Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Νο bake Chocolate Cheesecake

I made this for my birthday and it was seductive and enticing.

Because it is easy to make, it doesn’t mean it is harmless. When people ask me is it too fattening?” I simple answer it doesnt have any added sugar”. And it really doesnt. What does it need sugar for?
But I have another question: Who HASN’T woken up in the night to eat nutella from a jar? The winner gets a jar of pickled cucumbers.

You’ll need

  • 350 gr digestive biscuits
  • 200 gr butter
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 200 gr cheese cream
  • 100 gr chocolate with 70% solids, melted (see note on how to melt it)
  • 400 gr nutella or other chocolate spread
  • Cocoa powder

Crumble the biscuits in a blender, put them in a bowl, add butter, whisk using a mixer until everything comes together.
Line a tart mould with the biscuit-butter mixture and pat until it
is uniformly spread. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
Put cheese, double cream, nutella, melted chocolate and 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, in a mixer bowl and whisk everything (best with an electric whisk) until smooth. Taste the mixture to see if you want it bitterer. I usually do. The more cocoa powder you add, the bitterer it becomes.
Spread it out on the tart shell and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the filling looks solid. You
can simply refrigerate it but it’ll take longer. But if you are going to forget it in the fridge, then do refrigerate it!
Before you serve, sprinkle with some cocoa powder.

Note: How to melt the chocolate

Place pieces of chocolate in a bowl (not a plastic one). Place the bowl in a pan. Fill pan with water and place on low heat. Allow chocolate to melt and don’t cover. When most of the chocolate has melted, stir until smooth.

You can do it in the microwave oven: Place pieces of chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at medium power (50 percent) for 1 1/2 to 4 minutes, until the chocolate turns shiny. Remove the container from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted.

Mushroom tartelettes

This recipe happened only because I had a spare pastry sheet in the fridge. But it was a success so it might become a classic. Where classic means, the food I prepare when I feel insecure and doubt my abilities and want to make something secure.

It takes no time at all, although the pious are going to want to make their own pastry, which I am all for, but we’ll discuss it some other time.

For 6-8 people as a starter

  • 2 eggs
  • 160 gr crumbled feta cheese
  • 400 gr sliced button mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (if you like puffy things) or 1 sheet shortcrust pastry (if you want less air, more food)
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • Some butter for the baking dish
  • Salt and pepper
Whisk the eggs and add the feta.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sautee onions. Add mushrooms and when they are cooked but still al dente, combine in a bowl with the eggs and feta. Sprinkle with pepper. If your feta is very salty don’t add any more salt.
Butter a 12 cup muffin pan (if you have a larger one, you’ll need more pastry and more of everything else) and roll out the pastry. We don’t want the pastry to have holes, so carefully, we press it inside the cups. When we are done, we separate the pastry with a knife, so that each cup is individually lined.
Fill with the mushroom mixture and arrange the extra pastry around, so that it encloses but doesn’t cover the filling. Don’t be too religious about it (as the photo testifies, I wasn’t).
Bake in preheated oven at 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas mark 4 until the pastry looks golden and the filling has set.

Pasta Power

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
Federico Fellini

My favourite scene from my favourite movie Lost in Translation, is the one where Bob (Bill Murray) realizes that the situation with his wife is rather irreversible and tries to tell her so on the phone, while he is soaking in the jacuzzi of the Japanese hotel. So he starts by telling her that something has to change but then chickens out and ends up saying “I don't know. I just want to get healthy. I would like to start taking better care of myself. I'd like to start eating healthier - I don't want all that pasta. I would like to start eating like Japanese food.”
Yes, blame it on the pasta Bob.
When I am stressed or worn out, I want to eat pasta. The ideal would be to make my own pasta (although, not penne, that would be a miracle in itself) but when I am tired, the last thing I want to do is make dough. Or
maybe not. It might turn out to be soothing.

