Monday, October 18, 2021

Veal biftekia (Greek meat patties) with koulouri and tzatziki

Nothing beats a nice, charred and juicy Greek bifteki (meat patty) for dinner, any day of the week, especially when you serve it on top of a sliced, homemade koulouri (Greek, sesame-coated bread ring) and some refreshing, pungent tzatziki

 

 

Last week, while shopping at a large super market that oftentimes carries unusual and rare vegetables and fruits, I came across a basket full of wild garlic. Wild garlic, this time of the year! I couldn’t believe it. Don’t know where it was from, but I couldn’t resist getting it because I adore wild garlic. I used it in the beef patties, but since it’s not in season now and even when it is it’s difficult to find in many places, you can substitute with regular garlic. I also used it in the tzatziki, the recipe for which can be found here and of course, the bread rings recipe is here

 





Veal and wild garlic* biftekia (Greek meat patties) with koulouri and tzatziki 

Needless to say that the quality of the veal you use is key in the flavor of the biftekia. Buy ground veal with some fat in it as it will give your biftekia extra flavor but not too much fat as they will be too greasy and heavy. Also, what’s important in the final flavor and texture is the proper mixing of the ingredients and the resting of the mixture in the fridge. 

You can make great souvlakia with these biftekia too. Just shape them into longer ovals, put them inside a Greek pita, add tzatziki, tomato and onions, or your own favorite ingredients, and dig in.

*As mentioned above, you can substitute the wild garlic for regular garlic since it's not in season now.

 


Yield: 9 small-ish biftekia or 4 large ones

Ingredients 

for the biftekia (meat patties) 

500 g ground veal 

2 red onions (about 110 g net weight)

1 large handful flat-leaf parsley

3 wild garlic leaves (with stems attached) or 1 garlic clove

1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or hot chilli flakes

1 tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp Greek dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper, 20 turns of the pepper mill

1 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking

to serve

tzatziki (you can substitute the wild garlic in the recipe with 2 garlic cloves)

koulouria/simitia (Greek bread rings)

lemon

tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

 

Preparation

In a small food processor, add the onion, garlic and parsley and finely chop. Add all the ingredients for the biftekia, except the oil, in a medium-sized bowl that fits in your fridge, and mix very well, kneading the mixture for 5-6 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours.

Shape the patties. Give them an oval shape and then flatten slightly the tops.

 

Heat a frying pan well over medium-high heat. Okay, now I gotta talk about something. Frying pans. Not all are created equal. Even though I use from time to time non stick pans, like Tefal, I tend to avoid them for two reasons. First, because they are harmful to our health and second, because as far as meat (chicken, steak, offal, patties) mushrooms and tofu is concerned, they can’t cook them well. How well a pan conducts and retains heat is dependent upon the material the pan is made of and of course this affects cooking. For example, copper heats up super fast and also gets cold super fast once off the heat. Iron/cast iron on the other hand takes a bit of time to heat up but retains that heat well after it has been taken off the heat. Carbon steel pans heat up quickly and retain heat well after they have been taken off the heat. Also, whether or not a pan has the ability to create a natural patina, like iron and steel pans do, is crucial in the final flavor and texture of the cooked meat. You are familiar with the Maillard reaction, no? If not, you can read about it here.

So the pan I use is a carbon steel pan with a beeswax layer by de Buyer (Mineral B model), which creates a non stick patina with time and cooks better than any other pan I have ever used, including my beloved yet hardly used anymore le Creuset cast iron pan. Also, the double sided grill/griddle from le Creuset, which I have been using for maaaany years, especially for making pork souvlakia is also excellent for cooking meat patties. I prefer, however, the de Buyer pan as it is less heavy (talking about the small one here; the larger one I have is almost as heavy as the Creuset griddle, if not heavier). Ugh! Let's get back to the recipe. As soon as the pan heats up, lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the patties and cook to your liking. I like them well cooked, so for small-ish patties, I cook them for 7 minutes per side.

serve the dish

Cut the bread rings lengthwise, place the biftekia on top so the bread soaks up the juices and becomes even more delicious, add the tzatziki and tomatoes and squeeze lots of lemon juice over the patties.

Dig in and enjoy!

 

 


 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Watermelon, feta and sumac salad

I made this salad the other day, actually on my Name Day, on a whim, after inhaling the sweet aroma of a freshly cut watermelon and wanting to eat it right then and there but not on its own. Yes, it was my Name Day, and one would assume that dinner would have been something fancy yet this, this was all I was craving and wanted.

 


Fresh, crisp watermelon dripping with pink-reddish juices, salty feta, fiery red onion, exotic, zingy lime juice, rich, smooth extra virgin olive oil, bright, fresh mint and a beautiful little concoction of sea salt crystals rubbed together with some ground, lemony and tart sumac sprinkled over the whole salad.

Had it with some Cretan barley paksimadia and was as happy as I could ever be with my Name Day dinner. 

