may 2010 be an amazing year for you all

My sincerest wishes for a glorious New Year. Υγεία, αγάπη, και χαρά!


happy Christmas from Oxford

May you all have a wonderfully decadent Christmas and a happy and healthy 2010. Thank you all for following my blog. I'm going to attend Christmas Eve carol services at midnight here in Oxford at New College, which has an impeccable, world-renowned choir. So if you're in town, join us at 11:30pm. I have been invited to dinner by my lovely friend Monika who will be cooking up a feast, roasted pork with winter vegetables, a butternut squash soup with sage, and some other treats......I cannot wait.


tu me mangues

This song is dedicated to all those I care about and miss a whole lot. Had a lovely curry last night with the housemates. And a week ago a glorious lab dinner. An international feast, including a Gambian specialty of lamb in a peanut sauce called domoda (to die for).


i'm sad for all Americans today

The epidemiologist in me has comment on the defeat of the public option today. For more, please check this article at The Huffington Post.

I always tell my European friends America has the best public health schools in the world, and the irony is the health of the American public is secondary to political and corporate interests. What happened today saddens me greatly. C'est la vie. God bless the NHS, that's all I have to say.


maybe i should eat less to live longer

If Drosophila can do it, so can I. More on the latest research in dietary restriction in one of my favourite biological models. God I love the journal Nature!


not a surprise at all

NY Times article I just saw today (through Huffington Post) on the dramatic increase in food stamp use across the US.


Thanksgiving gorge

We ate way too much last night courtesy of Dr. Cairns and Ms. Patrick here in Oxford. They made an incredible, inspiring, and decadent feast. These lovely photos were taken by Mr. Hudson. They liked my pie. I think the best aspect of it was the maple syrup whipped cream served with it. Tonight I'll get my act together and post the recipe.


chocolate pecan pie

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Later tonight I'll post the recipe (a fusion of two excellent recipes) for my chocolate pecan pie.


However Tall the Mountain

Awista Ayub, author of the critically acclaimed book However Tall the Mountain, and a great friend from my college days at the University of Rochester, has been up to some incredible work in her native Afghanistan. For more please, read this article at the Rochester Review.


the best tsoureki ever?

I think we have a winner! My housemate Markos (technically he's former now, but everyone from the infamous Leopold/Catherine gang refuses to move on) brought me what I always ask for from Greece. Tsoureki (sweet bread). His mom always gets it from their local zaxaroplastio (pastry shop) in Nea Ioania (Mesologiou 24). It's called Τα Γιούλια (Ta Gioulia).

It's got texture, aroma, and it's always soft and never dry. Their contact information follows.

Τηλ: 210 2799766
Τηλ: 210 2798351

Also check this site out. Miltos catering. Hot desserts!




when you're writing a thesis, just make a slow roast

Aglaia Kremezi is an authority on Greek gastronomy and a lovely lady. I found this recipe of hers for leg of lamb stuffed with seasonal greens and feta cheese on Epicurious which I'm going to try out. I love her recipes!

In the meantime, I have a four-hour slow roast (160 C) right now in the oven (stuffed with garlic with a very simple marinade - some Dijon with oregano, Cornish sea salt, pepper and olive oil). I have included some parsnips, carrots, red onion, and leeks. Totally random, I know. This should be typically done on a Sunday. A Wednesday and I'm making a roast. But it's incredibly easy as I am writing up the thesis. And I found a very great price on this organic Welsh leg cut yesterday at Waitrose. Couldn't resist!

Back to work. Will let you know how it turned out.

Peace and love.


who's got a good chocolate muffin recipe?

Next few days planning on making this recipe courtesy of Ms. Nigella Lawson (but with the addition of Nutella inside).

Any thoughts on other recipes (or this one)?

250g (1 3/4 cups) plain flour (I used 1/2 plain flour, 1/2 wholemeal flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
175g (1 3/4 cups) caster sugar
150g chocolate chips
250ml (1 cup) milk
90ml (over a 1/3 of a cup) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 200˚C and line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Combine the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, caster sugar and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, vegetable oil, the egg and vanilla extract in another bowl.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix till the mixture just turns runny. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
Bake for 20 minutes or a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean.


best eggs ever

If you live in the Oxford area (or beyond), then I highly recommend you visit this incredible organic farm called FAI (formerly operated by Oxford University) in Wytham (just northwest of Oxford city centre). I organised a trip for the Oxford Gastronomy Society last Friday. We were given an amazing power point presentation on the concept and daily operations of the farm by Corri Waitt. Pictures to follow. We were taken by an open trailer to see their sheep, cattle, and pigs. At the end of the tour, we had the opportunity to purchase produce, and I ended up buying a dozen organic eggs, along with smoked bacon. The eggs especially are just like the eggs you get from my mother's village in Messinia. Unbelievable.

The farm is having an open day in December, Sunday the 13th from noon until 4pm.


the best tzatziki ever

I had the privilege to meet an amazing couple, Christel and Pavlos Pavlidis. They produce an award-winning tzatziki that is simply exquisite. Smooth, great taste, love the texture. I can't say enough. For more, please check out their website at ARGO fine foods.



Tonight I will be making a spinach-leek pie using phyllo pastry.

Rough recipe for filling follows, kids.

good amount of baby spinach, washed and chopped
1 big-ass leek, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces and sauteed in olive oil
2 spring onions, chopped
crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper
2 eggs
some olive oil (extra virgin, of course)

Oh and yes, some dill!!!!! Half your sheets on the bottom of pan (each brushed with a mix of butter/olive oil), filling, other half of sheets on top. Bake at 350 F until golden brown top. Voila. In the meantime, disappointing news on Greece's ranking as far as countries with largest gaps between the rich and poor.


migrants and human rights in Greece

Undocumented Afghan migrant children sleep in a forest on the outskirts of Patras, Greece.
(Source: © 2009 Moises Saman/Panos Pictures)

A champion of human rights in Greece just sent me this link from Human Rights Watch about the state of migrants and asylum seekers back home. It's a disturbing piece, and reflects the previous government's attitude and failures from a policy perspective on this issue.

