As a person who grew up in Greece I get asked for Moussaka recipes all the time. Moussaká is really as diverse as each household. Go to http://www.instagram.com/lias_kitchen to read what differentiates Moussaká from other bakes!
In this post we want to demystify one of the most popular dishes of modern Greek cooking. My usual béchamel sauce is one where milk is flavoured with mace or nutmeg in advance and then slowly heated whilst you slowly add flour, butter and one egg. Not really a roux method but something we call Kourkoúti. But to make things simple for you we recommend you make a béchamel (or morney) sauce you know how to make and have provided a link to a BBC recipe.
In the past year I have made Moussaka with what I have. I always have uncooked lentils in my store cupboard and love using them for a vegetarian, use-what-you-have version of the dish. Use 300 to 500g of minced beef if that’s what you prefer. The authentic Moussaka in my mum’s kitchen uses two layers of aubergine but potato is just fine particularly when your vegetable box has too many potatoes you need to use up.
Enjoy our delicious recipe below!
⁃ 3/4 to 1 cup or mug uncooked lentils (brown or green or black)
⁃ 1 onion, chopped
⁃ 3 allspice berries, crushed (optional)
⁃ 1/2 cup white wine
⁃ 3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely shopped
⁃ 1 tin chopped tomatoes
⁃ 500ml hot water (2cups)
⁃ 30g chopped parsley
⁃ Bay leaf (optional)
⁃ 1 egg beaten
⁃ 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
⁃ 250g crumbled or greater goat or ewe’s cheese such as feta, Abergavenny goat, manchego, pecorino or graviera.
⁃ 1 béchamel portion of your choice
⁃ Mace + bay leaf or just grated nutmeg to flavour
⁃ Half kg potatoes or as many it takes to fill a medium baking tray, sliced in circles of 1.5 to 2cm thickness
⁃ Mix of vegetable and olive oil to shallow fry
1. Soak the lentils for an hour or two (optional).
2. Start with making the lentil filling.
3. Fry the onion in 2tbsp. Olive oil with a pinch of salt for 5min.
4. Add the drained lentils, a pinch of pepper and the crashed allspice berries and fry for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the wine, stir and follow with the tinned tomatoes & hot water.
6. Add another couple of pinches of salt, the bay leaf (if using) and the chopped parsley.
7. Cover and simmer for 30.
8. Whilst the sauce is simmering make a béchamel portion of your choice and fry the potatoes till mostly cooked.
9. Use 2-3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil and 2 Tbsp. Olive oil to fry the potatoes.
10. Make sure to cool down the lentil sauce before adding the beaten egg, cheese or mix of cheeses your choice and breadcrumbs. Taste and season if necessary.
11. In a medium baking tray at least 10cm deep, layer the potatoes, the lentil sauce smoothed across the surface and then the bechamel sauce.
12. If you want sprinkle with some more breadcrumbs and cheese.
13. Bake in an 170 Celsius degree fan oven for 45 min or until golden.
This is a very special recipe shared with us by Ana & Juan, two siblings born in Colombia and now living in different parts of the world. Sharing and making recipes, such as these sweetcorn arepas (arepas de choclo), from places we call home help us feel closer to each other when we are too far to hug. Thank you Ana Maria Millan and Juan for sharing a tasty treat and transporting us to your Mum’s Colombian Kitchen table, in that flat that was bought precisely because it could fit a table large enough to gather friends and family as its focal point of togetherness. Much love and respect to Ana’s wonderful Colombian Mama and all the Mamas many of us miss from afar! Thank you to Ana who shared this recipe and her words, which make up most of this post. Ana was born in Colombia and has been living in the UK for nearly 20 years.
Arepas are a traditional food of Latin America, and they come in many varieties. Some are made with different types of corn (e.g masa harina) or rice flour. They are eaten as part of a meal or as a meal itself. This recipe is made with young sweetcorn (choclo) and a mix of flours.
