I have been pretty busy since I got back and I have not had a chance to do much in the way of cooking or even grocery shopping yet. It is a good thing that I was a bit behind in my posts before I left and I have some material to post while I get my act together and start some serious cooking again. I had just started exploring corn and one of the top things on my list to try was a corn and black bean tortilla pie that I had seen on Stephanie's Kitchen. I really like the sweet corn and creamy black bean combo and the spicy heat and savoury cheese makes this a dish that I just could not pass on. Although one of the things that caught my eye about this recipe was that ingredients were simmered in beer in the end I decided that using salsa verde would add more flavour and I went with that instead. It turned out that my spring form pan was just a bit too big for the tortillas but the pie held together well without the support of the pan. The corn and black bean (and lets not forget the chicken) tortilla pie turned out really good. It was a bit messy as the tortillas were soft and moist but it was oh so tasty!
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion (chopped)
4 jalapenos (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 15 ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 cobs worth of corn kernels
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
4 green onions (chopped)
1/2 cup salsa verde
2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
4 flour tortillas (trimmed to fit in your spring form pan)
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Saute the onion, jalapeno peppers, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper until the onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the beans and salsa verde and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the corn, chicken and green onions and remove from heat.
5. Layer the tortillas, corn mixture and cheese in the spring form pan.
6. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the cheese is melted, about 20-25 minutes.
7. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro and serve with sour cream and salsa.
Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Crockpot Chicken Santa Fe
I had a great time in Greece! It was nice and warm and sunny most of the time though it did rain a few days. I saw lots of ruins and monuments and I did all of the touristy things. Most importantly I ate lots and lots of great Greek food! I got to try all of my favorite Greek dishes and a few new ones. Unfortunately it seems that I was more interested in enjoying the food than in taking pictures of it and I did not end up with many food photos...
One of the first dishes that I tried was a simple Greek salad. Boy, was I surprised when they set the bowl down in front of me and there was this absolutely massive slab of feta on top! It was a great salad and I enjoyed many more like it over the next few days. One thing that I noticed while in Greek was that the tomatoes were always perfectly ripe and full of flavour.
Of course I could not go to Greece and not eat a gyro or six. I had some that were amazing and some that were not so good. Sometimes they were served like I have always had them, wrapped in the pita, but other times they were served separately on a plate with sliced pitas instead of wrapped. One that I had that I really liked had red peppers layered in with the meat on the rotisserie and they were effectively roasted as the meat cooked. This gave the gyros an extra kick of flavour.
While I was in Greece I came across a lot of pastry shops and I found it hard not to go into each one and come out with an arm full of baklava. In the end I ate a lot of baklava and I enjoyed every bite of it, though I think I might be a bit baklava'd out for a while. :)
I was lucky to be in Greece just at the end of the fig season and I was able to pick up some fresh ripe figs. The figs were as big as a small fist and so full of flavour! The figs that I can get locally are pretty small and they usually only have a touch of flavour. I enjoyed snacking on about 2kg's of figs while I was there. I also saw some fig yogurt in a grocery store that looked really good though I did not get a chance to try it.
While I was in Meteora I visited one of the monasteries on the cliffs. As I walked into the monastery there was this amazing smell of oregano. They were selling some oregano that they grew right there in the monastery. The oregano filled the room with its amazing fragrance and I immediately purchased some. My entire suitcase and everything in it smelled like oregano by the time I got home. I can't wait to try using it!
I tried eating a few meals that where there were several mezes or appetizers that included things like eggplant salad, dolmades, saganaki, spanakopita, etc. These meals were quite nice as I got to try a few different dishes at a time.
I have always used tzatziki as a condiment and I was thus a bit surprised to see it served as a dish by itself. Given that tzatziki is so tasty and that I am used to eating fruity yogurt I quite enjoyed the cucumber and garlicky yogurt. It is always nice to find new ways to enjoy some of your favorite foods.
I also got the chance to enjoy moussaka several times and I even managed to get a hold of a few new moussaka recipes that I will have to try some time soon. All of the recipes seem to call for a layer of potatoes on the bottom which sounds nice and one called for a layer of zucchini.
