beef stew by the wonderful Filitsa

Last night, I had the privilege of dining at my friend and scientific colleague Filitsa's home here in Oxford. She's a brilliant cancer research scientist, and an equally brilliant master in the kitchen. Filitsa has been blessed with the ability to take meat and produce in the UK and cook them in such a way that she transforms them into authentic Greek cuisine. She's truly a master of Greek gastronomy. I don't pass complements like this lightly.

The menu included:

freshly made focaccia bread with sprinkles of feta cheese

roasted red-peppers stuffed with feta cheese and steamed courgettes along with the cutest little tiropitakia (little cheese pies) sprinkled with honey and vinegar

kokinisto (the most beautiful beef stew in a tomato-based sauce with a touch of brandy and a Greek all-spice called bahari {μπαχάρι}) served in a roasted aubergine and potatoes dauphinoise

I will try to see if I can convince my friend to share the recipe ;)


feta cheese by FAGE in England, woo hoo!

News report. Greek cheese by FAGE I've just discovered in Sainsbury's Local! Very exciting for me (I know, I need a life). Anyway, FAGE's website is very cool.

I must admit however that Mevgal's feta is one of my favorites.....My heart is in Macedonia.


best seafood chowder ever

My mate Robert Kennedy made the most delicious thing ever. A seafood chowder courtesy of Irish chef Neven Maguire. His gorgeous girlfriend bought the fish, the shrimp, and the mussels from the wonderful and famous Covered Market in Oxford. I forgot to nick the recipe, but the secret is in the leeks, 1/4 pint of fine white wine, and the quality seafood.

I was the happiest man Friday evening.


my favorite new olive oil

Sometimes, I really love being Greek.  OK, most of the time, but what inspires this post at 15 minutes before midnight is my latest acquisition, which is a bottle of some of the finest extra virgin olive oil I have ever purchased outside of Greece.  It's produced by Gaea and it's from Sitia, Crete.  I just broke it open and had a taste.  There's a harmonious blend of richness in flavour and and a softness in consistency.

Agh!   God bless whoever imports this stuff to England. 


i'm writing my thesis, and not cooking

not my thesis, but stuffed peppers (gemista)

Sad state of affairs on the cooking front, and I apologize for my unusual silence lately.  I've started writing my PhD thesis.  It's official.  However, last Friday, I cooked gemista (stuffed vegetables, peppers to be exact, with ground beef and rice) for my beautiful friend Alex.  She even got some wonderfully roasted pine nuts which are a personal touch of mine to a very classic Greek dish.  The recipe, I promise will be posted soon.  I am going to be punched for saying this (since I have yet to post the gorgeous recipe of cheesecake I made a few weeks ago for my friend Laurel's farewell get together).


greek kids rob supermarket, and then hand out food

No joke.  My best mate from America Justin just sent me an email with the subject heading 'was this you?'  Although I'm originally from Thessaloniki, I find myself in gloomy Oxford as I write this post.  So no, it wasn't me for the record.

THESSALONIKI, GREECE - Greek police say a group of about 70 youths protesting high consumer prices seized food and household products from a supermarket before handing them out to people on the street.

The youths, wearing hoods and crash helmets, also scattered leaflets outside the supermarket. Police announced no arrests. Thursday's robbery occurred in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki where Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due to give an annual speech this weekend on the state of the country's economy.

The rise of Greek food prices generally outpaces inflation. The cost of food and nonalcoholic drinks rose 5.2 percent on the year in July, when consumer prices were up 4.9 percent from July 2007.

-Courtesy of AP


the famous Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie

Here's a recipe courtesy of Erin O'Leary, who was kind enough to send it to me a few weeks ago. I will definitely test this.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds)

2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.

4. Using a 1 ounce scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2 inch circle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies


foie gras can kill

Tissue fragment with amyloid in foie gras.  Congo red stain (Solomon et al. 2007) 

Oh God, it's already September.  Greeks are wishing me 'Kalo Ximona' ('Happy winter').  I don't want to think about that.  In any event, a big fat Greek happy birthday to my beautiful friend Maria.  We celebrated last night by enjoying a wonderful bottle of white at Summertown Wine Cafe.  Afterwards, we made our way over to Maria's flat, where in a desperate attempt, I made a Herculean effort to open up a can of foie gras (she claims it was of the highest standard).  I spent about 30-40 minutes, persistent, but in the end, unsuccessful in opening it up.

To my dismay, I found this study from last year that detected an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease with higher exposures to foie gras.  Scientists at the U. of Tennessee medical school fed lab mice foie gras, and then observed an increase in amyloid proteins in different tissues. Go figure.

Καλό μήνα μας!