Please take the time and read this. Click here. Also there's one blog I like with particularly interesting commentary on migrants/refugees in Greece.


gemista (stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and butternut squash)

My little cousin (OK, she's in her 20s, but I think of her as my baby cousin) Mariangella visited me this weekend, and it was a great opportunity to cook something that makes us embrace autumn (and it sure has arrived). What else but gemista. This recipe is an adaptation of my friend and colleague, Eleni Melirrytou, from Athens.

3 large ripe tomatoes
2 green bell peppers
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 small butternut squashes
2 large potatoes, peeled, and cut into wedeges
1 cup of tomato passata
1 large slice of feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked white rice
tomato pulp from tomatoes
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp mint, chopped
salt and pepper

Wash and dry vegetables. Cut a slice off the top of tomatoes and peppers and scoop out the pulp (Eleni mentions that it's important not to thin the skin too much). Lightly salt the insides of the vegetables. For the butternut squash, remove skin before you cut in half (from top to the root), and scoop only the seeds/pulp in the bottom half of the squash. Lightly salt the squash as well. Keep the tomato pulp and place vegetables to the side.

Preheat oven to 185 degrees C. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a sauce pan, and saute onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice, salt, and pepper and give it a good stir with a wooden spatula. After one minute, add the tomato pulp, and cook off for another minute. Remove from heat, and add parsley, mint, and 1/4 cup of oil. Give it a good stir again! In a large baking tray, arrange your vegetables upright. Fill the vegetables with the pulp/rice mixture 3/4 of the way (do not fill all the way to the top of the hollowed-vegetable) and fill each vegetable with just enough warm water to fill them (this will help to cook the rice). Replace the tops (except for the butternut squash of course).

Arrange the potatoes in between the gaps and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Pour the passata over the vegetables. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hours 30-40 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the tops of the vegetables start getting burnt (you want to get that deep dark brown/almost black colour, but there's a fine line for this).....and then use your discretion to remove towards the end. One note, about 40 minutes into it, check some of the tomatoes and peppers and make sure to add a little bit of more water (since it will have evaporated). Sprinkle some feta inside the vegetables (right on top of the rice mixture). Let the vegetables stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Ah, before I forget, Eleni loves to add 1/4 cup of pine nuts, and 1/3 cup of sultana raisins in the mixture along with the parsley and mint. We couldn't find any pine nuts, and I forgot the raisins. The addition of feta is my preference (not everyone adds it in Greece).


extra strawberries? make jam

I just found this short recipe from the Food Network website which I wanted to test out. Use lime juice instead of lemon. Back to thesis writing. Happy weekend, folks.


fava in honour of Rio's win to host the Olympics in 2016

Lunch today consisted of yellow split peas as a spread topped off with an olive and sun-dried tomatoes (fava, as we say back home). The title of this post is a shout-out to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro and its even more beautiful people for having just been awarded the Olympic Games for 2016. Many of us recall (1997) the joy and celebration when it was announced that Athens would host the 2004 Games. How the years go by, eh?

There's really no connection between this fava recipe and Rio other than that I made it on this happy day. Congratulations again to Rio and see you in 2016. I'm totally going.


2 cups of yellow split peas, rinsed under cold running water
8 cups of cold water
1/2 white onion, unchopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of olive oil
juice of 1 small lime
1 tbsp of white wine (not necessary)
1 tbsp of balsamico (most Greeks like to use standard red-wine vinegar I think)
olives and sun-dried tomatoes for topping
salt and pepper

In a medium size pot, add water, peas, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, removing with a tablespoon the white foam that forms. After 1 minute of boiling, reduce to a STRONG simmer for 1 hour. Add salt, stir, and cover and reduce heat to a GENTLE simmer for another 20 minutes. You are looking for the peas to get soft to the point where you're getting the texture of a dip. Remove from heat, add some fine pepper, white wine (the housemates had some left over which I stole), balsamico, and lime juice. Give it a good stir. Remove bay leaf. Individual portions can be served with an olive and 1 chopped sun dried tomato. You can dress it with a red onion that's sliced....or sprinkle some oregano if you wish. Some recipes for this call for one to remove the onion, but for me it just softens to the point where it melts away practically.

Healthy option, loaded with protein, and I got a bag of yellow split peas from Waitrose for 49p. What a deal. Fava is synonymous with one of my favourite places in the world, Sandorini.


my sister's sensational spanakorizo

Last night I made a very simple yet lovely (and healthy) spinach rice recipe (spanakorizo as we call it). I used risotto rice instead of your Uncle Ben's long grain white rice that most Greek-American's use. Just a preference. Here's my sister's recipe. I also like to add in the beginning with the onion some chopped celery. And I prefer without a doubt the fresh spinach.

If I have baby spinach, I'm lazy and I don't even bother to chop it. Still comes out wonderfully delicious and the texture is great (my mother will roll her eyes if she hears this). Crumble some feta cheese on top. Gorgeous!

1/4 cup of olive oil
can of tomato sauce, 8oz.
pack of frozen chopped spinach (1 lb. of fresh spinach)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 cup of rice
1 1/2 cups of water
salt & pepper to taste

Chop, wash, drain spinach & set aside. Then, put chopped onion with oil in medium size pot & sauté it until golden brown. Add tomato sauce & cook for a couple of minutes then add water & bring to boil. Then put in the fresh spinach (or frozen spinach -which ever your choose) & cook until it wilts. Put in the rice a touch of salt & pepper. Mix...cover....lower heat....medium is ok...as long as you check it from time to time. Add more water if rice is not tender enough or if it's getting stuck to your pot. This should take about half an hour.


like the Greeks, the Israelis and Palestinians do everything over food

The awesome Arianna Huffington just posted about her final day in Israel, where she's been visiting over the past week and discussing on her blog the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Peace, peace...in the Middle East.


a little bird told me that I was in a Greek newspaper

I got a bunch of emails from the Motherland yesterday from friends and family telling me Kathimerini printed the piece on our show. I had the privilege of spending two days in the gorgeous island of Kea with Vassiliki Kerasta and her photographer Pavlos Fysakis who joined our team during our shooting. Lovely folk.

Anyway, back to thesis work. Dinner tonight is a rainbow trout with herb butter baked in the oven (super cheap, from Waitrose), coupled with a very simple and delicious salad.

