Oscar night


It’s Oscars night tonight and here at camp Chez Nous we are all very excited to once again celebrate that glorious fest that is this yearly ceremony.

We have The Booze, The Coffee, The Blankets and, naturally, The Food, that promises to get us through the small hours and keep us awake until Chris Rock says “Goodnight” and makes it yet again “legal” to yawn and fall asleep on the couch.

Of course, this year things will probably be different. My friend, A., my partner in Oscars-crime, lives hours away (by plane, mind you) and I have a class early in the morning, so it will be long before Chris Rock says “Goodnight” that it will actually be okay for me to shut my eyes and ZzzZZzzZZZzzZzZZzZZzz in front of the TV.

One thing won’t change: the food.

Since we will be catching the whole red carpet action before the actual awards (yasss!), I am sure to get The Guilt – you know, that feeling you get when Anne Hathaway looks gorgeous in a dress even your hanger doesn’t fit in, and you’re there, fingers yellow with Cheetos residue, mayo sandwiches and kreatopitakia winking at you from the end table, your pyjamas’ waistband leaving its mark on your skin.

So, this year we are going “light”.

No Cheetos, no kreatopitakia, just some salad, oven roasted potatoes and a steak. Yes, a steak.

And Spritz, of course, because, yeah… eh… it helps me sleep!

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.


So, this is what will be happening in our apartment, about an hour before the red carpet starts. You can do it along with us and share your results


Oven Roasted Potatoes


About ½ kilo baby potatoes

2 garlic cloves

A few TBs olive oil (A few does not mean 20, it means about 4 – I may have used less)

Salt, pepper

Grated cheese (Parmiggiano is awesome, but, honestly, use the one you like best. Parmiggiano is the one I like best)

1 lemon


Preheat your oven at 200 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit).

Make sure your potatoes are clean. I wash them, then scrub them, make sure there’s no dirt on them. That’s because we won’t peal them. If you peal baby potatoes, seriously, why? Why?


Cut them in half and put them in a bowl. You want to choose the bowl wisely, because you will be serving your potatoes in that bowl. Toss them with the oil, the garlic cloves, salt and pepper and make sure every little potato-half is covered with that nice, garlic-y goo.


Place them on a rack, cut side up and put them in the oven, on the upper third. Bake them for 25-30 minutes, depending on how big your potatoes are.

Do not wash the bowl, you’ll need it. I saw that part on Epicurious, that guy was a genius.


When they are nice and golden, take them out and place them back in the bowl. Toss them with the the cheese of your choice and put them back on the rack and back in the oven for another 10 minutes, or until your cheese is nice and melted.

Take them out, put them in the bowl and toss them in some lemon juice. Taste one for seasoning. Then steal another one before anyone sees you.


If you want some extra heat, I suggest adding some red hot chili pepper along with the garlic and the oil, the salt and the pepper. Yum.




About 450-500gr beef steak

Rock salt

Some olive oil

Pepper (optional)


This is the easiest thing ever. Our goal was to do “Bistecca alla fiorentina”, which is a T-bone steak grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, seasoned with salt and a little bit of black pepper, and olive oil, applied immediately after you take the meat out of the heat. Unfortunately for us our butcher shop was out of T-bone steaks when we went there, so we had to settle for a no bone steak. But we made sure to get a pretty thick and large cut so that it would be as close as possible to the “real thing”!


So, no salt, no pepper, no nothing! Just place the meat on the grill and let the heat do its job. Cook the steak to your liking (5 minutes on each side did the job for us). Take the steak out of the fire, put it on a plate, season with some rock salt (you know, the one with the large sized grains, some black pepper and some olive oil and let it rest for a couple of minutes. That’s it!


Some like to add herbs, after the steak is done, so rosemary, thyme, maybe some garlic (don’t overdo it). The secret is to let the herbs accompany the taste, not cover it! It’s all about the meat!

Enjoy it with some beer. Or some wine. We’ll be having both!

So that will be our Oscars feast. Let me know what you think – or what you made!


New beginnings

This is not a recipe post. This is a new adventure post.

I have been in Florence for a while and will stay here for a while, until I leave – the decision to keep moving, you know,  keeps me moving! 🙂

So this is what we ate here today. Street food in Florence is out of this world!


One is a veggies, scamorza and pesto toast and the other one is a bacon, cheddar and scrambled eggs toast. Both from I’Tosto, right under the Duomo!

I hope everyone is okay and everyone always tries new things! I will be cooking and #fooking soon!



#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


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