Diane Kochilas Glorious Greek Cooking

Diane Kochilas Glorious Greek Cooking
Greek cooking is for health and pleasure.

Healthy Greek Recipes for Everyday by Diane Kochilas

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



Mythology & Ancient History
•         Cheesemaking is an ancient art in Greece
•         According to Greek mythology, Apollo’s son Aristaios taught humans how to make cheese.
•         Ancient Greeks loved goat’s milk cheeses, sheep’s milk cheeses, soft, sharp cheeses like feta, and even cheese cakes!
•         Many of the cheeses Greeks enjoy today are remarkably similar to those mentioned in ancient literature

Geography and Greek Cheese
•         Greece, with its 2,000 islands and mountainous mainland, has been home to roaming shepherds since time immemorial.
•         Shepherds, of course, use their milk to make cheese…
•         Every region in Greece—sometimes individual villages, too—produces unique, local cheese.
•         Many of these regional cheeses are products of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)


Learn how to make a greens pie with commercial phyllo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZxpsjAUuMY

Learn how to make a leek and greens pie with homemade phyllo:


Phyllo scares people. Even the most skilled cooks think that the paper-thin dough is hard to master. True, the phyllo that comes in very, very thin sheets, packaged and sold either frozen or chilled, is, indeed, very difficult to make. Although it is basically just a combination of flour, water, and salt, it requires two sets of hands, a pastry table, and skill at pulling it until it is gossamer and silky. Leave that stuff to the masters. (New Yorkers--Poseidon Bakery on Ninth Avenue still makes fresh phyllo. Athenians: Phyllo workshops are a dying breed, but a few still exist. I will post the list soon.)

Most homemade phyllo is thicker and actually pretty easy to make. While it is, in my opinion, far superior to the commercial stuff, the packaged frozen or chilled phyllo is easy to use and very versatile.

Here are a few tips, followed by a recipe for homemade, rustic phyllo pastry. Recipes for savory pies follow. And, please take a look at two of my videos, one in which I use the commercial stuff and another where you can see the method for rolling out your own.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meatless Monday: Northern Greek Braised Greens and Potatoes (Bonamatsi)


This dish is the whole Mediterranean in a pot. It’s a classic village dish, homey and healthy. In the original version there is typically no nutmeg and no lemon garnish, but both add depth and balance to the final dish.
For 4 to -6 servings

3 large, firm, ripe tomatoes
2/3 cup northern Greek extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
8-10 small, preferably new, potatoes
½ kilo (1 lb.) fresh, young spinach, trimmed, washed, spun dry and coarsely chopped
½ cup snipped fresh dill
½ cup snipped fresh fennel
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grating of nutmeg
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Trim the base off the tomatoes. Place an upright cheese grater inside a large bowl and grate the tomatoes along the coarse holes until all you are left with is the flattened, circular tomato skin, which is discarded.
2. Heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a medium sauce pan and sauté the onions until tender. Add the garlic and stir. Add the grated tomatoes, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Place in a sauce pan{1. Is that another, additional sauce pan? 2. Also: at which point are the grated tomatoes added?} with the olive oil, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Simmer over low heat, with lid ajarslightly covered, until the tomato mixture is thick, ickened, about 2015 minutes.
3. Peel the potatoes. Rinse and pat dry. In a large, deep, wide skillet or heavy-bottomed wide, shallow pot, heat the rest of the olive oil and brown the potatoes on all sides until lightly golden and about half cooked.
4. Add the spinach to potatoes to the tomato sauce  and toss in the spinach, in batches, until it loses most of its volume and is wilted. Add the  and the herbs. Toss gently to combine. Add the potatoes to the mixture. Toss again, careful not to break up the potatoes. Stir gently with the lid off until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook until most of the liquid from the spinach has cooked off and the the contents of the pot are thick and the potatoes tender. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fava (Yellow Split Pea) Soup with Singlino and Truffle Oil

Fava is usually a puree of yellow split peas and is one of the taverna classics on the Greek table. This dish is a little more upscale. It's a luscious soup, drizzled with truffle oil and a cured Greek pork product from the southern Peloponnese (the Mani) called singlino. You can substitute singlino with prosciutto. This is a great dinner party treat: economical and delicious.

10-12 servings

1 bag yellow split peas
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
Chicken  or vegetable stock
1 ham hock

Cook fava, carrot, onions, bay leaves and ham hock in stock. Puree the soup until the fava is very tender and the soup the consistency of veloute. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and acid – either a bit of white or red balsamic or lemon. Remove ham hock and bay leaves before pureeing.
Garnish with thin slices of cured pork, i.e. singlino or prosciutto and drizzle in a little truffle oil.

Wild Greens Phyllo Pie (Hortopita) GreekFoodTv☼

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Prunes Stuffed with Aromatic Ground Meat

Inspired by Chef Nena Ismirnoglou

(PHOTO: Vassilis Stenos)

If you are ever in Athens with some time to spare for a cab ride north to Kifissia (about 30 minutes from downtown), make it a point to try the restaurant Gefseis me Onomasia Proelefsis. OK, that’s a mouthful! It means “Appellation of Origin Flavors.” The food is great and the venue, an old house built during the reign of King Otto in Greece, is a throwback to another, grander era. The rooms are filled with lovely antiques, the wine cellar is visible through a glass-covered ceiling, and the garden, if you are there in spring, summer, or early fall, is a lush oasis. The food is elegant Greek mama fare, produced by one of the few women chefs in Greece, Nena Ismirnoglou. The recipe that follows is inspired by one of her dishes.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meatless Monday AND Valentine's Day

Giouvets (Orzo) with Fresh Vegetables

6-8 servings

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra virgin Greek olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely chopped
½ tsp. cinnamon
4 large carrots, cut into ¼ inch cubes
6 cups water
1 lb./450 g orzo
1 cup chopped, canned tomatoes
2 bay leaves 
2-3 sprigs fresh oregano
8 fresh basil leaves, julienned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp/ grated orange zest
1 ½ lbs./650 g zucchini, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ - 1 cup Greek feta, crumbled 

1. In a large, nonstick frying pan over medium heat, warm 4 tbsp. olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and fennel. Cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes, until soft. Add the cinnamon and stir for a minute or two. Remove the vegetables from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Moussaka for the gods...

Pylos’ Moussaka
Diane Kochilas

Here is the by now famous moussaka recipe that so many people asked for after seeing me make it on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

For 10 – 12 servings

Meat Sauce:
3-4 tbs. olive oil
3 large red onions, finely chopped
1 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 lbs. ground beef or combination of ground beef and lamb
2 cups chopped, plum tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp. ground allspice