Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Rusks, paximádia, are simply bread that has been dried in the oven so it keeps for longer. Originally they were made so that cooks didn’t have to light a fire every day to make bread and use up valuable fuel, and they were often taken out to sea by sailors and fishermen. Nowadays, rusks are used as the base for dakos, a simple but lovely combination of ripe tomatoes, feta, olive oil and dried Greek oregano, or as rustic croûtons in salad. You will find dakos on islands all over the Aegean.

2 small wholemeal bread rolls
300g ripe tomatoes, plus 1 more tomato
pinch salt
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
100g myzithra or feta
pinch dried greek oregano
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 110ºC. Split the rolls into halves and place them on a tray in the oven. Leave to dry out and crisp up for 1¼ hours.
Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half across their middles (reserving the single tomato). Place a sieve over a bowl and put a box cheese grater in it. Place a folded tea towel under the bowl to stop it slipping. Grate the tomatoes against the coarse side of the grater, placing the cut side against the grater and using the tomato skin to protect your fingers. Let the juice drain off the tomatoes, then lift the flesh out of the bowl and discard the skins and juice. Mix a pinch of salt with the grated tomato flesh, unless you have really ripe, full-flavoured tomatoes, and add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Chop the remaining whole tomato fairly finely, but so you still have some texture and stir it through the tomato mixture.
When the bread rolls are crisp and crunchy all the way through, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Crumble the cheese roughly into largish chunks rather than tiny flakes.
To serve, top each piece of bread with a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of spoonfuls of the tomato mix and about a quarter of the cheese. Finish with a scattering of oregano, another drizzle of olive oil, and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Source: Rebecca Seal / Image: Stephen Joyce

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sardines baked with Greek oregano are hugely popular across the islands as well as on the mainland. The addition of zingy capers, lemon and potatoes makes this a perfect one-pot supper.

400g baby new potatoes, scrubbed, skins on
8 very fresh sardines, gutted and scaled
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried greek oregano
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 lemon, finely sliced
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Par-boil the new potatoes for 10 minutes, until just tender, then drain.
Place the sardines in a baking dish in which they will fit in a single layer once the potatoes are added. 

Tip in all the other ingredients, including the potatoes. Toss together and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then serve immediately.

Source: The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A lovely summery pasta dish, you’ll find this served in harbour-side restaurants across Greece, populated by saucer-eyed kittens on the look-out for scraps from the diners. If you like a bit of spicy heat, add a pinch of dried chilli flakes. This recipe has a lot in common with prawn saganaki, which is really very similar, but made with ouzo instead of wine, and usually served with crusty bread rather than pasta.

1/2 onion, finely chopped
pinch salt
a little olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
60ml white wine
250g passata
or 250g blitzed canned tomatoes
pinch dried greek oregano
350g dried spaghetti or linguine
1 medium squid, cleaned, body sliced into rings
4-8 raw sustainable cold water prawns, shelled and deveined
12 mussels
16 clams
75g feta, crumbled
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley leaves

Sprinkle the onion with the salt. In a large pan with a lid, soften the onion in the olive oil over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring so that it doesn’t stick, then add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes, again stirring all the time. Add the wine and cook for 5 minutes, then add the passata and the Greek oregano.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Put in the pasta and cook for a minute less than the packet suggests.
Cook the sauce for another 5 minutes, then increase the heat and add the squid, prawns and shellfish. 

Pop on the lid and cook for no more than 3 minutes.
Check that the seafood is cooked through, and discard any shells that have not opened. Stir in the feta, parsley and pasta, and serve.

SourceThe Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal

Sunday, 9 April 2017

A decadent dessert and a great way to make chocolate mousse without raw eggs. This is very rich, so serve small portions.

Avoid using peppery or bitter olive oils, as those flavours will come through and clash with the chocolate. Rather than almonds, try pistachios crumbled on top; make it even more decadent by stirring through 2 tablespoons of brandy or orange liqueur; or liven it up by adding a shot of cold espresso.

2 tablespoons flaked almonds
125g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon caster sugar, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons mild-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
120ml double cream
pinch fine salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 orange, finely grated zest, plus more to serve (optional)

Gently stir the flaked almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat, until lightly toasted. Set aside.
In a bain-marie or a heatproof bowl set over just simmering water, melt the chocolate and sugar together, stirring. Don’t allow the bowl to touch the water or the chocolate will overheat. Once the chocolate has just melted, mix in the oil and remove from the heat.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks when you lift the beaters from the bowl. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, but don’t allow it to set. Stir in the salt, vanilla extract, orange zest (if using) or any other flavourings you’re using now. Gently fold the chocolate mix into the whipped cream with a metal spoon, being careful not to knock the air out of the cream. Taste to check it is sweet enough and add a little more sugar if necessary.