Black-eyed pea salad
1 cup of cooked black-eyed peas
2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
2 cooked beet-roots
1/2 cucumber, chopped coarsely
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsps balsamico (I'm running out of the good stuff, darn)
2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil (where else is my new bottle from but from Kalamata)

Mix all the ingredients, and dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add a little fine sea salt. Work with your bare hand the dressing into the ingredients......freaking delicious!


kokoras krasatos

Coq au vin. They say it's French, but we also make our version in the land of Greece. I made it last week, albeit I used chicken instead of rooster since I couldn't find any at the market.

Recipe will be coming to y'all soon. One thing I have to say. F******* amazing. Also I want to give a shout-out to my friend Nathan who just got his PhD, officially a doctor now. And also, to my lovely friend Denise for having graduated on Friday along with the rest of our mates. Kai sta dika mas.


y-a-l-e, go yale, go

There's a reason why I love Yale so much. They are thinking of developing a course, interdisciplinary, in food. Maybe after the financial meltdown.

I'm really impressed with the work of the Yale Sustainable Food Project.

lentil soup (with a little bit of porcini mushrooms, feta, and thyme)

Off to bed. As if I'm going to post the recipe now for the lentil soup I made today. I want to but I can barely keep my eyes up. I know. I have had so much work today that I am finally getting to this thing called a blog to which supposedly I'm supposed committed. Apologies to all you lovely folks who read up. Have just been knackered from my great trip. However, one thing I have to say - you all should really look into submitting a paper at the 2010 Oxford Symposium. I attended this weekend, and I can say it was one of the most inspiring conferences I have ever been on.

And shaking the hand of the legendary Raymond Blanc was an experience in itself. He's a superbly lovely man. I'm also after this weekend a huge fan of world-renowned food writer Geraldene Holt.


The Cooking Odyssey

The journey has begun. It's more like an adventure. I am in love with Kuria Xariklia from Pyli, the mountains around Metsovo, and the waters of Porto Katsiki. I waltzed with Miss Karavia on the streets of Lefkada last night, and got a hug from Mama Karavia.

My culinary discovery was the addition of pepper (this being rice pilaf) to the heated butter before adding the rice. A secret by Kuria Aphrodite in Metsovo.


amazing article on food sustainability in London

I saw this article on a friend's post on facebook. It highlights one of my friend Susan's favourite restaurants in London - Moro.


happy birthday to my big sis

My sister has her birthday today! Xronia polla! She's an amazing Greek cook, and I'm envious that the whole family is celebrating, minus myself.

organic welsh lamb steaks with herbs and feta

I'm back. Kalo mina. Sorry it's been so long. Working hard.

Here I have for you a superly easy-to-prepare recipe that leads to some wonderful flavours. I found at my beloved Waitrose in Oxford some great deals yesterday on lamb steaks. Life has been much more fullfilling with a Waitrose in my backyard.

Preheated oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Took two lamb steaks, rubbed Kalamata olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano and mint on both sides. Added them onto a tray lined with foil. I sprinkled some crumbled feta cheese and 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt on top of each steak. Squeezed some lemon juice over as well. Cooked for about 18 minutes, and then jacked up the temperature to +220 (grill) for another 6 minutes.

They were divine. Serve with side salad or rocket, spinach and watercress with some cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and olive oil with balsamico.


man, fire, and how we became who we are

An interesting book was just reviewed by Nature (God I'm tired right now), and I want to buy it.


happy birthday to mama Hodges and my auntie

My mom turns 70 today, and my Thia Vivi has her birthday today but I won't disclose her age or she will kill me.  I miss them dearly.  Xronia polla!


give me back my marbles

As the new Acropolis Museum in Athens opens up tonight, I think of the words of our great Melina Mercouri over the Parthenon Marbles that reside in the British Museum.

'What does Shakespeare mean to England, St. Paul's Cathedral? What does the Taj Mahal mean to India? What do the paintings in the Sistine Chapel mean to Italy? The Parthenon Marbles are our pride, they are our identity. They are today's link with Greek excellence, they are creations synonymous with our concepts of democracy and freedom.'

MEGA TV in Greece also made a really interesting documentary on the British Museum's claim to the marbles, and I also found an interesting piece in the NY Times by Christopher Hitchins.

And now I go home to sleep.


my favourite new website

I just discovered the U. of Reading's Food Biosciences Department! Here's a little clip on the effect of food on memory....a diet rich in flavonoids (ie. from blueberries) will keep me more astute. 


chocolate nutella cake courtesy of my friend Abi (and the BBC)

My dear friend and labmate Abi made this cake today for 'cake club'. It was amazing. Orgasmic, really.

175g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp milk
4 rounded tbsp Nutella or own-
brand chocolate hazlenut spread
50g hazelnuts , roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4/ fan 160C. Butter and line the base of a 20cm round cake tin.
Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and milk into a bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes, or with an electric hand mixer for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
2. Tip three quarters of the mixture into the tin, spread it level, then spoon the Nutella on in four blobs. Top with the remaining mixture, swirl a few times with a skewer, then smooth to cover the Nutella.
3. Sprinkle with the nuts. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until risen, nicely browned, feels firm to touch and springs back when lightly pressed (cover with foil if it starts to brown too quickly). Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. Wrap tightly in double thick foil to keep fresh for up to a week.

what's up with the row over a chocolate bunny by Lindt?

Sometimes I really like the Wall Street Journal.  Not as much as I like Lindt chocolate. Take a look at this story on the trademark of chocolate bunnies within the EU.


our food and dirty bugs

this biochemist from Brazil has a great website on foods, their biochemical constitution and on food safety.

I particularly like his section on food-borne diseases.  This is why I don't eat bush meat.

oxford Symposium at St. Catherine's College this September

For anyone interested, follow this link.  Raymond Blanc is one of the folks that's helping put this amazing conference on, right in our own backyard in Oxford.


where the **** is the Greek olive oil?

Those of you who know me know I NEVER swear (I can see the eyes rolling right now). But what's up with this article on yahoo.com today (nice advise on the different kinds of oils for cooking) that doesn't even mention olive oil from the Motherland.  With all my infatuation with Italy, its people, and their cuisine - I will stand my ground on the glory of olive oil from Kalamata, Crete, and other corners of Greece.

