May 4th, 2010

Spring in Greece

Limni Evias, Evia

Fava (yellow split pea puree) with spring onions, sun dried tomatoes and capers

aubergine salad

tsipouro (spirit)

Everywhere you may find yourself in Greece this spring, you are bound to eat delicious food and experience exuberant nature. Our photos are from Evia, the second biggest and very beautiful island near mainland Greece. Its capital, Halkida (or Chalkida) is famous for its lovely ouzeri (serving ouzo and meze), but great food is abundant throughout the island. Evia is a truly blessed place: Full of olive groves, meadows with wildflowers. scenic villages and crystal clear sea. Have a great May!

December 18th, 2009

Fuel for the Winter: The soothing flavor of Greek soups

It is interesting to notice the journey of soup in urban versus rural communities, as well as in affluent as opposed to frugal times. In times of prosperity, soup is often a way to prepare our body for the solid food that is about to follow, and that is why it is served in small quantities before the main course. This kind of soup is usually lighter and clear.

During recession, or in traditional communities where food is cold-defying fuel so that the body can go on working, soup is a way for the cook to use leftovers or whatever there is available –just like pies- and feed as many mouths as possible. Soup then becomes heavier, creamier, enhanced with pulses or pasta.

Soup can be an inexpensive, nourishing and flavorful meal, provided that it is made with good –if humble- ingredients, like vegetables, herbs, lean meats, good pasta instead of their over-processed counterparts.

The tendency to prefer soup over other comfort foods is reflected in the market. Ready-made fresh soup has made some large gains (25% according to Nielsen marketing information company) in the past 16 months in Europe, testifying to an increasing need for healthy food, albeit, quickly prepared.

Greeks have a peculiar stance to soup: While it is a favorite in many households, it is offered in few restaurants and the fresh soups one can buy in cartons abroad are nonexistent, as if there isn’t a market for them.

Still, the variety and diversity of Greek soups is impressive, ranging from avgolemono (egg-lemon) based soups, to soups with innards, to bean soups with vegetables, to simple, Lenten soups served during times of fasting.

Avgolemono (egg-lemon) is made with egg yolks and lemon juice mixed with broth. The eggs should not curdle, so the mixture is heated until it thickens but before it boils. Usually, Greeks prefer it with chicken stock, although you can find it with meat or vegetable broth.

Trahanas or xinohondros are based on a fermented mixture of grain and yoghurt or fermented milk, usually consumed as soup. It can be cooked with tomato juice or it can be thinned with milk. In traditional Greek societies it would be served for breakfast too. Housewives used to make large quantities of the tiny pasta in the summer when there was enough sun for it to completely dry out. Then, it would be kept in cloth bags, or pillowcases, for the coming winter.

In Greek markets you will mostly find two kinds of trahanas, the sour variety and the “sweet” one –both savoury, just prepared differently.

Here’s a classic Greek recipe for one of our favourite soups, fasolada. Fasolada is a hearty soup of dry white beans, olive oil, and vegetables. Greeks hold it in high esteem and many consider it to be their “national food”.

Fasolada (white bean soup)

For 4 servings

500 gr. white beans

2 onions, finely chopped

2 carrots peeled and sliced

3 celery sticks and leaves finely chopped

4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preparation

Soak beans overnight. Dispose of the water, wash, rinse, place in pot with fresh water and boil for 10 minutes. Strain and re-boil for 30 minutes.

Add onions, celery, tomatoes and some warm water. Boil until beans are tender and then, add olive oil, salt and pepper. Leave the soup until it becomes as chunky as you want it to.

Serve with olives, feta and smoked herring.

See more soup recipes here:

-Mount Athos Tahini soup

-Tomato soup with trahana

-Lentil soup flavored with Glykadi

-Mushroom soup with lavender and mastiha foam

October 5th, 2009

Disney likes Greek food

(photo: Copyright The Walt Disney Co 2009)

A new Mediterranean restaurant with the emphasis on Greek gastronomy and Greek wine, opened in Disney.

Disney World’s Cooperation with HEPO, the Kerasma Inititiative and the European Program “Wonderful Wines” with EDOAO (National Interprofessional Organization of Vine & Wine) and the member-vineries of All About Greek Wine, is rewarded in the most impressive way: Disney opens a new Mediterranean Restaurant, “Kouzzina”, which focuses on Greek food and wine.

