#Fooking Samosas

samosasIt has been a while since I last cooked something for this blog, and I say this a lot, but in the past five years it seems like it’s always something, right?

Sometimes I let the bad things take control and sometimes I try to shake them off and start surviving. And those are the best times and I will try to make them happen more. Everything that’s happening is beyond my control, but I, me, myself, I am not beyond my control. Right?

Hopefully, at least ;)

Well, this past couple of weeks has had its ups and downs, politically, historically, Greece has come and gone, things in our lives have come in circles, losses, gains… We realized that we are experiencing a concentrated version of life, with its joys and disappointments, shocks and fears, losses and reliefs – and epiphanies like this require strong doses of food and celebration.

So I made samosas. We ate them watching football, drinking beer, spritz, with yoghurt, sausages, salad, cats, friends.

Then I made the video. Because, Foo Fighters. And cooking. Fooking. It makes me smile and laugh, not necessarily in that order.

A word about the food. Folding the samosas can be tricky. Watch the video, it makes the folding part pretty clear. Once you’re through with the folding, the filling is nothing. Also, feel free to use other spices you like. Garam masala will probably work miracles in this. Don’t omit the coriander, it smells exactly like i imagine a baby angel’s hair will smell like. Seriously. But, if you don’t like it, by all means. Add or leave out anything you want. And let me know what you changed and how it turned out.

Also, I don’t fry. So I baked them. But you can also fry them, and they will be crispier and, well, tastier. People who fry, know that. But these have fewer calories and are a bit healthier, so yay for that!

What you will need:

For the dough

3 cups flour

3 TB olive oil

½ TB thyme (dry)

½ tsp salt

less than a cup of cold water

For the filling

3 – 4 potatoes

some peas

1 onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 small carrot, grated

1 small chili pepper

1 tsp coriander seeds, broken

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

1/3 tsp ginger

½ tsp sweet paprika

Some lemon juice

What you will need to do:

To make the dough, mix the flour, the oil, the thyme and the salt in a big bowl, add some of the water and mix with your hands, continuing to add water until you have a soft dough that doesn’t stick. Cover it with a towel (you can even touch it with some oil to keep it soft) and leave it to rest for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and, towards the end, add the peas.

When the potatoes and peas are done, heat some oil in a large pan and sauté your spices, until they are fragrant. At this point, you love me, because your house smells like heaven. Now, add the onion and cook until it is translucent and soft, about 2- 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and peas, the garlic, the carrot, the chili and cook for 4-5 minutes, until everything is brought together and smells like the spices. Take the potato mixture out of the pan, transfer it to a big bowl and add some lemon (as much as you want, don’t add too much, a couple of squeezes will do) and some pepper. Now take a fork and start mashing it, making sure you don’t end up with a pulp. Mash it but not too much, we want some pieces in it.

Let it cool.

Go back to your dough and take a bowl of water and a rolling pin with you. Take your dough, divide it in 8 equal balls, and start rolling them. Once you’ve rolled the first one pretty thin but not paper thin (you’re not making a pie!), cut the circle in half, take one half in your hand, dip your fingers in the water and wet the round edge, roll it and make a cone. This involves some hand crossing and some imagination, but you can check out the video and see how it is done. It’s pretty easy once you’ve seen it and made your first. BTW, the first two always suck, then it gets easier. Take your cone, fill it with your filling, dip your fingers in the water again, wet the remaining edge and close your samosa. Make sure you keep the shape.

At this point I separate myself from tradition and don’t even regret it. At this point you can fry your samosas in some non-fragrant oil and they become crispy and amazing.

But I don’t fry.


Only if I absolutely have to, but I always try to find alternatives.

And alternative I did find.

So, at some point before starting to roll your dough, preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Once ready, place your samosas on an oiled baking sheet, brush them with some egg and put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on the oven, or until you see them turn golden and beautiful (whichever comes first).