Baked penne with spinach and cheese

4-5 servings

  • 1 packet penne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fennel
  • 500 gr chopped spinach
  • 230 gr gruyere cheese, grated
  • 300 ml single cream
  • 120 gr feta cheese, crumbled
  • 10-15 green olives sliced
Cook pasta in salted, boiling water. In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic. Add spinach and fennel and cook until the vegetables are tender.
In a baking dish, combine penne and spinach. Add gruyere cheese and crumbled feta. Mix everything very well together.
Bake in 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4 until all cheeses have melted and the food has a nice golden colour. Sprinkle each dish with sliced olives and serve hot.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Vegetarian burgers with tzatziki

There are countless ways to make veggie burgers, and every vegetarian / vegan knows that. I just take a look in the cupboards to see what there is available and start from there. This time it was lentils and soya, next time it might be mushrooms or chickpeas.

You'll need:

  • 100 gr lentils
  • 100 gr soya mince
  • 2-3 tbsps oregano
  • Approximately 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2-3 tbsps flour and 2-3 tbsps oil / or 2 eggs
  • Salt

Cook lentils and soya mince in vegetable stock. Drain very well and put it aside to cool down.
Puree mince and lentils in blender.
Mix puree with 2 eggs and stir very well. If you don’t want eggs, substitute with oil and a little flour. Stir in oregano and salt.
Shape into burgers and place on paper parchment.
Bake at 350 F/180 C for about 20 minutes or until done. Serve with tzatziki.

My Tzatziki

  • 1 ½ cup full fat yogurt
  • 1 big cucumber
  • 1 aubergine
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 3-4 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • Salt
  • 3-4 tbsps olive oil for the aubergine
  • 1 cup Vegetable stock for the aubergine
First, slice aubergine and fry in olive oil. We want it to be really tender, so pour some vegetable stock and let it absorb it. Once it is tender, strain very well and puree in blender.
Grate the cucumber. You shouldn’t process it in a blender as that would make it watery. We want it to have some texture. Strain the cucumber very well.
Chop garlic.
In a bowl, combine aubergine, cucumber, yogurt, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt to taste. Stir very well. Tzatziki is served cold. It is delicious with these vegetarian burgers but you can also eat it with dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) or as a dip.

I’m red but not embarrassed

Only the pure at heart can make a good soup.
Ludwig van Beethoven

People are at variance on the point of red food. Some say red food is not real food. I talked about it to my friend Steve and he said real food cannot be red. Not even tomatoes, “the devil’s food”.
But this red soup is made of beetroot, not tomatoes. Just two beetroots and other vegetables too, which being of a more inoffensive colour, disappear in the soup.
However, it is a very tasty soup, not to mention invigorative too. Beets are a very good source of potassium that regulates blood pressure, and vitamin C an antioxidant that works against free roots, against cholesterol, heart disease and other evil things.
If you stll think red food is not food, thin it with some cream or soy milk or yogurt. That
way itll turn pink. Pink is good.

Try eating it while listening to Beth Orton’sComfort of Strangers”.

You'll need:

  • 2 beetroots scrubbed
  • 2 potatoes scrubbed
  • 3 carrots scrubbed
  • 6 walnuts, finely processed
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt – pepper

Boil vegetables until tender. Peel them and cut in halves. Puree in blender. You might have to do that in batches unless you have a really big blender.

Heat olive oil, add nutmeg, vegetable puree (it’s red!) and a glass of vegetable stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes so that everything is combined. Adding more stock depends on how thick or thin you want your soup. Alternatively, you can thin it with some yogurt or milk or soy milk. Sprinkle with some walnuts.

Penny’s pie

Penny is my sister and this is her cheese pie. She makes her own pastry. Truly, it takes less time that waiting for the ready made to defrost.

The fact that my sister is on diet all the time, won’t stop her from making cheese sauce and adding it to the pie which she later gives to unsuspecting relatives.
But because the pie is so delicious, I allow myself one piece for breakfast, from time to time. Then I watch buttons break loose.

We’ll need

For the pastry

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • A bit of salt

For the filling

  • 300 gr. Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 200 gr. Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • Pepper
  • Dill
  • 2 cups cheese sauce

For the cheese sauce

  • 2 tbsps quality butter
  • 2 heaped tbsps flour
  • ½ lt milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 gr. grated gruyere cheese

To coat the pie

  • Some milk
  • a beaten egg

Mix all pastry ingredients and knead well. Make two balls. Leave it for half in hour to rest, in a bowl covered with a clean piece of cloth.
Meanwhile prepare cheese sauce (see below).
Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl (don’t forget the cheese sauce!).
Roll the pastry in two sheets. Roll one pastry sheet in a well oiled baking tin. Pour the filling on pastry. Cover with the other pastry sheet.
In a small bowl beat some milk and an egg together. Coat the pie with this and bake in a preheated oven until golden at 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4. This usually takes 50-60 minutes.

Cheese sauce
butter in a pan. Add flour, stirring all the time with wooden spoon. Pour the milk (must be lukewarm) and cheese and keep stirring constantly over low heat, until thickened and smooth. The sauce is ready. Before you add it to the pie, sprinkle with grated cheese to make it crunchier.

Garlicky aubergine salad

Αubergine salad is very common in Greece and there are numerous versions of it. This doesn’t mean there is no room for one more version: mine.
Blame it for losing your friends if you want, but you can’t blame it for being tasteless. I
think its a great sandwich spread too, especially combined with mozzarella. Just stay at home, alone and contemplate for a couple of hours after you have had it.
Please, before you serve it ask people if they are allergic to walnuts. Many people are, and it just never crosses our minds to ask. But we could kill them with the walnuts before we had a chance to kill them with our garlic breath.

You’ll need

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • One yellow capsicum pepper (red or orange is fine too)
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10-15 walnuts

Cut the aubergines in squares. Heat olive oil and sauté 2 garlic cloves, then add aubergines and cook until they are tender. If you see that you are running out of liquid in the pan, add some water.

Purée the aubergines in a blender. Add one more garlic clove, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar in the blender bowl. Also, add the capsicum, the walnuts, salt and pepper. Puree again and add more salt, pepper or balsamic vinegar if you want.

Serve cold with some finely chopped walnuts on top.

Lazy mille feuilles with pesto sauce

I don't think necessity is the mother of invention - invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness.
To save oneself trouble.

(Agatha Christie)

I thought I could make this recipe when I have people over and am too bored to cook properly for some reason (what reason?). It looks impressive although it’s very easy to make and it is very tasty, with all the vegetables of the good lord in it. And with some white wine it goes down very well indeed.

4 servings

For the Mille Feuilles

  • 700 gr puff pastry
  • 300 gr.mushrooms (different kinds are okay) sliced or chopped
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers sliced
  • 2 zucchinis sliced
  • 300 gr . pecorino peeled or grated
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 100 ml white wine
  • salt - pepper

Cut the each pastry sheet in 6 oblong pieces (round are okay too). Pierce them with a fork (we don’t want them to get too puffy), place them on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes or until golden, at

In the meantime, heat half the oil and sauté the garlic and mushrooms until tender but not too tender. Add the wine, cover and let it simmer for 3 minutes.

In a frying pan pour the rest of the oil, the peppers and the zucchini and fry until tender. Mix mushrooms, peppers and zucchini and taste for seasoning.

Now the pastry is ready. On a piece of pastry layer the vegetables and sprinkle with the cheese. Top with another pastry square and again, add a layer of vegetables and cheese. Top with a third pastry square and sprinkle with cheese.

Repeat with the remaining pastry squares.

Bake the Mille Feuilles for about 5 minutes or until the cheeses have melted and serve hot with a spoonful of pesto sauce on the side.

For the pesto sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons of pine nuts (slightly roasted)
  • 1 ½ garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 ½ cups fresh basil, chopped
  • 120 gr. grated parmesan
  • 120 gr. grated pecorino
  • 1 cup good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Put the garlic and basil into a pestle and mortar and pound. We add the pine nuts and pound again. Turn out the mixture in a bowl and add parmesan and pecorino and stir. If you want you can omit the pecorino and replace with parmesan. I do this for this recipe only, so that it isn’t too salty. Add oil, little by little, and go on stirring, until it becomes a wet paste. All the time taste for seasoning. We can do it in a blender but with the pestle, I think the flavours really come out.

Magiritsa with oyster mushrooms

Magiritsa is a traditional Greek Easter soup. In fact it is the very soup that Greeks break their 40 day fast with, after they have returned from the midnight mass on Easter Saturday. This soup is traditionally made with lambs' innards and avgolemono, an egg and lemon sauce. Some people also add rice but I don’t think it’s necessary.

I know that Easter is in April but I have already made my magiritsa for the magazine which is always a month ahead at least. So I am used to cooking Christmas food in late October and Easter food in early March.
Still, my version of the soup is fine for Lent too since it has neither innards nor eggs. It is made with oyster mushrooms -so it retains some of the texture of the traditional thing- and all the usual vegetables and herbs like dill and spring onions. It is very very tasty, a fact admitted by sworn carnivores too.

For four servings

  • 350 gr chopped oyster mushrooms (you can use scissors to cut them more easily)
  • 4 artichokes, cut and peeled
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • ½ cup of chopped dill
  • 1 ½ lt vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • juice of one lemon
Sautee the onions (not the spring onions) and oyster mushrooms.
the artichokes and put in a large pan along with vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and boil for about 30 minutes.
In a bowl add ¼ cup water, corn flour, lemon juice, spring onions and dill. Stir well and add the mixture to the pan with the vegetables. Cook for another 5 minutes in moderate heat. Season to taste and add more lemon juice if you want to.

Stuffed artichokes

"After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual food out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps." Miss Piggy

Artichokes are rich in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and have antioxidant properties. All these wouldn’t be of interest though, if they weren’t yummy.
If we don’t give a fig about calories, we can replace cottage cheese with feta.

For 2-3 servings (we need 3-4 rather large artichokes for each person)

  • 8-10 artichokes
  • 300 gr. Cottage cheese
  • 1 big potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 10 sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup chopped basil (dry is okay too)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter

Cut the artichoke stalks so that the artichoke can stand on its back, cut the top leaves, pull the outside leaves off until you find the tender ones. With a spoon remove the inside of the artichoke. Put them in a bowl with water and lemon juice for about 15-20 minutes. This prevents them from going brown.
Leave them to dry and then put them in a pan with boiling water with some lemon juice in it and a tbs of butter and some salt.
We want them to be tender but not too tender. They must be strong enough to hold the stuffing. When they are done we let them dry.
Melt the cheese in a bowl and stir in the mashed potato. If this is too thick, add one or two tbsps of milk.
Heat the oil and add onion and garlic. Sautee for a while and then pour this into the bowl with the cheeses. Blend everything together.
Grease an ovenproof dish with some butter and arrange the artichokes neatly in. Sprinkle them with some oil. Stuff them with the cheese-onions mixture and sprinkle with the parmesan and then breadcrumbs.
If there is any cheese left, pour it among the artichokes.
Bake in moderate oven for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and they look golden.
Serve with a sun dried tomato on each artichoke and chopped basil.

“Whatever I found in the fridge” salad

In essence, this salad is made with whatever vegetables you may find in the fridge. The only thing to follow is to prepare a green base of -let’s say- spinach or rocket and add other vegetables that may be in season. I could add beets or even baked aubergine. What we cannot add is cabbage, cucumber and other vegetables with lots of water because they are just going to weaken the taste.

You may sprinkle sesame seeds if you like because it becomes crunchier.
You will notice this salad tastes better if you eat it while listening to The Time is Now, by Moloko.

For 2-3 servings

  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup rocket, chopped
  • 2 cups red bell peppers, or orange or yellow or green
  • 3-4 sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • 2 spring onions chopped
  • 2 tbsps dill, chopped
  • 2 tbsps parsley, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • some sesame seeds (one handful)

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ garlic clove, pounded
  • Salt, pepper

Mix all the vegetables together in a big salad bowl. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in another bowl. Just before serving, pour the dressing on the salad.

Soya kebabs with vegetables

These are really yummy and very easy to make. If you want to tease kids into eating soya try them, preferably with some rice or if you are really bold, some chips on the side.

There are three secrets you have to know:
-Don’t over boil them because then, they won’t be able to absorb all the nice spices you are going to season them with.

-They do need lots of spices and you may experiment with them. You can try cumin or curry (but not at the same time) and serve them with basmati rice or oregano and garlic like I did.
-Don’t tell anyone these are substitutes for meat. They might look like meat but they taste nothing like it.

For six (depending on how hungry they are)

For the kebabs

  • 1 bag of soya kebabs (about 250 gr/8 oz)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • half cup of oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • at least 3 glasses of vegetable broth (if you use ready made don’t add salt)
  • salt-pepper
  • skewers for the kebabs
  • 2 big red peppers deseeded and cut in squares (well not real squares!)
  • 2 big yellow peppers as above
  • 500-600 gr. button mushrooms or any other kind you like

For the marinade

Mix together:

  • 2 cups olive oil
  • juice of two lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 tablespoon mustard

In a big and deep frying pan, heat half a cup of olive oil and add garlic, ginger and coriander. Add the kebabs and stir continuously for a couple of minutes, so that they absorb the flavours of the spices. Add a glass of vegetable broth and bring to the boil. Add more broth as needed. Keep an eye on the kebabs the way we do with risotto. When the kebabs are tender remove from the heat.

In another pan heat some oil and add peppers and mushrooms. Stir fry them until they become tender. Now we thread the kebabs, peppers and mushrooms on to wooden skewers (or metal ones). That’s the difficult part, so ask for help at this point. It is not really difficult, it’s just that it takes a lot of time to thread all of these kebabs.

To make the marinade, we mix together oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, mustard, and spoon the marinade over the kebabs.

I served these with some spinach salad with guacamole and they were great. And you can eat hundreds of them because they are much lighter than meat kebabs.

Savoury “Pancakes” with cheese

Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan.
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.

Christina Rossetti

My English, Australian, Canadian and American friends talked to me about Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday. Apparently they eat lots of pancakes on that day which is a wonderful custom to observe, if you ask me. And they say they even eat crepes, which are really pancakes in disguise. So, I listened to that song, Pancake, by Tori Amos and made those savoury pancakes for breakfast.

For 6-7 pancakes

  • 2-3 eggs
  • 500 gr all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs butter
  • oil (for frying)
  • 2 cups grated (or crumbled) cheese: feta, parmesan, whatever we like but preferably a salty cheese
  • milk
  • 1 tbs parsley or oregano especially if your cheese is feta

Mix butter, flour, eggs, parlsey, salt. Knead with a little warm milk as much as you need for the dough to not be too hard. Make dough balls (as big as a Satsuma) and flatten them down with your hand (about ½ cm thick).
them one by one in hot oil until they are golden. Place them on kitchen paper to get rid of the oil.
warm with cheese and parsley.
You can really top it with whatever suits your fancy. You can even break it and add it to salads instead of croutons.

My apple jam

"And then she went to a secret lonely chamber, where no one was likely to come, and there she made a poisonous apple. It was beautiful to look upon, being white with red cheeks, so that any one who should see it must long for it, but whoever ate even a little bit of it must die. When the apple was ready she painted her face and clothed herself like a peasant woman, and went across the seven mountains to where the seven dwarfs lived."

Aren’t apples good looking? In fairy tales, you seldom read about oranges or pears or bananas. The tree of life is an apple tree. And what about the golden apples heroes have to steal? And remember Adam? Or even Isaac Newton? What about Chris Martin’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter? And the Big Apple? Or the apple of our eye? It’s always apples. Red, shiny, firm, not too sweet, those are my favourite to eat. But for jam, they’d better be sweet and not as firm.

My mum goes to the open market every Friday and buys tons of apples and pears and oranges. Then, when I go to see her, about once or twice a week, she gives me carrier bags with fruit enough to feed ten people for a week. So I decided to make some jam so that all this fruit wouldn’t go to waste.

Now, it is known that the best time to make apple jam is November. But I made some a few days ago and it was delicious. I didn’t add pectin. Some recipes recommend it, but I disagree, since apples are already rich in pectin. My apples were already very sweet and I even halved the sugar in the original recipe.

We need

  • 7 cups apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (try to include apples of the same kind)
  • 3-4 cups sugar (depends on the apples really, my recipe asked for 6 cups of sugar but I added 3 and a half)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbs cinnamon

1. Place thinly sliced apples in a large saucepan over a high heat.
2. Add the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon while stirring continuously.
3. Let the mixture boil for about 20 minutes or half an hour until thickened, removing any scum that may rise to the surface. Don’t forget to stir continuously. Some water might be needed, again, depending on the kind of apples you are using.
4. Pour the mixture into jam jars, seal and store away. It’s delicious on toasted bread and butter, or with crepes, or cakes, or tarts.

“And what is more melancholy than the old apple-trees that linger about the spot where once stood a homestead, but where there is now only a ruined chimney rising our of a grassy and weed-grown cellar? They offer their fruit to every wayfarer--apples that are bitter-sweet with the moral of times vicissitude.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne-Mosses from an Old Manse-The Old Manse


  • Apples and Oranges - Pink Floyd
  • Appels and Oranges - Smashing Pumpkins
  • Rotten Apples - Smashing Pumpkins
  • Little Apples- Momus

Russian Salad with homemade mayonnaise

There is not just one Russian salad. We have an expression i n Greece, and use it when we want to say we made a mess of things: “It’s Russian salad”. So, maybe it means the Russian salad is everything mixed together without any particular order.
Well, the idea is that we mix together boiled vegetables and add mayonnaise. It can be found with beets, with eggs, without eggs, and even with some greens. The recipe that follows is the simplest one but is made special by the homemade mayonnaise which has nothing to do with commercial mayonnaise. Neither in colour nor in taste. Contrary to popular belief, making mayonnaise is an extreme sport and is easy to make.
I usually make this salad in the winter and have it as an appetizer. If you drink alcohol, try accompanying it with a shot of iced vodka.

We are going to need:

  • 150 gr Peeled potatoes
  • 150 gr. Peas
  • 150 gr. Carrots
  • 3 tbsps caper
  • 3 pickled cucumbers, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (cold)
  • 2 tbsps chopped parsley σούπας
  • 1-1 ½ cup mayonnaise
  • salt, pepper

Boil the vegetables al dente. They should retain some crunchiness. Drain well. Chop potatoes and carrots in small squares. Put in large bowl, add the caper, eggs (sliced) and cucumbers. A little before serving add the mayonnaise. Season to taste, Stir everything together but not too vigorously, so that the vegetables stay in one piece. Sprinkle with parsley.

For the mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 dash of pepper (if you have white pepper, use that)
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cup quality olive oil (this is very important)
  • 4 teaspoons warm water

Whisk egg yolks, mustard, sugar, pepper and one teaspoon of lemon juice together, until everything looks pale yellow.
Add ¼ of the olive oil, little by little, whisking all the time. It is important that we don’t just pour the olive oil. Add another teaspoon of lemon juice, a bit of warm water and another ¼ cup of olive oil, again slowly but steadily. We whisk all the time. Another teaspoon of lemon juice, some water, and oil slowly but in a steady flow while whisking. Add the remaining lemon juice, water, olive oil as before. If you want it thinner, add a bit of warm water. It’s going to be good for 5 days to one week if you keep it in the fridge.
If you decide to use the blender, add yolks, salt, mustard, pepper, sugar and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice and blend everything together for 15 seconds (low speed).
With the blender always on, slowly add ¼ cup of olive oil and increase speed. It gets thicker and thicker and we add more and more oil and lemon juice (what is left of it), steadily and slowly
The mayonnaise is not going to come out right if:

  1. We pour lots of oil at once
  2. The kitchen is too hot
  3. The eggs are not fresh
  4. The oil is not of good quality

But we are not the kind of people who use second class oil and bad eggs, are we?

Thanks for breakfast

I always thought that breakfast is the best meal of the day, and NOT because I usually eat it without any company. No, no, that’s not why. It’s because it is easily prepared, I can eat as much as I like and I don’t even have to talk. I can just read my newspaper or my friends’ blogs.

For a better breakfast experience I suggest
-Bach, especially the violin concertos. Louis Armstrong is great breakfast material too.
-No TV dramas, bad news and the like. Just calm weather reports.
-No talking, calling people, and all that, before 3 hours after waking up have passed. This ensures that the rest of the day is going to go smoothly since most people are cranky in the morning. I felt vindicated about my belief in this -after all the accusations that I am unsociable- when I read the following: A British reporter,
Charles Wheeler, speaking of his acquaintance with spy George Blake said that he had looked really suspicious to him because “He smiled rather too much. He smiled during breakfast you know”.
-Strong coffee or tea. Although I really need to speak the truth here, to people who don’t drink coffee: Coffee smells better than it tastes. Much
, much better. Its a sweet deceit. In your mouth, it never tastes like the promise it gave to your nose.
-A nice view, maybe in a sunny room. That really wakes people up.

What’s for breakfast?
I could never eat cereal for breakfast and I have nothing but admiration for people who eat breakfast out of a box. It just doesn’t make me want to seize the day.

The best thing for me is scrambled eggs, the fluffy, creamy kind, sprinkled with chives and eaten with toast and maybe grilled mushrooms or tomatoes or all of the above. A wonderful landlady in Edinburgh used to make these for me and they were so filling, although I don’t remember that stopping me from eating some of her orange marmalade, which along with lime marmalade (“thank you” to my friend Steve at this point) are the best breakfast marmalades in my opinion since they are not too sweet.

Scrambled eggs

2-3 people (unless I am there)

This isn’t anything new of course. But the truth is not many people pursue the Ultimate Scrambled Eggs. USE happen only if whisk them maniacally. Otherwise, they wont be fluffy. Before you pour them in the pan, they should be a bit frothy and of the same colour.

  • 6 big eggs
  • 6 tsp milk
  • salt (3 pinches)
  • 1 tbs butter (real butter please)
  • pepper
  • 1 tbs chives

Heat a non stick pan, a bit above average. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, in a bowl. Really, really whisk. Whisk like it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.
Melt the butter in the pan and pour in the eggs.
Don’t start breaking them apart and messing about. Give them some time (we are talking 30 seconds) to set. With a wooden spoon start pushing the eggs towards the center of the pan, towards an imaginary pile. This is Martha Stewart’s advice so obey.
Go on like that and when they are really setting, start ‘cutting’ them with the wooden spoon in big chunks. Leave for some seconds more (about 15 unless you want them totally done and without any creaminess)
Add salt and pepper and sprinkle with chives. Only eat them hot, I beg of you. They are best friends with

  • Grilled or sautéed mushrooms, especially portobellos
  • Grilled tomatoes
  • Toast
  • Cream cheese on toast

Breakfast soundtrack:

1. Everybody Here Wants You – Jeff Buckley
(“Twenty-nine pearls in your kiss A singing smile/Coffee smell and lilac skin /Your flame in me/
I’m only here for this moment”)

2. New Morning –NickCave and the Bad Seeds (“Thank you for giving This bright new morning/ So steeped seemed the evening In darkness and blood/There’ll be no sadness There’ll be no sorrow There’ll be no road too narrow
There’ll be a new day/ And it’s today for us”)

3. Good day Sunshine – Beatles
4. Sun hits the sky – Supergrass
5. Till Kingdom Come – Coldplay