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….

A stroll down Halidon Street

Today I’d like to take you for a wander down Halidon Street, one of the busiest streets in Chania especially in the evening, and introduce you to some of the wonderful little shops Imageand some of the people that own them.  Halidon Street is the main street that runs from the 1866 Plateia down to the beautiful Venetian Harbour, through the years that I have lived here in Chania I have not only wandered along here like a tourist enjoying all the ‘fares’ on offer but I have also had the pleasure of working here.

At the very top of Halidon on the left side as you walk down is the best (my independent and personal opinion) Kreperie shop in Chania, the tiny Roxanis Kreperie is on the corner – you’ll miss it if you blink.  Image

They serve savoury and sweet krepes, our favourite  – the crushed biscuit and merenta chocolate… definitely worth tasting, but I wont for now because further along is another delight that I dont want to ruin my appetite for…. the Tasty Souvlaki shop just opposite the entrance to Leather lane – or the ‘Stivanadika’.

The Stivanadika is famously known for its traditional leather boot makers, Stivania is the name of the boots that Cretan men wear as part of their cultural ‘outfit’ and along this street you can see them being made my hand.Image

But back to Tasty …and a two kiss greeting to Niko one of the owners before a quick bite to eat, a mouthwatering gyro plate with all the trimmings to give me some energy for the rest of our stroll

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Crossing over the road we’ll stop to say hello to Mr Manoli or Emmanuel in his Gold boudoir.  This is where I had the pleasure of working some 15yrs ago, many a late night opening saw us enjoying a raki or two with customers before we closed up and headed home – Emmanuel has a lovely range of jewellery for all tastes and of course I would recommend him and his wonderful way of bargaining but then again in all honesty I am prejudiced here. 🙂Image

and off we stride, with our Cretan boots, a fully tummy and gold a jangling to continue our walk towards the harbour, maybe we should stop off and feed the fishes in one of the many fish pedicure/massage parlours?  No, I think thats for another day.  As we come half way down Halidon the street opens out into a ‘Plateia’ or square on our right, with the grand Church of ‘Trimartiri’ – Three martyrs, and funnily enough on our left side is the Catholic church, although you would have to know where it is to find it!  On the square in front of the church there is a wonderful ‘frozen yoghurt’ shop, with seating outside if you need to take a break and cool off.   Also on the square is the Meze/bar Typografeio well worth a visit of an evening and behind the church is the Metropoliton Cafe/bar, where quite regularly you can find the exhibits of local artists like Kostas Spanakis on show.

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Kostas Spanakis is a local born and bred artist with an adoration of his city that is second to … mine… http://www.spanakiskostas.gr/  – I think we’ll dedicate a separate blog to Mr Spanakis, out of pure respect for his works.

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Well here ends our stroll down Halidon for today, got stuck at Metropolitan enjoying cold beers and Cretan mezedakia….more food!!!!!

Where to eat in Chania?

a very informative article on the menu at one of Chanias best restaurants.. Tamam

pearlspotting

I am a very curious person, but I also know that when I find something “perfect”, it is wise to stick to it. So, after my first meal at Tamam, I understood there was no other place to eat at in Chania, Crete.

Tamam is located one street up from the Venetian Harbour. I am posting a photo to make it easier for you to find Tamam. When facing Hotel Lucia (the blue building), take the street on your right. Walk fifteen meters and you can already see Tamam tables outside on the street on your left hand side. Should you like to eat inside (Tamam is located at a beautiful, old Turkish public bath, “hammam”), take the first street on the left, and wait for a waiter. Very easy!

Now, you have your table and you are reading the menu, which is quite long. You may recognize some…

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Get her to the Greek!

Very entertaining, looking forward to the next update….

The World is Not as Small as you Think!

I don’t usually get out of my comfort zone often, probably because I don’t really have a “comfort zone.” Everyday something “different” happens with me. Perhaps that’s why I want to be a journalist. There is no way a desk job would suit me. Either way, I stepped out of what I would consider my only comfort zone and traveled to Greece yesterday. The country is BEAUTIFUL. I’m with a study abroad program called Global LEAD and we’re spending the next five weeks in Athens, Santorini and Crete. It’s awesome here. The beach is right in front of our hotel and we can walk to an H&M! Both of these accesses are extremely dangerous for me and there is a chance that I will be broke by Friday. I overcame my secret fear of flying to come here. I figured if I could do that, I could do anything.

frontyard

I…

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