice effect when done, as you get this lovely caramelized texture of the banana.
6. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 40 minutes with a long souvlaki stick (or thin kebab skewer) to check if it is done. As I used a smaller tin, and my batter by virtue went up to the top of the tin, the bread took about an hour to be baked to perfection.
7. When done, remove from oven, and rest on cooling rack. Remove from tin when cool, and indulge with some Nutella toping.  

20.11.14

At last. The First Greek Lady comes to Athens.

Welcome home Arianna Huffington. A lot of excitement has filled Athens, as HuffPost opens up its Greek office. And importantly, a very powerful article on one Greek man's quest to serve food to those in need. http://t.co/JZcsgKGIP0


3.11.14

bringing American Thanksgiving to Greeks in Athens (let the festivities begin)

My annual Thanksgiving dinner for my relatives in Athens nears. Menu includes:

  • Two 7.5 kg turkeys, organic, from Thessaloniki. They shall be stuffed with chestnuts, cranberries, and haloumi cheese. Covered in lot's of Greek bacon. 
  • Loads of sweet potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts with Mykonian louza and anthotiro
  • I am still undecided on the stuffing. Greeks are a funny bunch when it comes to this.
  • Dessert ideas? Pecan pie with  maple syrup flavoured mascarpone cream