Have them with some greek yoghurt (I suggest full fat or more!) or a chutney of your liking, and bon appetit!


9968_10151581592927051_1650129466_nIt’s been a while since I cooked anything and turned it into a video, mainly because, well, work. And things are so hectic in Greece right now that it just seemed like an insult to everything to be cooking and having a good time. And then… summer. Suddenly, in the middle of July, things just cooled off, the heat went up, and it was summer. I swear, it seems like it all happened in one day! So, we packed our bags and flew to what seems to be our new hometown by now – Florence (a.k.a. Firenze, you know, in italian). It’s very cheap to fly from Greece to Italy and Italy from Greece, so this back and forth has been fairly easy for us. This time it was just for a couple of days, but we shot enough short videos to actually edit one on a Foo Fighters song. Everlong was an obvious choice. So here it is. Our Florence. No museum insides this time – because we didn’t know if we were allowed! I hope you enjoy it.

[Click, huh?]

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Tsoureki v.2

TsourekiIt is Good Friday in Greece and, traditionally, yesterday was the day everyone made their tsourekia. Naturally I couldn’t resist, EVEN given the fact that the calorie count in tsourekia is off the charts. Quite frankly, they are worth each and every one of them. I never even count.

If I had to describe tsoureki (tsourekia in plural), with a gun to my head, I’d have to say that it’s a brioche-like bread, that’s had its flavor, not only enriched, but blown off the roof with the use of middle-eastern spices, like mahlab and cardamom, and mastic. It is breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, it can be eaten at any time, with your coffee, after lunch, FOR lunch, dinner, whenever you feel like it… Traditionally, you just keep eating until there’s no more to be eaten.

You can even fill it with chocolate, chestnut cream, white chocolate, marmalade, and when I was very little, I used to slice it, put mayo on it and a slice of ham and make myself a sweet-savory snack. Your imagination is the limit!

I made a version last year, but this is version 2, it is slightly different, and it tastes a little different too. I suggest you try them both, but I think I’ll go with this version next year, unless, of course, I discover a new one, which I will post immediately.

In Greece, tsoureki is the gift you give to your koumparous (the parents of your godchildren, that is, yup) or your in-laws, or, generally, your family, so I made several batches of these.

Here are a few things you should know:

  • Heat is your friend. Keep your utensils warm, especially if you’re using metal ones (plastic utensils don’t really get cold, do they?), you don’t want to “scare” your dough. Also, keep your house warm, so that they’ll rise faster. Mine rose in less than an hour and a half, the first batch just spilled over the pan. Of course they will rise no matter what, but why wait 3-4 hours? Just keep your place warm and it’ll happen.
  • DO NOT burn your yeast. You want the water you use for it to be warm, but not very hot, and the same goes for your flour mixture. If you burn your yeast, the dough will not rise.
  • DO NOT cook your eggs! You’ll add them in the butter-sugar mixture when it is not scorching hot, remember, you’re not making an omelet, you’re making tsoureki! Same with your milk, keep it warm, but not hot!
  • After you’ve added everything to your flour mixture, forget that flour exists. You will not add anymore, ever again. Not even for kneading. If you need something to work your dough with, that will be butter. Or oil, but please, opt for butter. If you put more flour in it, it will be yucky…
  • OF COURSE you can do all the kneading with the dough hook of your electric mixer. That’s how I made batch #2. Just start on low and gradually go higher, and beat for about 10 minutes. It’s cleaner, less messy and, frankly, less tiring. My mom did it by hand just to show you how it’s done, in case you have no electric mixer, OR wanted to know how it is traditionally done in Greece.
  • Oh yes, my mom is my guest star, every time I make tsourekia. Yup.
  • A word about cooling and storing them: Once they are out of the oven, leave them for a couple of hours, to cool. Once they are completely cool, turn them over, because you don’t want the moisture they leave on the parchment paper to soften the bottoms. Don’t do this too soon, because they will flatten, they forgive nothing! Yes, I’ve had it happen to me, yup. Once you see that the tops are nice and firm, flip them over and leave them for a while. Also, change the parchment paper, or remove it completely. You don’t want all that moisture around them, what good can it do? This whole time, cover them with a clean tea towel, no plates, now fancy covers above them, only a tea towel. Now, once they’re all nice and done and you’ve started eating (we started eating them long before they were nice and done, don’t feel guilty if you do it too), wrap them in plastic wrap. You’ll thank me. They will never get hard and stale if you do that. Well, “never”… you know…

