Monday, April 24, 2017

INTERNATIONAL: GREECE: Part 6 - Continuing The Cylades with recipe links, PHOTOS and VIDEOS

Links to previous posts








LINK to information about the Cyclades

The Cyclades

Approximately 20 inhabited islands extend from the southern tip of the peninsula around Athens and dot the central part of the Aegean. These include Milos, Kea, Naxos, Andros, Myconos, and Santorini, as well as many uninhabited land masses. The mainstays of the cuisine—savory barley and wheat biscuits, simple cheeses, and cured pork—have remained more or less unchanged throughout the centuries. The drystone terraces on the steep hillsides were originally built in antiquity to expand the scarce cultivable land of the islands so that the people could plant barley, beans, and vegetables. Barley, which has been cultivated in the Mediterranean since the beginnings of civilization, was for centuries the staple for the island people.
Greek Capers and Tomatoes
Paximadia, the barley biscuits, were convenient food for sailors, who took them on long voyages. Today, city people as well as tourists love these versatile crunchy biscuits, which are crumbled and made into delicious salads with the flavorful island tomatoes and capers, drizzled with fruity olive oil and seasoned with fragrant oreganoPaximadia are also topped with ksyno, a slightly tangy fresh local cheese.
The wonderful artisanal cheeses of the Cyclades—produced mainly from goat's milk, with some sheep's or cow's milk—are seasonal and most fall out of the DOC system, as they are produced in little shacks that do not even remotely meet European Union standards for exportation. The numerous myzithra (the term is generic for all kinds of cheeses), fresh and soft, aged and hard, can be excellent, though they are inconsistent and in short supply. On the islands of Tinos and Naxos, there are cheese-producing cooperatives that make the local DOC graviera from a mixture of sheep's and cow's milk. In Syros, the San Michali graviera, produced only from cow's milk, is probably the best of its kind in Greece.

Pork plays a significant role in the diet of these islanders. The winter family feasts and customs surrounding the slaughtering of the pig have not changed for centuries. Some parts of the animal, such as chops, are roasted in the oven or over the hearth fire, or stewed with celery and winter greens and lemon, often as part of a festive Christmas meal, while most is cured and stored for use throughout the year. Louza or loza—exquisite cured pork that can be compared to the best jamón serrano of Spain—is made from the tenderloin, which is marinated in wine, then spiced and smoked. Pieces of cured pork are also added to vegetable stews, bean soups, and island omelets, which are made with seasonal produce such as fresh fava beans, artichokes, or simple wild greens gathered from the hills. Cycladic sausages, seasoned with intensely aromatic dried savory or oregano and occasionally with wild fennel and orange peel, are often dipped in wine before being smoked. Seafood is not plentiful in the Aegean, which may explain why it has never been one of the basic foods of the islanders.

Santorini Tomato Patties / Tomatokeftedes Santorinis
LINK to recipe

Sifnos chick pea soup / Xespastaria 

LINK to recipe

Greek Omelette with Sausages and Potatoes / Froutalia

Kopanisti: Greece’s Rock Star Cheese

LINK to information about famous cheese (no recipe)

Stifado:  Greek Beef Stew

 10 Greek Desserts

LINK to 10 Greek dessert photos and recipe links

Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα) – A cream filled phyllo pastry 

Ekmek Kadaifi (Εκμέκ Κανταΐφι) – Shredded wheat pastry topped with two creams

Galatopita (Γαλατόπιτα) – A baked semolina and custard pie

 Karidopita (Καρυδόπιτα) – A mouthwatering moist walnut cake

Loukoumi (Λουκούμι) – The Greek version of “Turkish Delight”

Moustalevria (Μουσταλευριά) – A grape must pudding with roasted sesame seeds

Pasteli (Παστέλι) – Nut bar with honey. Sesame bar is the most popular. 

Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα) – A delicious sweet orange phyllo pie

Revani (Ρεβανί) – A moist and delicious semolina cake

Spoon Sweet (Γλυκό του κουταλιού) – Fruits or nuts preserves in sugary syrup.


Friday, April 14, 2017

INTERNATIONAL: GREECE: Part 5 - Greek Islands: Group:Northeastern Aegean Islands which includes Turkish islands

The islands do not form a physical chain or group, but are frequently grouped together for tourist or administrative purposes. 
Within this group, the main islands in the northeastern Aegean Sea and along the Turkish coast are 
the Greek islands of SamosIkariaChiosLesbosLemnosAgios EfstratiosPsaraFournoi KorseonOinousses 

and the Turkish islands of Imbros (Gökçeada), Tenedos (Bozcaada) and the Rabbit or Tavşan Islands

Lesbos and Chios

Just off the shores of Turkey are the northeastern Aegean islands, of which Lesbos and Chios are the largest. Unlike most of the smaller islands, these are self-contained, with year-round industries of their own that don't depend on tourism. One of the few things these two very different islands have in common is ouzo, which is served everywhere since there is no local wine. Lesbos has managed to make its ouzo known all over Greece and exports it abroad, but the ouzo of Chios, unknown outside the island, is also excellent.

There are 11 million olive trees on Lesbos—an amazing number, especially when one considers the work needed to build the stone walls around most of the trees planted on the slopes of hills. Olive oil, naturally, is the island's most important source of income.

Lesbos has a wonderful abundance of fish and seafood dishes, including simply boiled skate's fin, which is served drizzled with the local olive oil, delicious rolled monkfish fillets, exotic mahogany clams, and freshly salted sardines from the Gulf of Kalloni. In the central market of Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, the stalls of the fishmongers are piled with fresh fish, and the grocery stores carry the wrinkled local olives

 and the marvelous cheeses of Lesbos: fresh or baked myzithra (the generic term for a ricottalike cheese that, in its traditional form is made of sheep and goat's milk, but is often made of cow's milk when produced commercially) 

and the famous ladotyri, a semihard cheese made from a combination of sheep and goat's milk, which is aged wholly submerged in olive oil. 

On the side streets of the market, the traditional coffee shops have no signs and can be easily missed. A coffee shop in Lesbos serves not just coffee but also ouzo and small plates (mezes) such as fried vegetables, bean salads, stuffed grape leaves, and zucchini blossoms, followed by all kinds of seasonal seafood.

Unlike Lesbos, the Chian landscape is varied, with fertile plains where fruit, wheat, and vegetables are cultivated. Stone shacks on bare mountains house goats and sheep. There are also pine forests and hills covered with fragrant trees of the pistachio family—Pistacia lentiscus—that grow only in southern Chios.

 The sap of the trees gives the island its most famous product, mastic

which is used in Greece and throughout the Middle East as a licoricelike flavoring for breads, cookies, ice cream, and cakes, and is also chewed like gum.
In the Kambos region, south of the capital of Chios, citrus orchards surround the houses, some growing an indigenous variety of tangerine

Chios is famous for its fruit preserves, or spoon sweets, as they are called:

 Whole tiny tangerines, rolled strips of lemon, bergamot or bitter orange peel, unripe pistachios or figs, even fragrant citrus blossoms and the petals of pink roses are cooked in syrup and served on tiny glass plates as a treat for guests.