But then again, maybe it's our fault in not promoting the olive oil industry outside of Greece.  That's where I tip my hat off to Italy and Spain.  If you want to argue with me go into any of the supermarkets in Britain or the UK.  You will see for yourself the plethora of Italian olive oil bottles.

Have a beautiful week folks.  Happy birthday to my nephew again.  I owe him a big chocolate cake when I see him this summer.

happy birthday to my little nephew

Being far away from family is such a pain.  I missed my little nephew's birthday yesterday (although I did call, and he is getting his present today).  Na mas ziseis kai na se xairomaste agorina mou!


salmonella outbreak in alfalfa sprouts

Just got my weekly MMWR from the CDC.  There was a rare serotype outbreak of salmonella (known as Saintpaul) in the US.  Associated with alfalfa sprouts (which don't hear about much in the press).

are we going bananas?

A great blog (in Greek) by a good mate back home.  It's incredibly witty and captures the edge of life in Athens.  



greece - the dark side

I found one of my favourite Greek bloggers, and this post is classic.  It addresses all that is wrong with my home.


want to be a chef for the day at Gee's in Oxford?

If so, the Oxford Gastronomy Society is bringing you a very exciting event!  

When? May 20, 2009 (Week 4)
Where? Gee's Restaurant, Banbury Rd. Oxford
Time? 7:00pm

It is time to embrace the great tastes of one of Oxfordshire’s most exciting restaurants! Gee’s is the highly acclaimed establishment of British contemporary cuisine on Banbury Rd. in North Oxford, and we are excited to host the premiere OGS event for Trinity Term at this very special restaurant.

Head chef Mark Constanble is giving the opportunity to five members of OGS to put on their chef’s jacket, apron, and hat – and join him in the kitchen to prepare a fantastic three-course dinner by candlelight for 25 members of our society. These five lucky commis chefs will have a very unique experience by getting an inside look at what it takes to create some of Gee’s signature dishes.

Tickets are £25 for a three-course dinner, which also includes wine. Priority members. Email maria_kyriacou@yahoo.co.uk for ticket purchase and if you are interested in being a chef of the day.  Checks can be pidged to Maria Kyriacou, Department of Education, U. of Oxford, 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford OX2 6PY.


Jersey Crab Cocktail
Jersey Brill with Shellfish Crust, Crushed New Potatoes and Beurre Blanc
Summer Pudding, Jersey Cream

For more, please visit Gee's website: www.gees-restaurant.co.uk/


i'm about to strip naked out of joy - Waitrose is coming to Headington

amazing honey

wonderful sun-dried tomatoes

my Greek and Italian olives

The subject of my post explains it all.  Tomorrow, rumour has it Waitrose will open its doors on Old High Street in my little neighbourhood called Headington.  Yay!  I love their cheese selection, their olives, their produce, their desserts, everything.  My favourite supermarket as far as choice and quality.



I have been keeping up with the current outbreak of swine influenza (which is not exactly the right name, since it's a recombinant of human, swing + avian influenza strains).  As an epidemiologist, this is a fascinating and really concerning outbreak.  I'm not sure about all the pig culling happening in some countries that haven't even reported any cases.  In fact, I find it inappropriate. 

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization even noted that countries should try to focus their efforts on disease surveillance and strengthening biosecurity measures instead of mass culling.

In the meantime, I'm still going to have my pork belly roast this weekend.


go Foobuzz!

Ryan Stern sent me this press release! Great news for Foodbuzz! Congrats...

San Francisco – April 23, 2009: Foodbuzz announced today that is has surpassed 2,000 food bloggers in its online food community. These partner food blog websites, when combined with the foodbuzz.com “hub” website, reached 6.7 million people per month according to third-party traffic measurement service Quantcast. This ranks Foodbuzz as the third largest online food property after less than two years of operation. (See Quantcast Media Planner.)

“Our goal is to be the number one online food community by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz. Of the top three properties, Foodbuzz is the only true community that combines social networking for foodies with food content search for everyone. “Both our monthly users and page views grew over 1000% in 2008, and we are on pace to reach the number one spot within the next 12 months”, said Mr. Dehan.

Foodbuzz digs deep into the “long tail” of food publishing to discover and promote thousands of small, yet high-quality, food bloggers. “We are providing a platform for food bloggers to pursue their passion in a community that nurtures and encourages the sharing of quality food and dining content daily,” said Ryan Stern, Director of Publishing. Foodbuzz offers these bloggers a compelling solution for building their traffic, connecting with like-minded foodies, and making money. Foodbuzz has exclusive advertising relationships with partner bloggers which provide brand advertisers the reach and share-of-voice they need to effectively engage the food community.

About Foodbuzz
Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz is a global online food community of over 2,000 food bloggers connected by the foodbuzz.com “hub” website. In the past month, this community reached 6.7 million people and 33 million impressions according to Quantcast. Foodbuzz.com provides a full suite of social networking features enabling foodies to interact and share their food experiences. With over 900,000 high-quality food blog posts in its searchable database, foodbuzz.com is an essential resource for everyone interested in exploring the world of food. Foodbuzz is a 2009 Webby Awards Honoree!


american pesticide industry vs. Michelle Obama

I really loved this article!  

how celebrity chefs change the way Brits eat

My labmate Abi sent me this nice little article from the BBC News website this morning.  It talks all about the influence of British celebrity chefs, like monsieur Oliver, have had on the way people eat.  It's got a vintage picture of Delia Smith.  Classic!


slow-roast lamb, tsourekia, and galaktobouriko

Christos Anesti!  I had a beautiful weekend with my friends in Oxford, as we embraced the Greek Orthodox Easter.  Saturday night, we attended the Orthodox Church in North Oxford (near my old place on Winchester Road in my first year of DPhil).  Last year, this time - my mum was visiting.  We had a feast at Catherine Street with over 30 people in our backyard. Great memories.

After the church ('meta tin Anastash') my mate Eleni and George (not Magdis, but Trichas) booked a table at Santorini (formerly called Farat), a new Greek restaurant in the Cowley Rd. area run by a lovely Kurdish guy who studied engineering in Thessaloniki.  It's as if we walked into Greece as we entered the restaurant. Surreal.  Greeted by warm smiles, we were treated to home-made magiritsa (it was indeed wonderful), and then we all ate like pigs.  I loved the lamb kebab, and the soutzoukakia especially.  The red wine was lovely, and the service superb.  We danced until 2am after we ate.  And  alot of Mitropanos music, which brought me back to Thessaloniki.