Ana says, ‘I like it because it is sweet, and also because it helps me bring together some of the components of my multi-cultural family: a Colombian recipe with Dutch cheese. My husband is Dutch so we try to make the most of both worlds. Although I only started making arepas after moving to the UK, this recipe takes me home, to my mum’s kitchen. The ideal way to have these is with Colombian hot chocolate, with cheese inside (but that’s another story).’
‘For us sharing food is very important. Growing up we always had dinner together – it was the time of the day when we would sit together and talk about our day and anything that was happening. And, that is something that I do with my family too – dinnertime is family time.’
What (feeds 2)
- 2 cups or 340g sweet corn kernels (use defrosted or tinned + drained)
- ½ cup or 110g flour – use either masa harina OR gluten free flour OR a mix of gluten free and fine cornmeal ground furtner in a stone pestle or mortar
- 1 teaspoon of softened butter or coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp. or around 60ml milk (dairy or vegetable)
- Pinch of sugar
- Place the sweetcorn in a food processor until it is mushy, but not smooth. Some kernels should be visible.
- Heat the milk and melt the butter of choice.
- Add the flours and sugar to the blender and blend till smooth.
- The batter should look like thick porridge but it should not be too stodgy. If it is too thick, dilute it with some more milk.
- Use a large non-stick pan to fit many small pancakes or a smaller to make 2-4 large ones.
- Heat a little bit of butter until melted. Pour the mixture in small or larger circle shapes. Flatten to about 1cm thickness (not too thin but a little bit more like an American or blueberry pancake).
- Cook on low heat until it is nice and golden for about 3-5 minutes.
- Flip over carefully so it doesn’t break. Put the sliced or grated cheese on top and cook for another 3-4 minutes. You can fold in half and flip over to melt cheese further.
- Serve and enjoy.
- My perfect Ana & Juan arepas used a mix of gluten free flour and fine cornmeal (used for cornbread) ground down further in a stone pestle and mortar.
- Gluten free flour arepas were the second best.
- Heating up the milk to melt the butter worked really well.
- After my third attempt, I realised that the best way to blend the mix well was to add all the ingredients to the blender after first blending the corn kernels
- I used round metal moulds/cooking rings to make my round arepas. It helped my shape them and spread them thinner but they were mostly 2cm thick. I made mine about 10cm wide so the recipe quantity yielded between 8-10 small arepas.
- I LOVED using oat milk and coconut oil in my arepas. Ana is right it enhances the arepa sweetness
- I LOVED Ana’s Colombian/Dutch family tradition of using Edam cheese for the filling. It’s saltiness counterbalanced the arepa sweetness perfectly.
- Torn shreds of mozzarella was the second best cheese to use.
- I didn’t always fold the arepa as mine were mostly small.
- I loved serving with vegan or crisped up real bacon. Yum!
- Yes, I did the full Colombian thing and had chocolate with those. However, sweetened milky coffee was amazing too.
When you read our guest Broadbean Crop Share blog on Global Gardens Website News Section on 10/06/2020 you can read more about our approach to food and culinary exploration. In the past year Lia’s Kitchen has collected over fifty cook books (second hand and donations) for a shared cookbook library. When exploring what we could do with the fresh broad bean crop given to us by Global Gardens Project we turned for inspiration to these books. It was in Genevieve Taylor’s Charred that we learned how to make a dipping sauce with Korean red pepper flakes. We had to adjust the recipe to our ingredients but we want to fully credit this book for the idea and inspiration. Our Broadbean pod fries inspired by Chef Tom Hunt are gorgeous with that sauce. The only problem is you can actually eat too much and be unable to move. Our crop share recipes have taken a Wasteless approach using the whole plan from leaves, pods and beans. Enjoy!
