Oh where to begin??? (apologies this might be a long entry, it includes some entries from my Cretan cook book)
I think I will first talk about the olive oil in Crete. It was AMAZING! I've not tasted olive oil as flavourful as it was in Crete, sometimes tangy, sometimes sweet, sometimes earthy and fruity, it was magnificent! Suffice to say I had to bring a jug of it back home to continue the oil pleasure-fest! And the olives were very small in comparison to the supermarket but packed full of flavour. There were olive trees everywhere in Crete, on side roads, on main roads, by the beach, up the mountain, in every private garden. Lovely! Just lovely! That along with other wonderful gems like lime trees, pomegranate trees, chilli trees, apple trees....oh and don't get me started on how sweet and flavourful the tomatoes were, supermarket tomatoes will never taste the same...
Now let's talk tzatziki. Simple, yet wonderful. Small portion, packed with loads of flavour. Creamy yet refreshing on a hot day. The recipe for tzatziki is very simple, but I still bought the cutest little terracotta jug full of tzatziki spice mix to bring home with me.
Best dish of the entire holiday - Eggplant (aubergine) Saganaki. I tried a shrimp saganaki but the eggplant slices were grilled to perfection, the skin was perfectly crispy and that could not be beat. The saganaki sauce is a wonderful tomato based sauce with feta cheese mixed in it.
Justin has always had a love of kebab/donair/shawarma products and he carried that theme through Crete dining on gyros almost every evening (*Note* it's gyros with a hard 'G' pronounced 'geeros'). Usually made with sliced pork and served with pita and tzatziki and rounded off nicely with a tall glass of chilled Mythos beer! :)
And to finish - every meal ended with a giant plate of fruit (mostly watermelon) and at least one shot of raki (distilled leftovers of wine production which tastes similar to tequila).
I could go on and on, but a few mentions of food I had that was also fabulous - pork souvlaki, stuffed vine leaves, greek salad (with an entire block of feta on top), moussaka, dakos, and agnopites (like a tiny crepe ball filled with cheese and smothered in honey). I also had a lovely starter of feta cheese with olive tapanade and sun-dried tomato wrapped in filo.
|The swordfish that Justin reacted badly to...|
|Greek mix plate with tzatziki, stuffed tomato, gyros, moussaka|
|Meat balls - they were just 'ok'|
Spice mix, equal parts of:
2 cups of greek yogurt
1 cucumber finely chopped
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
tiny tiny bit of vinegar
1 tsp of spice mix (above)
Mix all that yum together and eat it with warmed pita!!!!!
"It's said that moussakas is the link between popular and sophisticated cooking. Although there aren't any sources to establish the date when this dish first appeared, moussakas figure in the oldest recipe notebooks of Crete: therefore it may be assumed that it has been made on the island since, at least, the last quarter of the 19th century"
1 kilo of each courgettes, aubergines, potatoes
1 kilo mince meat
4 tbsps olive oil
2 finely chopped onions
100 ml wine
4-5 pulped tomatoes
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
8 tbsps flour
4 tbsps butter or olive oil
2 litres milk
salt, pepper, nutmeg
1) Brown the meat and onions in oil, pour in the wine, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for about an hour. Then stir in the beaten eggs, the cheese and the bread crumbs.
2) Slightly fry the courgettes, aubergines, potatoes all but in large slices.
3) Butter a large baking pan, sprinkle it with bread crumbs and alternate a layer of potatoes and minced meat, then aubergines and mince meat, then courgettes and mince meat.
4) Prepare the sauce, melt the butter or oil and when its really hot add the flour and stir until it gains a little colour, add the milk and stir until it thickens. Finally add the beaten eggs, salt, pepper nutmeg.
5) Pour the white sauce over the layers in the dish, sprinkle with cheese and cook until it's golden brown.
Stuffed Vine Leaves
400 g vine leaves
1/2 kilo of rice
2-3 artichoke hearts
1 cup olive oil
1 cup of finely chopped parsely
1/2 cup of finely chopped mint
1) Blanch the vine leaves for 5 mins. Strain them and prepare the stuffing.
2) Place the rice in a bowl. Grate the potatoes, courgettes, onions, artichoke hearts and all them al to the rice.
3) Mix with the finely chopped mint, parsley, salt, pepper and oil. Stuff the vine leaves (roll them up) and place them in a pot.
4) Put a plate over them and cover with water, simmer gently.
5) Just before removing from the heat pour the lemon juice over them. Could be served with tzatziki.
"A wonderful Cretan appetiser, a common accompaniment to 'tsikouthia' a popular alcoholic drink of Crete."
1 rusk (Cretan bread roll that's twice baked)
1 finely chopped tomato
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps of sour myzithra or feta cheese
1) Sprinkle the rusk with a little water to dampen and soften it a bit.
2) Drizzle rusk with olive oil, place rest of the ingredients on the rusk in order as above. Serve immediately.
1/2 kilo flour
1 cup water
3 tbsps olive oil
3 tbsps raki or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 kilo sour myzithra (soft and acidic Cretan cheese)
3-4 tbsps milk
1) Prepare the dough by mixing together the above ingredients.
2) Mix together the milk and myzithra to soften the cheese.
3) Divide the dough into portions (small balls about the size of walnuts in the shell). Roll each one out into a flat circle and put a tsp of the cheese mix in the middle.
4) Pull the dough over the filling to form a complete ball with the filling fully covered. Then flatten them a bit with a roller to look like a saucer.
5) Fry them in a little olive oil until golden brown, drizzle honey over top.
I hope you can enjoy these as much as I did!
This Chick Cooks
33 Shades of Green