Sunday was spent making two trays of galaktobouriko (courtesy of a filo pastry from the lovely Turkish guys at Bar Meze in Headington), and other random jobs in Eleni's kitchen.  Trichas was the head chef for the day, having prepared three shoulders of lamb, slow-roasted with potatoes and parsnips.  Our friend Abigail made her grandmother's rich baklava and also ice cream with mastic.    Did I forget she actually succeeded making tsoureki that was just like the kind you get from Terkenlh in Thessaloniki?  I was very impressed (and happy during the taste test). Our mate Andreas brought this beautiful spinach tart.

Our evening ended with the 'parea' (group of friends) huddled in Eleni's living room playing cards.  Well, everyone played except me.  I took a nap.

Happy and healthy Easter to all people on this beautiful planet.


what's the quintessential Greek dessert (other than baklava)?

I'm doing a survey.....will it be kourabiedes, galaktobouriko?  I can't wait to hear your responses, mates.


sea bass baked in a crust of sea salt

This is for a friend of mine who has some ridiculous amount of sea bass.  So, Karen, here you go darling... I used a version of this recipe (without the fennel, which works just fine) for a dinner I once cooked for my mate Cindy.  She provided Dom Perignon champagne.  Not a bad marriage in having the finest champagne with this beautifully prepared fish.  

1 sea bass, cleaned and scaled, get a nice piece around 1kg from your fishmonger
1 tbsp of fresh (or dried) oregano, preferably from Greece
2 thin slices of lemon
1 spring of fennel
over 2kg of sea salt (coarse)
freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp of olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.   Get it nice and hot, folks.
2. Wash your sea bass under cold water and pat dry afterwards.  Lightly season the cavity with salt and generously with pepper, and stuff it with lemon, fennel, oregano, and olive oil.
3. Spread half the salt on the bottom of a shallow baking tray (Pyrex works fine), and lay the sea bass on top.  Cover the fish with the rest of the salt, and make sure you press down with your hand to get the salt crystals nicely packed.  I like to spray some water (or just drizzle) on the top layer of salt before placing in the oven.
4. Bake for around 35-45 minutes (or until you see the salt crust getting a light golden colour).

Serve with a freshly-prepared tomatoe salsa with some Kalamata olives on the side.  Also a nice garlic paste complements the sea bass.  And get really nice bread, like sourdough, to deep into the juices (as we call it 'paparra').

By the way, happy Easter today to everyone who's not celebrating next weekend.  We're going to have a big feast in Oxford with my mates to celebrate the Orthodox Easter (we like to use the lunar calendar that our Jewish brethren resort to).


italian earthquake relief at the Red Cross

dear friends, I encourage you all to help in whatever way you can to help families affected by the tragic earthquake in Italy.  The Italian Red Cross has a special relief fund for victims.

why I like the Guardian

Because it's a newspaper that's not afraid to show the truth.  I think many people are very upset about this throughout Britain.  The 47-year old man who was shoved by the police at the G20 protests last week in London - and who later had a heart-attack and died.  All captured on video.


mr. Jamie Oliver cooks a traditional British feast (Welsh lamb and a bakewell tart) for the G20 leaders in London

Some reports say he had a team of 8 chefs.  Others say it was a team of 15.  Whatever the real number was, in the end, one of Britain's great chefs entertained Mr. Obama and the rest of the powerhouse that met over the past few days at the Staple Centre in London for the G20 summit.

I was debating with friends whether the dessert choice (bakewell tart) was a bit understated.  I love the bakewell tart served at Jamie's Italian, don't get me wrong - but I would have liked some combination of  my beloved English strawberries (sadly, they're not in season) and the finest shortbread Mr. Oliver could muster.  

No one got sick (no Fat Duck episodes on Jamie's watch), and the G20 leaders left extremely happy with their meal.  They ended up reaching an agreement afterall today.

Just to recap:

STARTER:  organic Scottish salmon served with samphire and sea kale, and a selection of vegetables from Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

MAIN:  slow-roasted shoulder of lamb from the Elwy Valley in north Wales, with Jersey Royal potatoes, wild mushrooms and mint sauce.

DESSERT:  bakewell tart and custard using free-range eggs from an organic farm (Prince Charles').

And India's PM must have eaten the vegetarian option - a goat’s cheese starter followed by lovage and potato dumplings for the main course.  (shoot, I forgot to mention ABC News in the US did a nice piece on their evening news segment on Jamie)


happy Greek July 4th

Well, it's more like happy March 25th.  Greek Independence Day today!  Let us be thankful for peace and prosperity.  I would prefer to be in Thessaloniki eating bakaliaro with skordalia, but alas, I'll wait until next year.

The tradition fried cod with garlic sauce is eaten all over Greek households on this day.  I had the most beautiful bakaliaro two years ago at my friend Alexi's house in Neapoli (a charming area of Thessaloniki). 

The legendary Hlias Mamalakis has a beautiful recipe with a twist on the more traditional version on Youtube.com.

Χρόνια μας πολλά!



Hello folks.  Great stuff coming up for the Oxford Gastronomy Society next term.  Stay tuned.  Really amazing stuff.

In the meantime, please visit a superb American online community called Splashlife.  I heard about it today and will be checking it out.



I'm coming up with a little array of different coulis recipes.  They will include:
Any other ideas for sweet coulis?  Emeril Lagasse (who happened to study at Johnson & Wales from Providence, RI) has some excellent coulis recipes.


The great British chef Mr. Jamie Oliver has a really cool website, and I just created a profile on there.  He's got some really great sections with articles on recipes, his Ministry of Food initiative, and other funky aspects of the website.  Please visit at www.jamieoliver.com

Markos made a really lovely mussels dish with saffron courtesy of the Mr. Vangelis Driskas.  I'll see if I can knock off the recipe from him.


it's March already? Damn.

