Savory Pastitsio Cups

Pastichio-Cups-20Pastitsio (pahs-TEET-see-o) is a well-known Greek meal. Some refer to it as “the Greek lasagna” and just like lasagna, a large pan of this delicious pasta based favorite goes a long way. But this dish can be tricky; creating a nice thick layer of béchamel sauce on the top of layers of noodles and spiced seasoned meat is an art and when it doesn’t go your way, it can be a disappointing disaster. Trust me, I’ve prepared many of them (disappointing disasters, that is.).  Sometimes I feel like I am praying and wishing for the béchamel to levitate atop the layers… but that never seems to work for me.

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Lamb and Pork Souvlakia

Souvlaki-5
Living in a New York City apartment without a back yard or balcony to house a grill can be a challenge for a west coast transplant. Desperately wanting to welcome our long-awaited spring while celebrating Easter this past weekend I needed to be creative. As always, I like to keep things simple. Luckily I believe I’ve stumbled upon a basic Greek marinade that is ridiculously simple to prepare. Turns out it’s pretty delicious too. In addition, the awesome Cuisinart Griddler makes NYC apartment grilling achievable. {Yay!}

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Spinach, Leek and Feta Pie (Spanakoprasopita)

Spinach-Leek-Pie-12Off a highway in Antirrio, Greece, there is a small rest stop that boasts they have the best and largest selection of “pita” or “pie” (and I’m not referring to a New York pie, a.k.a. pizza, or a dessert pie such as apple – I’m talking savory pies made with handmade filo dough!). I’ve frequented this particular rest stop, and can confirm their boast is justified. On any given day they serve up about 20 different pitas – cheese, spinach, leek, sausage, egg, grilled peppers… you get the picture.

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Classic Greek Butter Cookies (Koulourakia)

Koulourakia-JThe basic and official butter cookie of Greece is called “Koulourakia” (prounced Koo-loo-RA-keya).  There are many different variations to the basic butter cookie. This particular recipe is a family one dating back to the 1950’s. My Yiayia Salidas ran a catering business in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts and this is the recipe she used for her clients. This secret recipe also became her in-law’s (my maternal grandmother’s) go-to recipe, my mom’s and now mine.

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Shrimp and Vegetable Stuffed Tricolor Peppers

Peppers-6I’ve been privileged to eat some of the most delicious stuffed tomatoes and peppers during my travels through Greece. One of my most memorable meals was Yemista (YEM-e-staa), at a friend’s grandmother’s house in the village of Itea where at the age of 18, my closest friends and I enjoyed spending a summer. Yiayia Amelia made enough to feed a Spartan army although there were only five of us at the lunch table. How did we end up with just 3 stuffed peppers and 1 stuffed tomato left at the end of our lunch? We ate more than our share, that’s how. It’s hard to pass up on extreme deliciousness.

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