Turlou Turlou (mixed up vegetables)

This is a summer dish, but because of the winter we’re having so far I think I need a taste of summer. Turlou turlou means “all mixed up” in Greek. This resembles a vegetable casserole, similar to Briami or French Ratatouille, or even a Sicilian Caponata. Moms version is done in a pot on the stovetop instead of the oven. Even though my father was a hunter and liked his wild game this happened to be one of my dads favourite meals. I use cilantro here but flat leaf parsley is more common. You can omit the beans if you cannot find them, also I use a chilli for some heat and squash but again it’s not that traditional. Classic Mediterranean Diet food, (olive oil, veggies, tomato, herbs). This is a very healthy meal as a meal in itself or a side or appetizer for fish, chicken, rice, pasta or even a salad of mixed bitter greens. Allow the eggplant to be the star here… should be the most important vegetable in Turlou Turlou. Okra, sweet potato, cauliflower and a few other veggies would all work but I’ve personally never tried them. Have fun a please comment. Thank you.

Ingredients

2 zucchini
1 large eggplant
2 tomatoes
1 small butternut squash
2 red or orange bell peppers or combo
2 large carrots
2 small potatoes
1/2 cup large frozen Lima beans
1 onion chopped
12 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
Olive oil
Handful chopped cilantro leaves
3-4 fresh basil leaves torn
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 birds eye chilli smashed (optional)

Instructions

Wash all the veggies (tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, peppers, squash, potatoes) and chop into 1″ cubes but DO NOT peel the skin off any vegetables. Set aside cubed veggies in a large bowl tossed with a couple big pinches of sea salt and a couple glugs of olive oil. Using your hands mix everything together until well coated in oil. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, add the a coating of oil and begin to fry the onions and half of the garlic. Toss in half the veggies and begin to gently stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes until all the veggies have had a chance to touch the bottom of pot and are well coated in the hot oil-onions-garlic. Add in the remaining veggies and keep stirring gently for a few more minutes, now add the remaining garlic, sugar, tomato paste, oregano and chilli pepper if using. Lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot and allow to steam for about 15-20 minutes. Uncover pot and mix the veggies, add the herbs and using a fork pierce a bean, potato or squash to make sure that they have softened to your liking. Turn off the heat and if mixture is too dry mix in a little water, taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If you want it to be oily, add more raw extra virgin olive oil or to preferred individual serving plates and garnish with more herbs.

You will not be disappointed with the sweetness of this wonderful food. Serve hot or cold or even at room temperature, cut up a bunch of crusty bread and let people at a party help themselves to some turlou turlou. Other serving suggestions that will compliment include cheese plates, crackers, smoked fish. Alternatively you can take leftovers and purée in a processor and there you have it: “veggie dip”

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Venison Kokinisto with Home Fries

Kokinisto is the word for red sauce, not necessarily a tomato pasta sauce but tomato based aromatic gravy. My best memory of this sauce was when my mom worked at a Greek restaurant in downtown Windsor where the sauce was put on top of potatoes or fries in place of gravy or ketchup. Deer hunting season has just finished in some parts of eastern Ontario and I was given some good cuts from my dads old hunting buddies. You could substitute any red meat (lamb, veal, beef) in this dish even pork will work.

Ingredients:

2 lb. venison cut into 1″ stewing pieces
1 large can stewing or crushed tomatoes
4 cloves
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch turmeric
Pinch sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 rib celery
1 large carrot
1 onion
10 cloves garlic
Couple sprigs fresh parsley chopped
1 cup dry white wine
Pinch sea salt
Pinch ground black pepper

For the Potatoes

8-10 potatoes cut into French fries
Good pinch of sea salt
Ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp olive oil

Take the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and spin in a food processor until finely chopped and blended together and set aside. Season the meat with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil. Sear on an grill top for about 2-3 min per side, or in a wok over high heat but don’t overcrowd, work in batches as you will not get good grill marks if meat is crowded. Set aside meat as it gets seared on each side. Prepare a Dutch oven or corning-ware on medium high heat with a bit of olive oil, toss in the chopped up veggies from the processor. Cook for a few minutes just until you see the onion, celery, carrot and garlic begin to caramelize, add the stewed tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, sugar, salt, pepper and the seared meat. Deglaze the grill top or wok with the white wine or just add the wine to the stew and water if necessary in order to cover the meat completely with liquid. Cover Dutch oven and simmer for at least one hour. If sauce gets too thick add more water, it should not end up too thick it really need to have a gravy like consistency.

Prepare potatoes

Preheat oven to 400*
In a bowl toss cut potatoes with the salt, pepper, olive oil and turmeric, make sure they are all well coated toss them all in one layer on a cookie sheet and cook in oven for about 25 minutes until golden crispy.

When meat is ready, taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if needed. When potatoes are ready serve as a side dish and spoon kokinisto (red sauce) from meat on top of fries. Serve with crusty bread and salad. You could use a crock pot to make the meat, this could be a main or and appetizer for a party etc.

I would serve this dish with either a white or red wine. Riesling or Pinot noir or most red wines will go well.

Enjoy and happy new year

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Beef in aromatic tomato sauce on pasta

The spices in this sauce have influences from the Middle East. Beef is what I used but any red meat will work great especially lamb. Again the pasta that’s used here is fusilli but I have used large shells and rigatoni with success.

1lb sirloin steak cut across the grain
Large can crushed tomatoes in sauce
1 small onion diced
5-6 cloves of garlic minced
1 rib celery diced
10 cremini mushrooms sliced
1/2 tsp allspice powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt
Olive oil
Tbsp butter
450 gr. fusilli or any other pasta
Small handful Italian parsley chopped
Grated pecorino cheese

Instructions

Put sliced meat in a bowl and mix in half the garlic, allspice, cinnamon and cayenne and a couple glugs of olive oil. Allow beef to marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large pot heat up some olive oil at medium high heat and sauté the meat for two minutes stirring continuously. Add in onions, mushrooms, celery and remaining garlic and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir in the can of tomatoes and turn up the heat and add a pinch of salt, sugar and oregano. As soon as sauce comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low, cover pot and cook to 30 minutes.

For the pasta bring large pot of water to a boil with plenty dose of sea salt, when water comes to a tolling boil toss in the pasta and stir occasionally while cooking according to package directions until pasta is al dente.

Drain pasta but do not rinse, add the drained pasta back to the pot and turn heat back on to low, add the butter, couple tablespoons olive oil and sauté the noodles for 30 seconds with the butter and oil. I love to add some cheese right into the pot now mixing the pasta and turn off the heat. The noodles should be coated well with the buttery cheese.

To serve plate each bowl of pasta, topped with meat sauce and sprinkled with parsley and more cheese.

Can be served with baguette or garlic bread.

I recommend a dry red wine; Shiraz or Agiorgitiko.

Enjoy and please comment

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Soutzoukakia (Classic Greek meatballs) in tomato sauce

Soutzoukakia are a classic appetizer or as they say in Greek meze. I’ve been making a version of this for over 20 years and there’s always a chance to get creative. You can choose to substitute veal, venison, ground turkey or even pork. Change up the herbs to parsley or dill instead of mint, add in chilli flakes or cayenne for spice. Double the recipe and use a large crock pot for a big party. You could substitute the cheese to any hard to semi-hard cheese like pecorino, Parmesan, Gruyere, or Romano.

I like to serve this with crusty bread or pita but there are many options as they can be served over rice or pasta, with salad or a side dish with roasted vegetables.

Ingredients for meatballs

250 gr. ground beef
400 gr. ground lamb
5 garlic cloves
1 shallot
2 slices whole wheat bread toasted
1tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp mint chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
Ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp grated Kefalograviera cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil or oregano chopped
1 egg beaten
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic minced
1 onion minced
1 carrot diced
1 rib celery diced
2-3 medium sized tomatoes diced
500 ml Passata tomato sauce
1 tsp each sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 cup dry red wine
Pinch of sugar

To make sauce

Heat half the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and tomatoes and cook for five minutes, add wine and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. In with remaining ingredients except remaining oil. Lower heat and cover the pot and allow to simmer for at least 1 hour.

Toast the bread one hour before needed and let sit at room temperature to dry out. For the meatballs, grate in the garlic and shallots in a bowl with meat mixture, mix in remaining ingredients except for bread. Using your hands crumble bread into meat and knead mixture well for a few minutes. Preheat oven to 400*. Shape meatballs to the size of a small egg and place them all on a cookie sheet in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes until brown on the outside. Take meatballs out of oven and place them all in the pot of simmering sauce, try to scrape all the bits off tray into pot as this adds tonnes of flavour. If sauce is too thick add some water, turn up the heat and cook sauce for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in remaining oil.

Serve meatballs warm, sprinkled with more dried oregano and enjoy with dry red wine, crusty bread or pita.

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Papoutsakia (baked stuffed eggplant little shoes)

These “little shoes” are awesome, they are named little shoes as there appearance is like classic kids shoes. Some people like to make them with no rice and lots of meat covered in béchamel and cheese, like moussaka. I like to use a little meat and rice with lots of herbs, maybe a little cheese. This can easily become vegetarian dish substituting a couple diced veggies instead of sausage meat.