Happy month everyone.  When did March creep on us?  Did I post anything about the amazing eateries in Montreal from my conference trip a few weeks ago?  Of course not.  Have I posted any new recipes, like the risotto pudding I have been working on?  Of course not.  Have I made the tortellini with white truffle oil for my housemates yet?  Of course not.  Have I posted a picture of the really cool tiramisu I made in honour of President Barack Obama for my lab (and it came out so wonderfully tasteful)? Of course not. Have I finished reading my dad's Christmas presents (two amazing books on molecular gastronomy)?  Of course not.  Have I gotten around to testing diabetic versions of baklava?  Of course not.  Have I submitted my spanakopita recipe to Oxfordshire Living yet?  Of course not.  Have I looked into Oxford Slow Food and what events they have this spring?  Of course not. 

Have I emailed the Fat Duck about organizing an event at their restaurant for the Oxford Gastronomy Society for next term?  Of course yes.  Irony is that I emailed them on the day they ended up closing down the restaurant given their food poisoning cases.  Heston Blumenthall again is featured on a video in the Guardian today in an interview with food critic Matthew Fort.

And and it's Ash Monday ('Katharh Deftera) today, first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox Calendar.  I'm going to go fly a kite with my Greek mates in Oxford this afternoon. 


the world-renowned Fat Duck shuts down over food poisoning scare

I can't believe it!  News alert.  I just went to see the latest news on The Guardian's website, and I couldn't believe what my eyes saw!  Yup, the Fat Duck has shut its doors until further notice.

Poor Heston (well he's not exactly poor), but he appears to be handling the situation really well.  Bless him (and the people who fell ill).


diabetic baklava?

Patisserie making at Gulluoglu in Turkey.

I am lame.  Very lame.  Busy with work.  And hence I have abandoned my blog posts.  In the meantime, please visit this website.  It will make you salivate.  My beautiful friend Aniqa, who's Turkish-American, says this company makes some of the most amazing baklava in Turkey (and can be found in markets in the States for purchase).  Gulluoglu is the name.  I found them because I was looking for a diabetic baklava.  Any ideas on that front?  I'm trying to come up with a delicious and sugar-free recipe, although I'm not a fan of aspartame. 


happy st. raphael's day

Red velvet cupcakes I will be making tomorrow (Food Network recipe)

Apparently the Catholic Church says Valentine's Day should bear the name of St. Raphael (that's what the BBC says).  Who knows.  What I do know is I'm jet-lagged from my recent trip to Montreal, hence the silence.  I had a lovely dinner with my friends Basak and her boyfriend Nathan here in Oxford at Carluccio's (where I picked up some semolina, white flour, and a bottle of white truffle oil after our meal).  A very strange Valentine's date (albeit early).  What can I say, we're pretty progressive in this intellectual capital.  Others would argue we're simply screwed up.  Incidently, I went to a great party hosted by my beautiful Italian friend Katerina.   The whole circle of friends (Markos et al.) where there along with a special guest appearance of our beloved housemate (well, former now) Georgios who's visiting from Paris.

But I digressed.  So, this past week, I had the privilege of attending a fantastic meeting on the latest HIV research called CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections). I presented a poster, and had the opportunity to hear about some really groundbreaking work being done in the field.  Really enlightening experience.

I also ate very well in the Québécois capital.  Over the next few days I will be posting about some of my excursions in the evening after the meeting's events.  All I have to say is ravioli stuffed with lobster and white truffle oil. On that note, happy Valentine's (or Raphael's) day to all you beautiful people, and good night.  


no recipe but just food for thought on the bail-out plan in the US

I am really sorry for not having posted any recipes past few days.  Very busy with work. Just random food for thought.  I saw this great quote today.  Any ideas who said it?

'Allowing stockholders to reap the benefits during the good times... and to keep reaping them in the very bad times -- at taxpayers' expense -- isn't capitalism. It's lunacy.'


the struggling Greek farmer

Greek farmer from Crete being pushed back by a security officer in the Piraeus port today.

In light of the harsh winter and a drop in commodity prices, farmers in Greece have been protesting in recent weeks for a bail-out plan by the Greek state.  Motorways across the country have been blocked, and sections of the Bulgarian border. Today, farmers from Crete arrived in Piraeus with their tractors with hopes of making it to the city centre of Athens.  What erupted were clashes with police upon their arrival. This made the NY Times today. We all remember what happened in December of course.  The Motherland is not doing so well.  Not at all.  Imagine how bad it is for Greek farmers to be brought to the point of hurling their tractors on a ferry ship across the Aegean and into Athens port.

For more news in Greek, please visit To Vima, Kathimerini, and Eleftheros Tipos.


palestinians in Gaza short of food

A Palestinian boy cries as he stands beside his family in southern Gaza.

Καλό μήνα (happy month) as we embrace a new month in our new year.  I'm very excited about February.  We're hosting a great dinner this Thursday (we being the Oxford Gastronomy Society) at Christ Church College here in Oxford - with a 1920s gangster party theme, in the format of a murder mystery.  I cannot wait.  Next week, I'm off to Montreal for a scientific conference where I am presenting a poster, and then back to my base here in the UK.

On a more serious note, an important article in today's Observer magazine in the Guardian by Peter Beaumont on the situation in Gaza.  Palestinians are in short supply of food, and based on the article, sources including the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, are reporting that between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli bombing and shelling.

The greatest destruction seems to be in areas where the farming was most intensive (sigh), and the implications for this are very grave for both the short term and long term.  What next?  We are lucky bastards here in Europe for all we have.  Let us never forget that.


baked fish with lot's of tomato sauce and parsley (ψάρι στον φούρνο)

I absolutely love baked fish.  And since I'm in the final stretch of my PhD, and focus skills are imperative more than ever before, fish is an obvious choice.  My love of seafood has its roots in Greece of course.  The diverse and rich cuisine of the Greek islands is something really special. Perhaps the greatest meals I have had in my life were back in 1993 when I visited Crete with my cousins ('ta Mameletzakia'), and for two weeks all we ate was red mullet ('barbounia'), grilled octopus, and calamari.  Life can be so beautiful at times.  

The following recipe is simple, but the result is something anything but that.   It takes a long time to bake, and you would suspect this method would cause the fish to dry out, but that's not the case.  I assure you this is a keeper for your recipe collection.  My very harsh critic and former housemate Magdis thinks this is one of my best dishes.  Also, one variation to this is to add 1/2 cup of chopped mint and 1-2 diced red chillies to the sauce.

