The nut obsession in my family runs deep! I never knew how far the love for pistachios would go until much to my surprise, it started showing up on our grocery list every week. It took me back to a wonderful memory of when we were treated with an amazing tasting cake by dear old dad-in-law - who sure knows his way around the kitchen from time to time! He showed us that pears and pistachios are the yin-yangs of cakes–a symphony in sweet harmony. The pistachios have a nutty flavor and the pears are juicy and delicious. Together, they make a cake that’s yummy and special! Naturally, I had to have the recipe so I could make it my own; giving it my family’s personal stamp of approval! An epic bake-off was about to begin and it certainly didn’t disappoint! I’d crafted a chocolatey, pistachio, and pear cake that had even the fussiest of taste buds marveling. Then someone in the room made an incredible suggestion - why not top this masterpiece with something coffee flavored? So instead of the chocolate ganache topping from the original recipe, we opted for something more refined: cream cheese frosting flavored with coffee. An absolute stroke of genius if I do say so myself… Needless to say, there wasn’t much cake left when our taste buds got hold of it. This cake was initially made with a round-shaped tin and would last up to seven days in an airtight container at room temperature. However, after introducing my cheese frosting, preserving the cake became difficult because it would become much too dense when refrigerated. The simplest solution was to divide the cake slices and cover them with cheese-frosting prior to serving. Yet, I sought a more effortless approach; thus, turning the whole thing into a loaf became my go-to strategy! Not only is it relatively petite in size but also it’s almost guaranteed that this delectable dessert will be gone within 48 hours! Treat yourself to a truly indulgent experience and make this scrumptious cake for your next special occasion! Every bite will be like a little piece of heaven, with juicy pears, luscious chocolate chips, creamy cheese frosting, and a hint of coffee. Don’t wait too long - it’s best enjoyed fresh outta the oven!
Greece is known for its tasty vegetables and beetroots are no exception. Despite the funny colour, your tongue might get, I love having them in any way possible! My daughters also enjoy eating these healthy roots with me which just makes it all worthwhile. A simple method of preparing beetroots is to boil them until soft, then peel and cut them into large chunks. Drizzle them with high-quality Greek olive oil and you’ve got a great side for almost any meal! This is a great way to enjoy the natural sweetness of beets without sacrificing any flavour. However, when we combine the words beetroot and salad in my family, we’re talking about something quite distinct. A lot more delicious and capable of going with anything on the plate! In Greek, it’s called “Patzarosalata”. It’s a pretty common appetiser that you’ll find in most Greek restaurants and while the Greeks consider this dish to be salad rather than dip or spread; I would happily have it with crackers or a thick slice of sourdough! This simple beetroot salad is made with finely grated beets mixed with olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise and garlic. In my version, I substitute some of the mayonnaise with Greek yoghurt because I like its tanginess and to make it a little bit healthier. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese and a handful of crushed walnuts on top of the dish to add more saltiness and flavour. The feta and walnuts, while not part of the original recipe, add an interesting twist to this vegetable combination. This Patzarosalata recipe is incredibly easy to make, and it’s guaranteed to impress everyone with its vibrant colours and beautiful presentation!
It’s been a while since I started my quest to find the best pizza dough, and while I’m still searching, I have something that tastes very similar and everyone loves it almost as much as pizza! My family has always had a soft spot for pizza. In fact, we love it so much that we have Pizza night at least once a week. When I started my quest to find the best pizza dough, I thought it would be easy. But after trying dozens of recipes, I still haven’t found the one that speaks to my taste buds the way I want it to. However, I recently started experimenting with a pizza bread recipe, and it’s become a family favourite. It’s not exactly the same as pizza, but it’s close enough that everyone loves it almost as much. And bonus: it’s much easier to make than traditional pizza dough! Leftover pizza for breakfast? It may sound strange, but it’s actually a pretty common occurrence in our house! My daughters love to devour any leftover slices that end up in the fridge, so I decided to look for a bread recipe that would capture all the delicious pizza flavours. And I’m happy to report that I found an amazing pizza-flavoured bread perfect for breakfast, lunch, and snacking! This recipe is now a staple in our house, and we always have a loaf on hand. This easy pizza bread is very versatile because it can be used in slices paired with cold cuts and create a fantastic sandwich, but it can also be eaten as it is, like a snack. Personally, I like to cut it in slices, toast it just enough to reheat those chopped veggies, melt the cheese inside it and pair it with a generous amount of Strapatsada on top! My daughters, on the other hand, love to pack it for school lunch. They simply add their favourite sauce, some cheese and their favourite toppings and they’re good to go. It’s a great way to get them to eat their veggies too!