- Discarded pods of 300g fresh broadbeans (used in our crisped mint broad bean crostini or creamed broadbean crostini recipes)
- 6 Tbsp. self-raising flour (GF flour works well too)
- A couple of generous pinches of salt
- 200ml milk
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
Genevieve’s Korean pepper flakes dipping sauce variation
- 3 Tbsp. soya sauce
- 1 Tbsp. Korean chilli red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. mirin sauce
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 1 tsp. caster sugar
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seed toasted and then ground
- Toast the sesame seeds in a non-stick pan and set aside to cool down.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. When the seeds are cooled grind finely in a pestle and mortar and add to the sauce. Let it sit whilst making the Broadbean pod fries.
- Place three fingers of vegetable oil in a deep pot and turn the heat up placing a lid on.
- Make sure you string the pods well when you are shelling the beans. Use a sharp knife to double string the sides of the split pod again before frying preparation.
- Cut each pod shell in 5cm long pieces.
- Mix the flour and salt well in a bowl.
- Place the milk in another bowl.
- Dust the pod shells in flour lightly on both sides. Shake flour off well.
- Swiftly dunk the floured pods in the milk and return to the flour.
- Dust in flour for the second time.
- By this time the oil should be ready for deep frying.
- Place the pods in the pot but do not cram.
- Reduce the heat and deep dry for around 4 minutes or until golden but not burnt.
- Remove with a slotted spoon
- Drizzle with the sauce or dip each fry in the sauce with every bite you take!
This week we are participating in a crop share project by Global Gardens in Cardiff. One of our director’s Lia has been given a crop of broad beans, pods/beans and leaves to cook with! She is publishing a blog about what this crop share meant to her and what to do with beans on the Global Gardens Website News Section. Here is the first recipe she made for this project.
Crisp mint broad beans with Feta mash on Crostini (for three slices)
We have been baking a lot of sourdough bread at home. When it goes stale we love slicing what is left very thinly and making crispy crostini to add seasonal toppings. For the Crostini all you need is finely sliced bread (up to 2cm) brushed with olive oil and toasted on a really hot non stick pan. Now for the topping.
Ingredients (three portions)
- 100g shelled and double podded green broad beans
- 6gr fresh mint leaves (any kind)
- 15g butter (roughly a Tbsp.)
- Pinch of salt
- 100gr Feta cheese
- 30ml Extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- For the Feta mash: mash the feta, olive oil and pepper in a bowl until creamy. Set aside.
- You will need around 300g broad beans in pods to yield 100g double podded beans.
- Remove the bean seeds from the pod. Keep the pods aside to make delicious fritters on the same day.
- Blanche the beans in boiling water for at least 3 minutes. Cool and remove the shell. Here is how to do it.
- Melt the butter in a non-stick pan .
- Before it browns add the whole (washed) mint leaves and crisp up on medium heat for a minute or two.
- Before the leaves brown add the shelled and separated beans, a pinch of salt and stir well.
- On each crostini spread a medium thick layer of the Feta mash and top with some beans.
We have joined forces with Ty Caws cheesemongers in Wales to tell you why we think you should give ewe’s or sheep’s milk cheese a go. Contact our friend Owen and place your order for that cheese now! Or attend some of the forthcoming Farmer’s markets in Wales where Owen and the team showcase cheese we love to eat.
To help you take that step to loving ewe, we are sharing an easy, baked cheese recipe for the fantastic & award winning #fettle cheese from Shepherd’s Purse in Yorkshire. You can order #fettle from Ty Caws or get it at forthcoming farmers market in Cardiff. We also recommend Brefu raw ewe’s milk cheese from Cosyn Cymru (uses thistle rennet so it is truly vegetarian).
Here is why we think you should eat Ewe’s milk cheese:
1. It’s so tasty! If you are not so hot on goat cheese (which we also love by the way) why not try some sheep or ewe milk cheese instead? You might actually like it.
2. It is digestible! A great alternative to cow’s milk cheese and an overall much more digestible dairy product for most humans!
