Complete List of Recipes & Reflections

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

Dear Readers,

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I put an emphasis on quality in my postings and recipes. So, if I did not think the people at Foodbuzz were a fantastic group doing some excellent work in online food publishing, I would not have added this posting. In a few words, I want to announce the official launch of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. Foodbuzz is an online culinary publishing network that currently includes over 1100 featured publishers worldwide. The range of food related material, from recipes to restaurant ratings and reviews which are available through Foodbuzz is enormous and growing daily. Join the community and offer up a restaurant review or share your recipes; there can never be enough information shared about food, especially if it is good!

Recently, Foodbuzz launched a global food blogging event known as 24, 24, 24 in which 24 blogs worldwide served up 24 signature meals to groups of guests, and published postings on their respective events within 24 hours. As the first such event of its kind in the world it was a huge success and has led to a series of monthly "24, 24, 24" food blogging events. This coming Saturday, October 25th 2008, is the second installment of "24, 24, 24" and it promises to be a tasty weekend for all those involved. I am looking forward to the Buzz from this weekend’s event. Stay tuned.

Here is a promotional video from the last (and first!) Foodbuzz "24, 24, 24":


Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Village Greek Salad (Χωριάτικη Ντοματοσαλάτα)

Village Greek salad in all its glory - Click to Enlarge Image

Exactly when the tomato arrived in Greece is a matter of conjecture; there are various apocryphal anecdotes and references but nothing definitive. One thing is certain; it arrived sometime after Columbus returned from the New World in 1493. The tomato is native to the Americas and was introduced to Europe after the Discovery made by the great 15th Century navigator on his celebrated voyage across the Atlantic. If Christopher Columbus was of Greek origin as some claim, it may have arrived in Greece earlier than commonly supposed. In any case, the tomato qua tomato has been a part of European and Greek recipes for no more than a few centuries all told. It is downright astonishing how this species of nightshade spread and insinuated itself into the national cuisines of the European continent in such a relatively short time. After all, where would Italian cooking be without the tomato? How about the Spanish food fight festival known as the Tomatina? What of Greek salad?

Like the Italians and the Spanish, Greeks use the tomato in everything from casseroles to soups; they stuff them, roast them, bake them, fry them, dry them, grate them, pulp them, and turn ‘em into sauce. Opa! But the single most popular way for tomatoes to be consumed in Greece is in a salad; and not just any salad of course, but a Greek salad. Just what makes a Greek salad anyway? If you ask a Greek this question, he/she may require clarification. “What kind of salad do you mean?” they might ask. After all, Greeks have all manner of salads or salates as they call them (in Gk. pronounced “sah-LAH-tehs”, which is plural for “sah-LAH-tah”); from Taramosalata, to Lahanosalata, to every kind of salata you can imagine… and even some you cannot. In short, Greeks are the biggest salad eaters on the planet; for them everything is potentially a salad.

So, if what you mean by Greek salad is a tomato salad that includes feta cheese, olive oil and oregano as its most basic constituents, you will need to be specific. More often than not, if you are in a Greek restaurant, both in Greece and abroad, the classic tomato salad with feta cheese is usually referred to as a ‘horiatiki salata’. The word horiatiki is Greek for “village” and is pronounced as “hor-YIA-tiki”. Typically, a horiatiki salad will include onions and cucumbers as well, and in most cases black olives too. As my family is from Arcadia in the Peloponnese we also include Greek pepperoncini in our version of the famous salad, as the small “Golden Greek Peppers” are a specialty of our region.

My father's pride and joy, a 1 kg. tomato! - Click to Enlarge Image

I used tomatoes from our kitchen garden for this dish, as we still have quite a few left. My father-in-law brought us some seed from Greece in the spring, so our tomatoes are actual Greek tomatoes. Yesterday, I pulled the remaining tomatoes off the vines as we had a frost warning for the overnight period. This year, the family prize for the largest tomato went to my father who managed to grow a truly behemoth bunch of tomatoes; the largest of which was a 1 kg (2.2 lb) monster, as pictured above. The award was a bottle of ouzo. The monster tomato ended up in a salad exactly like the one pictured in this recipe, and it was tasty!


