Chicken casserole with chorizo and peas

Winter has arrived and brings with it a slower pace and more time dedicated towards the old fashioned comforts of home. I love spending time in the kitchen on a rainy day cooking up favorite meals for friends and family….these are the moments that I adore.

This chicken casserole is best served with a simple rice pilaf. I love the full flavors from the paprika and chorizo – they remind me of days spend in Spain.

1 onion, peeled and diced
1 chorizo, sliced
1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic finely diced
8 chicken thighs, on the bone
1 x 400 g can diced tomatoes
splash of red wine
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 heaped tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 cup peas (frozen is fine)

In a large casserole pot, over a medium high heat, sauté the onion and chorizo in a little olive oil. Add the celery, carrot and garlic and sauté for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook until it starts to brown. Pour in the tomatoes and wine, together with a cup of water. Season with the salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and parsley. Lower the heat and simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Add the peas and continue cooking for a further 4-5 minutes.

Serve with some plain pilaf.

Serves 4 – 6

Mediterranean lifestyle

The Greek Mediterranean diet is not only about the food but also about the lifestyle.  The importance of this lifestyle is evident in the research into the longevity of the people of Ikaria, a Greek island in the Aegean.  This island has been known as “the island where people forget to die”. Similar studies have been made in Crete, which makes one question why the people of these islands live so long; what is the secret to a long life?

The people of Ikaria enjoy a Greek Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and fish, vegetable and bean dishes often being the main meal and not as a side, and salads being a part of every meal and fruit always following the main.

What I found most interesting was that the Mediterranean diet also includes a lifestyle and the importance of strong social connections…spending time with family and friends, as well as daily physical activity, which could be as simple as making walking part of your daily routine, and taking a nap in the afternoon or simply having some quiet time.

I notice this especially whenever spending time with family in Greece. I love the simplicity of life in the village, mealtimes not only being a time to eat, but to spend together, creating a strong bond between family and friends, young and old.

Eat Greek and live well.

Stuffed red peppers (Yemista)

Yemista is the term used to describe stuffed vegetables such as capsicum, tomatoes and zucchini.  These are often stuffed with the same fillings, usually rice and ground meat, and baked together.  At times you may see wedges of potatoes added amongst the vegetables to extend the dish.

I love the aroma of the red peppers cooking in the oven and their glorious red color.

This is one of our family favourites.

Yemista (Stuffed Red Peppers)

8 medium sized red capsicum
700 grams minced beef
1 bottle tomato passata 680 mls
½ bottle water
450 grams medium grain rice
chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
I onion finely chopped

Wash the capsicum and slice the tops, keeping them to place back on after.

In a large frying pan sauté the onions in a little olive oil until soft.  Add the mince and tomato passata and mix well, add ½ bottle of water, the rice, parsley and season with the salt and pepper.  Cook only for about 5 – 10 minutes then spoon mixture into the peppers and put tops back on and place in a large baking dish.   You can lay them down or sit them up, whichever way they fit, it really doesn’t matter.   Drizzle a little olive oil on them and place in the oven at 200oC for about one hour or until cooked.  You may need a little water in the bottom of the dish.

Serve with a green salad, fetta cheese and fresh bread.

Cabbage rolls

I love these charming cabbage rolls.  I used to love helping my mother make them…they are a little fiddly, so it is nice to have someone to share the job.

My mother called these cabbage rolls ‘sarma’.  I never did ask my mother why this was, but I do think this name comes from the Turkish language.

There are many ways of serving and preparing this meal. In Northern Greece these cabbage rolls are prepared using pickled cabbage (toursi) and pork mince, which is also lovely.

They are delicious served with the traditional avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce), Greek yogurt or, my favourite, simply a squeeze of lemon…served with some fresh, crusty bread and feta cheese, it makes a perfect meal.

Delicious…serve your favourite way.

Cabbage rolls

I large cabbage
750 grams minced beef
1 onion finely chopped
300 grams medium grain rice
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
egg and lemon sauce (optional)

Wash cabbage well and with a sharp knife carefully cut into the core and remove it.  Place the cabbage into a large saucepan filled with water and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove carefully, drain and allow to cool.  Start removing cabbage leaves one at a time when cool enough to touch and set aside.  You can put the cabbage back into hot water if it becomes difficult to detach the leaves.  Trim the hard stems of the leaves and cut into 2 or large enough to roll.

In a large bowl combine meat, onion, rice, parsley, seasonings, tomato paste and oil.

Line a large casserole dish with 2 or 3 cabbage leaves.

Place a cabbage leaf into the palm of your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in the leaf, fold bottom over it, sides in and roll up.  Place in the casserole dish  seam side down, repeat until all the mixture is finished.  You may have more than one layer of cabbage rolls, make sure they are packed tightly.

Pour 1 cup hot water over and drizzle some olive oil.

Place a heavy plate upside down over the rolls to keep them in shape.

Simmer for about 45 minutes or until cooked.

When cool you can pour over egg and lemon sauce or if you prefer just a squeeze of lemon juice, which is what I prefer.

Keftethes (meatballs)

These delicious keftethes (meatballs) are perfect on a meze platter accompanied with tzatziki and fresh crusty bread.

I like to add some feta cheese, olives and a Greek salad and make it a complete sharing meal.


500 grams minced beef
2 thick slices day old bread (crusts removed) or
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 finely chopped or grated onion
plain flour for coating
olive oil for frying

Soak the bread in water and squeeze out excess and crumble, if using bread.   Mix with other ingredients well, the mixture should be moist.

You can use beef or lamb combined with some pork if you prefer or simply the meat of your choice.

Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Take small pieces of the meat mixture and roll into walnut sized balls, coat in flour and fry in hot olive oil making sure that the oil is not too hot, you don’t want to burn the keftethes.  Take care not to overcrowd the frypan and cook over a medium heat, turning a couple of times so they are golden brown in color.

Can be served hot or at room temperature.


Cloves are small nail-like shaped flower buds that are dried…they have an aromatic sweet flavor, and can be bought whole or ground and are available all year round.   Ground cloves are commonly used in baking, and whole cloves flavouring sauces.

I love using cloves when stewing fruits such as apples and quince, making preserves, in sugar syrups and cakes.  I also love them in meat dishes with a red sauce with other spices… my favourite dish of course, being stifado – delicious.

I love the warmth of this dish, the sweetness of the cooked onions and the exotic aromas of the spices.  It is often made with rabbit, but I love it with either veal or beef.

Here is my recipe for –

Beef Stifado

2 kilos pickling onions
olive oil
1 kilo stewing beef (or veal) cut into chunks
1 x 680 mls tomato passata
¼ cup red wine
salt, to taste
3 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
10 whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Peel and cut off the tops and tails of the onions and put aside.

In a large casserole dish, heat some olive oil and brown the meat.  Add the onions.  Pour in the tomato passata and 2 cups water and wine.  Season with salt, add bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, garlic and peppercorns.

Cover and simmer for about 1 – 1 ½ hours or until meat and onions are tender and soft.

Serve hot.

Serve with fresh crusty bread.