3. You support UK sheep farmers who really need our help to survive during these hard times. Shepherd’s Purse Cheese company recently increased its investment in a sheep farmer collective it supports to ensure the production of fettle and other sheep’s milk cheeses. Every slice you buy it from Ty Caws in Wales this helps some sheep farmer continue having the demand to sustain a dairy producing herd. How great is that?
Bougiourntí Baked Fettle Recipe
- 150g Fettle cheese
- 1 mild green chilli pepper, sliced in rings
- 5-6 cherry tomatoes or two small tomatoes sliced
- Two sprigs of fresh oregano or a generous amount of dried oregano
- Two springs of fresh thyme from the garden (optional)
- 5-6 Tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil
- Place a 20cm by 20Cm square aluminium foil sheet on a chopping board and fold sides in slightly to contain the olive oil you will use.
- Drizzle half the olive oil on the bottom of the foil, add the oregano springs or pinch, the thyme sprigs if you are using, half the sliced chilli pepper and half the sliced tomatoes.
- Place the slab of fettle cheese on top of the ingredients.
- Top with the rest of the oregano, thyme, pepper, tomatoes and olive oil.
- Fold the foil sides in and then downwards to create a baking purse. Rather than acking the foil tightly and flat fold like you would a brown paper bad and allow an air gap for the roasting.
- If you have a small lidded pot use that instead of aluminium foil.
- Bake for 20 min on 180 degrees Celsius in the oven.
- Cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Eat with plenty of bread to enjoy the juices of the baked cheese, seasonal veg, herds and olive oil.
Whilst Fettle uses a feta cheese making method it is not feta but it is utterly delicious. It seems less ‘pickled’ than Greek feta cheese and is therefore less tangy! But as the sheep herds graze on grassier plains the cheese is creamier, nuttier and denser in texture (as well as salty enough to make it distinct). When baked its texture changes beautifully to be a little bit more chewy (like halloumi on a grill). We also loved it in fresh tomato salads with salted onions and generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Lia’s Kitchen is a community interest company which aims to raise awareness on independent, sustainable and local food producers and suppliers as part of its objectives. We seek out local knowledge to raise awareness of such produce. We also aim to raise awareness on food which is accessible to people with health conditions and dietary restrictions – ewe’s milk cheese makes dairy products accessible to those with cow milk intolerance or allergies. Whilst were given free samples of the ewe’s milk cheese we were not obliged to write about it or to recommend its consumption Please make sure you do not consumer dairy products if you are allergic to all dairy! . We were not paid for this feature.
Fáva is a velvety, smooth dip very popular in the taverns and homes of Greece. Not to be confused with the fava bean or broad bean, it is usually made with yellow split peas. Occasionally it is also made with dried and broken fava beans (κουκιά) but that dish has a light, green colour instead of its usual pale, mustard-yellow. It is usually served cold with chopped onion, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. But mother often fed us warm fava for a filling and nutritious meal – and we loved it. My favourite fáva flavour has a Cretan inspiration. Toasted cumin seeds and fried onion flavour my fáva recipe whilst roasted tomatoes and often caramelised onions are also paired or ‘married’ with it, as the Cretans say. Fáva can be paired beautifully with lamb but also octopus. It is nutritious and filling, and an impressive alternative to Hummus.
- 1 cup (around 250g) yellow split peas
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt (optional)
- Pepper (optional)
- Rinse the yellow split peas well and place in a sieve.
- Add enough oil to coat the base of a medium pot (2 to 3 tablespoons).
- Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and stir fry for around 5 minutes till the onion slightly softens.
- Toss in the yellow split peas and coat well in the oil and flavours.
- Add the boiling hot stock and bring to a low simmer for up to 40 minutes.
- At the beginning the mixture might froth. If this happens remove the froth with a slotted spoon.
- Half an hour into cooking check whether the dish requires additional water so that it does not stick to the pan.
- When cooked the peas should be getting mushy when mixed and should not have a bite.
- Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, add the lemon juice and cream the mixture with a hand blender.