If you haven’t eaten them in a couple of days, know that you can keep them in the fridge, for about 10 days, or in the freezer for… uh… a month? Even longer? I don’t know why you’d keep them for so long, but you know…

I’ll say this here, and pretend I’ve never said it: I wouldn’t put them in the fridge. They never last longer than three or four days, anyway, but if they did, I would just give them around, or soak them in milk and have them for breakfast, I would do anything but put them in the fridge. It’s a shame.

OK, let’s do this!

What you’ll need

For the yeast:

100 gr. fresh yeast

2 1/2 Tb sugar

80 ml warm water

For the dough:

1.1 kg hard flour

250 gr. butter

300 gr. sugar

350 ml warm milk

5 eggs (3 whole eggs and 2 yolks)

3 drops mastic

1 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp ground mahlab

Zest of one orange

What you’ll need to do

First make your yeast: Crumble the yeast, add the sugar and the water, mix it around a little, cover it and leave it in a safe, warm place for about 10 minutes.

For the dough: First grind the mastic droplets with a little sugar (I did that in the food processor). Add the rest of the spices and cover. We don’t want that smell to escape!

Now, melt the butter with the sugar and let it cool a little. Beat the eggs and add the milk. Once the butter had cooled down a bit, add the egg mixture. Zest one orange in the flour and put the flour and the spices in a warm (not hot!!) pan or a huge – huge bowl, add the egg mixture, make sure it’s all not very hot and then add the yeast mixture. Start kneading. Knead, knead, knead and knead some more. You can always use an electric mixer, of course, in which case let the mixer do all the work and you can clean up your kitchen! ;)

Once you are satisfied with your dough, cover it up and leave it for a few hours, or until it has risen, about three times its initial mass.

Now butter your workstation, empty the dough and start to form your tsourekia. Remember to stretch and swirl, that’s how you’ll get the beautiful threads inside your tsoureki. Cut the dough in three equal pieces (or four, depending on how many you want to make) and cut each piece in three equal pieces. Weave them, always moving downwards. Secure the edges and place them on a baking sheet that you’ve covered with parchment paper. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius (about 315 Fahrenheit) and leave the tsourekia rise a bit more.

Now, beat an egg with a pinch of sugar and brush your tsourekia with the mixture. You won’t believe it, but you need to let them rest a bit more after that. Give them, say, five more minutes. Sprinkle some almond slices or some sesame over them if you want (I strongly suggest it, but some people don’t do it) and put them in the oven.

How long you’ll bake them depends on how big they’ve become. An average tsoureki takes about 40 minutes. Mine were really really big, so they took 50-55 minutes in total. You’ll see them: they have to be deep brown and a knife has to come out clean when you stick it in the middle of the tsoureki.

Once they are ready, take them out and cool them as I’ve mentioned above.

Try your tsoureki with anything, really anything. Most people have tsoureki with their coffee – strike that, everyone has tsoureki with their coffee, it’s the best. If you want to add more sweetness, just add nutella or marmalade, anything works really!

I do hope you enjoy them. My best wishes for a very happy Easter to everyone who’s celebrating with the Greeks, and a very happy everything for everyone else! May we all be healthy and do this again next year!

Lemon Cookies… I mean Fookies!

IMG_0271Continuing my Fooking spree (the things a person would do to avoid studying, right?) I made lemon cookies. Cookies, lemon, only 1/2 cup sugar, what else is there to say? Oh, yes, that we ate them in one day.


