For those of us who like french fries but keep our fat intake low, this is definitely a recipe to try. A few years ago I read about this healthy version of “fried” potatoes and to be honest I was dubious about the success of the recipe. This is why I first made these healthy “fried” (actually baked) potatoes, with my own blend of spices and herbs, much later. But since then we never went back! The secret of making them soft inside with a savory, golden crust outside is to cut them just like we cut the classic french fries – neither smaller or larger – and sprinkle them with the spices of your choice. These potatoes, although oil-free, are just as tasty as the best french fries we’ve ever eaten without the heavy smell and taste of the fried oils.
- 5 medium potatoes peeled
- 1 tsp. fine salt
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. ground sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. oregano
1. Preheat the oven to 225 oC.
2. Cut the potatoes into thick wedges and put them in a deep bowl along with all the spices and salt. Mix with your hands very well until they are evenly covered with the spices.
3. Line a baking pan with non-stick baking paper and arrange the potatoes, leaving few millimeters space between each other.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy while still hot!
Note: Instead of smoked paprika you can also use the same amount of your favorite carry powder for a more complex taste!
The appetizers -or “mezedes” as they are called here- are a characteristic and basic element of the Greek table. I can’t imagine of a Greek person who would say “no” to a meal with friends, composed of many -hot or cold- small appetizers accompanied with ouzo or raki, instead of a main course.
However, eating a variety of appetizers as a meal, apart from being a Greek custom, is more or less a common way of spending time with friends as well as eating out, in other Mediterranean countries too. For example the Spanish “tapas” are correspondingly small appetizers and in Spain people often order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. I guess there must be a reason for that. Maybe it’s that the appetizers we share with our fellow diners may bring us a little closer: firstly we learn how to share our food, we approach each other to take a few bites from each saucer, we experience the same tastes and we eat, drink, talk and relax together with our friends or our family.
One of the most famous delicacies of northern Greece is tyrokafteri (spicy and creamy white cheese spread). As my partner is a huge fan of anything “cheesy”, we often make the raw vegan version of the original recipe. The basic ingredients that we use are various soaked raw nuts blended with olive oil, salt and fresh spicy and sweet peppers for a delicious raw vegan snack.
- 1 ½ cups raw mixed nuts, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained (I usually use: ½ cup cashew nuts, ½ cup blanched almonds and ½ cup Brazil nuts)
- 1 fresh red hot chilli pepper
- 1 red sweet pepper
- 1 garlic clove (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp water (only if necessary for blending)
- Wash the chilli and the sweet pepper and half them lengthways. Remove the seeds and the stalks and discard them. Chop them coarsely.
- In a blender put all the ingredients and blend at medium speed for several minutes until a relatively smooth and creamy mixture is formed.
- Keep in a glass container in the refrigerator for several days.
Note: This vegan spicy cheese dip can be also made with soaked blanched almonds only, in case no other nuts are available.
If your skin is sensitive you’d better prepare the chilli wearing rubber gloves, as chillies contain a substance that burns sensitive skin. Of course, never rub your eyes or lips after handling chillies and wash the knife, board and your hands with hot soapy water.
I love fresh mushrooms and when they are in season we buy different varieties and keep them in the fridge until we use them in some recipe. In the farmer’s market that takes place in my neighborhood, one can find various kinds of fresh mushrooms –actually they are so fresh and delicious that I want to have them all!
Last Saturday I bought three different kinds of fresh mushrooms –Portobello, Pleurotus and Agaricus and, since fresh, local, mushrooms will soon not be available, I decided to prepare pickled mushrooms in order to preserve them and be able to enjoy them for longer. To spice up things I added in my recipe herbs, spices and some orange juice, which gives a mild sweet flavor.
For this recipe I used equal amounts of Pleurotus mushrooms, Agaricus and Portobello. We like to eat pickled mushrooms as a meze with our lunch or dinner but what I like the most is to add them in sandwiches -their sour and sweet, spicy taste make them much more interesting!
- 600 g fresh mushrooms
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 1 big red bell-pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 green onion, chopped
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar or other white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper seeds (various colors)
- Clean the outer surface of the mushrooms with a damp towel and chop them.
- In a saucepan add the water, the orange juice, the vinegar and the salt and bring to boil. Add the chopped mushrooms, the vegetables, the herbs and the spices and boil for 2-3 more minutes.
- Remove from heat, divide the mushrooms together with the herbs, vegetables in 2 sterilized jars, add enough broth from the pan to cover and let them cool. Cover the jars and keep in the fridge.
- Wait 2-3 days for the flavors and taste to develop and after that they will be ready to enjoy!