Category Archives: Greek Essentials

Making Mizithra

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This is the perfect place to start your Post Apocalyptic cheese making adventure. Similar to ricotta, traditional Greek Mizithra is an acid and heat coagulated cheese that is easy to make and super versatile to use. Probably one of the oldest cheeses, shepherds from Cyprus, Crete and mainland Greece have been making and consuming Mizithra for centuries. In true Greek fashion, there is no specific recipe but a few general principles to follow to get the desired flavour and texture. Mizithra is a little different from most cheeses of this type because as well as being consumed fresh, it is also sometimes aged and air dried to create a hard salty grating cheese that does not melt when sprinkled over pasta. I absolutely love the hard Mizithra so I have decided to create my version of this Greek classic. If you are new to cheese making I recommend a book called Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking much of what you see here is inspired by this book.

What you need:

  • 4L of whole goats milk
  • 3/4 cup of lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Large pot to heat and hold milk
  • Large colander
  • Cheese cloth (I use a clean pillowcase)
  • Thermometer
  • Slotted stirring spoon

How it’s done:

  • Make sure all your equipment is washed and sterilized with boiling water.
  • Slowly heat the milk until it reaches a temperature of 90C (195F).
  • Remove the milk from the heat and let cool a couple of degrees to 88C (190F).
  • Slowly add the lemon a spoonful at a time, gently stirring.
  • Continue to add the lemon until the curd (white solids) separates from the whey (clearish liquid) and let stand for about 20 min.
  • Using a slotted spoon, slowly ladle the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander and let drain for 30 min.
  • Sprinkle the curds with the salt and give it a quick mix.
  • **If you desire fresh Mizithra you can enjoy it now as you would a ricotta cheese**
  • Slowly twist the cheesecloth to apply pressure, forcing the curds into a solid ball.
  • Hang to dry in a cool dark place until you have reached desired texture and taste (a couple of days to a few weeks).

Photo

 

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Ouzeri Mezedes

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The only thing better than a warm spring day in Greece, is enjoying a cold beer and a plateful of ouzeri mezedes by the sea. Growing up in the land locked mountains of Canada I had never had the culture or capacity to enjoy a massive platter of seafood, much less actually get it down. What made this particular day even more special was the fact that it was my anniversary and I could enjoy the day with my wife. If one day I ever had to leave this remarkable country, it would be the small moments like this that I would miss the most. So before I get too nostalgic and make myself cry or something girlie like that, I will explain what is on the platter so you too can salivate like I did.

So from the top left in the the small bowls we have:

  • A really fresh yogurt dip with mint.
  • Marinated octopus.
  • Tirokaftiri. (My favourite spread. A mixture of soft cheese and hot peppers).
  • Skordalia. (A killer garlic and potato spread. Vampires beware)

Next row from the left:

  • Bakaliaros. (Salt cod)
  • Tucked in behind we have a couple of Kolokithokeftedes (Zucchini fritters)
  • In front of the fritters we have a couple of crab croquettes (with the claw as the handle)

In the front row:

  • On the left we have a large pile of fried squid.
  • And to the right we have a collection of small fried sardines and anchovies.
  • And to round it all off, every Ouzeri platter has wedges of juicy tomato and slices of crisp cucumber.

 

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A little help

In a previous post I commented on how I was trying to create ways to help the people in my community. This post is in that same line of thinking. A few weeks ago I received an email from Alexandra, she had viewed my profile on this blog and left me a comment informing me… continue reading

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How to Dispatch a Mountain of Artichokes

Spring is definitely here. And after the appearance of the first strawberries, it is never long until tables are piled high with fresh artichokes varying in size and colour. This week I just happened to come home with about 20 of them. The obvious question is, what do you do with a suitcase full of… continue reading

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Rabbit Stifado

This dish when mentioned in certain circles has an almost mythical aura about it. Usually served in cozy mountain tavernas with dramatic views. Rabbit stifado is truly worthy of the hype, and for the squeamish among us, worth braving the fear factor. I must confess, I dubbed this “chicken stifado” so that the dish could… continue reading

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The Market and it’s People

As we approach week 25, the rhythm of the market has continued to hum and thrive regardless of whether I post about it or not.  It is the middle of the winter and the oranges, mandarins and clementines are king. As I walk up the street, I am amazed at the volume of citrus and… continue reading

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At The Ouzeri With My Wife

One of life’s simple pleasures, for me anyway, is lunch out. The only way to improve on a good lunch out is to enjoy it with my wife. In Greece one of the greatest places to savour that late afternoon delight is at an “Ouzeri”. Eating at an Ouzeri, certainly for a newcomer, is almost… continue reading

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Market week 15

The sky was black and and you could almost feel the static electricity in the air from the ominous thunderclouds. Even though it was still warm, the promise of rain indicated that fall is here. As I braved the threatening elements (more snarl than bite) and headed to the market,  I received another indicator that… continue reading

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Avgotaraho Messolonghiou: Botargo

  Certain questions come to mind when faced with botargo: firstly, what is it and secondly, what do you do with it? Up until two weeks ago I did not know the answer to either question.  A friend was visiting and she asked, “Have you ever had Avgotaraho? It’s kind of like caviar.” The absolute… continue reading

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Chicken Giouvetsi

Giouvetsi oozes comfort food. Earthy and simple, it is one of those dishes that when you push the plate back, you realize that you have over-extended the limits of your stomach. Even as I sit here now, the specimen I just photographed desires to be eaten. Regardless of it’s addictive powers this is a dish… continue reading

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