Scoop spoonfuls of the mousse into 4 ramekins or individual serving dishes and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the almonds just before serving, adding orange zest, if you included it in the mousse.

Source: The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I first tried this dish, kotopoulo me hilopites, made with a rooster rather than chicken, on Santorini, but it is similar to a famous celebratory dish from Corfu, pastitsatha, which is often cooked with spicy hot peppers and with veal, beef or even seafood instead of chicken. This makes a delicious and easy weeknight supper.

To grate fresh tomatoes, place a box grater in a sieve, then place both inside a large bowl to catch the juice. Put a folded tea towel under the bowl to stop it slipping. Cut the tomatoes in half across the middle and place the cut surface against the grater. Grate, using the skin to protect your hands. Discard the skins.

2 tablespoons olive oil
450gr skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
200ml red wine
200gr canned chopped tomatoes
or 4 very ripe, fresh tomatoes, halved, seeded and grated, skins discarded
3cm cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
200gr dried long pasta, such as tagliatelle
grated or shaved kefalotyri or pecorino cheese, to serve

Set a wide pan over a fairly high heat, add the oil and brown the chicken pieces thoroughly, in batches, otherwise they will stew rather than brown. Remove the first batch to a plate while you brown the rest. Return all the meat to the pan, reduce the heat and add the onion. Cook gently, stirring often, for 8–10 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring again.

Add the tomato purée and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring. Next, deglaze the pan by adding the red wine, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, bay leaves and 100 ml of hot water and season generously. Stir, reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes, partially covered with a lid, stirring occasionally.

When the sauce is nearly ready and most the liquid has reduced, cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 1 minute less than the packet instructions.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Discard the bay leaves. Serve the sauce mixed with the pasta or stirred though, with a little cheese scattered over each bowl.

Source: The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Summer brings out the best of Greece and the sea alike. The archipelago of the Aegean Sea is rich in minerals and, as such, is home to our favourite seafood meze the sea urchin.

Most of the islands around Cyclades are full of them and every restaurant serving high quality seafood will have them on their menu. Our favourite one is Spilia in Mykonos, serving them straight from the sea.

With summer just around the corner, we'll surely craving them. No peculiar recipe about them. The more fresh and simple, the better!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Making this Greek spinach pastry in pie-form is easier than you think. Rather than having to fold it up like a perfect sealed package, the more folds and wrinkles you create as you bundle this up, the prettier it looks. Check out the step-by-step photos here to see how to assemble.


  • 4 medium packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained 
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced 
  • ½ medium onion, chopped 
  • 5 medium scallions, white and pale-green parts only, sliced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 2 cups of feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan 
  • ⅓ cup chopped basil 
  • ⅓ cup chopped dill 
  • 3 tablespoons chopped oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) salted butter, melted, divided 
  • 12 35x22cm sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed, room temperature

Place spinach in the center of a clean towel, gather corners together, and twist towel to wring excess liquid out of spinach. Try and get as much out as you can (if spinach is too wet, phyllo will get soggy as it bakes). Transfer spinach to a large bowl and break up into small pieces. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium and cook leek and onion, stirring, until just beginning to soften, 5–7 minutes. Add scallions and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender, 4–6 minutes more; season with salt and pepper. Scrape into bowl with spinach. 

Whisk egg, egg yolk, 1 tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a small bowl; add to spinach mixture. Add feta, Parmesan, basil, dill, oregano, and lemon zest and mix until distributed. Don’t be afraid to overmix; you want herbs and cheese in every bite! 

Preheat oven to 180°. Lightly brush bottom and sides of springform pan with butter. Remove phyllo from packaging and cover with a kitchen towel to prevent drying out. Working quickly, brush butter on 1 side of 1 phyllo sheet. Transfer phyllo, butter side up, to prepared pan, covering bottom of pan. Gently press and tuck sides of sheet into bottom edges of pan. Fold and ripple phyllo as needed to cover bottom of pan. Repeat with 2 more phyllo sheets. 

Working quickly, brush butter on 1 side of another phyllo sheet. Transfer to pan, arranging butter side up and slightly off-center so long side of dough comes up and over side of pan, leaving a 2" overhang. Rotate pan slightly and repeat with another sheet so overhang covers another section of pan. Continue with remaining 7 sheets, rotating pan so there is overhang around entire pan. 

Scrape spinach mixture into pan, pressing down firmly and smoothing top. Gently fold phyllo overhang over spinach mixture and continue to press until phyllo goes just below rim of pan. Don’t worry if phyllo breaks or tears; gather any broken pieces and arrange where spinach peeks through. You want the phyllo to look draped over the top with lots of waves and folds. 

