happy new year

peace, joy, love, health, and all that good stuff in 2011. to the world.

posting soon my recipe for smashing truffle potato purée with a variety of Greek cheeses. it's been a huge hit. (and huge apologies to everyone for being slow with email and facebook, really backed up on messages and really limited access on my travels)


a broccoli a day keeps the doctor away

I'm a big fan of this super food. I eat it twice a week (boiled). Then, I reserve one day for these unbelievably delicious purple cauliflowers I get at my farmer's market in from of my house.

Getting ready for New Year's folks. My cousin had a bone to pick with me by saying 'someone needs to get more active on their blog'. Ahem.


Καλά Χριστούγεννα, & Merry Christmas

creepy angel with only one eye. taken last year at Christmas time at my parents. i just had to post this.

Merry Christmas my fellow gastros. Wishing everyone health, joy, success, good food, good wine, happy families, song, dance, celebration and all that good stuff in life.

All I have to say is there's nothing like Rome at Christmas (brioche, amazing chocolate, the best espresso in the world, and without a doubt the best dressed people on the globe). Buon Natale!


gingerbread men and beetroot juice?

Random post. I know. But seriously, I'm in the midst of deadlines this week, and I am containing myself from downing all the kourabiedes and melomakarona I have inherited from aunties, friends, neighbours (as it typically happens in Greece around Christmas). I'm being a good boy and drinking my newfound delight. Beetroot juice. Power drink. Here's the recipe.

2 beetroots, washed, boiled in a pot of water until fork tender, peeled, and sliced into chunks
1/2 green apple, sliced into chunks
juice of 1 orange
2-3 ice cubes

Possibly the easiest thing in the world. Take the ingredients above, add them to a juicer (in my case, a food processor or the otherwise recognised 'to MULTI!' in Greece), mix, and pour into a glass. You may want to add some water, of course.

It's not freshly squeezed OJ, don't get me wrong. But it makes you feel better in an instant.

Lastly, on the issue of gingerbread men, I am a failure. I tested out this recipe (without ginger of course, and then you beg to ask, WTF, they are not gingerbread men). It was lame (although they looked pretty). I reckon I need more sugar next time. Testing a batch of sugar cookies tonight (batter is in the fridge overnight, letting the flavours harmonise and we shall see what comes to pass tomorrow). I hope the Metaxa does this trick. Over and out.


calamari: 30 seconds or 30 minutes

If you want your calamari to be tender, and not like rubber, you have to cook it either for 30 seconds or 30 minutes.


pomegranate frozen yogurt (and without a machine)

Since I gorged yesterday on a spread of all sorts of desserts at my auntie's Sunday lunch (including my own cheesecake creation with anthotiro with a melomakarona base) - I opted for a healthier alternative to start off the work week. I never made this before, but the combination of pomegranate + Greek yogurt worked wonders. I didn't add any sugar, although if I were to serve this to guests I would add some powdered sugar + 1 tbsp of honey.

For 4 ramekins:

2 cups of Greek yogurt (2%) [obviously, we buy 'strained' yogurt in Greece, not 'Greek']
seeds from 1 pomegranate [this took about 2 minutes to do, don't be intimidated]
3 tablespoons of water

Added pomegranate seeds to a food processor and blended for 1 minute on high speed. Scraped the sides, and then added the yogurt and water. Processed for another 1 minute, and poured yogurt mix into ramekins and placed them carefully in the freezer. After 20 minutes, I mixed each ramekin with a fork, to break the crystals. I did this 3 times every 30 minutes. Made for a refreshing and delicious afternoon snack. Enjoy folks!


HIV in Greece

Αποσπάσματα από την εκπομπή "ΜΙΑ ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑ...ΕΝΑ ΟΝΕΙΡΟ" της ΕΤ1 που προβλήθηκε στις 4 Δεκεμβρίου 2010.
Η εκπομπή ήταν διάρκειας 1 ώρας αλλά λόγω χρονικού ορίου στο youtube, η διάρκεια αυτού του video είναι 15 λεπτά.


Good work America

Happily, I woke up in Athens to find out the glorious the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act just passed the House of Representatives. For more on this important step in tackling childhood obesity in the US - please check this link:

Reminiscent of Jamie Oliver's campaign on school meals back in Britain. And of note, an Oxford academic conducted a study this year that suggested the positive impact Jamie's efforts had on school attendance. Good work chef.


Ενημέρωση. Προφύλαξη. Εξέταση.

