Corfu - Greek Taverna Recipes

The number of times I have heard tourists say they would not eat Greek food is unbelievable. That's not quite what they say but it's near enough.

I have started the receipes so that those who are afraid to try something new can see the ingredients and hopefully realise that many Greek dishes closely resemble English ones in taste texture and smell. I am please to see that feta cheese, taramossalata, tzatziki and real Greek olive oil are now becoming more widely available in English shops.

I have over a dozen Greek recipes that are very easy and very acceptable to almost any person anywhere. I also have over 600 pages of recipes, many of which have been argued over by my Greek friends. So blame them. Also please remember that the settings on cookers vary a lot. All times are not very fussy but keep on eye on things.

MOUSAKA (or Meat and Potato pie - with tomato of course) There are many variations on the Mousaka theme. It's a bit like shepherds pie. There is only one proper way to make it but that depends where you live. There are two basic recipes. One uses potatoes, the other more traditional way uses aubergines.

500grms - 1lb of minced meat - preferably lamb.
1Kg - 2lb of peeled sliced potatoes. (may be quickly fried first if they are old)
2 large or 3 medium onions chopped small.
half a small cup of finely chopped parsley (if you have any)
50gr - 2oz butter
3 or 4 peeled and sliced tomatoes (dip in boiling water and the skins fall off)
50gr - 2oz grated cheese (I think strong cheese is best)

Sauce made from :-
25 gr - 1oz butter
25 gr - 1 oz flour
300cc - half a pint milk

Cook the meat, onions and parsley with a little water or oil ( olive if you have it ) Add the butter when things start to get dry. Cook slowly for 15 minutes or so. Add tomatoes and seasoning. Cook until tomatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

The sauce (Bechamel) is made by heating the butter in a pan and adding the flour to form a smooth paste. Add the milk stirring all the time and finally add seasoning. Simmer until sauce is thick. This can take 15 minutes or so of stirring.

Grease an ovenware dish and put a overlapping layer of sliced potatoes in the bottom. Put in a layer of the meat mixture and so on finally finishing with a layer of potatoes. Put two thirds of the grated cheese stirred into the sauce off the heat and pour the sauce over the top and spread the remaining cheese on the top.

Bake in the oven at 175C of gas mark 5 for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top should be a golden brown.

Aubergine version. Peel and slice 3 large aubergines and sprinkle with a little salt. Cover and leave to drain. Place in a frying pan with a good helping of olive oil and fry until brown both sides. Place on kitchen towel or griddle to drain. Use as for potatoes.

To be even more traditional beat two egg yokes into the sauce before pouring. This makes the sauce 'set' which you may have noticed in the older tavernas. A bit like soft scrambled egg.
Add a few small lumps of butter on top with the grated cheese to make a nice finish.
If you find the aubergine mousaka too rich the aubergines can be used raw but bake about 30 mins longer and slightly less heat

5-6 servings
1 kilo (2lbs 4ozs peeled potatoes
teacup fish-roe
2 teacups olive oil
The juice of two lemons
1 small onion, grated
Boil and drain the potatoes. When they are cold enough to handle, peel them and mash them. Put the mashed potatoes, the fish-roe, the grated onion in a liquidizer.
Blend the ingredients for about 10 minutes adding small amounts of the olive oil and lemon juice alternately. Top with a slice of lemon for decoration. Serve the fish-roe salad to accompany beans, lentils and other vegetarian meals

TZATZIKI 5 / 6 servings
kilo (1lb 2oz) strained yoghurt
4-5 cloves garlic (finely grated)
1 cucumber
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
salt & pepper
Grate and drain the cucumber well. Mix the yoghurt and the grated cucmber in a bowl.
Add finely grated garlic. Finally pour in the olive oil and vinegar alternately. Season to taste and serve 'tzatziki' as an appetizer.

STIFADO Beef, tomato and onion stew
Any lean stewing beef will do.
6 servings

1 kilos beef or 3.5 lbs (any sort)
1 kilo small onions 2lb ish
1 teacup olive oil
1 teacup vinegar
2-3 large ripe tomatoes finely choppped
Rosemary ( or Lucy )
1 bay leaf ( if you have one )
2 cloves garlic crushed ( I prefer just 1 )
Pepper corns ( Or not )

Cut the beef into cubes. Heat the olive oil over at a low heat and brown the meat. Add the onions and allow these to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to boil for about two hours, until the sauce thickens. Serve hot. Or if you are in Greece luke warm.

ROAST LAMB Leg of Lamb
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of hot water
50g olive oil or butter
3 cloves of garlic

Wash and dry the meat. Make small slits in the meat about 10mm deep and insert small slivers of garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Put the olive oil in a meat dish and warm. Place the meat in the dish and roast for about an hour. Add the hot water and continue roasting until the meat is tender. Baste frequently. The water stops the temperature rising too high in the pan and keeps the meat moist.
Potatoes can be added around the meat for the last 45 mins of cooking. They will not be as crisp outside as cooked in the English way but are full of flavour. The only way I can describe them is to say they are a cross between baked and boiled. They are very nice indeed.

SAGANIKI - From Sally.
I see in the guestbook that someone is asking for the saganaki shrimp recipe - it IS gorgeous!! I have the saganaki recipe and you basically just add shrimp!!

Ingredients: 250gr any hard cheese, kefalotyri, Parmesan, Gruyere or Greek Cypriot haloumi, 50gr butter, lemon juice of half lemon, black pepper.

Serves 4.

Cut cheese into 1cm thick slices. Heat butter in frying pan and put slices in. Turn heat down a little and let it cook for 1-2 minutes until it bubbles. It should not turn brown but look creamy and sticky. In Greece it is usually cooked in small frying pans, taken straight to table Sprinkle a little lemon juice on top and some black pepper, serve with fresh bread - delicious!!

General Hints
Now for something entirely different.

This part has absolutey NOTHING to do with Greek cooking - but I'm taking this little tip with me next time I go. A television program about the QE2 cruise ship. It is difficult to do roast potatoes for so many people - so :-
Peel and cut potatoes as you would do for roast potatoes. Boil them until almost ready but not so they fall apart. Place them in a chip pan of hot oil for a few minutes. Instant fluffy hot roast, no hard skins. To re-heat use a low grill or hot oil. Microwave makes them soggy. Well mine does.

These recipes work OK for me but cooking is one thing writing recipes is another. Any problems - email me.

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