Summertime recipes

Happy New Year to you all! I hope it has been a wonderful beginning to the year, filled with deliciousness, of course!
January for me is a time for rest; it’s a time to reflect and plan, a time for lazy days, and long lunches with family and friends.
Here are some summertime recipes to create, share and enjoy…hope you love them as much as I do.

Eggplant rolls with feta, olives and sundried tomato

60 mls olive oil
2 large eggplant, trimmed and sliced into 1.5 thickness lenghthways
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
12 sundried tomatoes, diced
small handful of basil leaves
1 tablespoon parsley, fined chopped
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl combine well the feta, olives, sundried tomatoes, parsley and mint.

Prepare the eggplant and brush the slices with olive oil. Heat a frypan with a little extra olive oil over a medium heat and fry the eggplant slices, about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked. You can also cook the eggplant over a grill or barbeque if you prefer. 

Allow to sit on some absorbent paper while cooking the remainder of the eggplant. Season to taste.

Lay out each eggplant slice and place a heaped tablespoon of the feta mixture at wider end and roll up tightly. Place onto a serving platter and drizzle a little more olive oil over, a grind of black pepper and some extra herbs.

Watermelon and haloumi 

30 mls olive oil
1 kilo watermelon, cut into chunks
250 grams halloumi cheese, sliced 1 cm thickness
½ Spanish onion, finely sliced (optional)
½ cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon

Fry or grill the halloumi cheese on a medium/high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. 

Place the watermelon chunks into a large serving bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon and add the herbs and onion (if using). Add the halloumi and using your hands combine gently. 


Watermelon, haloumi with prawns 

24 cooked prawns

Add cooked prawns to the salad and combine gently. 

If using green prawns, sauté the prawns in 30 mls olive oil for 2 minutes, or until cooked. Cool and add to the watermelon and haloumi

Watermelon, haloumi with chicken

1 cup shredded cooked chicken or 2 chicken fillets grilled or pan fried
1 handful baby spinach

Add the baby spinach to the watermelon and haloumi salad. Top the salad with the chicken and combine gently.

from “Everyday Mediterranean”

Winter comfort food

The icy mornings remind me that winter is here and with that the promise of slow cooking, Sunday afternoon long lunches, retreating to the sanctuary of our homes and nourishing the mind, body and soul with comfort food.

Chicken Soup Avgolemono

I whole chicken
250 grams fine noodles (angle hair) (or short grain rice)
salt and pepper, to taste

egg and lemon sauce

Wash the chicken and place in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to boil and cook until tender, skimming off the scum as it cooks. Remove the chicken and strain the stock.

Bring the stock back to the boil, add the noodles and simmer until cooked. 

Season to taste.

Make the egg and lemon sauce and add to the soup.

Serve the soup hot accompanied with the chicken meat.

Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from the soup stock

Lightly beat the egg whites in a small bowl, add the yolks and beat a little more then add lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture, beating all the time. Add a little more stock, continue mixing.

Pour the egg and lemon sauce into your soup or over your dish, stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.

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

Bean, vegetable and chorizo soup

As Melbourne winter begins to nibble, I love the idea of stews and soups simmering away on the stove, sitting by the fire with a throw and a good book and of course sharing comforting meals with family and friends.

This bean, vegetable and chorizo soup is an old family favorite and one that my mother cooked almost weekly.  She would occasionally vary the vegetables she used depending on what she had on hand.  Chorizo was a must, as we all loved the sweet smoky heat that it stirs up.

Perfect with some fresh crusty bread, feta cheese and olives.

Bean, vegetable and chorizo soup

400 grams white beans (butter or cannellini)
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 zucchini, diced
2 celery stalk, chopped
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 x 400gram can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 chorizo, chopped into chunks

Soak the beans in cold water overnight.

In a large pot saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil or until soft.  Drain the beans and add to the pot and pour in about 2 litres of water. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and bay leaf and stir well.   Add the vegetables and bring to the boil.  Simmer for ½ hour and add the chorizo and paprika.  Continue cooking for a further ½ hour or until beans are cooked.

Season to taste and add the parsley.

Serve hot.

Karydopita (walnut cake with syrup)

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.

If you are looking for a  dessert for the new year here is my recipe for Karydopita.

This gorgeous cake is perfect for any special occasion.  The blend of cinnamon, walnuts and honey make this cake irresistible.  It is very typical of Greek cakes.

Happy New Year to all…Mary x

Karydopita (Watnut cake with syrup)

70 grams unsalted butter
150 grams castor sugar
3 eggs separated
70 grams self raising flour
70 grams semolina
1 teaspoon cinnamon
150 grams finely chopped walnuts
½ cup full fat milk
2 cups water
1 cup castor sugar
lemon zest
4 cloves

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, add yolks and combine.  Add flour, semolina, cinnamon and mix well.  Add walnuts and milk.  Whisk egg whites until light and fluffy and fold into mixture.

Pour into a baking dish which has been lightly buttered and cook in an oven at 200 oC for about 45 minutes, or until cooked.