Serves 4 people
1 kg fresh cod/halibut/monkfish cut in 3-4" pieces
1 can of quality organic diced tomatoes (~400g)
1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley (doesn't matter if it's flat leaf or not)
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large stick of organic celery (huge difference between organic and non-organic when it comes to your choice of celery)
juice from 2 really large lemons
1 teaspoon of sugar (necessary) + 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (which is not optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-6 new potatoes, washed
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius.  
  2. Wash fish in cold water, and place the cut pieces flat in a medium-size Pyrex® (9").
  3. In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, except the potatoes, and stir with a whisk (or two forks) until you have a nice mixture.
  4. Pour mixture over the fish until you have covered it all evenly.  Cover Pyrex® in aluminum foil (this is an absolute MUST), and place in the oven for 40 minutes.  
  5. After 40 minutes is up, remove foil, add seasoned potatoes to which you have drizzled a little olive oil already in a bowl, increase the oven temperature to 195 degrees, and bake the fish with the potatoes for another 45 minutes.  Just make sure you keep your eye on the fish so you don't burn it.  What you should look for are really deep colours of the sauce (but not black).  
  6. Remove from oven and serve with some fresh sourdough bread.  Theiko!


kataïfi (tastes like baklava, but texture's different)

photograph courtesy of KALOFAGAS

Fellow Greek food blogger Kalofagas has a super blog with super recipes.  I invite you all to visit his site, and as of last night, he posted what is one of my favorite kataïfi recipes. This is a very popular and special 'syropiasto' (referring to Greek desserts that have a honey-based syrup on them), which has its roots in Asia Minor.  My mother makes it at times, and she includes walnuts in the filling.  This particular recipe here has a mixture of nuts.  A decadent dessert, for sure!


president Obama on a healthier, and more fit America

I found a great article in today's Huffingtonpost.com (it's actually from a different news source, Health Magazine's website to be exact) on Obama's likely effect on America's health.  On the wellness front, we all know obesity defines us as a nation right now in 2009, along with the so-called 'big killers', cardiovascular disease and cancer - the leading causes of death.  I get a sense Obama is a man who understands the link between food stamps and poor health outcomes in American communities.  As a public health professional and someone who advocates for more sustainable food production and healthier eating choices (and practices), I hope our new president will promote and formulate the types of policies that the US really needs to put a dent to these trends.

For more on this article by Julie Upton, click here, s’il vous plaît...


the Randolph Hotel in Oxford has amazing food

I kid you not.  I am one who often remains skeptical about restaurants in fine hotels.  However, I urge everyone reading this post to call (+44 870 400 8200) the Randolph Hotel here in Oxford and make a reservation (I'm not making commission for writing this).   For around £18 (without wine) you can have the most stunning 3-course dinner (since they're having  a 2-for-1 promotion right now).  It ends tomorrow, but I hope they extend it.  Friend, colleague, and fellow food lover Srin organized an outing for eight of us.  

For starters, I had the most beautifully presented and divine smoked halibut and prawns.  It was a purée of sorts, with a touch of dill.  It was topped off with what tasted like a blend of crème fraîche and creme cheese.  And sprinkled all around were capers, along with some shreds of greens and cucumber.  Amazing.  Just amazing.

For my main dish, I had one of the best lambs I have tasted.  So tender.  The moment your fork hit the meat, it just allowed the meat to collapse.  It was so beautifully cooked.  The reduction was equally delightful and thrilling.  The glazed carrots and potato purée were a perfect complement.

Lastly, my dessert was decadent (Bailey's ice cream with a very rich chocolate truffle), but the queen of desserts was chosen by a few other friends.  It was the poached pear served with a red wine syrup, along with pear sorbet, and pear parfait.  We're talking about one of the greatest pleasures of my life to taste this pear sorbet.  I found a recipe by the great Jamie Oliver, and my next project is to make a four-gallon tub of pear sorbet to last me for a long-time.


best food picture website?

I am curious as to everyone's opinion on what they think of Taste Spotting.  We're talking about a beautiful website with some really amazing pictures of food.  Now, there are those, and I would agree with them, that think the internet craze over food photography has in some ways trumped actual recipes on food blogs.  I can sympathize.  Often, the gorgeous pictures don't match up to the recipe that is dictated.  Nonetheless, I remain convinced that Taste Spotting is one of the best sites on food photography.  

vassilopita with pomegranate for the enigmatic Erato

My very beautiful friend Erato (and an Oxford scholar of Hellenic Studies) has been really annoying me for the past two days. Pestering is perhaps a more accurate depiction of her approach. In any event, she has been trying to get me to share with her the recipe for a vassilopita I made last year.  The special touch is the pomegranate seeds. Unlike the previous recipe, which is more of a sweet bread, this one is a cake.  Both variations are to be found in Greek households around New Year's.

5 large free-range eggs (at least, if not organic), yolks and whites separated
1 cup caster sugar
2 sticks of unsalted softened (but not fully melted) butter (~16 tablespoons)
1 cup orange juice (Tropicana, with bits, do not use the cheap stuff)
½ cup of Grand Marnier
4 cups quality all-purpose flour (sifted)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon of baking soda (NaHCO3)
zest of 2 oranges
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup of confectioner sugar
seeds from 1 pomegranate
whole blanched almonds (lightly toasted/roasted)

  1. Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius.
  2. Take a large bowl, and with a hand-held electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and the sugar until you have gotten a very smooth, creamy consistency (yellow in colour) – for about 3.5 minutes. Add the butter and beat for just over 1 minute. Finish off by adding your OJ (remember, do not get the ‘from concentrate’ Tesco’s brand just because it’s cheaper) and the Grand Marnier. Beat all ingredients for 1 more minute.
  3. In another large bowl, take a metal whisk and mix the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and orange + lemon zests (if for whatever reason your market ran out of lemons and oranges, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s an importantly added touch to this recipe). Then, add this flour mixture ½ cup at a time INTO the yolk/sugar mixture, stirring with a plastic/rubber spatula.
  4. In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites until you get soft peaks with mixer (provided you have cleaned the beaters). Using your plastic spatula, fold in carefully the egg whites into your batter and mix slowly until you get an even consistency. 
  5. Pour batter into a greased 9-10 inch pan, and bake the cake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes. Do NOT open the oven for the first 35-40 minutes, otherwise you run the risk of the cake not rising properly. Around 45 minutes, open the oven and insert a toothpick into the centre of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, and you have a nice golden brown colour on the top of the cake, your creation is done! Cool cake on a rack for about 30 minutes, and then remove from the pan.
  6. Dust the confectioner sugar on top of the cake, and use almonds to write out the letters of the year ‘2009’.
  7. The final touch before serving is all about the pomengranate seeds. Take them and arrange them around the rim where the cake meets the serving plate. If you wish, you can also disperse some on top of the cake.


celebrity chefs, President Obama, and food

I just saw a very nice article (albeit simplistic in its analysis) from the AP regarding how some of America's top chefs are pushing Obama to improve some of the country's sustainability habits when it come to producing food.