Note: if you cannot find chorizo, Italian sausage will do.

Ingredients:

2 medium or large eggplant
1 cup long grain rice
2 small spicy uncooked chorizo sausages
Handful fresh dill chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 tomatoes diced
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp grated asiago cheese

Remove the casings off the sausages and fry the meat in a pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes continuously stirring and breaking up the sausages along the way. Toss in the garlic and a couple glugs of olive oil. Stir in the rice, pepper and half of the salt, turn up the heat and add in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Toss in the herbs and tomatoes and turn heat to lowest setting, cover and steam rice for about 15 minutes until rice is al dente. Cut the eggplant in half length wise and chop off the stem. Using a spoon scoop out the inside of the eggplant and discard the seedy parts, just try to keep the eggplant meat that is less seedy and chop to a dice and add into pot of rice.

Pre-heat oven to 400*. In a large enough baking dish to hold the four eggplant halves, add a spoon of oil and arrange the eggplant face up and season generously with salt and pepper. When rice is ready pour out any remaining liquid and taste it to make sure seasoning is to your liking and if rice is undercooked don’t worry it will continue to cook in the oven. Fluff rice with a fork and add half the grated cheese, some olive oil and mix well. Stuff each eggplant half with the rice mixture and top with more cheese. Add in a little water in the bottom of baking dish, cover and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook an extra 5-10 minutes until cheese bubbles and crusts the top. When the stuffed eggplant is ready remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Best enjoyed with a greens salad and a glass of red wine.

Please comment and let me know how you made out the this recipe.

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Roasted red pepper feta dip

In Greek this dip has been referred to as kopanisti. This dip is simply amazing, I have made it for parties and people wanted to lick the bowl. The sweetness of the bell peppers, smokiness from the grill and the contrast with salty feta cheese and the spicy chilli pepper gives it a kick. I’ve given out the recipe to several friends, if you like it spicy add more chilli peppers alternatively you can use pickled pepperoncini or even pickled banana peppers for the heat, or just leave it out if you prefer without spice. The dip really can go well with crackers, pita bread, veggies or even chips or crisps.

Ingredients:

2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers
150g. Greek feta or goat feta cheese
1 small chile pepper
pinch dried Oregano
50ml extra virgin olive oil or more as needed, try and use Greek olive oil
handful of fresh basil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Put peppers on the grill or oven broil for about 10-15 minutes turning often to char the peppers all around. When done transfer to a bowl and cover them with plastic wrap while they are still piping hot- allow the peppers to steam for 15-20 minutes. When the peppers now have steamed and have cooled down enough to handle take off the stems scape out the seeds and peel off and discard the charred skin. If needed rinse the peeled peppers under cold water. Combine all inqredients in a food processor except olive oil and pulse until well combined. Transfer to a bowl stir in oil until desired consistency is achieved. Can store in the refrigerator for one week in a sealed container but I think once you taste it it won’t last the day.

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Risotto with sardines

This is just a very basic risotto recipe and then just add a can or two of sardines depending on serving size and who may prefer the canned fish. Alternatively you could use canned tuna or salmon. You could use sardines packed in oil, but I like the ones in water then I can use my own Greek extra Virgin olive oil. There’s so many options as you could use sardines in sauce with the chilli pepper for a spicy kick.

Ingredients:

2 cups Arborio rice
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for finishing
1 tsp sea salt
1 celery stock very finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 shallot minced
6 cups of low salt veggie stock or chicken stock
1 tbsp dried basil
1-2 cans of sardines packed in water drained and chopped
1 lemon cut is wedges
Parmisano cheese optional if not using lemon

In a medium size pot heat the 6 cups of veggie or chicken stock/broth until hot and keep it warm, on the other burner heat the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter over medium heat add the celery and shallots and garlic stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes, add the rice and toast for a few minutes constantly stirring, now add salt, basil and 1/2 cup of hot broth, continue to stir, as soon as you see liquid evaporating in rice add 1/2 cup of broth at a time until rice is al-dente and creamy about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat stir in remaining tbsp butter and cheese if using, taste rice and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover pot of risotto and let sit for 5 minutes while getting table ready with the sardines, olive oil, more cheese, bread etc. plate risotto and allow people to help themselves to sardines, olive oil, lemon or cheese.

Serves 6 or 4 with leftovers

Depending on the rice you have broth leftover as after rice has cooked not all of the soup stock was needed.

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