The Peinirli is a real favourite in our household. These are traditional Greek pizzas, shaped like little pizza boats. Slightly smaller than a regular Italian pizza, they’re perfect as a treat for one. They can carry all sorts of toppings, so are a favourite for all the various taste preferences in our family. It’s super-easy to rustle up a veggie option for me too, which makes life easier! Having to bake a meat-eaters meal and a veggie-friendly meal on top can sometimes just feel like a step too far! The peinirli origin story comes originally from Turkey. Turkish ‘pide’ are the same boat-shaped pizzas, and the Greek name ‘peinirli’ came from the Turkish word for cheese - ‘peinir’. Peinirli usually feature a basic cheese filling, to which you can add whatever you fancy - be that tomato, olive, onion, egg, spinach, ham or bacon…the options are about as endless as you can imagine toppings for an Italian pizza! When we return to Greece, Peinirli is one of our favourite bakery options (we mention it in our blog on the 7 must-eat Greek bakery bites). The kids (well, to be honest, my husband and I too, I suppose!) are often tempted to enjoy a Greek peinirli for our breakfast - it’s a popular choice!
What’s a Greek carrot cake, I hear you ask? Well, for me, all things Greek use Greek yoghurt wherever possible! So yes, this is a carrot cake without cream cheese -I substitute in that tart, rich tang of Greek yoghurt instead, to make for a slightly healthy carrot cake, as well as a yummy one. That tart, sweet tang is literally ‘the icing on the cake’ when it comes to carrot cake - that vegetable, spiced moist batter is just complemented so perfectly by a tangy sweet frosting. Carrot cake might just be my favourite cake - and that’s saying something! Being wholemeal flour, as well as containing carrots, raisins, and walnuts as well as eggs and plenty of spices, I can convince myself that this indulgent treat is at least doing me a little bit more good than a decadent fudge cake, for example. Yoghurt icing for carrot cake isn’t completely pioneering - it really does mimic that slightly sour-sweet tang that cream cheese frosting delivers, but with the added goodness of Greek yoghurt. A creamy Greek yoghurt frosting is just as easy to make as a cream cheese one, and we are always more likely to have Greek yoghurt in the fridge - so it just makes this cake a real easy store cupboard bake for our household.
Sometimes indulgence is the only way forward, and this carb fest is a real treat! Makaronopita, or Greek pasta pie, uses indulgent pastry, pasta, evaporated milk and feta cheese to ensure no stone is left unturned on your journey to the ultimate in comfort food! You can use any type of pasta with this really, but the ones that work best are the small tubes called pasta for pastichio, or pastitsio, in Greek. It’s almost like a hollow spaghetti. But bucatini, macaroni, gomitini, or maybe a small rigatoni at a push, will work too! Using spaghetti emulates the longer strands but without that hollow centre, so makes for a Greek spaghetti pie would be much denser. The idea is to keep the pie full of air with the tubes, but also rich with that baked cheesy sauce. Makaronopita with filo on top is the ultimate in texture contrast too, as the soft pasta contrasts so well with the crunch of the crisp filo. That’s why I suggest cutting your pie into portion sizes before you bake it - otherwise you’ll shatter the filo when you try to serve it, and there’s nothing nicer than breaking that crisp top yourself! Serve up this Greek pasta bake with a nicely dressed side salad for a lunch or dinner (I love it with a zingy lemon dressing), or help yourself to an indulgent slice when those hunger pangs hit, mid-afternoon! This is cold weather comfort food, at its best.
As you may know by now, I’m a veggie - but the rest of my family aren’t! Although they’re happy to eat tasty veggie meals a lot of the time, they sometimes ask for meat. So when they have a craving for meat-based products, I find chorizo an easy addition - it’s something I can have in the fridge and its flavour packs a punch. A little goes a long way, I find. These mozzarella and chorizo peppers are great quick and easy snacks to make with that bag of mozzarella cheese that you have in the fridge, and work well to ease those afternoon hunger pangs - what’s better for a meat eater than a mozzarella chorizo snack, after all? They’re pretty healthy too, so they’re a snack I’m happy to dole out to my daughters when they’re hungry after school. Because there’s the bell pepper and the tomato sauce it means they’re getting two portions of veg, and I often serve them up with an accompanying side salad for a light lunch or dinner, too - the pizza-like taste of the peppers means everyone’s happy to nibble up some accompanying greens without complaint! For a veggie version, I do mozzarella peppers for myself - still scrumptious. If you’re avoiding the chorizo, like me, or just fancy playing with the recipe, why not add a shake of paprika to the mozzarella for smokiness, or simply add a couple of basil leaves for that Mediterranean summertime taste?