Just so you know, I don’t use a cookie cutter, because, you know… I don’t have one! I rolled the dough into a log and cut it with a knife. That way, my cookies (fookies) turned out (almost) round and normal!

They don’t take too long to make, they are pretty easy, the most time consuming thing (obviously) is the three hours the dough needs to rest in the fridge. But, you know, you can do all sorts of things in between!

So, here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
1/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
Some (a little) Salt

And what you’ll do:

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. Set it aside. Take the lemon, grate the zest and keep it, then squeeze it and keep the lemon juice. You’ll need 3-4 tablespoons of that, unless you really really love lemon, in which case, use as much as you want. Meanwhile, separate your egg and keep the egg-white covered and refrigerated – we will need it down the road.

In your mixer bowl, add the (softened) butter along with the zest and beat until it’s united. Then add the sugar, gradually, while beating, just until it is one. Add the egg yolk and half the flour and mix and beat until they are combined. Then add the lemon juice, the vanilla and the rest of the flour and beat until everything is combined. Do not overbeat, there’s no reason for you to do that.

Now for the fun part: Take your bowl and empty it on a flat surface. Take the dough and form a log. The diameter of the log should be a bit smaller of the size of the cookies you want to serve! Once you’re done, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 3 hours.

Three hours later, preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius – 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your log, unwrap it and cut it in cookies. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place your cookies on that. Lightly beat the egg-white you saved in the fridge with a splash of water (a couple of tablespoons, no more), and brush your cookies with that mixture. Sprinkle with some sugar and place them in the oven.

You can place both baking sheets in the oven at the same time, just remember to switch places halfway through baking.

Now, you know your oven, each oven is different, so you will need to keep an eye on them. They can take from 8 to 15 or 16 minutes to bake. Take them out when they are golden around the edges. If you touch the center and it is soft, that’s ok. The cookies keep baking even after you’ve taken them out of the oven, they will go harder as they stand.

Let them stand in the baking sheets for about five minutes and then transfer them on wire racks, to cool. Or eat them warm, that’s what I did.

There’s also video evidence that I made them, which follows. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Eggplant Loaded Orzo

Eggplant-orzoI made another video yesterday, after my good friend Dana, whose blog, Just a Rez Chick, not only do I highly recommend, but actually believe you already know and follow by now, asked me to cook something with an eggplant.

I would cook Mousaka, but that will have to wait, because it was a workday, it was unexpected, had no meat and will have to come over my fear of frying. That will happen soon, just… you know… not yet…

In time…

Anyway, today being a workday and all, this is what I have time for. I will give you the ingredients and you can watch the How-To on the video.

A couple of notes:

a) If you do not have Harissa (why don’t you have harissa!!) you can use red chillies, they are equally awesome. Just throw them in there 30 seconds before you add the eggplant.

b) I salted and let the eggplant stand, because it smelled bitter. Don’t judge me, I work with smells. Eggplants are sometimes bitter and letting them stand for 1/2 to 1 hour in salt helps solve that. It also helps them not absorb much oil when you fry them, making them a bit less fattening, so that’s one to think about, right?

c) I added cumin, but you can also use cinnamon, especially if you don’t use harissa.

That’s about it. Hope you enjoy the dish AND the video!

You will need:

1 1/2 cups orzo

1 eggplant

1/2 cup sweet white wine

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp harissa

Tomato sauce

salt, pepper, cumin

You will do:

PS. To refresh your memory: Fooking = Cooking + Foo Fighters

Chicken, Rice and Everything Nice

IMG_0145Keeping up with my recent Fooking-mania (which is cooking with the Foos, that is with the Foo Fighters), I made one of Mr. S’s favorites yesterday: Chicken, rice and veggies, in the oven.

His mom usually makes this for us, but this past year she has been wildly unavailable for cooking (ugly unforeseen circumstances keep her away from her normal life), and, well, we missed it.