In a small saucepan pour the water, sugar and add lemon zest, simmer for about 10 minutes.  Pour over the cake carefully.  Leave for about an hour then cut into pieces.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Fish soup avgolemono

You can tell Spring is in the air.  The days are becoming warmer, getting longer and the kitchen will start bringing us lighter meals.

As I sit here at my desk writing I am feeling excited about spring and the beautiful  fruit and vegetables that will come to our table.

Here is my favourite fish soup avgolemono which makes two courses. Soup served as a starter followed  by a plate of vegetables and fish.

Fish Soup Avgolemono

1 ½ kilo fish (I like to use snapper)
olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, scrubbed and halved
2 zucchini, cut into quarters
2 celery stalks, chopped into quarters
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
10 peppercorns
white pepper to garnish
1/3 cup short/medium grain rice
Egg and lemon sauce

Cook vegetables together with peppercorns and salt in a large saucepan of water.

While they are cooking, wash and clean fish.  If the fish is large cut into half and place into the boiling water with the vegetables.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until fish is done.

Remove fish and vegetables carefully with a slotted spoon and put aside.  Place the vegetables onto a platter and remove flesh from the fish and arrange onto the platter also.  Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice.

Sieve stock into a clean pot and bring to the boil, add rice and simmer until cooked.

Add egg and lemon sauce and season to taste.

Serve hot accompanied or followed by the fish and vegetables.

Avgolemono (Egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from stock

Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl adding lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture beating all the time, add a little more stock, continue mixing.  Pour the egg and lemon sauce into your soup or dish stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.

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.

Rizogalo – rice pudding

This sweet creamy rizogalo fills me with childhood memories.

As a small girl I remember coming home from school and finding small plates filled with rizogalo lined up on the kitchen bench, still hot and sprinkled with aromatic cinnamon.  There was always enough for that afternoon eaten warm and another for the next day, cold from the refrigerator.

Perfect comfort food on a cold winters day…or any day really.


150 grams medium grain rice
600 mls full-fat milk
30 grams cornflour
140 grams caster sugar,
ground cinnamon, to serve

Place rice and 300 mls water into a saucepan and simmer over a low heat until the rice is cooked and water has absorbed.

Add the milk slowly and keep stirring.

Mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste and add to the rice mixture, together with the sugar.  Keep stirring until it thickens.

When ready, pour into individual bowls and serve with plenty of ground cinnamon.

Soups to nourish the soul

I have a great love for the rustic soups of Greece.  They are usually simply prepared with few good quality ingredients but always nourishing and flavoursome.

There are many varieties of soup in the Greek kitchen, ranging from hearty bean soups to my favourite, the soothing flavours of an avgolemono soup.

For me, a bowl of soup, is not only comforting, soothing and nourishing it is also a gesture of love.

Here is my recipe for Yiouverlakia soup…meatballs cooked in a broth and finished off with an egg and lemon sauce.

A perfect winter warmer to nourish the soul.

Yiouverlakia soup

500 grams minced beef
1 small onion, finely diced
1/3 cup medium grain rice
2 tablespons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon mint or dill, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
50 grams butter

egg and lemon sauce

In a large bowl, combine mince, onion, half the rice, herbs and seasonings.  Shape this mixture into small balls.

Pour 1 litre water into a large saucepan and add butter.  Bring to the boil.  Slowly add the meatballs into the boiling water, together with the remaining rice.  Simmer until cooked.

Make the egg and lemon sauce and add to the soup.

Season to taste, garnish with a sprig of parsley is you like and serve hot.

Avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from the soup stock

Lightly beat the egg whites in a small bowl, add the yolks and beat a little more then add lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture, beating all the time.  Add a little more stock, continue mixing.

Pour the egg and lemon sauce into your soup or over your dish, stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.

Green beans casserole

Ladera are the dishes that the Greeks eat during periods of fasting when all meat and dairy products are not eaten. Of course, that is not to say that they are not eaten at other times.

They are always vegetarian dishes cooked with olive oil and usually tomatoes, garlic and herbs. The word ladera comes from the word ‘ladi’ meaning oil…so oil-based, comforting dishes.

Some of my favourite ladera dishes are those prepared in the summer: the delicate green beans, eggplants, zucchini and okra which are cooked with tomatoes, bursting with flavour and  perfect served with fresh crusty bread and some cheese, usually feta. In winter dried beans are included as part of the ladera menu.

Ladera are best served at room temperature but I also think that they are even more delicious the next day.

I love the simplicity of these one-pot dishes and here is my favourite ladera dish…green beans with tomato.

Green beans casserole

1 kilo green beans
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
4 carrots peeled and sliced
4 small zucchini cut into chunks
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 onion finely diced

Wash beans and cut into half. Prepare carrots and zucchini and put aside.

In a casserole dish sauté the onion in a little olive oil until soft, then add tomatoes, beans, carrots and zucchini, season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add 1 cup of water, enough to just cover the vegetables. Cover and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or under tender.

You can also add potatoes into this casserole if you like or simply serve with mashed potatoes and roasted meat or lamb chops. This is also delicious with fresh crusty bread and lots of fetta cheese.