Monthly Archives: September 2014

Gemista – the video

Gemista name

A few months back, I cooked Gemista for this blog. A summery dish, gemista seem to make cameo appearances on our menu over and over and over again, being so fresh and cool and wholesome and, well, awesome (someone watches a lot of “Supernatural” now).

So, one of those many many times that I made them, I decided to shoot one more video and post it, where else? Here!

Now, a few clarifications: I had no spearmint, so I didn’t use any. Many people use many herbs in gemista, and that’s the right thing to do. Herbs give gemista that special fulfilling smell and taste that make them an all time favorite and make us come back to them, again, and again.

Also, remember that you can stuff other vegetables too, like eggplants or zucchini, or those round zucchinis that are so pretty! Whatever you stuff, add its insides to your mix. The more the better!

The only reason I didn’t use the inside of the pepper, is that I’m not a huge fan of peppers. But you can absolutely use it, in fact it is advisable!

Uhm… That’s pretty much it! The rest you can see or read!

Oh, as you can see in the end of the video there, have some feta or greek yoghurt on the side of gemista. It. Is. Heaven. On. Earth!

For your convenience, I will copy the recipe exactly as it was in the other post, here. I’ll leave the comments there, though, just for the fun of it 😉

The video is at the end of the post.

Enjoy!

What you will need

5 large (not huge, but large) bell peppers (I always use green ones, of course you can use other colors, but my grandma always used green ones, and so do I. It is a matter of memory!)

5 large tomatoes (not huge, but absolutely not small ones)

3 onions

1 verrrry full Tb shortgrain rice for each pepper or tomato, plus 3 more (that makes… uhmmmm *calculates* 13 Tb of rice. OK, add 14, 13 is an unlucky number!)

Some tomato passata

oil (I use olive oil for cooking, unless it is for frying)

1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped (or a little less if you don’t love it, but remember that herbs are the essence of gemista!)

2-3 leaves of fresh spearmint, chopped (or if you absolutely love it, use more, it’s up to you)

salt, pepper

2 potatoes

What you will be doing:

Preheat your oven at 200 degrees Celsius (or higher, depending on your own oven). Now, start with the tomatoes. Cut the tops off, but not all the way, so that you will make a nice pouch with a cap. If it gets cut off, don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal! Use a teaspoon and empty the inside of the tomato. Don’t throw it away, we will be using that! Do that with all the tomatoes, place the insides in a food processor and whizz it, until you have a thick tomato paste. Open up the peppers in the same way and clean them from the seeds (which we will not need, throw them away).

Chop up the onions and saute them in some oil. Add some of the tomato paste (keep enough to pour over the pan in the end) and some passata. I don’t use a lot, just to give your stuffing a nice coolness, but, again, it’s up to you. Still, don’t make it too watery. Where were we? Oh, yes. Add some tomato paste and passata and heat it through. Add the rice (1 Tb for each vegetable, plus 3-4), add the herbs, season with salt and pepper and let it boil a little bit – not long, you don’t want to cook it, just a couple of minutes, to allow the tastes to blend.

You are now ready to stuff! Take the pepper – or tomato – in one hand, open it up and stuff it with the rice mixture. I usually don’t fill them all the way to the top, but my mom does. The rice comes out and makes a roasted crust and it is amazing. Why don’t I do it? I’m weird. Sometimes I do. You pick where you will stop, but make sure you are close to the top – we don’t want people to think we are poor and have no rice to stuff our peppers, right?

Arrange them in your pan and if you have any rice mixture left, don’t be afraid to put it around the peppers. Cut the potatoes in thick sticks and place them between peppers/tomatoes. Pour the tomato paste over your gemista, pour some oil over them (in the old days, when we didn’t care about calories – or money! – we used to use a lot of oil to «bathe» the gemista. This is not important. Use some oil, but don’t overdo it. Half a ladle is more than enough), and place them in the oven.