This dish is savory and heartwarming and juicy and all I want to eat on a cold Sunday, curled up in my blankets on my couch, watching football (sorry, soccer) and reading books. It is a bit time-consuming, but most good things are. Having said that, don’t think that you’ll be slaving in the kitchen all day long, it simply takes some time for the soup/broth to make and then 30 more minutes in the oven. And you’re done.

So, this is what you’ll have to have:

3 chicken breasts (now, that’s what I used, but you can use any part of the chicken you like. I hear legs are awesome, because they give it an extra whomp! So, why not?)

1+1 onions (you’ll need one whole onion for the broth and then a diced one for the oven)

2 bay leaves (or 3 if you’re a big bay fan)

2 cups of rice (use what you would normally use for chicken soup, but again, whatever you prefer is fine)

2 carrots

1 can of mushrooms (I used canned because it was Sunday, we were out of mushrooms, blah blah, you can use fresh if you want)

Salt and pepper (remember to season more than I season my food, I have a low salt sensor!)

Oregano (or any other herb you prefer, I am not a herb nazi!)

What you’ll need to do:

First prepare the broth (or the chicken soup, as we like to call it). Easy peasy, just throw your chicken, one onion and bay leaves in a pan, SEASON with salt and pepper, cover it with cold water by about 2 inches, wait for it to start boiling and when it starts lower the heat to medium and let it boil for 35-40 minutes. When your time is up, check to see if your chicken is done. If it is, take it out and save the broth/soup. You will not need the bay leaves or the onion (which has lost its taste by now).

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Chop your onion and carrots and throw them in a pan with some oil. Let them soften a bit, tossing them around and then add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms take out their juices and, when they do, throw in the rice. Mix it all and cook for a few minutes, until everything has absorbed everything else’s taste. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. At this point you can also add some cayenne pepper or some cumin. It takes it to a whole other level.

When that’s done too, take a deep oven dish, put some oil in it and start assembling. First add the chicken and then the rice mixture around it. Make sure there are no empty spots in the dish. Now is the time for the broth. You need about 2 1/2 – 3 cups of broth for every cup of rice you have used, depending on your oven (the stronger the oven, the more liquid is evaporated). I used about 5 cups of broth for two cups of rice. Remember to measure your broth with the same cup you used to measure the rice. You WILL have a juicy dish in the end, not too juicy, but juicy enough, so don’t worry about it. Also, after a couple of hours, the juice magically disappears, I am convinced that faeries fly in and suck it with flower stems. Sadly, I have no proof.

So, once you’ve done this, put your food in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the rice is done (it does take about 30 minutes!). Take it out, don’t let it stand for too long, it’s beautiful when it’s warm.

Enjoy it with some feta cheese, or some greek yogurt. Their coolness against the warmth of this dish is a very welcome contradiction!

Well… Now you know what we do when we want to heal our souls!

Enjoy the food, hope you enjoy the video too!


pandoroIt’s been a while since I wrote here, and that’s mainly because I’ve been crazy busy. Too crazy busy to even cook something right – No, OK, that’s a lie. I’ve been too crazy busy to photograph or take a video, but I’ve still been cooking like a crazy person.

That said, Christmas is just around the corner, and I couldn’t possibly not post a Pandoro recipe here. I haven’t made one yet, because – please don’t get mad – I still don’t have the right pan for it. That probably won’t stop me, so tomorrow morning I will go out and buy me a very deep cake pan and I’ll try my luck in there. That would be too late for you, though, and one Christmas without Pandoro is one Christmas gone forever.

Pandoro is one of Christmas’ Most Wanted dishes in Italian houses. In Italy, it’s origins are from Veneto (in the north) but in reality it comes from Austria, and more particularly Vienna. It has been completely integrated in the Italian tradition and is now a must-have. So much so, that an Italian acquaintance that’s spending Christmas in Greece almost had a heart attack when she realized we have no Pandoro and rushed to call her mom to make sure she would get one.

