Papoutsaki, the most delicious shoes ever

The greek flavours are coming come back to my blog. This time in the form of papoutsakia. The little fancy shoes are great either as main dish or as an appetizer. This dish came to mind when I have seen the September challenge of the  Dulce Romanie Project . unfortunately, I couldn’t participate to this contest during the previous months even though I would’ve loved to do it, the proposed ingredients were simply great. This time, the dishes had to contain one of the following ingredients: eggplant and/or pear. As I couldn’t find any pears at the market and all the greek flavours that I encountered during my holidays in Greece were still fresh in my mind, I made some papoutsakia.

Papoutsakia consists mainly of stuffed eggplants topped with bechamel sauce.

The name – little shoes come from the fact that the eggplant sliced in half and stuffed with aromas, veggies and meat resembles some pretty shoes. Ok, ok  – not really Manolo Blahnik material, but pretty damn tasty ones.

papoutsakia

serves 2

Stuffed eggplants

2 large eggplants

1 big onion

2 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts chopped in small pieces or 250 grams ground meat

one can of tomatoes or 300 grams chopped tomatoes

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt, pepper, oregano

graviera or kefalotyri cheese

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the eggplant flesh using a spoon and a knife. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with salt and let them “sweat”for 10 minutes, Meanwhile chop the scooped-out eggplant flesh and cook them olive oil, in a pan over medium fire, until browned and wilted.

Separately, pat dry the eggplant shells and then grill them until they soften slightly without loosing their shape.

In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and over medium high heat, cook the onion until golden brown and soft. Add the garlic, cook it for 30 seconds and then add the ground meat and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. Add the cooked eggplant flesh, season everything with salt and pepper and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add the cinnamon, oregano, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 30-40 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove pan from heat and set meat sauce aside.

 
Bechamel sauce

30 grams butter

30 grams flour

250 ml milk

1 egg

125 grams graviera or kefalotyri  cheese

1 half teaspoon nutmeg

salt, pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, over low heat, and as soon as it starts bubbling stir in the flour,  whisking constantly until the flour gets slightly toasted. Add in the milk and continue whisking for about 8–10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat, add 125 grams of graviera or kefalotyri  cheese and the egg. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pre-heat the oven at 170-200C. Set the eggplant shells in a baking tray, spoon the meat sauce in the shells.  Spoon bechamel sauce over the shells, sprinkle graviera or kefalotyri  cheese (gouda  and parmesan cheese in my case, since I couldn’t find any greek cheese around) and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top of the eggplants reaches a golden brown colour and the eggplants are tender and cooked throughout.

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Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

Mother’s Day – there are so many different days when people across the globe celebrate mother’s day. If you ask me  we should celebrate mother’s day every single day. I love my mommy (well, I am an adult now and I should snap out of the mommy stage, but no matter what, I know I will always be her little girl),  but sometimes I forget to tell her that or to be nice to her. 

A while ago, I’ve been asked to cook something special for Mother’s day, so my next three posts will be inspired by things that remind me of mum.

The first dish – the appetizer, the amuse bouche, the entrée – the little thing that incites your taste buds, that make them tingle with pleasure and ask for more food, is one of my mum’s best dishes ever – liver pate. I am the biggest sucker for liver pate, I know a lot of people hate it, but since I was a kid I loved to eat it – like a lot. I would normally eat a few centimeters thick pate slice with a transparent slice of bread.

The recipe is pretty simple, quite healthy and very, very tasty.

chicken liver pate

450 grams chicken liver

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions

3 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons cognac or port (less if you want to feed kids as well)

thyme

2 bay leaves

100 grams butter (you can reduce the quantity a bit, if you want to reduce the calories 🙂 )

1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground pepper

salt

In a large pan saute the onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the garlic and the thyme once the onion starts to soften. Add the cognac or port wine once the onions are done. Set aside.

Meanwhile,  boil the chicken in water with the bay leaves, salt and pepper. When the liver is soft and cooked through, drain it and add it to the onion mixture. Cook for few more minutes, until the liver infuses with the onion/cognac/thyme aromas.

Pour the mixture in a blender, add the butter and mix it throughly until you get a smooth, silky paste. Place the liver paste in serving bowl and pour some melted butter on top of it. Place it in the fridge. The butter prevents any oxidation of the liver paste (I hate that part – when the liver turns dark).

Serve with cranberry jam, olives (Kalamata – my favourite ones), fresh paprika, tomatoes or whatever other combinations you like .

Spring is here

My friend Suzanne invited us last week for dinner. We knew we are in for a treat, as usual – Su’s speciality is Thai food. The menu included a delicious green curry chicken amongst other great dishes, so today Su will be my guest chef. The dinner was great,  the food was so  delicious and unfortunately for Su there weren’t any leftovers, but luckily she had a recipe and nice pictures for me at the end of the evening. 

curry paste

1 teaspoon of roasted coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons lemongrass

1 teaspoon kaffir lime peel

3 tablespoons chopped coriander root

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon shrimp paste

1 teaspoon chopped turmeric

20 small green chillies

1 cup sweet basil leaves

The easiest way to deal with the paste is to putt all the ingredients in a blender and blend them until you get a green smooth paste.

green curry with chicken

300 gr chicken breast thinly sliced

250 ml of  coconut milk

250 ml thick coconut cream

100 gr green curry paste

3 big eggplants cut in small pieces

50 gr small eggplants

40 gr palm sugar

30 ml fish sauce

2 kaffir lime leaves

30 gr sweet basil leaves

1 big green chilli

1 big red chilli

Put the thick coconut cream into a wok and fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously untill the coconut oil starts to separate out. Then add the green curry paste and fry for 1-2 minutes. Once the paste is cooked add the chicken and cook until the outside of the chicken turns white. Then add the thick coconut milk and when it is boiling add the eggplants. Simmer for 4 minutes, then add the palm sugar the fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and half of the basil leaves. Turn off the heat and serve garnished with the green and the red chillies, the remaining basil leaves and few tablespoons of coconut cream.

And because Suzanne cooked all the delicious thai dishes I also made a little cake to go along with all the deliciousness of the amazing flavorful and balanced dishes – I made a Spring cake.

 I got inspired by the fact that the spring just started officially on the 21st of March, so to celebrate it I made a cake that consists of a vanilla sponge, a chocolate mousse layer, and a berries mousse on top of everything. Stay tuned, the recipe will follow soon.