Despite Obama's support of last year's Congressional bill giving £290 billion worth of subsidies to large agricultural companies, there may be hope on the horizon.  His new Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted at his confirmation hearing that he'll work 'with those who seek programs and practices that lead to more nutritious food produced in a sustainable way'.  Time will tell if words become action, but the rhetoric at least seems to be shifting in our newly established administration.  


bad peanut butter

Despite the greatness of this past week's event in America (referring to the whole Obama thing which has truly injected a sense of responsibility and hope in not just Americans, but many others around the world), there's some bad news on the front of peanut butter.

An outbreak strain of Salmonella typhimurium from people having eaten peanut butter has likely contributed to six deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Now, the FDA has been recalling products containing peanut butter continues to grow in the wake of this outbreak which has sickened at least 475 people in 43 US States and also Canada.

Please visit WebMD, which is one of the best sources for medical advise on the web.  They have links to the FDA's list of recalled products.

God bless America and the rest of the world.



I think those 2 million people freezing their faces off at the Mall in Washington DC to watch the most important historical event in my life are the luckiest folks right now.  If you're not watching it, you should.  www.cnn.com/live has live coverage of Barack Hussein Obama's inauguration on this day, January 20, 2009.  What a day of hope, optimism, and pride, for not just Americans, but people across all nations.  

I hope Obama can lead us to a more peaceful, prosperous, safer, and global village.  And a tastier one at that.


slow roast leg of lamb with potatoes

My aunt Vasso made a beautiful roast on New Year's Day, as part of the big New Year's Day celebration in our family.  She and my uncle Angelo owned a fine dining establishment in Manchester, New Hampshire - the Renaissance Restaurant - which saw the likes of US Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton (and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler) enjoy their culinary creations.

Aunt Vasso is an excellent chef, and very generous with sharing her recipe below.  The gravy that accompanied this beautiful meat was my own creation.  Somewhere between Manchester, NH and Oxford, England, the recipe I transcribed for this monumental dish got lost.  My cousin Helen thankfully sent it to me.....I am providing the charming recipe with my Aunt Vasso's exact words (for anyone who understands Greek, they will appreciate this).

Great to be back in the UK.  Peace in Gaza and Israel and the rest of this little planet of ours.  Over the coming year, I will be taking on some really cool projects with respect to food and writing about food!  Happy and healthy 2009.


Lamb and marinade
  • 1 "semi- boneless" lamb leg -- (8-9 pound lamb leg -- 8/2 lbs average). ("na min psahni na vri 8-9 pounds me horis "bone", then tha vri" (wash in cold water)
  • salt (1 tsp), pepper (1 tsp) and a little oregano (1/2 tsp) (to alatizis -- to parspalizoume me alati, piperi kai rinangi 
  • juice from 1/2 large lemon
  • olive oil (1/4 cup) -- mix together and add onto the lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves (vasis to skordo kapou -- garlic should be on the lamb somewhere -- not at the bottom of the pan)
  • alati (1tsp), piperri (1 tsp) kai ligi rigini (1/4 tsp)
  • lemoni (one big lemon for both lamb and potatoes)
  • ladi (1/4 olive oil) (1/2 cup altogether for both lamb and potatoes) kai ligi paprika (1/2 tsp altogether for lamb and potatoes) stis patates. 
  1. "To vasis sto tapsi". Put nice side of lamb on bottom so when you turn it over, the nice side is on the top again. 
  2. Put a little paprika (sprinkle on top)
  3. "vavis patates na kripsi to meros". Patates (the potatoes) - tis kathariesis, kai tis kovis i ama eine mikres, tis vasis etsi."
  4. Add 3/4 cup water to pan -- not too much because "meta tha gini san soupa!" :)
  5. Place lamb in a preheated oven of 450 degrees F.
  6. 450 for 20 minutes, then 400 for 15 minutes, after that, 350 for another 20 minutes, after that 325 until its done (for a couple hours or so). Total should be about 3 hours total.
  7. After that, let it sit for "10 to 15 minutes", and then cut. (Should let sit for a few minutes before cutting.)
To arni eina "semi boneless".


vassilopita (βασιλόπιτα)

Every Greek family on the first day of this New Year will be cutting into a version of this cake, known as vasilopeta.  It is one of the great traditions, which is still maintained in Greek communities of the Diaspora.  In Greece, we also celebrate today the feast day of Saint Basil, and the name of the cake bears its origins from this holiday.  Enjoy, and happy New Year!

1 cup softened butter
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
8 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 cup almonds crushed
1 dime (or 10 pence coin) washed with soap, and covered in aluminum foil
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites over medium speed until you reach an nice stiff and frothy consistency. Keep to the side.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar over medium speed for 10 minutes. Add yolks, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Beat for a minute. Then slowly add the flour, the baking powder, milk, and almonds.
4. Fold in with a spatula the egg whites, using a smooth motion and ensuring you blend everything well.
5. Grease a 14" round cake pan and pour batter smoothly in the middle of the pan. Drop in your coin and allow it to submerge into the batter.
6. Bake for 45 minutes (first 30 minutes DO NOT dare open your oven or the cake will sink).
7. When finished baking, take out cake and let it cool. Once cooled, flip over onto a cake plate.
8. Generously sprinkle confectioner's sugar. Take whole almonds and arrange them to create the numbers '2009' on top.

When you are ready to eat this delight, cut each piece for a specific person in the household. Whoever gets the coin will have great prosperity and luck in the coming New Year!