Spicy cheese dip ~ Tirokafteri (τυροκαφτερή)

November 16th, 2018 § 0

Tirokafteri (τυροκαφτερη) or htipiti (χτυπητη) is a cheese spread that is commonly eaten as a meze platter or a party snack.

A very rustic, extra simple and great for every occasion!

  • 100 gr white cheese
  • 60 gr mizitra cheese
  • 150 gr strained yogurt
  • 2 T. cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. wine vinegar
  • 1 fresh red hot chili pepper (seeded and finely chopped)
  • red hot pepper flakes
  • Remove the stem and seeds of red chili pepper, and chop it finely.

    Mash the white cheese. Add mitzitra and strained yogurt and mix them until the dip is smooth. It will be a bit grainy.

    Combine finely chopped hot chili pepper and red hot pepper flakes. A pinch of pepper adds a nice reddish colour to the dip. It is all in spice!

    The feta and mitzitra cheese require a lot of chillies to turn spicy as the strained yogurt neutralises the spiciness, so don’t be afraid to add more hot chili peppers if you want to.

    Make a creamy dip by adding olive oil and vinegar. Garnish with black olive.

    Serve as meze with toasted bread, toasted pita or toasted flatbread.

    An Autumn classic ~ Mustopita ~ Μουστόπιτα

    October 1st, 2018 § 0

    Autumn means the smell of grape must, mustopita, which is an annual ritual dessert for our family!

    (I revamped this recipe, that was originally posted on 14/10/2011.)

    Grape is native to the Aegean region and its juice sometimes called as nectar of the gods.

    The traditional mustopita (μουστόπιτα) or mustoalevria (μυστοαλευριά) recipe has wood ash in it. When I first heard that wood ash is used while making grape paste, I was astonished. But very interestingly, wood ash set offs the taste, makes the pudding more sweet, gives a distinctive flavour. Also wood ash neutralizes the grape must’s acidity.

    This made me search the contents of a wood ash. I found out that soda and cream of tartar have a similar effect (but never the same delectable taste of a wood ash).

    It is known from the ancient times that, wood ash is rich in potassium and it is an antibacterial.

    • 1 lt freshly blended grape juice
    • 2 T fireplace wood ash (clean and pure wood ash – no paper or other materials/additions)
    • cheesecloth
    • 4 T flour
    • walnut (cut in big pieces)
    • cinnamon

    Prepare the grapes (2 kg) by removing the stems. Wash and drain. Put them in a juicer or a blender and juice the fruit. 2 kg of grapes, approximately make 1 lt of grape juice.

    Pour the grape juice in a pot.

    Place the ash in a cheesecloth. Make the cheesecloth triple folded and bring the four corners together to make a knot.

    Tie up the ash packed cheesecloth to a wooden spoon. Swing the wooden spoon into the grape juice pot and bring to boil.

    When it comes to a full boil, remove the cheesecloth and set aside. Allow to rest overnight or at least 6 hours, to cool slowly.

    Cover the sieve with a clean cheescloth and filter (strain) the grape juice.

    Cook the filtered juice by stirring constantly over low heat until it boils.

    At the same time, take 4-5 T. of grape juice in a separate bowl. Add 4 T. flour in it and beat until the flour dissolves to make a paste.

    Then combine the paste to the simmering grape juice and stir well all together occasionally.

    After about half an hour, the mixture begins to thicken. Skim off excess foam.

    Add coarsely chopped walnuts. Rinse serving cups with cold water and pour the thick mustopita into them. It will thicken more as it cools.

    Decorate with extra walnut on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

    Mini cornichon pickles (gherkins)

    September 7th, 2018 § 0

    Leaves are beginning to drop like the temperature and it is the harvest time for these miniature crunchy cucumbers which we call it cornichon, like French.

    If you’re buying fresh cornichons (in English gherkin), you should look for small and firm ones.

    • 1 kg cornichon
    • 1 lt water
    • 1 or 2 T. rock sea salt (preferably from Mytillini)
    • 1 1/2 cup high quality natural grape vinegar
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 8-10 chickpeas
    • 1 celery stalk & parsley

    Wash the cornichons very well in order not have any mud on it.

    Put clean water to a pan and bring to boil then leave to cool (water distillation).

    When it is completely cool, mix sea salt and grape vinegar to the water.

    Sterilize a big glass jar (or jars) by running it (them) through the dishwasher.

    First, place 3-4 chickpeas in the bottom of the jar. The pickles will develop easily by the help of chickpeas.