Σήμερα είναι η Παγκόσμια Ημέρα Κατά του AIDS. Support HIV prevention, safe sex education in our schools, medication and human rights for HIV+ patients in all corners of the globe, vaccine research, good science, and good health policies.


two meetings in one day

More analysis on the first day of the Greek AIDS Conference in a bit. Meantime if you want to follow my commentary on the TEDx Athens meeting, please look at my Twitter page. Over and out.


busy weekend: TEDx Athens + 2010 Greek National AIDS Conference

I will be juggling a busy weekend between TEDx Athens and the 3-day Greek AIDS Conference which commences tomorrow morning. For more information on the programme for the AIDS Conference (which incidentally, will be held at the Grande Bretagne in Syndagma Square) - please visit the conference website at - http://www.aids2010.gr/.

I am attending the meeting on behalf of a Greek-based NGO - Positive Voice (Θετική Φωνή). Please visit their blog to learn more about their incredible work in advocating for HIV/AIDS prevention, access to treatment, and human rights in HIV-infected patients.

count our blessings on this Thanksgiving

My family, health, friends, community, my job, my teachers, sunshine in Athens, good food, good neighbours, a farmer's market in front of my house, proximity to the train station, access to the Parthenon for free, wireless internet, my Macbook Pro.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And for all you pie lovers, please check out this video from today's New York Times.


Lela's amazing Thanksgiving roasted ham with Hawaiian sauce

This is a recipe courtesy of my father by email this morning, but it's my mother's traditional ham recipe with a delightful Hawaiian sauce, which she typically serves both at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is one of her best, in my humble opinion! Note my father's precise measurements (the trained chemist in him). Love it.

And I quote:

You buy a chunk of ham with the bone. You place it cut side down in the bake pan. Pour 1 cup of hot water on the ham, and you sprinkle and rub with brown sugar enough to cover the whole chunk. Then, you stick gloves on the surface of the ham about one inch apart. You cover with aluminum foil. You place in the oven 325 Degrees Fahrenheit or 163 Celsius. You bake it for 1/4 of an hour for each pound of ham, so if the ham is 6 lbs - then you cook it for an hour and a half.

The Hawaiian sauce : One can of pineapple , dissolve in the juice, (1/2) one half tea spoon of cornstarch (νισαστές) and 1/2 cup of the juice from the ham also add 7 cherries and 2 ts ( tea spoons) of the juice from the cherries for color you simmer it at low heat until the sauce starts thickening you remove and you are done.

TEDx Athens: Meeting of the curious minds

Meeting of the minds this Friday in Athens. I CAN NOT wait. Be there. TEDx Athens. I found out about this from another mate, and I am a bit surprised I managed to sneak in an application this late. In any event, entrepreneurs, poets, sommeliers, you name it - it's going to be a fantastic gathering from what it looks like. This is a refreshing change from the gloom and doom of the IMF and all this negative energy. One particularly cool character is this guy, Kostas Grammatis, a visiting researcher at the MIT Media labs, and the founder of ahumanright.org. Check his work out. I will also be attending the Greek AIDS Conference, and blogging from there.


Greek Thanksgiving?

So, what would a Greek Thanksgiving entail?

All the American traditions with a Greek twist? My personal favourite is halloumi cheese stuffed in the turkey cavity.


my amazingly robust and fragrant baked sea-bass with fennel and ouzo

My friends Alexi and Daphne came over for dinner the other day, and I made a lovely old recipe of mine to test out my new AEG oven. For those who are intimidated by fish, this is a very robust, easy recipe. I bought in the afternoon some fresh sea-bass (λαβράκι) from the fishmonger's - and I had them scale it, and then gut it. When I came home, I carefully clipped the fins with a pair of scissors, and gave it a final wash again under cold water. Most importantly, I kept the head on (since there's always someone who wants to eat it). I tend to use a combination of wine and ouzo when cooking seafood, since I find the addition of ouzo heightens the flavours. Recipe follows, folks.

1 large sea-bass, whole, with head, scaled, and gutted
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
juice of 1 large lemon
1 large fennel, thinly sliced
2 knobs of butter
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, thinly chopped
1 medium size red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of white wine (any wine will do)
2 shots of ouzo

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Take 2 large pieces of aluminium foil (more than double the length of the sea bass), and stack them one on top of the other. In a medium size pot with salted boiling water, poach fennel slices for 4 minutes, and then drain in cold water. In roasting pan, place stacked aluminium foils in the bottom (half of the foil will extend past the length of the pan), and lay the sea bass on top. Season the sea bass on the outside with salt and freshly ground pepper, and rub with olive oil. Stuff the sea bass with 3-4 lemon slices, the butter, and a bit of the fennel (oh, and some of the garlic!). Don't worry if some of it extends out of the cavity of the fish.