Some other dishes that I got to try include: chicken avgolemono soup, stuffed cabbage, pasticio, etc.
While I was on Crete I got the chance to visit an olive farm and I got to see how they made some of their olive products. They had a donkey going in circles to grind the olives to get the olive oil, though I think that was more for show. I did end up picking up some olive oil and some nice looking olives, capers and honey while I was there.
On my last day in Athens I had some free time and I just walked around the area near the hotel. I came across a street that was full of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish that went on for blocks. There were a lot of vendors and each of them had a ton of fresh produce that was in season in Greece. It all looked so amazing. In amongst the fruits and vegetables were a few olive dealers and they had dozens of different varieties of olives. It is too bad that I could not read the Greek labels on all of those olives. It sure would have been nice to be able to sample them all.
Overall I had a great time. I did not even miss not having access to a computer or the internet or a tv for the duration of the trip. I did miss cooking though. I do not normally eat out and for the last few weeks I was eating out every meal of the day. I am looking forward to getting back to cooking and trying some new Greek dishes soon.
I have been rambling on long enough. It is time to start going through some of the many photos that I took in Greece.
Update: View Album
Tomorrow I will be on a plane on my way to enjoying a little over two weeks of vacation in Greece! I have been looking forward to this for a long time as it has been well over two years since my last real vacation. I will be spending about a week on the mainland followed by a week exploring a few of the islands including a stop in Turkey.
My decision to go to Greece on this vacation was in part influenced by my recent enjoyment of Greek cuisine. In addition to seeing the sights, learning new things and experiencing a bit of Greek culture, I am really looking forward to enjoying some tasty Greek cuisine!
This is so exciting!
Although I will miss a few weeks of the best local produce while I am gone, I am hoping that it will be a good time for food in Greece as well. I will still get to see what you have been making while I was away in Reader when I get back.
Time to get back to packing.
See you in a few weeks!
For the last little while I have really been enjoying the peaches; A bowl of sliced peaches and blueberries for breakfast here, a few for a snack there... One thing that I had been wanting to try doing with peaches was grilling them and now seemed like the perfect time. I had some mascarpone in the fridge and I thought that the mascarpone melting on the peaches that were still warm from the grill would be really nice. Mascarpone is generally sweetened with something when used like this and I like to use honey for the extra flavour that it adds. I topped it all off with some balsamic syrup to add some tartness and round out the flavours. The grilled peaches with mascarpone and balsamic syrup took no time at all to whip up and they were really good. I garnished them with some chopped pistachios to add a bit of colour and some contrasting texture.
1 peach (cut in half and stoned)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons cup mascarpone
1/2 tablespoon honey
1. Grill the peach with the cut side down until soft, about 5-10 minutes.
2. Simmer the balsamic vinegar and honey until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes.
3. Mix the mascarpone and honey.
4. Serve the grilled peaches with topped with the mascarpone and the balsamic syrup.
Caramelized Apple with Maple Mascarpone
This is one of my favorite times of the year. The farmers market is filled with so many goodies that it is hard to choose with to pick up. This weekend I made out pretty good. I picked up a basket full of red peppers, several baskets of tomatoes and a nice big bunch of basil. I made some pesto with the basil and I spent most of the weekend roasting the red peppers and slow roasting the tomatoes to freeze for coming months of winter. Despite the fact that it has cooled down a bit outside, having the oven on all weekend turned my place into a sauna and I was looking for a quick light meal. I had not had parmesan chicken in a while and it sounded like it would fit the bill perfectly. Parmesan chicken is simply fried chicken that is coated in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. I really like the warm crispy chicken and the parmesan cheese adds both an amazing aroma and a lot of flavour. Serving it with a simple salad makes for a nice light meal on a warm day.
