Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red-cooked Beef with Shiitake Mushrooms

Again I haven't been a good blogger. No particular reason this time. I was cooking mostly usual everyday food, soups, salads, meatballs you know. Nothing too impressive. Sometimes my cooking mood goes together with the weather, which was not exactly great these days. But today it was really amazing! After a short rain in the morning the sun came out and the whole city looked so wonderfully optimistic. I took a long ride across the canals of Amsterdam. It felt almost like spring. To be honest, each time I see sun in the sky I hope that it could be a start!

Well anyway, the day was nice and on my way home I stopped at a Turkish grocery store for supplies. Fruits, vegetables, couscous, cheese, olives... hmmm... black Shiitake mushrooms. Haven't bought them for quite some time actually. Maybe today I'll go with Chinese food.

Well the original recipe was vegetarian and required 225gr of tofu. But since I don't like tofu I substituted it by 300gr lean beef and it was very very tasty! It's nice to cook something different for a change! :)


300gr learn beef
4 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh root ginger, finely chopped
8 canned Shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup spring onions, chopped
black pepper to taste
egg noodles, cooked

1. Cut the beef in small, slices about half centimeter thick.
2. In a bowl mix the soy sauce, sherry, sugar, garlic and ginger. Place in the beef slices in the mixture and leave to marinate for about half an hour. Drain reserving the marinade.
3. Squeeze the mushrooms, reserving the can liquid, and slice them.
4. In a small bowl mix the soy marinate, 6 tbsp of mushroom liquid and the cornflour.
5. Heat a wok and add the oil. Stir-fry the beef slices for about 5 minutes then remove from the wok and set aside.
6. Add to the wok he mushrooms and the spring onions and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes. Pour in the marinade mixture, season with black pepper and cook until the liquid thickens.
7. Return the beef to the wok and simmer for a couple of minutes, letting the flavors to mix. Serve over the egg noodles

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gemista - Stuffed tomatoes and peppers

Two days ago Stratis had a birthday and of course the plan was to go out with friends and have lots of drinks. But I thought it would be nice to have a good dinner at home before, just the two of us, as a part of his "special birthday treatment". So while Stratis was at his after-work squash game I kicked myself to the kitchen and prepared a lovely meal consisting of a huge salad, grilled vegetables with special marinade (recipe coming soon), Gemista and of course good Greek wine. For dessert I made an amazing Apple pie that I stole from kalofagas.ca (another "coming soon" post). So for now I'm posting the Gemista which were slightly different from what I usually cook but I think the change was for good :) Btw, Gemista is literally translated as "something stuffed".


5 large tomatoes
5 large red bell peppers
2 cups risotto rice (short-grained, kind of roundish)
2 onions, diced
2-3 handfuls black and white raisins
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and ground pepper to taste

1. Slice the tops from the tomatoes and the peppers and keep them aside. Remove the seeds from the peppers.
2. With a spoon remove the seeds from the tomatoes and place them in a food processor together with the sugar and tomato paste.
3. In a medium pot heat the oil and fry the onion until soft and lightly golden. Add the tomato mixture, raisins, pine nuts and rice. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1-2 cups of water and cook on low heat, adding water if necessary and stirring occasionally so that the rice does not stick to the bottom. Cook until the rice is almost cooked.
4. 2-3 minutes before the rice is ready add the parsley.
5. With a spoon stuff the tomatoes and peppers with the filling.
6. In a deep casserole dish place all the leftover filling and spread it over the bottom. Place the tomatoes and peppers on top of the rice, one next to the other close enough so that they stay vertically. Cover each vegetable with it's own top that you sliced off at the beginning.
7. Add 1 glass of water to the dish and bake the Gemista in the oven at 180oC and serve with some extra filling along with Greek yogurt and Feta cheese.

You could serve them as a main course or a starter, both hot or cold. Gemista are good in all the ways. Some people also add minced meet in the filling but I prefer raisins instead. If you wanna try them with minced meat you substitute 1/3 of the rice with the minced meet and remove the raisins.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cod fillet with fresh tomato sauce

Sadly the Christmas vacation is over. And as always it involved a lot of eating :) But when the food is good it's almost impossible not to exceed the limits. So unfortunately, what is left from the holidays, apart from the wonderful memories, are some extra kilos. And the summer will come... And I won't be happy... So better now and slowly than in May and in panic. Diet it is!

The first thing I do when going on diet is trying to cut on carbs like rice and potatoes and substitute them with vegetables. So today when I prepared a crunchy fish fillet, I combined it with steamed green beans instead of usual rice. Actually, it feels good to be eating properly for once in weeks.


1kg cod fillet (or any other white fish), cut into 5-6 pieces
400 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dry thyme

2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and ground black pepper

1. In a medium pot heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, thyme, basil, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Place the sauce in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth. Press through a fine sieve, pour back to the pot and warm up over a medium heat.

3. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

4. In a heavy pan with a non-stick surface heat the rest of the oil and fry the fish until it is crunchy on the outside and cooked through. Serve with the tomato sauce on top of the steamed green beans.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oven-baked giant Greek beans

Yesterday I posted a recipe of Greek superburgers that I served with oven-baked giant beans. Well, as I promised, here is the recipe of the beans.


1/2 kg giant white Greek beans
1 can (400 gr) diced tomatoes
200 gr tomato puree
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 allspice grains
1 tsp dry basil
1 tbsp white sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water

1. Soak the beans in abundant water overnight. There should be a lot of water, as the beans will absorb it and if you only add enough to cover them after a couple of hours the ones on top will be uncovered.
2. The next day cook the beans for about 2 hours (or until the beans are soft) in unsalted water, taking care that there is enough liquid in the pot so that the beans don't burn. 10 minutes before the end add 1 tsp salt to the pot. Drain the beans and set aside.
3. In a large sauce pan heat half of the oil. Add the onions and carrots and stir fry until lightly golden. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, allspice, basil, sugar and the rest of the oil, lower the heat and let the sauce cook for about 20 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick gradually add the water.
4. Return the beans to the pot and mix well.
5. Place the mix in a baking pan, cover with foil and bake in the over at 180°C for about 10-15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Done!

I like serving it with some grated Parmesan or Myzithra (Greek cheese) as a side dish accompanying either grilled chicken breasts or burgers. A green salad is also a nice addition. If you decrease the amount of oil a bit, these beans are also nice for dieting as the carbs that they contain are the good, slow carbs that keep you full for a long long time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Greek burgers

Ok, it's not a secret, I am a meat fan. Anything would do! Few days ago I was craving a burger. But not just any burger, nothing even close to McDonalds or even Burger Bar, an amazing fast-food restaurant in the center of Amsterdam. I was craving what Stratis calls "THE best burger ever". You prepare it in no time and with appropriate minced meat it could be considered the ultimate healthy burger!


1kg of minced beef meat (preferably low fat)
2 average-size onions, grated (very finely diced is also fine)
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bread crumbles
1 cup fresh milk (YES, MILK! Very typical for a Greek burger)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Shape into burgers.
3. Place on an oiled baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 40 minutes or until cooked through but not dry.

I cooked this amazing burgers yesterday for dinner and served them with giant Greek oven-baked beans (recipe is on the way) and pickled silverskin onions on the side. I think both me and my man enjoyed them a lot!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spinach omelet

Again no blogging for quite some time, because of my trip home. The vacation was wonderful. I spent Christmas at Kastoria, a beautiful city in the north of Greece. Then a long drive to Thessaloniki, a week of drinking and a traditional new year's night at friend's place where we traditionally played Black Jack (I lost 1 whole euro :P) and had a traditional Vasilopita pie (my mom's recipe of the pie is coming). The pie contains a lucky coin inside and the person who gets the piece with the coin is supposed to be very lucky in the coming year. Well this year I won 3 coins, so I am very optimistic about this year!

Anyways, now I'm back to Amsterdam and cooking again. However, I didn't have time to upload the pictures so I will post another omelet recipe (too many eggs lately), which I made just few days before going home.


3 eggs
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 zucchini, diced
30-40 gr feta cheese, crashed
1/2 tsp dry oregano
salt, ground black pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
1 tbsp parsley for garnishing, finely chopped

1. In a pan with non-stick surface heat the oil. Saute the onion with zucchini until softened.
2. In a bowl beat the eggs. Add tomatoes, spinach, feta and oregano and spice up with salt and pepper.
3. Pour the egg mixture over the onion and zucchini, cover, lower the heat and cook until the omelet is hard but still juicy. Garnish with parsley and serve along with cheese or ham or both.
4. Alternatively, instead of frying you could pour all the ingredients into a baking pan and bake in the oven.

In fact you could use any vegetables you have in your fridge. When I cook it for lunch I some times use potatoes instead of zucchinis or add some ham as well. I would guess that chicken must also fit nicely. Hmmm, I might try it soon :)