I am going to bed now, since I have county champs tomorrow (that archery thing with which I am obsessed). I made the greatest little triangular-shaped spinach pies (filo pastry stuffed with a tablespoon of spinach/cheese mix). Otherwise known in the mother tongue as spanakopitakia.

Spanka-the-pita is a cheeky term coined by American buddy Rob Cacace, who's mind is always in the gutter.

Recipe and pictures to follow Sunday night. These little treats are for the archers tomorrow after the tournament. They smell amazing! It's now June 1st. Καλό μήνα!


rhubarb experiment

Tonight I decided to whip up my very own rhubarb crumble. You first may ask 'what the heck is rhubarb?' Interestingly, if you go to the website of the American cable station the Food Network, and do a search for 'rhubarb', you get 61 hits. If you then navigate over to the BBC food website, and do the same, you'll get 113 hits. I never heard about rhubarb until I came to England.

So, what is it? A vegetable indeed. In cold climates as in England (weather is not one of the reasons I live in this otherwise lovely country), most of the plant above ground disappears completely during the winter, and only until April do you begin to see the plant grow again from its root. It's now out in full, with incredibly large leaves that are fan-shaped. We have literally a bush of it in our backyard. Out of nowhere, it's like a phoenix rising out of the ashes. OK, maybe that's a stretch, but you get the point.

The leaves themselves have poisonous substances, however. They include oxalic acid, nephrotoxic acid, and some other unidentified toxin. One needs to consume about 5 kilos of these unpleasanlty sour leaves in order to come to the median lethal dose for oxalic acid. I can't imagine a human being doing this, but nonetheless, be warned.

What is used in foods are the stalks (otherwise known as petioles), which are characteristically deep red in colour. The stalks are ready to be consumed immediately when they are harvested. You can cook the stalks in a variety of ways, but I have seen them more commonly used in dessert recipes. If you stew them, the end-result is a tart sauce, often used as a filling for pies and crumbles (the latter I made an attempt at tonight). Apparently it makes a nice jam but I have never tried it. I will never give up fresh strawberry jam (especially the kind my girl Romy makes back in New England using Connecticut strawberries).

Of historical interest to some, after sugar became affordable to the masses in this country, a stick of rhubarb (coupled with sugar of course) was a popular sweet for children.

I just took it out of the oven, and it looks strange. Agh. And I need clotted cream for this. I don't have any.

My recipe follows:

1 kg rhubarb (cut stalks from my backyard, washed first and then diced in small pieces)
3 tbsp of Grand Marnier
juice of 1 lime
1 cup orange juice
250g sugar

250g flour
400g of oats
1 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
150g sugar

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Combine first rhubarb plus other filling ingredients in a bowl. Mix them well and add this to the bottom of an 8" square cake pan.
3. For the crumble, combine flour, oats, ginger, nutmeg, and sugar in a separate bowl, mixing with a fork. Add melted butter and stir. If the consistency of the crumble is too thick, add a little water. Pour it over the rhubarb filling. You want it to evenly spread over the rhubarb.
4. Place pan in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. Watch out for the top of the crumble, and make sure it's not overcooked.
5. Once out of the oven, you can serve it hot or cold, with clotted or whipped cream.


bourekakia (like a baklava, but not)

This recipe is courtesy of the Patisserie Chatzis in Thessaloniki. Translation into English to follow. This recipe is more than reliable, it's fantastic!

  • 530 gr. Φύλλα Κανταΐφι
  • 1060 gr. Φύλλο κρούστας
  • 500 gr. Βούτυρο (Αγελαδινό)
  • 500 gr. Καρύδι
Υλικά για σιρόπι:
  • 1700 gr. Νερό
  • 2 κιλά Ζάχαρη
  • 300gr. Γλυκόζη
  • ½ Φλιτζανάκι Χυμό Λεμόνι


Απλώνουμε τα φύλλα κρούστας. Παίρνουμε δύο φύλλα και απλώνουμε στο κέντρο κανταΐφι και σε όλο το μήκος του το πασπαλίζουμε με βούτυρο. Απλώνουμε παράλληλα καρύδια και τυλίγουμε το φύλλο έτσι ώστε να γίνει ρολό.
Αφού τελειώσουμε τα ρολά, κόβουμε το κάθε ένα ρολό σε 12 με 15 εκ. κομμάτια. Έπειτα τα τοποθετούμε στο ταψί οριζόντια ή κάθετα. Αφού γεμίσει το ταψί πασπαλίζουμε με το υπόλοιπο βούτυρο τα κομμάτια ένα-ένα, έτσι ώστε να καλυφθούν καλά όλα τα κομμάτια.
Έπειτα βάζουμε το γλυκό σε προθερμασμένο φούρνο και το ψήνουμε στους 180 oC για 1ώρα και 5 λεπτά.

Προετοιμασία για σιρόπι:

Σε μια κατσαρόλα ρίχνουμε το νερό, την ζάχαρη και την γλυκόζη βράζοντας σε σιγανή φωτιά. Μόλις το σιρόπι πάρει βράση ρίχνουμε το χυμό λεμονιού μέσα στη κατσαρόλα και ανακατεύουμε. Έπειτα το βράζουμε καλά μέχρι να δέσει.


Περιμένουμε να κρυώσει το γλυκό και ρίχνουμε, σε χλιαρή θερμοκρασία, το σιρόπι μέσα στο ταψί. Έπειτα περιμένουμε για μία περίπου ώρα μέχρι να ωριμάσει έτσι ώστε να είναι έτοιμο για σερβίρισμα.

you like my balls? (as in meatballs)

A very interesting article on Greek meatballs by NY Times' Elaine Louie cites Diane Kochilas, a cookbook author and the consulting chef at Pylos in New York's East Village, who says something which I agree with 110% - 'the most aromatic Greek cooking is the food of Greeks who were refugees from Turkey'.

My father would agree on this one. His side of the family is originally from Asia Minor and settled in Thessaloniki in the earlier part of the 20th century.


why food matters

because eating is living....and since we do a lot of bad eating in the 21st century, I am using this forum to share my love of the stunning art that is called Greek gastronomy.

I have just made my lunch for tomorrow, spinach with basmati rice (σπανακόριζο). I have to go to bed, but more on this easy and amazing recipe tomorrow.