This recipe is the perfect antidote to the January blues. Full of veggie goodness, as well as the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric, garlic, leeks and onions, it has the heartiness of lentils and that edge of warmth, from the chilli, which come together to create a ‘hug in a mug’, as the famous soup advert once said! This sort of recipe is perfect in a thermos flask to accompany you on a chilly walk, or in your kids’ pack ups - you can be sure they’re getting at least 3 or so of their ‘5 a day’ target, and will be satiated for the rest of the day with the slow, constant stream of energy released by the lentils. It’s a recipe I often turn to as a midweek dinner through January, too - served alone, or with a hunk of bread and a piece of cheese, this recipe is everything I feel like I need to warm the soul after a grey, drizzly, dark day! It’s quick to create - it really only takes a little bit of chopping - and is so worth every moment you spend on it. For a different, smooth texture, try blending all of the soup, or blend none of it and eat it more as a lentil stew. We prefer this half-and-half mixture, which creates a chunky soup. The choice is yours.
These spinach and feta galettes are a mouthwatering veggie breakfast, or lunch, to satisfy and satiate. They work year-round, too. In the summertime, send your kids off with a healthy last-minute breakfast to eat on the school bus, pack them up for a picnic in the park, or serve as part of a dinner al fresco. Stick them in your kids’ (or your own) packed lunch to break up the monotony of sandwiches and wraps. In the winter? For me, the winter is a time when I cannot handle a cold salad for lunch, but I don’t always fancy a soup, or a big meal. Ditto for breakfast - something slightly warmed through made from buttery pastry ticks all my boxes! These galettes are the perfect light lunch, served warm with a fresh green side salad and a few juicy cherry tomatoes. Who am I kidding, any savoury pastry tarts are a go-to for me through those chilly months! The cheesy, buttery savouriness of flaking pastry and salty cheese complements the iron green tang of the spinach perfectly. These pastry morsels feel indulgent and satisfying, but allow you to feel slightly healthy at the same time. Those two things together? That equates to my favourite type of meal!
What is Roquefort sauce? It’s simply a savoury, cheesy sauce made from Roquefort cheese. It is amazing on steak, too (though this recipe is Roquefort sauce for pasta - not too different, but a little looser in texture). This recipe for pasta with Roquefort sauce is different from my usual repertoire. Many of the recipes I make are connected with my childhood, and that’s a huge factor in how much I love to make them - the smells and tastes bring me so many beautiful memories! However, this recipe is from my husband’s childhood. He has that same sense of childhood nostalgia for this comforting pasta dish. And I can tell you, even without the nostalgia factor, this is a great recipe! If you were wondering how to make roquefort sauce generally, this should help…
Cheese croquettes are a very common meze, and are found in most tavernas in Greece - especially in the islands, like Rhodes, where I am from! Homemade cheese croquettes are just amazing, though - they’re well worth making at home and not just saving until you’re going out to eat. In Greek they are called ‘tirokeftedes’. These little mouthfuls have a crunchy skin, with a mouthful of gooey, savoury, warm cheese inside. They are perfect as an appetiser with a drink, or as a selection of meze for a bigger meal. Homemade cheese croquettes are just amazing, though, and if you were wondering how to make cheese croquettes - don’t worry, you’ll find this recipe really isn’t tough, and is well worth a go!
This ham and cheese pie is a homemade version of something you often find in Greek bakeries and pastry shops. It’s a great snack that I include in the kids’ lunch boxes to mix things up, but it’s also a yummy afternoon snack for me and perfect finger food for a birthday party, or picnic. The ham and cheese pie crust of flaky, buttery puff pastry adds a little crunch on top, whilst the mouthwatering filling of slightly herby tomato, ham and cheese ticks all the boxes for kids and adults alike! You can enjoy this hot or cold, but make sure to indulge in good quality ham - this is a simple recipe, so the flavour of the ingredients makes all the difference. 😊
I like to make a good old spinach pie, a Spanakopita, but this mixes up that old favourite into something new. The perfect picnic piece, this tart is savoury and moreish, lightening the flavour of cooked spinach with lemon and herbs, and setting it inside a buttery, flaky pastry case. Something like a British quiche, I love the combination of eggy, cheesey spinach-rich filling with the shortcrust pastry edge. I use aromatic dill and zesty lemon to bring a real feeling of summer sun to the recipe, and the addition of feta, ricotta and cream cheese, alongside pine nuts, just ensures a rich, nutty and satisfying mouthful. It’s perfect for lunch in the garden, with a simple side salad, and also works perfectly as a slightly special picnic or packed lunch.
These mini cheese pies are so tasty, and so handy! The ideal snack for packed lunches, picnics and birthdays, they are simple to make and everyone seems to love them. These little hand pies take me right back to being a little girl in Rhodes. My mother would make them for the family, and she would call myself and my sister in to help her. My mom would make the dough, and my sister would stuff them with cheese and shape them. I did the ‘finishing touches’! I remember taking up my spot in front of the oven, and refusing to move a muscle until they were done; I was so impatient for them to be cooked! Bite into one of these still warm from the oven, and you’ll get why!