Add the onions, scallions, and the remaining fennel and garlic around the fish, and on top. Pour the white wine and ouzo on top of the fish. You can drizzle some extra olive oil at this stage over the vegetables if you wish. Take the aluminium foil that extends out of the pan, and wrap it over the sea bass, creating tight creases around the edges to trap the air inside. Place pan in the middle rack of your pre-heated oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately with some fresh bread, and a lovely white wine. I had the pleasure of two bottles of a Greek dry white called Ψηλές Κορφές (2008) which Alexi and his wife brought over. It had a very prominent sweetness, fruits, with a lovely finish.


important paper on funding for chronic disease prevention

Friend and colleague Andrea Feigl just published a seminal piece called ‘Where Have All the Donors Gone?: Scarce Funding for Chronic Diseases’. Her co-author, Rachel Nugent, discusses in an interview the current funding mechanisms for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This is particularly important given the UN Summit on NCDs that will take place next year in NYC, and will serve as a critical moment to get governments, health policy experts, and donors on the same page.


A little slice of posh food right in my own backyard. I can't freakin' believe it. I just found out about this restaurant, Aneton, near my home here in Maroussi. One of the owners is a the presenter, Vassilis Kalidis, on a new cooking show called Food and the City on MEGA. In fact, my good friend and future cousin Margarita was raving about this place last week. Now I know where I'm going this weekend.

I can't judge yet, but their website maintains a rather funky, very cool 70s look (of which I am a fan).


chocolate rice pudding (ρυζόγαλο σοκολάτας)

I'll be doing my usual dropping-by my cousin Yannis' for dinner. I'm establishing a bit of a tradition here by not bringing dessert as most Greeks do (instead of wine as is the case back in the UK or the States) - but...in fact making my own dessert on the spot.

Tonight, we make chocolate rice pudding, inspired by the illustrious Nigella Lawson herself.

3-4 tablespoons of unsweetened quality cocoa added to 5 tablespoons of hot water. I'm considering however substituting the cocoa for dark chocolate. I'll slowly whisk in 1 L of warm milk, then proceed to add 125 g (about 3/4 cup) of risotto rice, followed by 100 g (1/2 cup of sugar). Oh, and a touch of vanilla essence!

Pop it in a baking dish for about 2 hours in a pre-heated oven (150 degrees C). Every 20 minutes, carefully stir the pudding mix to prevent the top layer from crusting. Serve warm.


Dr. Hodges

at last, my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last...

Agh re Etta James. Thea. And a very wise woman. I'm home, of course, at last. September 20th was my crowing day. I passed my PhD examination. I have my life back. And so can't wait to start posting some recipes from my excursions all throughout Athens.


fresh Kalamata figs with anthotiro

For one portion. Figs + cheese = a marriage in heaven. I made this dessert last night for my friends Alexi and Daphne.

- 1 large fresh fig, washed and quartered
- 3/4 cup of anthotiro (ανθότυρο) - which is one of my favourite Greek cheese (a variation of mizithra), buttery and soft.
- 2 tablespoons of organic honey
- a touch of lemon and orange zest
- a dash of liqueur to your liking (I used saffron tsipouro)

I added just a little tsipouro to my figs. Combined the zest with the anthotiro. Served the cheese in the middle of a small dessert plate, drizzled the honey on top, and arranged the sliced figs on one side of the plate.


how the hell are we going to feed ourselves

Nature (my beloved scientific journal) has a series of articles on food, agriculture, and the implications of the rise of global population. The take-home message from the debate for me is the lack of public spending on agricultural research on the part of the richest nations.

This also brings me back to what ecologist and Oxford don Dr. Malcolm Coe lectured a month ago at Magdalen College - there are simply too many of us on this planet.. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak in your lifetime, you will consider yourself very privileged.

the two things I owe you

Talk about being late. My update from the 2010 Oxford Symposium, and the recipes from the cooking class at Magdalen College to be posted. I promise. Seriously. Off to the village tomorrow in the Peloponnese to get olive oil for the house.

au revoir Jamie's, bonjour Athina

Athens is lovely. Last week I went to this wonderful restaurant called Kuzina in the area of Thisio. This is the second time I have been there, and one of their signature dishes is loukoumades stuffed with feta and olives, served with a pomegranate sauce. Unbelievably delicious.