It is similar to Panettone minus all the dried fruit and raisins and it is shaped as an 8-point star and dusted with vanilla-sugar in a way that it is made to resemble the tops of the Italian Alps in the winter. So lyrical, right?

It is decadent and buttery and it can be devoured with gelato, cream, or the day after Christmas, while you’re sitting by the fireplace in your thick socks, drinking milk and resting your eyes. Or in your bed, with coffee, reading your favorite Neil Gaiman. Or whatever you’re reading, no pressure!

So, you see, I could not, in clear conscience, not post a Pandoro recipe, AGAIN. Instead, I’m bringing you something I’ve never done before: the recipe I intend to try out, before trying it out.

In all fairness, GialloZafferano is a very dependable cooking page, I trust them and I can safely say that the recipe will work perfectly. If something changes (which it won’t), I will post it here.

Till then, here is their Pandoro recipe, translated (not word for word) in English, for your pleasure and enjoyment. Keep in mind that this is NOT an easy recipe, but it is not extremely difficult either. And it takes two days, so get cooking! And it’s totally worth it.


This is the pan you will need to make a Pandoro

What you’ll need:

18gr Beer yeast

450gr Strong Flour

125gr plus 1 Tb sugar

3 whole eggs and 1 yolk

The beans of 1 vanilla pod

1 tsp salt

170gr butter

60ml plus 3 Tb milk

What you’ll need to do:

We start by preparing the first dough: In a small bowl mix 15gr of the bear yeast in 60ml lukewarm milk, add one Tb sugar, the egg yolk, 50 gr flour and mix everything well. Cover this first mixture and let double in size (about an hour).

When double in size, dissolve 3 gr of beer yeast in 3 Tb milk and add to the mix, add 100 gr sugar, the egg, mix everything and put this mixture in a bowl with 200 gr of flour. Knead using your hands or a wooden spoon. Then add 30gr of butter in room temperature and knead till everything is one and you have a smooth mixture. Cover and let double in size in room temperature (not cold, not very hot, not humid, it should take about an hour).

Proceed with the second dough: Unite 200gr of flour, two eggs, 25gr sugar, salt, the vanilla seeds and mix. Flatten the dough, fold it on itself and put it in a butter greased bowl and let double in size. Leave the dough in the fridge, to rest for 8 to twelve hours.

Note: whenever you leave something in the fridge, cover it with plastic or place it in a plastic food bag, so it does not absorb smells from other foods. Unless the fridge is empty (which never happens in Greece or Italy, we will always have tomatoes or cheeses in our fridge, no matter what)


Taken from the GialloZafferano recipe, not my photos

When that time has passed, turn the dough on the table and roll it with a pin making a square. Put 140gr of softened butter in the center, bring the four corners to the center so as to make a square pack and cover the butter. Make sure you close the edges of your dough very well, so that the butter won’t escape.


Taken from the GialloZafferano recipe, not my photos

Roll it well with the pin, fold it in three (bring the bottom to the middle and cover it with the top, like a letter) and let rest for 15-20 minutes in the fridge.

Take it out of the fridge, roll it again, and let it rest in the fridge for 15-20 minutes more. Again, take it out of the fridge, roll it one more time, bring the edges to the center as before and make a ball, turning the edges to the inside. When you have formed the ball, grease your hands with butter and roll the ball on the table, leaving it with the butter and making it more round.

Grease the Pandoro form (20 cm high, capacity of 3lt) with butter, put the dough in the form, cover and let rise until it comes out of the top of the form. Place a small bowl of water on the lower part of the oven and bake the Pandoro in a preheated oven at 170 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, then lower the heat at 160 and let it bake for another 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When ready, remove from the oven and let it cool down. Sprinkle with vanilla scented confectioners sugar and enjoy in any way you like!

Happy holidays everyone!

Curious Appetite

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