Believe it or not, you are done! That wasn’t so hard, was it! Bake them for about an hour. They are ready when they are nice and wrinkled and have developed a slight black burn on top. This is why I always put the caps on top, so that I won’t «lose» any of the vegetable to the burn!

Enjoy them with some feta and fresh hot bread. And of course with the ones you love. Food is only meant to be enjoyed that way!


Kreatopitakia

kreatopitaki plasio“Kreatopita” is meat-pie in greek, and it is very very well loved in Northern Greece (where I’m from). In fact, in my area, Pieria, we even cut it instead of Vasilopita on New Year’s Day. Of course, us being food lovers, we eat both!
But I digressed. Kreatopitaki (Kreatopitakia being the word’s plural, yes, greek is complicated!) is a small meat-pie, say, one portion.
That’s what I made, after all of these months of hiatus. Believe me, it is a good comeback! The story behind these is that I was looking for a few good beer snacks, because we were having people over. It wouldn’t be anything formal, it would be just us, sitting in the balcony, enjoying the beautiful summer night and having a beer. Me being me, I thought “we should be snacking on something”.
I ended up with this:
IMG_8261

That’s nachos and spinach muffins, bruschette caprese, with eggplant and garlic, and mushroom and bacon, kreatopitakia, chilli, sausages, and then sweet muffins and chocolate pie for desert. We ended up just eating, I’m not sure anyone even had any beer, we all just had coke or wine. I know how to ruin plans, you know?

Anyway, that being said, I got calls the next day, and messages on FB about my kreatopitakia, by our friends that were there and also by their girlfriends or in one case the girlfriend of a friend who wasn’t there but heard it from another friend, you get the picture. So, I thought, yup, this is worth a post.

Or a video.

I’m playing around with Final Cut again, and thought I’d give video-cooking a shot. I know that’s not even a term, but so what? I grabbed my iPad (and my phone in some cases, when the iPad had run out of battery, for some reason it is always close to death, did someone say Words With Friends?) and recorded most of the process. So, there it is, right underneath the recipe.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed making them. I actually know you will!

What you need

2 sheets of short crust pastry
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g minced meat, beef
1 onion, sliced
200g mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
200 ml red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
250 ml beef stock
Rosemary
salt and pepper
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

What you need to do

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F. Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Cut out 12 x 12 cm rounds of pastry. They don’t have to be precisely 12 cm, just around 12 cm, in order to form a good basket with the help of the muffin tin. Press them into the base of each muffin tin. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill. Bake for about 15 minutes until ready (they should be near “golden”, which in real life terms means “you know, ready, like you see in cookbooks”).

Leave them aside, to cool down, and in the meantime prepare your meat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over a high heat. Brown the meat and then remove from saucepan. Add the remaining oil in your pan, reduce the temperature, add your veggies (you could probably add some red chilli pepper here, for a kick) and cook for about a minute. Return meat to the pan and stir through the flour. Cook for one minute then add the wine, tomato paste, stock and rosemary.

Cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until ready. While it’s cooking, check it regularly, give it a stir, see how it’s doing, don’t just let it do this on its own! When it’s done, season with salt and pepper to your liking and set aside to cool.

At this point, fight your urge to eat the meat. It’ll be a struggle, but you can do it, I believe in you.

While the meat is cooling down and to give you something to do in order to help you not eat it, spread the puff pastry on your workstation (I’m doing that on my kitchen counter) and cut out 12 x 10 cm rounds of puff pastry. Again, they don’t have to be exactly 10cm, but keep it close. Remember to preheat your oven again, if you turned it off (I suggest you do, do not waste energy!). 200°C will be fine.

Now, spoon the meat in the pastry baskets and place the puff pastry rounds on top. Press the edges so that they’ll stick, brush them with the egg, pierce the tops and bake them for about 12-15 minutes or 20 or until they are nice, golden and look done. Mine took around 20 minutes.

My advice is to eat them and not store them, as they don’t drive me crazy when cooled in the fridge. But if you want to store them, do so in the fridge!

Enjoy!


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