- You can serve mixed in with roasted tomatoes and topped with caramelised onions.
- Yellow split peas are not the same as chana daal (yellow split lentils) commonly used in Indian cooking. You can source great quality, British grown, organic peas online through hodmedods.co.uk.
- Good quality ingredients make a great dip, so as well as using Hodmedods yellow split peas, I recommend you source use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this dip. Some of my choices include Oliveology, the Olive Press in Ludlow and The Greek Secret olive oils.
Getting down your greens is a very important step of keeping healthy during winter! Kale is a member of the brassica family and has great nutritional value. From high levels of iron, vitamin K, C and A, to anti inflammatory benefits it’s a food both accessible, locally grown and often organic.
Kale can help you increase your greens intake in easy and tasty ways. Make a pledge now to eat more veg any time of the year. Follow the #vegpower campaign for inspiration.
Here’s an easy recipe to get you started – Kale with spaghetti. When Zöe Rozellar walked into our kitchen with this idea of cooking kale it opened so many possibilities! You can also enjoy the kale as a side, for breakfast with egg (Zöe’s favourite) or with rice/couscous/quinoa. You may also add raw or cooked mushrooms to this dish – the red elf cup mushrooms from Blaencamel market stalls were a treat with this dish.
Ingredients (2-4 portions depending on starter or main size)
- 300g organic kale
- 1Tbsp. Sesame seeds
- 250g spaghetti
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp. Paprika
- 1/2 tsp. Ground nutmeg or more
- Olive oil
- 250g goats cheese or feta cheese
Preparation (up to 30min)
- Wash the kale, pull leaves off the harder stalk (if not tender) and drain.
- In a big baking tray dress in 1/2 tsp salt, the sesame and a couple of generous lugs of olive oil. Massage well so that oil and salt dress all leaves.
- Bring water to the boil for pasta adding salt and oil. And preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
- At the same time you start boiling the pasta, add the kale in the oven after you cover the tray tightly with aluminum foil.
- The kale should bake at least for the duration of your pasta preparation.
- Once the pasta boils and is in the colander, return the pot to heat, cover its base with olive oil and add the two cloves of garlic roughly chopped.
- Lower the heat and stir fry the garlic till softer – a couple of minutes – taking care not to burn.
- Add the paprika, nutmeg and 1/2 tsp of pepper and stir fry for about half a minute or so.
- Add the spaghetti and a pinch of salt. Toss well to dress in spices.
- Remove the kale from oven, add to pot and stir well.
- Remove dish from heat and add the crumbled cheese.
- For a vegan version add Dukkah or roasted and crushed hazelnuts instead of cheese.
Whilst I may have skipped a month of sharing recipe ideas with you inspired about one of my favourite places in Wales, it seems that the summer crop that has done so well on Blaencamel Farm’s land this summer keeps going strong this first week of September. This year the almighty broad bean has inspired various summer version of one of my favourite Greek dishes, Spetzofai, a stew which hails from beautiful Pelion on the Greek mainland (the land of the Cyclopes).
This simple sausage stew requires flavoursome, good quality sausages containing at least leek with a hint of spice, fresh seasonal vegetable and beans. The freshly podded broad beans make for a lighter and quicker version of the dish. To replace the broad beans chose either giant (Lima/Butter) beans or cannellini. As I am always inspired by my Greek heritage, Welsh producers and my local farmers’ market so I recommend you use Charcutier’s Italian fennel or their Thyme sausages for this recipe. The stew follows the same cooking method as the July 2017 Fasolakia dish which is popular in Greek cuisine. You can adapt it to make your own vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes Greek-Stylee. As usual you can source most of the recipes at the Roath and Riverside Farmers’ Market in Cardiff as well as other farmer market locations supplied by the farm in Wales.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 pack Charcutier Italian Fennel or Thyme sausages, in chunky cubes (280 g)
- 1 bag Blaencamel farm broad beans, podded (250g when podded)
- 2 Blaencamel bell peppers, halved, seeded and sliced
- ½ Blaencamel Hungarian wax pepper
- 4 Charlotte potatoes, washed and halved with skin on
- Optional – half a pack of Blaencamel farm spinach (200g)
- 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1 large tomato grated
- ½ glass white whine
- 1.5-2 tsp. sea salt
- 0.5 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 parmento/all spice berries
- Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
Preparation (60 min)
- Coat the base of a wide pot with enough olive oil to cover it.