2 chicken breasts (pounded thin)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
1 handful romaine lettuce
1 handful tomatoes, sliced
1 handful chickpeas
1 handful feta (crumbled)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dash oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
3. Dip the chicken into the egg.
4. Dredge the chicken in the breadcrumbs and parmigiano reggiano.
5. Heat the oil in a pan.
6. Cook the chicken in the oil until golden brown on both sides, about 4-7 minutes per side.
7. Assemble salad.
Quinoa Crusted Chicken Parmesan
Jerked Chicken with Mango and Avocado Salad
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Peaches are in season and I have been enjoying snacking on them. I was thinking that a peach bread would make for a nice breakfast this week. I was envisioning a bread with nice large chunks of peaches in it. I had really enjoyed the blueberry maple oatmeal muffins with pecan streusel and I thought that the recipe would make for a nice bread. I pretty much just took the blueberry muffin recipe and replaced the blueberries with peaches and made it in a loaf pan instead of a muffin pan. The peach bread turned out really well. It was nice and light and moist and full of peach goodness. I tried serving the peach bread with a maple peach sauce.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 over ripe banana (mashed)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup peaches (stoned, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces)
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Mix the brown sugar, maple syrup, yogurt, banana, butter, egg and rolled oats in a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.
2. Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients along with the peaches until just mixed.
4. Spoon the mixture into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
5. Mix the pecans, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter until they form crumbs.
6. Spoon the streusel over the bread.
7. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until a toothpick pushed into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Blueberry Maple Oatmeal Muffins with Pecan Streusel
Strawberry Sour Cream Bread
Peach and Maple Sour Cream Pecan Pie
Medjool Date and Walnut Bread
Apricot and Ginger Muffins
Peach Amaretti Crumble
Strawberry Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
Shortly after I started food blogging I tried using peanut butter in a savory dish for the first time and I really enjoyed it. Recently, when I came across the concept of a Thai style burger with peanut sauce I knew that I would have to try making some. I wanted to try making the burgers with turkey as I had enjoyed it so much the last time. Since the most important ingredient in these burgers was the peanut sauce I decided to go with the peanut sauce from the moo satay that I had liked so much. I have also been enjoying using fresh herbs in my burgers this summer so I added some green onions and cilantro to these burgers. The spicy peanut burgers came together easily and this time they held together nicely. I served the burgers with even more yummy peanut sauce poured on them. I might have used a little too much peanut sauce as it was dripping all over. The burgers were so moist and tasty that it hardly mattered that they were a little messy. I just can't seem to get enough of that peanut sauce! I wonder what I can use it with next?
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup peanut sauce (or your favorite store bought brand)
1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup peanut sauce (or your favorite store bought brand)
1. Mix the turkey, peanut sauce, green onions, cilantro, egg, and bread crumbs in a large bowl.
2. Form 4 patties and place on a broiling pan.
3. Broil until cooked, about 10-15 minutes flipping once in the middle.
4. Assemble the burger, pouring some peanut sauce onto the patty in the bun.
Chicken Satay Burgers
Curried Chicken Burger
Salsa Verde Turkey Burger
Greek Lamb Burger
Burgers Smothered in a Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Sauce
Thai Peanut Pork Noodle Saute
Thai Curried Zucchini Fritters with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Chicken Satay Quesadillas with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Banh Mi Burgers with Vietnamese Caramel BBQ Sauce
This weekend the farmers market was full of fresh field ripened locally grown tomatoes and I picked up a bunch of them. While I was at the grocery store I was thinking about the caprese salad that I had not to long ago when I passed a nice looking loaf of ciabatta; my favorite sandwich bread. The two thoughts collided and I just had to try a caprese salad sandwich in some nice and crusty and chewy ciabatta. The first version of the sandwich was pretty simple having just fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ant it was nice and fresh and really good.
I knew that I would be using a lot of the fresh basil to make some basil pesto and I thought that it would be great if I added some of that to the next sandwich. The fresh basil pesto made the sandwich even better! While on the roll, the next sandwich got a splash of balsamic vinegar which added a really nice kick.
My next thought was that it would be really nice if the mozzarella was melted by grilling the sandwich. I had wanted to do it panini style but I do not have a panini maker so I pulled out my grill pan and pressed down on the sandwich with a bowl. The grilled caprese sandwich did not get the nice panini grill marks but the mozzarella did melt nicely. The warm gooey melted mozzarella in the sandwich was really good.
I am off to make another sandwich.