It's good to be home. Will keep you all posted on the airing of the Cooking Odyssey back in the US. For more - check the facebook group.


good bye Drucker

The loveliest bunch of students left today. More to come on the big feast we cooked two nights ago at Magdalen College. Safe travels, my friends.


AIDS conference in Vienna

I'm more excited about this week's World AIDS conference in Vienna than food. Impressive results coming out of a study that showcased the efficacy of a microbicide (with 1% tenofovir) in women. Good news on the HIV prevention front for women.

the price of olive oil is going up

this was bound to happen. Article from a few days ago in The Independent on how Greek olive oil producers are piling up their stocks - and the effect this is having on costs for consumers. Lucky me, I have home made olive oil from Avramiou.


vegetarian recipe special in The Guardian's OFM

More to report on the Oxford Symposium from last week which was fantastic! I am writing an article for it and will post in a few days back to the blog.

But in the meantime, enjoy an array of vegetarian recipes in today's Guardian. Woo hoo! Nigel Slater has a gorgeous recipe for baked peppers with a summer sauce.


the state of Greek gastronomy

An interesting article in the Washington Post regarding the impact of the financial crisis on the Athens food scene. Kouragio.


peach zabaglione

but with a twist. I'm thinking of making this as a dessert special in the restaurant, but instead of egg yolks, I'll take some mascarpone with double cream and orange zest. The base will be peaches cooked off with some caster sugar and Vin Santo (or Marsala).


argument with George - what do we make for dinner?

My beloved mate Magdis is visiting from Paris, and he's busting my b*lls. He's not keen on carbohydrates, since he's on the Atkins diet. So this equates to no pastichio, no gemista, and no moussaka. Although I have figured I can substitute the potato in moussaka for more aubergine. Any recommendations?


tea and cakes in London? Go to Louis Pâtisserie

Delightfully awesome. Hands down.
This place is incredible. It's a little Hungarian pastry shop right around the exit of the Hampstead tube stop. It's the most charming little place ever, a recent discovery of mine, as I stopped on my way to a friend's birthday BBQ. Since Greeks prefer pastries to wine when visiting a household, I stayed consistent with that practice. Truth be told, it reminded me of Xatzis' pâtisserie in my omorfh Thessaloniki by Kamara.

I purchased a chocolate mousse cake slice, along with a piece of tiramisu for £5.20. Since I only had £5 on me, I reassured the endearing lady at the front that I would blog about her shop. Time Out London has some excellent reviews of this Hampstead stablishment.

Please go. You most definitely will not be disappointed.


Raymond Blanc's amazing chocolate mousse

This recipe is courtesy of the legendary chef Raymond Blanc (from the Guardian).
No butter. Just 3 simple ingredients. I cannot wait to make it.

Maman Blanc's chocolate mousse

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: n/a

This recipe is best prepared 1 day in advance and left covered in the fridge


180g dark chocolate, at least 66% cocoa solids, finely chopped (Raymond says, "Do use the best quality of chocolate. With 70% cocoa solids you can expect the best chocolate experience!")
240g / 8 egg whites, free-range/organic
30g / 2 tbsp fructose sugar


Place the chocolate in a large bowl set over a pan of hot water and leave to melt over a low heat. Turn the heat off when liquid.

In an electric mixer, (not on full power) whisk the egg whites and fructose until they form soft peaks. (By whisking egg whites, you can 'harvest' the air by trapping tiny air bubbles inside a network of protein. However, if you over whisk the egg whites, they will become thick and grainy, lose volume and separate into a dry froth and a runny liquid.)

Whisk in 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the mixture and immediately fold in the remaining egg white with a large spatula. Do not over mix at this stage as you will knock all the tiny bubbles of air out and be left with a dense mousse.

Pour into a glass bowl or individual glasses and leave to set in the fridge for 2 hours or until required.


Baked chocolate fondant

Dilute 12g of arrowroot (or cornflour) with a tbsp of water and fold it into the chocolate mousse. Fill small oven proof moulds (buttered and lined with a 1/2 cocoa powder half 1/2 caster sugar mixture) 2/3 of the way up the mould and bake in a preheated oven (170C) for 6-7 minutes. The chocolate fondant should be cooked on the outside and melting in the centre.

Warm chocolate soup

You could also take the chocolate mousse and fill a soufflé mould, place in a bain marie and gently warm in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 6-8 minutes depending on the size of your mould. This will give you a lovely warm chocolate soup which will start to soufflé on top.