- When the oil is hot add the cubed sausage and sauté until browned.
- Add the onion, peppers, one teaspoon sea salt and sauté until the onion softens.
- Add the tomato paste or grated tomato and fry for a couple of minutes stirring well.
- Add the chunky cubed potatoes, beans of your choice and roughly chopped spinach. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until they are well coated in tomato paste and oil.
- Add the wine and the chopped parsley. Stir well.
- Add half to one tsp of sea salt and enough boiling water to almost cover the veg and meat (but don’t submerge them).
- Stir well but before you place the lid on the pot to simmer for around 40 minutes, try to push the meat and potatoes to the bottom of the pot and the beans and courgettes closer to the top so that they steam.
- From this point on do not stir so that your vegetable does not fall apart when cooked.
- The dish is ready when the water has reduced but not fully evaporated.
- Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Or for a real Greek meal enjoy (cold or in room temperature) the next day.
Enjoy with a chilled glass of Greek Agiorgitiko Wine .
In April return to Greece for culinary inspiration. This month’s recipe is a risotto dish much loved in my homeland and to make it I am using seasonal organic Greens from Blaencamel Farm in West Wales. The key difference of this Greek risotto, called ‘Spanako-rizo’ or ‘Spanakoprasó-rizo’ is that it is less complicated in its cooking process (when compared to its Italian cousin) and it uses a lot of greens as the star ingredient rather than focussing on making a creamy rice. Whilst the rice is also added before the water it does not follow the Italian risotto method and you add all the water at once simmering the rice slowly to complete the dish.
Traditionally this dish is made with a rice called Karolina. In the UK, you can find this in Greek specialty shops, but also on the shelves of many of the Middle Eastern shops where you should seek it as Egyptian Rice. It is a short grain variety which keeps its bite when compared to Arborio. If you cannot find Karolina/Egyptian rice why not try Thai Jasmin rice which I find is a great replacement for many Greek recipes. In fact, as I am not a purist, I recommend that you try this dish with all rice varieties to find your preferred version.
Chard is regarded a wild green in Greece and has traditionally been foraged. Now cultivated widely in farms such as Blaencamel it has become a staple of our diet in the UK. Which is why I am using it together with spinach. Its meatier leaves, organic spinach, delicious Welsh leeks, foraged wild garlic and wonderful onions complete this version of the dish. In fact, Blaencamel farm’s April box will include all the ingredients you need to make your Greek Risotto. A perfect gift of the emerging Spring time and a great dish to help your body detox the heavy flavours of winter!
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 300g Blaencamel leeks (1 bunch), sliced
- 450g spinach (1 bag), roughly chopped
- 450g chard (1 bag), roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 bunch wild garlic
- ¾ cup of rice
- Juice of one small lemon
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- Up to 2 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black ground pepper
- 1 tbsp. sea buckthorn berries (optional)
- 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp tried dill
- Extra virgin olive oil
Preparation (30 minutes)
1. Coat the base of a 20cm pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one tsp of salt until soft and translucent.
2. Add the tomato paste and stir well.
3. Gradually add the chopped greens (spinach, chard, wild garlic) so that wilt slightly.
4. Add the raw rice and mix well.
5. If using chop the sea buckthorn berries roughly or crush and add to the rice and green.
6. Add the lemon juice, around two cups of boiling water, dill (if adding), another teaspoon of sea salt and the pepper.
7. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
8. Serve with more crushed sea buckthorn, some feta cheese and drizzle with raw olive oil.