Over lockdown we got bored of the same old breakfasts. Since I no longer had to make food to such strict time deadlines, with school now taking place in our own home, I took to experimenting with new recipes and flavours to up the ante on the first meal of the day. These pepperoni and cheese puffs are the result of that experimentation! We really enjoy savoury things for breakfast in our house, and eggs are always a go-to, but the slightly spicy, rich pepperoni alongside flavoursome cheese and buttery, flaky pastry have made this a new hit! This recipe could easily work for a lunchtime or afternoon snack, too - or even as finger food for a buffet or party.
This lemon pea stew recipe is a perfect veggie winter warmer. It’s super easy, and the addition of lemon and dill at the end makes for a vibrant zestiness that is so addictive. In some parts of Greece this recipe is made with meat, too. There are several Greek recipes that make arakas, or peas, the star of the show, and this is one. Other arakas recipes might include beef, or tomatoes - but I like the clean, sweet flavour of peas in combination with lemon and dill best. At our house this is served simply, with lots of crumbled feta cheese mixed with olive oil and lemon, maybe a side salad and some garlic bread. It sounds simple, but really this sits pride of place as a main meal. It is the perfect dish for early spring - it tides me over from the cold winter nights when all I want is a bowl of warm, nourishing stew into the springtime, when I crave fresh, green flavours. This lemon pea stew recipe straddles both of these desires perfectly.
Sometimes we all need an evening in front of the TV; a sofa night watching a film is sometimes the only remedy for a hard week! Whether it’s just me and my husband or the whole family snuggled up, this pull-apart garlic bread recipe is a frequently-requested film night treat. It’s also a brilliant, communal start to a big family meal or dinner party too though, so don’t relegate it entirely to movie night fare - it definitely holds its own at the dining table. The cheese-infused, buttery garlic taste of this pull-apart bread is extremely moreish, and perfect for grazing. As a dinner party starter, use it to accompany some meze or some Italian antipasti like cured meats, olives and sundried tomatoes, with the always-necessary olive oil and balsamic vinegar for mopping up. Perhaps the best pairing for it, though, is my spicy feta dip - you can thank me for that recommendation later!
You’ve heard of red velvet cake, now try fooodlove’s red velvet chocolate chip cookies! Don’t you hate it when you buy a bag of cookies and they snap like a biscuit?! For me, a cookie has to be squidgy and bendy; crisp on the surface but gooey inside. These are the perfect ‘squidgy’ cookie, with that cocoa-infused red velvet taste and white chocolate chips melting in every bite. What’s more, the colour makes them the perfect Valentine’s Day baking recipe - or birthday party treat! Try to find a paste food colouring rather than the liquid drops most easily available in the supermarket. The liquid ones just don’t deliver the red colour as thoroughly, and if you use lots of extra fluid the moisture levels in the mix will get too high. Feel free to swap for another colour of chocolate chips, too - but I prefer white, as I think it looks brilliant against the red, and also because that soft creaminess is a bit reminiscent of the cream cheese frosting you might top a red velvet cake with.
Gemista, or Yemista, is a very popular and traditional Greek dish for stuffed vegetables. Using commonly available ingredients, this Gemista recipe is a vegetarian one (some add pork or beef mince). Every household in Greece seems to have their own, slightly unique Gemista recipe, but they tend to have rice and herbs in common as fillings - and are stuffed into a vegetable. Full of flavour and vibrancy, this recipe for stuffed tomatoes is healthy and fresh. ‘Gemista’ actually means ‘filled with’ or ‘stuffed’ in Greek, so literally that is the only thing you have to do - stuff a vegetable with a filling! Served as a starter, a side dish or as the main course, the Gemista is pretty flexible. We enjoy eating it for our main meal, often accompanied by feta cheese and fresh bread.
Did I make these turkey & cheese toast rolls up? I’m not sure! All I can tell you is that this is a classic party snack in our household, wheeled out for every birthday party. They are super-simple but all the more tasty for that, and are really appealing for little hands. Because they’re baked, they’re an even better children’s party snack because they continue to taste delicious, and all-importantly, stay fresh, for hours on end (unlike those soggy sandwiches with curling crusts)! The recipe below is a tried-and-tested win, but these days I get creative with whatever I have to hand in my fridge, so feel free to play fast and loose with the rules here. They are brilliant as a breakfast solution for teenagers who lie in bed with just minutes to spare before the school bus (just stuff one into their hand as you plant that goodbye kiss on their cheek!) and they also hold up really well as a packed lunchbox idea, whether that’s for your kids or for yourself.