The restaurant bears the signature of the famous chef Cat Cora, of Greek descent. It is situated in the striking Boardwalk Resort in Walt Disney World.

OUZO-TINI (photo: Copyright The Walt Disney Co 2009)

The last 4 years, Greek presence in the international gastronomy festival Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in Disney, has been especially felt, through the creation of a Greek pavilion, wine bars, while at the same time, it offered tastings, educational seminars, a Greek wine school, specially themed dinners, cooking shows, parties etc.

Through these well-aimed actions, Greek presence in Disney has been boosted, thus placing Greek wine and gastronomy on the top of the list of thousands of people that each fall visit Epcot.

September 28th, 2009

Herbal teas with the world’s most precious spice

The Krocus Kozanis Growers Association in cooperation with Korres Natural Products introduce an Organic Herbal Tea Selection with Krocus Kozanis, a ‘first’ for the international food & drink market. Every single one of the five  herbal teas developed, has its own unique character, however they all share one thing in common – the benefits of the world’s best saffron variety. The Organic Greek Red Saffron with its significant antioxidant properties, protects against free radicals and contributes to the overall well-being.

There is something for every taste:

ORGANIC BLACK TEA WITH GREEK RED SAFFRON & LEMON

Consumed hot or cold, as a welcome drink at the bazaars of the orient

ORGANIC TRADITIONAL HERBAL TEA WITH GREEK RED SAFFRON & HONEY

The saffron growers welcome the guests at their village Krokos at Kozani, with this tasteful beverage

ORGANIC WARMING HERBAL TEA WITH GREEK RED SAFFRON & SPICES

For the winter cold, we combined the flavour of sweet fruits with the scent of exotic spices

ORGANIC MEDITERRANEAN HERBAL TEA WITH GREEK RED SAFFRON & ROSEMARY

Colours of greek yards and flavours of the Aegean summer, concentrated in a unique taste

ORGANIC AROMATIC HERBAL TEA WITH GREEK RED SAFFRON & SAGE

An indulgent match of hand-picked mountain herbs and fine floral scents in a unique combination

Did you know that

-Although about 20 species of saffron are native to Greek flora, nowadays Crocus sativus is the only species being cultivated, in the rural area outside the city of Kozani, in northern Greece.

-The krocus flower can usually grow as high as 10-12 cm above the ground.

-About 150.000 krocus flowers are required for a kilogram of the final product, which consists of the flower’s dried stigmas.

-30.000 krocus flowers per day is the quantity the fastest saffron gatherer can gather.

-Saffron types are graded by quality according to laboratory measurements of such characteristics as crocin (colour), picrocrocin (taste) and safranal (flavour) content. Greek Red Saffron, a pure product of the Greek agriculture, is considered the best in the world.

- It has a coloring strength of 256, verified by laboratory reports, which is 66 points higher than the minimum international standard for all saffron.

-Recent research concerning the secrets of red saffron is multi-faceted and new discoveries are continuously being made. Experiments have confirmed many of the plant’s beneficial properties traditionally accepted in the past by folk medicine, such as its anticonvulsive, digestive and antiseptic action, while new medicinal applications have also been discovered. We are now certain that the stigmas possess strong antioxidant properties and neutralize free radicals; while it has also been proven that their use helps boosting memory.

-As of 1992, Greek Red Saffron has entered the “Register of protected designations of origin”.

At the moment the herbal teas can be found in

Greece: supermarkets, selected stores and cafes

Spain: Veritas organic products supermarkets, selected pharmacies

UK: Harvey Nichols, Fresh and Wild

Cyprus: Orfanides supermarkets

Czech Republic: Korres stores

Soon, the organic teas will be available in Poland, Holland, Switzerland, Russia, India, Albania, Sweden etc.

For further information, please contact:

Katerina Traka / Pinelopi Theodorakakou, Krocus Kozanis Products

Τ 22620 54 552 / 22620 54 647

katerina.traka@korres.com / pinelopi@korres.com

September 10th, 2009

Things to try in Fall

Happy Fall to all. This is the season of mellow tastes and golden hues. Fall is mild in Greece, so we can still enjoy dinner outdoors for the most part. And what better ingredient that the season’s apples? We have some great varieties in Greece and you can read all about them here.

