I was looking in the food forum and I saw that someone made a remark that the phyllo in Greece used for sweet desserts like baklava is different than the phyllo used for savory dishes. I did notice while in Greece that the savory phyllo is thicker.
What is really the difference? Is savory phyllo homemade? Does it have different ingredients? Is it thicker on purpose? Finally, do you have a recipe?
I know on Crete some of the savory, handheld pies have a dough that is closer to a turnover dough than it is a phyllo. And yet the dish has the word "pita" in it. It was a greens-based handheld pie with no cheese and was spiced with cumin! The "phyllo" was really thick and I believe the pie was even fried.
I know that traditionally, Greek food doesn't use a lot of spices. But, when I was in Greece, I saw that they are more adventurous than we may have realized. Spices from other cultures have made their way into the cuisine, and chefs experiment. I thought I would make a lost of some of the spices that could possibly be used in Greek cooking.
Paprika is a bright red spice made from dried and ground peppers. It's a common ingredient in Greek cuisine, and is used to add smoky, slightly sweet flavor and deep red color to dishes. Paprika can also vary in heat intensity, depending on the type of pepper used, ranging from mild to hot. In Greek cooking, sweet paprika is often used to add flavor to stews, soups, and roasted meats, while hot paprika can be added to dips and sauces for an extra kick of heat.
Cumin is a spice with a warm, earthy flavor and a slightly bitter undertone. It's a popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, and is often used in Greek dishes like moussaka, stuffed peppers, and lentil soup. Cumin has a moderate level of spiciness, and can give dishes a subtle kick of heat while also adding depth of flavor.
Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes, also known as crushed red pepper, are made from dried, crushed chili peppers. They're commonly used in Greek cuisine to add heat to dishes like pizza, pasta, and grilled meats. Red pepper flakes pack a substantial amount of heat, measuring in at around 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. However, their spicy kick is often balanced by the sweet, fruity flavor of the peppers used.
Harissa is a fiery Tunisian hot sauce that's popular throughout North Africa and the Middle East. In Greek cuisine, it's often used as a marinade for grilled meats or fish, or as a dip for bread or vegetables. Made from a blend of chili peppers, garlic, caraway seeds, and other spices, harissa can range from mildly spicy to extremely hot, depending on the brand and recipe. To be honest I didn't really see this much, but when I researched online I found that it is available in Greece.
I grill year round so I thought I'd share with the group an easy grilled chicken dish I have been doing lately. It's my go-to for a quick meal.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper.
2. Place the chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them.
3. Seal the bag and toss to coat the chicken evenly. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and up to 12 hours for maximum flavor infusion.
4. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess liquid.
5. Grill the chicken for 6-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through and internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).
6. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
I had thought I never made melamakarona but then when I got the recipe from a friend, it looks exactly like my finikia recipe.
Are they basically the same thing with a different name?
Here is my Finikia recipe and aside from some minor differences, it looks the same as my friend's Melamakarona recipe.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup brandy or cognac
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup honey
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
2. Add the vegetable oil, orange juice, brandy, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the ingredients until a thick dough forms.
3. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Form the dough into small balls (around 1-2 inches in diameter) and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, or until they turn golden brown.
6. While the cookies are baking, prepare the honey syrup. In a saucepan, heat the honey over medium heat until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chopped walnuts.
8. Dip the baked cookies in the honey syrup while they're still warm, making sure to coat them evenly. Place the coated cookies on a wire rack to cool.
I am baking more because of the holidays. I love ladokouloura (kouloura made with olive oil). I usually buy it, but realized I can make it. Here is a recipe I can find. Does it look right? I believe it is slightly different from the video I found. What do you think about these recipes? Which should I try?
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups of all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the wet ingredients (olive oil, sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract) in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and cinnamon). Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring the ingredients together to form a dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and not sticking to your hands.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Shape the cookies and place on the sheet spaced about an inch apart. Place the sheet in the oven and bake the cookies for about 20 minutes. They are done when they are a slight golden brown color.
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