3 medium sized ripe tomatoes cut into quarters or sixths
½ a cooking onion, sliced
½ a cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced
Several Greek pepperoncini (be sure to squeeze them to drain the brine before using)
Some Kalamata or wrinkled black olives (the choice is yours)
½ cup (125 ml.) crumbled Greek Feta cheese
¼ cup (60 ml.) Greek extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml.) Greek wine vinegar* (optional, I normally do not add it)
1 teaspoon (5 ml.) dried Greek oregano
Fresh ground pepper
Salt to taste* (optional, I normally do not add it as the Feta is already salty enough)

  1. Wash and cut the tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and put them together into a salad bowl.
  2. Add several olives and pepperoncini to the bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the crumbled feta overtop of the vegetables, then follow with fresh ground pepper, oregano, and the olive oil (salt and vinegar are also options at this point, but are not required ingredients. I do not add salt because as I stated above the Feta cheese is already quite salty, and any additional salt will only serve to make the tomatoes drain their water, thereby limiting the standing time of the salad).
  4. Mix everything together a couple turns, but don’t overdo it, and serve.

Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit)

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yiouvetsi Kritharaki Kypriako – Cypriot Orzo Yiouvetsi (Γιουβέτσι Κριθαράκι Κυπριακό)

A hearty Greek recipe from Cyprus - Click to Enlarge Image

This dish requires no introduction to our Cypriot friends, and though yiouvetsi [γιουβέτσι in Gk., pronounced “yoo-VE-tsee”] dishes are common fare throughout Greece, this variation employing ground meat is from Cyprus. As the 1st of October is Cypriot Independence Day, and since I was unable to attend the reception held by the Consulate General of the Republic of Cyprus here in Toronto due to a nasty cold, I thought I might whip up a dish to belatedly commemorate the occasion in absentia, as it were.

We are now in the Autumn season here in the Northern Hemisphere, and this recipe is a representative Greek comfort food that is easy to make and even easier to eat during the increasingly colder and shorter days that are upon us. The term “yiouvetsi” can best be translated as ‘casserole’ and the name is derived from the type of earthenware vessel that is traditionally used to bake it; a deep two-handled round clay dish. I used an oval stoneware casserole as I broke my yiouvetsi dish (boohoo!) and have not had a chance to replace it. The main point here is that a metal pan is no substitute for a ceramic cooking vessel when one is trying to remain true to traditional Greek food cooking techniques. If you have a ceramic casserole dish, this would be a good recipe to use it on. If you do not have clay or stoneware crockery, then I recommend something like a CorningWare® or Pyrex® glass-ceramic ovenproof dish, as a metal pan will require that you stay on top of it and stir the contents often or the pasta will stick to the sides and bottom. My grandmother used to say that "a true yiouvetsi is stirred only once, half-way through the cooking and no more".

My yiouvetsi straight out of the oven - Click to Enlarge Image

Variations on the yiouvetsi theme in Greek cuisine can include cuts of lamb or chicken, or it can be made without any meat whatsoever. Cheese (usually a dried Greek whey cheese known as myzithra) can also be grated and sprinkled overtop when serving; though I typically do not use cheese on the meat-based variations, it remains an option. Usually, the meatless version of this dish is referred to simply as manestra [pronounced "mah-NE-strah"]. NOTE: Other pasta noodles may also be used to make yiouvetsi, but the krytharaki (orzo) noodle is the most commonly used for this purpose in this Greek recipe.


1 lb. (450 gr.) ground veal
1 quart (1 litre) beef stock
1 ½ cups (375 ml.) of orzo pasta
1 cup (250 ml.) fresh strained tomato juice/sauce [or 2 tbsp. (30 ml.) tomato paste diluted in 1 cup of water]
1 onion, grated or finely chopped
2 garlic gloves, finely chopped or pressed
1 cinnamon stick (a couple inches in length will suffice)
4 spice cloves
3 tablespoons (45 ml.) Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml.) butter
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, then, over a medium heat, add the ground veal and breaking it up with a wooden spoon sauté the meat for 5-8 minutes stirring constantly until it is thoroughly browned.
  2. Once the ground veal has been completely browned, add the onion, garlic, tomato sauce, cinnamon stick, cloves, salt and pepper to the saucepan with the meat. Stirring the contents well, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes over a medium-low heat.
  3. In a separate pan/pot bring the beef stock to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, so as to keep it hot until we need it.
  4. When the meat has cooked, remove the cinnamon stick from the pan. Add the uncooked orzo pasta to the hot beef stock for a couple stirs, then add the stock to the pan with the meat sauce and stir to mix thoroughly.
  5. Butter the sides and bottom of the casserole, then add the yiouvetsi mixture to the dish and bake uncovered at a moderate heat 350° F. (180° C.) for 50-60 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed by the pasta. Stir the yiouvetsi well with a wooden spoon only once at about the 25 minute mark (making sure to get into the corners of the dish) then let it cook undisturbed for the remainder of its allotted time. Look for the surface of the yiouvetsi to form almost a crust-like top layer, especially near the edges of the dish. Remove from the oven when done and let the casserole sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 Servings.

Kali Orexi! (Bon Appetit)

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections

Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.