    Layer the cornichons with peeled garlic and the rest of the chickpeas one by one in order. Fit all the ingredients into the jar. Pour the prepared distilled liquid over.

    Cover with celery stalk and parsley leaves.

    Seal and set aside in a cool, dark place for at least one week, to allow flavours and develop.

    Before using, remove the chickpeas from the jar. If you put 1T. sea salt , it is recommended to store the jar in refrigerator, after opening.

    Cherry Laurel sun-cooked marmalade

    August 20th, 2018 § 0

    Cherry Laurel or Prunus laurocerasus is a fruit native to the Black Sea region of Turkey. It is naturally grown especially in North Anatolia and Northern Aegean coast.

    It is an evergreen shrub or small tree and the leaves are dark green.The cherry laurel tree is a valuable ornamental plant for its attractive dark and evergreen leaves, and clusters of white flowers in the spring. The tree has pleasant fruits when fully ripe, which became a valuable and popular fruit in the recent years. Seeds of cherry laurel are easily spreading by birds. The cherry laurel fruit is a small, turning red to black when it ripes.

    It is mostly found as fresh fruit in local markets, and the fruit is used in making marmalades, cakes and pekmez -especially consumed by locals- as well as it is eaten as dried. As it is a natural antioxidant, for its health benefit, the market value has increased in Turkey.

    This recipe is from my beloved sister.

    • 1 kg cherry laurel
    • 700 gr water
    • 750 gr sugar
    • 1/2 fresh lemon juice

    Wash the cherry laurels.

    Put 700 gr water into a pan and boil. When it comes to boiling point add the washed cherry laurels in it.

    Boil them until the cherry laurels soften, about half an hour. Put the aside to cool.

    Before pressing put your kitchen gloves and don’t panic! This will be a bit messy!!

    Press the softened cherry laurels by hand and a sieve to mash them until you get a beautiful scarlet coloured puree.

    Put the puree into a pan, add the sugar and simmer until it thickens. Before taking it from oven, add the 1 t.lemon juice and simmer for another 5 minutes. Fresh lemon juice adds pectin and acidity to the marmalade and help it to gel.

    If you overcook your marmalade, the sugar will caramelize and the colour spoils. For that reason it is better to undercook it.

    Then allow the pan in the direct sun, to stand several days by covering it with a cheesecloth, until the syrup thickens and forms jelly like consistency without changing the beautiful colour.

    Sterilize the jars by running them through the dishwasher.

    Put the marmalade in jars.

    Koliva ~ wheat berry memorial dessert (κόλλυβα)

    June 14th, 2018 § 0

    This food is made to remember those who have passed and treated to all in attendance to the memorial. It is made primarily of wheat berry, which symbolizes life and regeneration. Like wheat, people are buried in order to grow and have a new life. It is a fine way to honour the deceased with the food of life.

    Koliva has a soft gravel like texture and served in a large tray, spooned out into cups or on small plates.

    The nutritious dessert koliva, has high in fiber and provides iron and protein.

    For preperation, it requires time, patience and care.

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup roasted yellow chickpeas (sarı leblebi in Turkish) (powdered with food processor)
  • 1/2 cup petit-beurre biscuits (powdered with food processor)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 T. currants (washed and soaked)
  • 1 T. cinnamon powder
  • 1 t. carnation powder
  • For topping:

  • 300 gr powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • dragees (optional)
  • de-seeded pomegranate (optional as is not always in season)
  • Rinse the wheat berries and place them in a large saucepan. Put in water and soak overnight.

    Add enough water to the pressure cooker and bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the wheat berries are tender and beginning to split but not mushy.

    Drain in the strainer to cool.

    Cover an oven tray with a clean towel and spread the wheat berries in pieces on the towel for at least 4-5 hours.

    Boil the almonds for about 5-10 minutes, in order to remove the skins. Once they are peeled, pop them into a bowl of cold water with a little lemon juice to keep them nice and white.

    Then toast the almonds, walnuts and sesame seeds and allow to cool in separate bowls.

    Place the drained wheat berries in a large mixing bowl. Add the sesame seeds, sugar, powdered roasted chickpeas, powdered petit-beurres, coarsely chopped walnuts, cinnamon, carnation and drained currants. Toss it all together.

    Transfer the mixture to a large platter or tray.

    Sift the powdered sugar over the top to coat it thickly, almost like a frosting.

    Decorate the top with the whole almonds and the dragees.

    The wheat berries can ferment if left at room temperature overnight and the sugar can crystallize in a moist environment.

    For that reason, if left by chance, cover and store refrigerated.