Bake pie until phyllo is golden brown and slightly darker around the edges, 50–65 minutes. Let cool in pan 1 hour before removing ring. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Do Ahead: Spanakopita can be made 1 day ahead. Do not unmold; wrap pan in plastic and chill. Reheat in a 180° oven 30 minutes.

Source: Bon Apettit / Recipe by Rick Martinez / Photograph by Alex Lau

Sunday, 9 October 2016

This dish, methisméno kotopólo, can be found on menus all over Greece, and simply means the chicken was cooked with alcohol. This is my favourite version. If you can’t find ouzo, any other aniseed liquor will work, even absinthe or pastis.

3 free-range whole chicken leg portions
2 tablespoons ouzo or other aniseed liquor
60ml olive oil
60ml white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to serve
1/2 teaspoon clear honey
6 shallots or small onions, quartered
3 garlic cloves, cut into chunks
freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs thyme leaves
chopped parsley, to serve

Place all the ingredients except the parsley in an ovenproof baking dish. Mix and leave to marinate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Place the baking dish into the oven and cook for 45 minutes, basting once halfway through. (If the pan seems in danger of drying out when you baste the chicken, add a couple of tablespoons of water after basting.)

Check the meat is cooked through by piercing a piece to the bone. The juices should run clear and the meat should easily pull away from the bone. If not cooked, return to the oven for 5–10 minutes and check again. Allow it to rest, in the pan, for 5 minutes.

Serve the chicken and onions drizzled with a little of the pan juices, scatter over some parsley and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Source: The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Fast, simple and delicious, this recipe will give you a sense of the Greek heritage behind phyllo pastry pies.

  • 6 sheets frozen phyllo dough (thawed)
  • 150g Kefalotyri shredded cheese 
  • 200g Anthotyro cheese
  • 200g crumbled Feta cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter (half a log, melted)
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional: chopped Dill or Mint 
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 celsius (375 degrees)
  2. Melt about 30g of butter in a small sauce pan
  3. Combine anthotyro, kefalotyri & feta cheese in a large bowl; add the eggs and mix the ingredients thoroughly with your hands, then add a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper (optional: add just a few grams of chopped dill or mint and mix well)
  4. Lightly brush the baking dish with melted butter and lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a wooden surface; sprinkle with water and olive oil then add another sheet of phyllo on top, repeat the process
  5. Fold the phyllo sheets in half, take a big tablespoon of the cheese mixture and spread it on the end of the phyllo (towards your side) by forming a thick lane of mixture from one end to the other
  6. Fold the phyllo sheets with its mixture tightly, starting from the side of the mixture and right by the end sprinkle the ending parts of the phyllo with water and olive oil, making sure it gets a tubular shape 
  7. Place the phyllo on the baking dish making sure the folded part of the phyllo lies on the bottom of the dish; repeat the same process for the rest of the phyllo sheets
  8. Right at the end, sprinkle some more water and olive oil to have some extra crunchy texture
  9. Place the dish in a preheated oven at 180 celsius and cook for 30-40 minutes until brown on top
  10. Once done, leave it to rest a bit and then sprinkle with a dash of honey and some walnut crumbs

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Lindos is a very beautiful old town of sugar lump-shaped white houses over-looked by an acropolis, on the coast of Rhodes. For more than seventy years, a restaurant called Mavrikos has been in the same family, set to the side of a busy square, and is now run by brothers Mihalis and Dimitris. This dish was just one of many glorious things that we ate there; perfectly fresh fish marinated in orange and lemon zests, fragrant coriander seeds and a sprinkling of fiery chilli, served with the local speciality: pickled samphire.

Don’t be worried about butterflying sardines: it truly is simple.

3 sardines
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, or to taste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 orange, finely grated zest
1/2 lemon, finely grated zest
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To butterfly the sardines: remove the head with a sharp knife. Starting at the head end, make an incision along the belly of the fish – not all the way through, just enough to break the skin – and allow the flesh to open up. Gently but firmly, pull out the guts and discard. Rinse the fish, then continue your incision down the fish to the tail, only allowing the knife to go as far as the spine. Snip the spine at this end with kitchen scissors. Working from the tail end, open up the fish like a book, and gently grasp the spine, leaving the tail intact. Pull the spine bones upwards, away from the flesh; most of the fine bones alongside it should come up and off, too.

Grind the chilli flakes (if using) and coriander seeds to a rough powder in a mortar and pestle.
Lay the sardines in a single layer in wide bowl, then scatter over the salt, the grated zests and the ground spices. Pour over the vinegar and turn the fish gently a couple of times to ensure they are well covered in marinade. Finally finish with the oil, using enough to cover the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

Drain off some of the marinade before serving. Slice the fish into smaller pieces, if you like.

Source: The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal