Courgette and eggplant overdose….

At this time of the year there is an abundance of delicious summer vegetables in season here in Crete.  Cretan kitchens are literally over-run though by courgettes and eggplant, and finding new and creative ways to use them (and make the children eat them) can be a very interesting and extremely delicious task!

So, having tried quite a few recipes and traditional ideas of late I decided to share a few with ‘et al’…

The most common courgette plate here in Crete would have to be the Chania boureki, covered or open pie.  Very simple indeed…Image

Courgettes 5-6 sliced into rounds

Potatoes – 4-5 sliced also into rounds

Mizithra cheese – approx. 400gm

Fresh mint chopped – approx. half a cup

Olive oil – 1 cup

Salt & Pepper

Hard cheese grated for topping

Oil a deep oven dish and set oven to 220 degrees C. Place all ingredients in a deep bowl and mix together with spoons or hands.  Place in oiled oven dish, press down to pack the whole mixture together.  Sprinkle more mizithra and also grated hard cheese on top, (as much as you like) and place in oven for approx. 1 hour.

Note: Chania Boureki is also to be seen made in layers like a lasagne, (and with a pastry topping like a pie) but ask any Cretan lady with a busy schedule and she’ll tell you ‘it all goes down the same way so just put it all in a bowl and mix’ !!

Next up – Briam

Again a very simple summer dish, usually made with courgettes, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes – but you can add absolutely any vegetables you wish. I usually add carrots, onion, peppers and have even added sprouts!!

2-3 eggplants – cut into 6 chunks

2-3 courgettes – cut into 6 chunks

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2-3 large tomatoes – cut into 4 chunks

5-6 carrots – cut into large chunks of 4-5 pieces

2 peppers any colour – cut into large chunks2 onions – quartered

Fresh Mint – 1/4 cup

Basil – to your taste

2 cloves of garlic – mashed

Parsley – 1/4 cup

Olive oil – 1 cup

Water – 1 cup

Salt and Pepper

Here again the preparation is very simple, oil a large oven dish, (the round type work better here) set oven to 220 degrees C.  Cut all vegetables as noted above and toss into oven dish, add herbs and salt and pepper and mix altogether.  To your cup of olive oil add your mashed garlic and mix together then pour over vegetables.  Add 1 cup or just under of water (the vegetables will make a lot of their own juice) Cover with tinfoil and bake in oven for 40minutes, remove tin foil and continue baking for approximately 30 minutes more.   Serve at room temperature with a little feta cheese  and fresh crusty bread   ….. scrumptious beyond words

Now for my 4yr olds favourite:

Courgettes stuffed with mince and rice in an egg lemon sauceImage

These are very more-ish be warned, once you start you can’t stop…

3-4 medium to large courgettes

150gm minced beef

1/2 cup of Carolina rice

Dill (to your taste)

Salt & Pepper

2 eggs

2 lemons

In a large oiled frying pan brown your mince, then add your rice and fry until it just starts to brown. Add dill and salt and pepper.

Slice off each end of your courgettes.  Core them being careful not to break the skin.  Discard inside of courgettes or keep for making courgette patties.  Holding the courgette upright in the palm of your hand carefully spoon in meat and rice mixture, packing well as you go.  Fill all courgettes.  Place in pressure cooker side by side and on top of each other, add 2 cups of water.  Close pressure cooker and once pressure is ready cook for 8 minutes.

Beat eggs and lemon together, slowly add a few spoons of the cooked juice to your egg lemon mixture (you want to make a sauce not scrambled eggs!) when your egg lemon sauce is warm you may add it to the pot with courgettes and shake pot gently to mix in with rest of juices.

I think I may go home now, the hunger pangs are kicking in!!

Another recipe I saw this morning on FB, which sounds equally delicious is courgette omelette, simply slice some courgettes into frying pan and shallow fry til slightly brown.  Remove from pan and disregard oil.  Beat 3-4 eggs and add salt and pepper.  Put courgettes back in pan and pour in egg mix.  VOILA….

and of course courgettes stuffed with bacon and parmesan…. I will be trying these and let you know!

So you see, lots to be done with our summer veggies, a very healthy way of eating and living on our beautiful island.

With love from Crete.

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It’s all Greek to me…..

 

Well it shouldn’t be, buying a home whether in your own Country or abroad can be as easy as your ABC when you go about it the right way.

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A – Well A being the beginning that’s where we’ll start, and the start of a search for property in Crete will always begin with the question of the Greek crisis and its effect on the property market.  The property market in Crete saw a huge boom back in early 2000 up until around 2008.  The slump that took hold was seen across the Country in every corner of every marketplace.  Property prices started to take a dive and many companies/builders closed their doors.  Fortunately quality has prevailed, but the few companies that have survived, especially here in Northern Crete, have had to slash their prices by approximately 40%.  It is at this time a buyers market, a piece of Crete can be yours for as little as 79,000 for a 1 bed semi detached bungalow near the sea, 148,000 for a 2 bed detached home, or a 3 bed Villa for 200,000. 

But beware…

B – Buying – before you make your final decision – make sure you have done your homework.  When buying either a re-sale or a new build off-plan property make it your business to find out who the builders are.  A good construction company will have a record of the build, photographed material of every stage of construction and generally a good track record.  Asking locals or even expats that live in the area will give you a fairly good idea of who is who, and asking people who have already bought from the same company will enhance your vision.  Cheap re-sales can be very alluring, but be wary of shoddy workmanship covered over by a lick of paint.  Use the common sense that you would use when buying in your own country.

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C – Crete and its people – look up hospitality in any dictionary and you will find Crete and Cretans.  Even through the depths of the crisis Cretans haven’t forgot their basic instinct to be friendly and welcoming.  A second visit to any hotel, bar or taverna will make you a family member!  You will be welcomed with open arms, handshakes and kisses, raki and mezes and quizzical faces wanting to know about your travels and your family since the last time they saw you.  Its quite usual when living here to open your front door of a morning to find a bag of fresh eggs or a water melon left by one of your neighbours, small gifts of kindness and neighbourliness that have long since been forgotten in most other parts of the world.

So with the time now being a buyers market, your homework done and a taste of Cretan hospitality lingering on your senses, make that move – you won’t regret becoming part of the Cretan lifestyle….