Here are some great recipes with apples to celebrate Fall and may it be fruitful for us all:

Upside Down Apple Cake with Macedonian Halva Ice Cream

Veal Stewed with Tart Apples and Prunes

Chicken Stewed with Apples

Apple-Leek Velouté with Xinomyzithra and Greek Prosciutto

Apple – Spinach Salad with Mint Olive Oil

Fyriki Apple Spoon Sweet

Apple pie with raisins

July 24th, 2009

Learn to cook the classics

It is easy to cook Greek! We have chosen some classic Greek recipes, most of them fast and easy, so that you can boast to your friends who will certainly be impressed.  Choose from those served with ouzo (it is an acquired taste, so if you find it difficult to get used to, you can serve them with cold beer) to sample with your favourite people, or try one for a light lunch. Cheese pie and spinach pie can be made ahead and taken to the office as a snack. Gemista (stuffed tomatoes) are even better served the next day with a chunk of feta cheese.

Serve with ouzo:

Tyrosalata (Cheese spread)

Melitzanosalata (Eggplant salad)

Saganaki

Taramasalata

Tzatziki

Serve for a light lunch:

Cheese pie “Tyropitta”

Gemista

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

And a couple of classic desserts:

Classic Baklava

Classic Semolina Halva

July 9th, 2009

Readers’ recipes

Let’s face it, we all have our own takes on popular recipes. And we all have our favorite ways of using ingredients. So we invite you to send us your greek-inspired recipes, whether they are based on greek ingredients, or are variations of traditional recipes, or simply family recipes (if you have photos, they are welcome too, but they are not necessary). We promise to review each one of them here on the blog,  and try as many as we can! Send your recipes, along with any story behind them, to: kerasma@hepo.gr

So, get cooking!

June 15th, 2009

Link time


Here is some food inspiration from some of our favorite blogs on Greek food. The people behind the recipes are food enthusiasts who are eager to share their knowledge and passion with all of us. We are delighted at all efforts to bring Greek food forward not just as a trend but as a lasting choice.

-Homemade recipes from a passionate cook
-Life can be tasteful! Recipes and food stories (in Greek)
-Go beyond the fantastic photography and try the recipes. Expect to be amazed.
-A bilingual food blog written with flair by a culinary connoisseur.
-Mostly traditional recipes and interesting food stories.
June 10th, 2009

Saffron Lemonade

Here’s a recipe for the reader who asked for lemonade with a Greek twist using Greek Kozani Saffron, one of the highest quality saffron kinds in the world. This refreshing lemonade with a distinct taste can also be prepared with honey instead of sugar.

For 4 servings
Juice from 8 big lemons
150 gr. Caster sugar
2 tsp saffron threads
Salt

Preparation
In a big jug add lemon juice, sugar and saffron threads. Add 100 ml warm water so that saffron is dissolved as much as possible. Add 700 ml cold water and stir well. If the lemonade is too sour for your taste, add more water.
Rum the rim of a cocktail glass with lemon juice, and dip in salt. Put the glasses in the fridge until you serve the lemonade –with lots of ice and thin lemon slices. The more the saffron stays in the lemonade the more the colour deepens and the stronger the taste grows.

June 4th, 2009

Time for a picnic


We have been having some really warm days the last couple of weeks here in Greece, and as the sun has been shining longer and stronger, Greek produce is also reaching its peak. Now it’s the time to plan picnics, the perfect excuse to enjoy nature and great food with friends and family.
Along with savory food don’t forget to pack a simple dessert, or even just fruit, and of course fluids like homemade lemonade.
Remember that some food is especially sensitive to travel and heat. Pack a knife and cut your tomatoes at the last minute, once you are comfortably under the shade of a tree.
Forget heavy sauces and salad dressings like mayonnaise and opt for a light vinaigrette that you are going to keep in a separate container.
Picnics are about relaxing and having fun, so don’t bother with elaborate recipes or perfectly ironed tablecloths.
And doing your bit for the environment means that you will minimize your food packaging as much as possible and place your picnic sandwiches, salads and dessert into reusable containers whenever possible.

Picnic food ideas

Cheese pie “Tyropitta”

Greek Village Salad Served Over Grilled Bread

Grilled Octopus

Spanakopita – Spinach pie

Arugula Salad with Citrus, Avocado, and Karpenissi Prosciutto