2 slices bread (or a bun)
1 fresh ripe tomato (sliced)
1 ball fresh mozzarella (sliced)
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon basil pesto (optional)
1 splash balsamic vinegar (optional)
1. Assemble sandwich.
2. Grill if desired.
BLT (Bacon Lettuce and Tomato) Sandwich
Mango Caprese Salad
Grilled Vegetable Panini
Diced Caprese Salad with a Pesto Dressing
BLAST (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Shrimp and Tomato) Sandwich
Parmesan Crusted Pesto Tilapia Bruschetta
Caprese Chicken Pesto Pasta
This tomato tart made its way around the food blogging sphere not too long ago and while I did not get the chance to make it I did bookmark it. Now that the locally grown field tomatoes are looking nice and ripe it was the perfect time to make it. This tart is made with layered phyllo dough though you could easily use puff pastry dough. The tart is topped with some onions, mozzarella cheese and of course fresh tomatoes. Parmigiano reggiano is spread between the layers of phyllo dough for even more cheesy goodness. The tart is finished with a fresh herb and I went with some fresh thyme. I cut the size of the recipe down to half by folding or cutting the phyllo sheets in half. The phyllo tomato tarts were pretty easy to make. The phyllo dough came out nice and golden brown and crispy and buttery and good. The thinly sliced tomatoes on top roasted a bit concentrating their amazing flavour. The thyme added a really nice aroma to each bite of the tart.
3 sheets phyllo dough (thawed and cut in half lengthwise)
3 tablespoons butter (melted)
3 tablespoon parmigiano reggiano (grated)
1/2 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup mozzarella (grated)
2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon thyme (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper.
2. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on the parchment paper and brush the top with butter.
3. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of the parmigiano reggiano on top.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the rest of the phyllo dough.
5. Spread the onions slices on top followed by the mozzarella.
6. Place the sliced tomatoes on in a single layer.
7. Sprinkle the thyme on top along with the salt and pepper.
8. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until the phyllo dough is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
Zucchini and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Parmesan Tart
Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
Zucchini and Feta Ricotta Tart
Corn and Tomato Pie
Use leftover phyllo dough in:
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)
Mushroom and Feta Phyllo Pie
Kolokithopita (Greek Zucchini Pie)
Agginaropita (Greek Artichoke Pie)
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Strudel with Balsamic Syrup
Apple and Cheddar Quiche
Galaktoboureko (Greek Custard Pie)
Chicken and Date Pastilla
Asparagus and Walnut Phyllo Pie (aka Asparagus Baklava) with Avgolemono Sauce
Roasted Pumpkin Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola and Sage
Strawberry Goat Cheese Banitsa
Lamb Exohiko (Lamb, Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Phyllo Parcels)
Fiddlehead and Gruyere Tart
I just could not let blueberry season slip away without making blueberry pancakes at least once. Luckily there were still a lot of blueberries at the farmers market on the weekend and I picked some up. For a recipe, I started with the banana buttermilk pancakes that I had made a while ago and really liked. I have been trying to work more whole wheat flour into my baking lately so I swapped some in for some of the all purpose flour. I replaced the remaining all purpose flour with some ground rolled oats as I had done in the blueberry maple oatmeal muffins that I had just made. The blueberry oatmeal pancakes turned out pretty good. They were a bit more difficult to flip than normal pancakes but they had a nice light texture and they were really moist. I served the pancakes with some maple syrup, blueberries and pecans as garnish. I enjoyed the pancakes so mush that I made them again on the weekend. The second time I made them I enjoyed them with the remaining blueberry maple syrup from the blueberry and shrimp salad from earlier in the week.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (ground in food processor)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 overripe banana (mashed)
1/2 cup blueberries
1. Mix the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. Mix the maple syrup, buttermilk, egg, butter and banana in another bowl.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients.
4. Mix in the blueberries.
5. Heat a pan and melt a touch of butter in it.
6. Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook until the surface starts to bubble and the bottom is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Flip the pancake and cook the other side until the bottom is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
Blueberry Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Blueberry Crumb Coffeecake
Blueberry Maple Oatmeal Smoothie
Blueberry Cheesecake Pancakes