 

 

 

Watermelon, feta and sumac salad

Feel free to make this salad your own by adding ingredients you have on hand and prefer. I would also go for some olives, especially green ones which I love, or capers, and surely, a few ripe, cherry tomatoes would be great here too.

 No amounts given because salad. Do your thing.

 

Ingredients

Watermelon, juicy and crisp, freshly cut

Feta, Greek of course, gently cut with your fingers into small pieces

Red onion, thinly sliced

Lime juice, freshly squeezed

Extra virgin olive oil, Greek of course

Fresh mint leaves, picked and torn

Sea salt crystals, I use Maldon

Ground sumac

 

Preparation

Take a large platter and arrange the watermelon pieces. Squeeze some lime juice over the fruit, to enhance the sweet flavor and scatter the onions around. Add the feta. Drizzle with olive oil. Rub together in a small bowl the salt and sumac, and sprinkle it generously over the top. Add more sumac if needed and finish with the mint.

Enjoy immediately.

 


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tiramisù ice cream

Hello hello hello!

Long time no see!

Hope you are all well, friends.

For those of you not following me on instagram, you may have been wondering where I’ve been these past three years. Well, I had a baby! Aris was born on 5 July 2019, he is two years old now, and what can I tell you, time flew.

 


As you can understand, the blog and cooking in general had, and has, taken a back seat, to say the least. Cooking to feed my toddler is like a full time job, with five meals a day, so I don’t really have the energy to cook elaborate dishes that would be of any interest to you, the dear readers of this little blog of mine.

Even when I do manage to cook something of notice, alas, there’s rarely time to take any decent photographs or write down the recipe, and to be honest, sitting down to write a blog post seems difficult and time-consuming. So what’s changed and I am here now? A reader told me the other day how much she misses my recipes and posts here on my blog, and apart from being flattered and touched, it also made me want to revive my blog as soon as possible. I said to myself: “You need to get back!”. In order to do that, however, something has to change, so I decided to keep my posts short and sweet and I do hope that you will still enjoy them.

 


So, here I am; with a recipe for this gorgeous tiramisù ice cream that’s utterly delicious. It has a mascarpone, Kahlua and brandy base and a mocha syrup that runs through it, making it incredibly luxurious. It’s creamy, smooth, rich, sweet but not cloyingly so, and the syrup is sticky and shiny with an intense coffee flavor. Theres something you need to know about this ice cream, though; the alcohol content is high! Not that that’s a bad thing, eh? Considering we are still going through a pandemic, a little booze will definitely not hurt us.

Hope to be back soon with more recipes, as I have already started photographing and cooking a bit more, and yes, damn it, it’s good to be back.

 

 

 

 

Tiramisù ice cream

This is the prefect ice cream dessert. It contains the sweetness, the booze and the coffee you need after a meal, all in one. 

 

Yield: about 1 kg

 

Ingredients

for the ice cream

450 g mascarpone

125 ml cream, full-fat (35%)

125 ml whole milk

130 g caster sugar

Pinch of sea salt

60 ml Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored liqueur)

40 ml brandy

for the mocha syrup

100 g caster sugar

80 ml agave syrup

50 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder

125 ml strong espresso (already brewed coffee), or 125 ml water mixed with 1 Tbsp espresso granules)

½ tsp pure vanilla extract or paste

 

Special equipment: food processor, ice cream machine

 

Preparation

for the ice cream

In a food processor, add all the ingredients for the ice cream and puree until the sugar is dissolved and you have a smooth mixture. Empty in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until it has really chilled. Then, churn in your ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions.

for the mocha syrup

As the ice cream base is chilling in the fridge, make the mocha syrup.

In a medium-sized saucepan, add the sugar, agave syrup, coffee (or water + coffee granules) and cocoa powder, and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to slowly boil. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, and then remove the pan from the heat. Add the vanilla and stir. Empty the mixture in a clean bowl and allow to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until the syrup has really chilled. In order to use it, it needs to be really cold, as it is easier to hold the swirl and not dissolve in the ice cream base.

Note: use only ¾ of the mocha swirl in your ice cream because it’s a lot. The rest you can keep in an airtight container in your fridge for about 2 weeks and you can use it in your coffee, in smoothies, over other ice creams or pancakes or waffles, you name it!

Mixing the two ice cream components

Right before the ice cream is churned, add a generous amount of the mocha syrup at the bottom of a container that you will use to store the ice cream in the freezer. I used enough syrup to cover the bottom of my container. Then add a generous layer of the churned ice cream on top. Continue alternating layers of syrup and churned ice cream, finishing with the mocha syrup. I made 6 layers of mocha syrup in total (so 5 layers of churned ice cream). Don’t be tempted to mix the layers together or stir to do a marble effect like you would with cakes because the ice cream will turn out a weird color without the distinctive ripples thus without distinctive flavors.

Cover the ice cream either with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the freezer until the ice cream firms up.

Keep it in the freezer for a week or so.

 

 

• Barely adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz