There ar e many ways to produce good healthy traditional meals in Greek cookery. On your travels you will find that differant restaurants or taverna's prepare the same dish in a variety of ways. Many have lost their wonderful flavours over the years to cater for the expectations of the tourist industry. I have given you a few original family recipes below to try out , they have been in my family for over 100 years now, passed from one genration to the next, undiluted and unchanged. Give them a try... KALI-OREKSAY !!

   
Avro Lemono

(Chicken, egg & lemon Soup)

This soup is a very popular and tasty dish often served in the home. Whenever we were unwell as children it was inevitably on the table at meal times, now we give it to our children. It’s a 'good for all occasion soup' that is both wholesome and nutritious. Avrolemono soup is simple and cheap to make, especially if you had roast chicken for your meal the day before.

Pour about 2 to 3 pints of water into a suitable saucepan and place the remainder of your chicken into the liquid. You may want to add a chicken stock cube or two for enhanced taste. Bring this to the boil and then simmer it gently for about 1 hour. I sometimes use a pressure cooker and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes, checking the liquid level every 10 minutes or so to ensure it isn't dryimg out. Once the mixture has been reduced to a good strong stock you will need to make the egg and lemon mixture. Before doing this however you should remove the soup stock from the heat and strain it through a fine sieve. Place the clear liquid back on the heat, bring to the boil again then remove it.

Crack 2 eggs into a suitable container and add the juice from 1 fresh lemon to the eggs then mix thoroughly until it becomes fairly frothy. Using a ladle or a cup remove some of the stock from your saucepan and gradually stir it into the egg and lemon mix. Repeat the process adding about 4 or 5 cups of stock to the mix then add the contents back into the main stock. This must be done slowly and not whilst on the heat. Once the whole mixture is in the saucepan return it to the heat and stir continuously, do not allow the liquid to boil as this will curdle the eggs and separate them form the lemon. Stir over a gentle heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with fresh bread as a starter course to a lovely Greek dish. You can also add any chicken pieces that you may have left, or a little rice, perhaps vermicelli as well.

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Salata Therini

(Summer Salad)

The traditional Greek salad is usually served as a side dish to accompany other main course meals such as Souvlaki. It can however also become the main dish depending upon what you add to it. The dish itself is simple to make and the secret of its unique taste is in the vinaigrette dressing. To prepare this for the family you will need the following:-

Ingredients:-

1 Fresh Iceberg lettuce
1 Fresh whole cucumber
5 or 6 fresh salad tomatoes
A small amount of fresh white cabbage (Optional)
20 - 30 Green and Black pitted olives
50 grams of Feta Cheese
1 Small fresh onion
1 small green/red or yellow pepper
2 or 3 Pickled Gherkins

Vinaigrette Dressing:-

5 Tablespoons of malt vinegar.
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (Optional).
10 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 Small teaspoon of Oregano
1 small teaspoon of Thyme and Parsley
1 sprig of fresh mint
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Remove the outer lettuce leaves and then cut the required amount into smallish segments. Place all of this into a large salad bowl. Next cut the tomatoes into segments or slices and add them to the bowl. Peel the cucumber next and then slice as normal add these to the bowl as well. You can also peel the small onion and a pepper, cut into relatively small pieces and add these to the bowl if you wish. Add 20 or so mixed green and black pitted olives to the bowl. Slice a couple of gherkins and also add them to the bowl. Dice about 50 grams of feta cheese and add that to the salad. Wash and finely dice the sprig of fresh mint and sprinkle it over the salad. You should now mix the contents of the bowl thoroughly and put it to one side whilst preparing the vinaigrette dressing

For the dressing you should place the vinegar into a cup and add your olive oil to it. Add the Thyme, Parsley, Oregano, salt and pepper to the liquid and stir it vigorously or even whip it with a small hand mixer. Allow the mixture to settle for a minute or two. Just before you serve the salad, pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix it in so that everything receives a coating of the dressing. Serve with fresh bread rolls. If you prefer to use this as a light meal then you can simply add a selection of Salami or other cured meats to suit your tastes.

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Moussaka

(Potato, aubergine & mince dish)

This traditional Greek meal is known the world over. Moussaka is usually served as a main dish but it can be accompanied by a side salad and perhaps fresh bread with a trickle of olive oil poured over it. The dish itself is fairly simple to make, the most important part of the dish is the Béchamel sauce which enhances the wonderfully rich flavours of the other ingredients. To prepare this you will need the following:-

Ingredients:-

1 kilo / 2 pounds potatoes
1 kilo ground beef
1 large finely chopped or grated onion
2 medium sized aubergines
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 glass white or red wine (optional)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 or 2 OXO Cubes
Salt, pepper, thyme and oregano to taste

Béchamel Sauce Mixture:-

2 litre milk/4 pints
1 large cup of plain flour (about 7 - 8 large tablespoons)
1/2 cup of butter approx 100gramms or about 4oz
1-2 Medium sized eggs
Grated cheese (Optional -Mild Cheddar is OK)

The first part of this dish is to prepare and peel the aubergines cutting them into slices about 10mm thick. The sections should be deep fried until they just begin to turn brown, perhaps for a minute or two. These should be removed from the oil and placed on absorbent paper to drain. I tend to change the paper to draw out much of the oil absorbed. We are now ready to prepare the rest of this dish. Half boil the potatoes, slice into sections and leave them to one side. Fry the onion in the olive oil till brown, add the ground beef and work it until there are no lumps for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, chopped tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, a generous pinch of sugar and then 1/2 a cup of water mixed with a beef stock cube. Allow to cook for a few minutes and remove from the cooker whilst it still has a gravy residue. Put this preparation to one side.

The Béchamel sauce can be difficult to make and should be done slowly. Melt the butter in a good sized pan and gradually add the flour to it stirring constantly. You should end up with a fairly solid mass that resembles marzipan. Mix 2 eggs into the quantity of milk and very gradually and this to the mixture on a low heat setting, add small amounts of milk to the mixture at a time stirring constantly removing and returning the pan throughout. It will eventually turn into a smooth creamy mixture which is the base sauce for this and many other traditional Greek dishes. The best way to test it is to leave a small amount on a spoon to cool off in a small cup of cold water. If it sticks to the spoon when cold, but is not solid then you have a good mixture. If the sauce becomes solid then you need to add a little more milk. Alternatively if it is too runny you must add more plain flour.

Using a fairly generous deep sided roasting tin or equivalent begin by lining the bottom of it with slices of the potatoes prepared earlier. On top of that you should spread and smooth a layer of the minced beef mix evenly across the dish. The next layer should be the aubergine you cooked earlier, lay it evenly across the top of the mince and spread a thin layer of the Béchamel sauce evenly over it. The process is then repeated again with a further layer of potatoes then the mince and aubergine. Finally the Béchamel sauce is used to top of the dish. Once this stage has been reached it is simply a matter of adding a generous amount of grated cheese onto the dish and placing sliced tomatoes on top of that. The whole tray should be placed into the oven and cooked at about 160 - 180 degrees C for approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until the cheese has turned a golden brown and the tomatoes are beginning to crispen. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes. Perhaps serve with a Greek side salad and olives with feta cheese once the Moussaka has cooled.

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Pasticho

(Traditional Pasta & mince dish)

This traditional Greek meal is a favourite amongst many Greek families. Pasticho is usually served as a main dish but it can be accompanied by a side salad and perhaps fresh bread with a trickle of olive oil poured over it. The dish itself is a fairly simple to make. The most important part of this dish however is, once again, the Béchamel sauce. It takes a little practice to perfect and a good mixture really enhances the flavours incorporated into this dish, refer back to the Moussaka recipe for instructions as to how the Béchamel sauce is made. To prepare this meal you will need the following:-

Ingredients:-

750 grams / 1 - 1 1/2 pounds Macaroni (or Penne)
1 kilo or 2lbs minced beef or Lamb
1 large finely chopped onion
2 OXO Cubes (Beef Stock)
Salt, pepper, thyme and oregano for the minced meat

Béchamel Sauce Mixture:-

2 litre milk/4 pints
1 large cup of plain flour (about 7 - 8 large tablespoons)
1/2 cup of butter approx 100gramms or about 4oz
1-2 Medium sized eggs
Grated cheese (Optional - Mild Cheddar is OK)

Cook the macaroni until almost ready (Al Dante), take off the boil, rinse under cool water and put to one side. Heat a little olive oil and place finely chopped onions into the pan cooking them until lightly browned. Add the minced meat and work it in until there are no lumps. This process should take about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper to taste with about half a teaspoon of sugar. Add 1 large cup of hot water mixed with two OXO cubes (Beef Stock). Allow to cook for a few minutes and remove from the cooker whilst it still has a rich gravy. Put this preparation to one side.

The Béchamel sauce can be difficult to make and should be done slowly. Melt the butter in a good sized pan and gradually add the flour to it stirring constantly. You should end up with a fairly solid mass that resembles marzipan. Mix 2 eggs into the quantity of milk and very gradually and this to the mixture on a low heat setting, add small amounts of milk to the mixture at a time stirring constantly removing and returning the pan throughout. It will eventually turn into a smooth creamy mixture which is the base sauce for this and many other traditional Greek dishes. The best way to test it is to leave a small amount on a spoon to cool off in a small cup of cold water. If it sticks to the spoon when cold, but is not solid then you have a good mixture. If the sauce becomes solid then you need to add a little more milk. Alternatively if it is too runny you must add more plain flour.

Using a fairly deep sided roasting tin or equivalent begin by covering the bottom of it with a layer of Macaroni prepared earlier. On top of that spread e a generous portion of minced beef and smooth it evenly across the dish. On top of the mince you should pour a layer of the Béchamel sauce and spread that evenly too. The process is then repeated again with a further layer of Macaroni then the mince and a final layer of béchamel sauce. Once this stage has been reached it is simply a matter of adding a generous amount of grated cheese and placing freshly sliced tomatoes on top of that.

The whole tray should be placed into the oven and cooked at about 160 - 180 degrees C for approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until the cheese has turned a golden brown and the tomatoes are beginning to crispen. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving with a Greek Side Salad and olives with feta cheese. You could also serve this dish with chips (French Fries) if you wished to, though it would seem a shame to spoil this traditional dish.

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Soutzoukakia

(Savoury Meatballs)

Soutzoukakia is a traditional meal in many Greek families. These meatballs are usually formed into elongated shapes but can equally be round. the choice is yours. This is a tasty dish which is both easy and quick to prepare.

Ingredients:-

Use 1 kilos approx of lean minced beef or lamb
1 Medium sized onion
1/2 small teacup of olive oil
Small glass of red wine to taste (go easy!)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A good sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley, Thyme and Oregano
1bay leaf ( optionally a little lemon juice as well)
1 clove of garlic pressed or finely diced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Thoroughly mix the ground beef with the bread crumbs (which should be slightly moist, then add your pressed garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper along with the fresh parsley. Knead the mixture for a little while to ensure everything is properly mixed in. Take a portion (to suit) of the mixture and form it into an elongated meat ball shape. For the sauce you should select a pan that will be able to contain the number of Soutzoukakia you have made. Finely dice or grate 1 medium sized onion and, using the olive oil you saved, braise the onion until a golden brown colour. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir them in. Add the red wine, a bay leaf, a little sugar, a squirt of lemon juice if you wish, along with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes to extract and enhance the flavours. Place the meatballs in the pan and simmer in these juices for a further 20 minutes or so until the meat softens and the juice starts to thicken. If it becomes too thick then add a little hot water a few minutes before serving with rice or potatoes and assorted vegetables, or simply a freshly made Greek salad.

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Lachano Dolmathes

(Stuffed Cabbage)

In Crete vegetables are a popular and locally grown product. Fresh produce with the obvious benefits makes this type of meal a very quick and popular food source. There are a wide range of vegetables that can be stuffed and I have shown a few of my favourites below. Take the examples and expand on them to suite your own tastes. For example you could use, marrows, pumpkin or squash but to name a few.

Ingredients:-

1 Large white cabbage
2 lb. (1 Kilo) ground beef
1 Large onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of white rice (Partially boiled)
1 Medium egg
1 Teaspoon dry mint (optional )
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
1 Portion of fresh parsley

1-2 Teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
Salt (To taste)
Pepper (To taste)
Thyme & Oregano (To taste, about 1 teaspoon)
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 Tube of tomato puree mixed with some warm water

To prepare the stuffing you should take the fresh minced meat and put it into a bowl for mixing. Add the finely chopped onion, all the herbs, the partially cooked rice and the egg. Knead all the ingredients thoroughly in the bowl. Pour the tin of tomatoes into a fine sieve, push through the juice and goodness of the fruit into a suitable container adding the puree to the mixture. Gradually add the tomato juice to the meat until the mixture is fairly loose. The remainder of the juice should be kept to make the gravy in which the vegetables will cook. This is basically the substance for many traditional stuffed dishes in Greek cuisine.

To stuff cabbage successfully the leaves must be supple and the best way to achieve this is to cook a large white cabbage slowly until the outer leaves are well cooked. You should also cut out the core of the cabbage so that it cooks from the inside out as well. I tend to cook the cabbage little by little, taking off the soft leaves in stages. One by one the leaves of the cabbage should be separated and placed on a plate ready for the next stage. Don't throw away any broken or damaged leaves as these too will be used. Using one leaf at a time, beginning with the thinnest end first, place about 1 tablespoon of meat into the leaf, use your judgement here and if it is a very large leaf then use more stuffing mixture. Roll the leaf around the meat once and then fold the sides in to create a small totally enclosed parcel. Continue to roll the parcel until the whole leaf has been used and the meat is totally enclosed, then trim off the end. Repeat for as many times as you have leaves and stuffing mixture.

Choose a large pan, ideally a little larger in diameter than a normal dinner plate. Line the bottom of the pan with some of the broken, spare or small leaves to stop the food sticking or burning. On top of these, place the individual packages in a circular fashion, fairly tightly, next to each other gradually working inward to the centre. When you have one level completely filled, pour in some of the juice allowing it to seep through the packages. Cover with more of the spare or unused leaves and repeat the process until all packages have be placed in the pan. Make sure there is plenty of liquid to ensure even cooking but do not overfill the pan. Place a dinner plate or two on top of the prepared meal, this stops the top most layer of packages from unrolling themselves in the heat. Cover the pan, place it on the cooker, bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with fresh bread rolls to soak up the juices. A cost effective and fantastic meal for the whole family.

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Koupepia

(Stuffed Vine Leaves)

In Crete vegetables are a popular and locally grown product. Fresh produce with the obvious benefits makes this type of meal a very quick and popular food source. There are a wide range of vegetables that can be stuffed and I have shown a few of my favourites below. Take the examples and expand on them to suite your own tastes. For example you could use, marrows, pumpkin or squash but to name a few.

Ingredients:-

2 Pack of prepared vine leaves
2 lb. (1 Kilo) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of white rice (Partially boiled)
1 medium egg
1 teaspoon dry mint (optional )
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1portion of fresh parsley

1-2 Teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
Salt (To taste)
Pepper (To taste)
Thyme & Oregano (To taste, about 1 teaspoon)
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 Tube of tomato puree mixed with some warm water

To prepare the stuffing you should take the fresh minced meat and put it into a bowl for mixing. Add the finely chopped onion, all the herbs, the partially cooked rice and the egg. Gently knead all the ingredients thoroughly in the bowl. Pour the tin of tomatoes into a fine sieve or liquidise them and push through the juice and goodness of the fruit into a suitable container adding the puree to the mixture.Gradually add the tomato juice to the meat until the mixture is fairly loose. The remainder of the juice should be kept to make the gravy in which the vegetables will cook. This is basically the substance for many traditional stuffed dishes in Greek cuisine.

To stuff vine leaves they must be supple, if you buy them pre-packed you will find they are ready to cook. Again, one by one the vine leaves should be separated and placed on a plate ready for the next stage. Don't throw away any broken or damaged leaves as these too will be used. Using one leaf at a time, beginning with the thinnest end first, place about 1 tablespoon of meat into the leaf. Roll the leaf around the meat once and then fold the sides in to create a small totally enclosed parcel. Continue to roll the parcel until the whole leaf has been used and the meat is totally enclosed, then trim off the end. Repeat for as many times as you have leaves or stuffing mixture left.

Choose a large pan, ideally a little larger in diameter than the plate you will use to put on top of the meal prior to cooking. Line the bottom of the pan with some of the broken, spare or small leaves to stop the food sticking or burning. On top of these, place the individual packages in a circular fashion, fairly tightly, next to each other gradually working inward to the centre. When you have one level completely filled, pour in some of the juice allowing it to seep through the packages. Cover with more of the spare or unused leaves and repeat the process until all packages have be placed in the pan. Make sure there is plenty of liquid to ensure even cooking but do not overfill the pan. Place a dinner plate or two on top of the prepared meal, this stops the top most layer of packages from unrolling themselves in the heat.Cover the pan, place it on the cooker, bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with fresh bread rolls to soak up the juices. A cost effective and fantastic meal for the whole family.

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Yemistes

(Stuffed Tomatoes & Stuffed Peppers)

In Crete vegetable are a popular and locally grown product. Fresh produce with the obvious benefits makes this type of meal a very quick and popular food source. There are a wide range of vegetables that can be stuffed and I have shown a few of my favourites below. Take the examples and expand on them to suite your own tastes. For example you could use, marrows, pumpkin or squash but to name a few.

Ingredients:-

6 or more large beef tomatoes
2 lb. (1 Kilo) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of white rice (Partially boiled)
1 medium egg
1 teaspoon dry mint (optional )
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1portion of fresh parsley

1-2 Teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
Salt(To taste)
Pepper (To taste)
Thyme & Oregano (To taste, about 1 teaspoon)
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 Tube of tomato puree mixed with some warm water

To prepare the stuffing you should take the fresh minced meat and put it into a bowl for mixing. Add the finely chopped onion, all the herbs, the partially cooked rice and the egg. Knead all the ingredients thoroughly in the bowl. Pour the tin of tomatoes into a fine sieve or liquidise them and push through the juice and goodness of the fruit into a suitable container adding the puree to the mixture. Gradually add the tomato juice to the meat until the mixture is fairly loose. The remainder of the juice should be kept to make the gravy in which the vegetables will cook.

When buying tomatoes for stuffing, choose the largest ones you can find, I use beef tomatoes and usually allow for about 3 per person. Cut and keep the top off the tomato, clean out the inside removing all the seeds and keep this mixture for later. One by one fill the tomatoes with your meat mixture as shown above and then place the top back on the tomato. Repeat this process for as many tomatoes as you have

The same recipe for stuffed Tomatoes can also be used to stuff peppers. Choose a medium sized red, green or yellow pepper depending on taste. Again, I usually cater for about 3 per person which should be ample. Cut and keep the top off the pepper and clean out the inside. One by one fill the peppers with your meat mixture and then place the top back on the pepper. Repeat this process for as many peppers as you have.To make the sauce empty a tin of chopped tomatoes into a fine sieve or liquidise them and force the juice through into a container. Add half a tube of tomato puree to this mixture along with a few cups of hot water stirring well. Place the stuffed tomatoes or peppers in a casserole dish allowing a little room around each. Pour the tomato gravy around the peppers and cover with tin foil.

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Stifado

(Greek Beef or Lamb Stew)

These ingredients will suffice for about 4 servings of a beautiful and tasty traditional Greek beef or Lamb stew as you wish. It is simple to cook and a truly delicious meal that can be served at any time of the year. Serve it hot with perhaps a side salad of tomatoes and cucumber, olives and feta cheese, with fresh warm bread and boiled or jacket potatoes. A glass of red wine would be a bonus to enhance the flavours of this dish.

Ingredients:-

Use 1 - 1.5 kilos approx. (or 3 lbs. 6 oz.) of lean Beef /Lamb
1 kilo small onions (Shallots) (About 2lbs.)
1/2 teacup of olive oil
1/2 teacup vinegar
2 - 3 Large ripe peeled tomatoes (or tinned chopped tomatoes)
A good sprinkle of Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano
2 bay leaves
1 clove of garlic finely diced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut the meat into bite size cubes then wash and strain the meat pieces. Heat the olive oil in a suitable saucepan over a medium flame and put the meat into it, stirring as you do so, until this is nicely brown. Next add the vinegar and stir it in to the mixture. Give it a few minutes before adding the tomatoes and herbs and lastly add about a pint of water. Allow the dish to boil and then reduce to simmer for about two hours, until it is left in a rich sauce of its own.

The next stage is to peel the outer layers off the shallots, but take care not to cut off the base of the onion or all of the skin layers will come apart in the cooking process. Place the shallots into the meal and allow them to cook through until soft but not overcooked. Bringing it all together takes a little experience but when you do, the meat is soft and succulent and the shallots are soft but not overcooked

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Ghalaktoboureko

(Vanilla flavoured patisery)

This is another traditional dessert dish that is both unusual and tasty. A combination of everyday ingredients that tourists find very appealing. This dessert along with Baklava are probably the two most popular desserts to finish off a well planned meal.

Ingredients:-

1 packet of filo pastry
250 grams (1/2 lb) ground semolina
1 litre or about 2 pints of milk
250 grams / 1/2 lb of melted butter
Vanilla essence for the semolina mix / syrup
250 grams / 1/2 lb of sugar
Grated peel or zest of one orange. (Optional)
1/2 litre of water

We start off by using a pastry brush to coat a suitably sized oven tray with melted butter first. Add a single sheet of filo pastry to the bottom of the tray and then brush over it with melted butter. Repeat this process for anything up to 12 layers of pastry. Place the completed baking tin to one side. In the meantime, pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the semolina little by little stirring throughout the process. Once this stage has been completed you can add the essence of vanilla and sugar into the mixture to suit your own tastes. The whole mixture should now be brought to the boil whilst constantly stirring it vigorously with a plain wooden spoon. As it comes to the boil the mixture will thicken and it should resemble a thick syrup (similar to a fruit jam – though it must not be too thick).

Remove the mixture from the heat and leave it aside to cool for a few minutes or so. Once the mixture is a little cooler empty the contents of the saucepan into the oven tray and spread it around evenly so that the entire tray is filled, it should be about 1 inch or 2.5cm in depth. Allow this to stand for a little while giving the mixture time to set a little more. You can now continue to add the remaining filo pastry sheets, buttering each one of them until you have added up to perhaps a further 12 layers. Using a sharp knife cut the formation into squares of about 5 cm (2 inches) or to suit. Put into a preheated oven at around 160 -180 degrees C and cook until the top layers are lightly brown then remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool. Whilst the baking tray is cooling you may prepare your syrup.

Place the sugar in a saucepan, add the necessary water and flavour it with vanilla essence to suit your taste, you may also add the grated peel of an orange to this mixture if you so choose to. Bring to the boil and then and cook until you have a liquid with syrup like consistency then allow it to cool a little. Pour the syrup over the semolina mix and place all of this in the fridge to thoroughly cool. This is a delicious desert and well worth the effort it takes to prepare. Galaktoboureko is best kept in the fridge as it contains milk.

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Baklava

(Filo pastry and nut dessert)

This is another traditional dessert dish that is both unusual and tasty. A combination of everyday ingredients that tourists find very appealing. This dessert along with Baklava are probably the two most popular desserts to finish off a well planned meal.

Ingredients:-

1 packet of filo pastry
250 grams (1/2 lb) ground semolina
1 litre or about 2 pints of milk
250 grams / 1/2 lb of melted butter
Vanilla essence for the semolina mix / syrup
250 grams / 1/2 lb of sugar
Grated peel or zest of one orange. (Optional)
1/2 litre of water

We start off by using a pastry brush to coat a suitably sized oven tray with melted butter first. Add a single sheet of filo pastry to the bottom of the tray and then brush over it with melted butter. Repeat this process for anything up to 12 layers. Place the completed baking tin to one side. In the meantime, pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the semolina little by little stirring throughout the process. Once this stage has been completed you can add the essence of vanilla and sugar into the mixture to suit your own tastes.

The whole mixture should now be brought to the boil whilst constantly stirring it vigorously with a plain wooden spoon. As it comes to the boil the mixture will thicken and it should resemble a thick syrup (similar to a fruit jam – though it must not be too thick). Remove the mixture from the heat and leave it aside to cool for a few minutes or so. Once the mixture is a little cooler empty the contents of the saucepan into the oven tray and spread it around evenly so that the entire tray is filled, it should be about 1 inch or 2.5cm in depth. Allow this to stand for a little while giving the mixture time to set a little more. You can now continue to add the remaining filo pastry sheets, buttering each one of them until you have added up to perhaps a further 12 layers. Using a sharp knife cut the formation into squares of about 5 cm (2 inches) or to suit. Put into a preheated oven at around 160 - 180 degrees C and cook until the top layers are lightly brown then remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool.

Whilst the baking tray is cooling you may prepare your syrup. Place the sugar in a saucepan, add the necessary water and flavour it with vanilla essence to suit your taste, you may also add the grated peel of an orange to this mixture if you so choose to. Bring to the boil and then and cook until you have a liquid with syrup like consistency then allow it to cool a little. Pour the syrup over the semolina mix and place all of this in the fridge to thoroughly cool. This is a delicious desert and well worth the effort it takes to prepare. Galaktoboureko must be kept in the fridge as it contains milk.

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Rizogalo

(Home made rice pudding)

his is another traditional dessert dish that is both unusual and tasty. A combination of everyday ingredients that tourists find very appealing. This dessert along with Baklava are probably the two most popular desserts to finish off a well planned meal. The portions shown below provides for about 8 but then it's such a wonderful dessert that most of my family come back for more.

Ingredients:-

4 tablespoons of butter
3 Pints of dictionary whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked short grain rice
6 strips of lemon or orange peel / zest
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs, beaten/> • 1/2 cup raisins (and some sultanas if you wish)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon and nutmeg

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, using a medium-low heat. Add the milk and salt. Raise the heat to a higher setting and bring the mixture to a boil. Don’t forget to stir it constantly for about 5minutes. Add the 1 cup of rice and strips of lemon or orange peel. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the rice is soft and puffy which should take about 20 minutes or so. Remove the pan from the heat. You can now remove and discard the lemon or orange peel and gently stir in the measured quantity of sugar. Break the eggs into a small mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly. Take 2 or 3 cups of the cooked rice mixture and add it to the beaten eggs stirring the mixture as you do so. Return this mixture to the main saucepan again stirring it in as you pour. Now add the measured cup of sultanas (and raisins if you choose) into the mixture stirring as you do so. Return the saucepan to a medium-low heat. Continue to cook the dish stirring it frequently until the mixture thickens. This should take about 10 minutes perhaps a little longer. Once the Rizogalo is cooked allow it to cool slightly then stir in the 2 teaspoons of vanilla essences. Pour into individual servings and shortly before serving sprinkle the dish generously with cinnamon and nutmeg. This can be served either hot or cold. If you choose to serve it cold then allow it to fully chill before serving.

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