THE GREEK KITCHEN
Welcome to the Greek Kitchen!
By now you're probably developing a love of Greek food and maybe you're wondering how easy is it to follow a Greek diet.
The Mediterranean diet has been proven to be the healthiest way of living!
What do we need to stock in our kitchen to cook Greek Cuisine and to be able to follow the Greek way of eating?
Come with me and lets take a peak inside a typical Greek Kitchen!
In the Pantry
Of course like everyone, a Greek kitchen will always keep in stock the main staple ingredients for everyday Greek cooking.
Pasta - Zimarika - although they have made and cooked fresh pasta, its not such an important ingredient and the dried packets of pasta are the most popular. Greeks cook and eat plenty of pasta.
pasta shapes such as macaroni
zita - for Pastitsio
kritharaki (risoni or orzo) - for Yiouvetsi
Rice - Rizi- round or medium grain for desserts like Rice Pudding, long grain is used for stuffings and pilafs
Flour - Alefri - as most meals are cooked from scratch they use a lot of flour, plain flour mostly, adding baking powder for cakes etc
Semolina - Symigdali - also used in baking
Tins or jars of tomato puree, and capers
Spices - Baharika
ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, nutmeg - whole and freshly grated for each use.
Paprika, ground anise, coriander - whole and ground, saffron, salt and black pepper.
Herbs - Votana - oregano (rigani), thyme, basil - although these are all used as dried herbs - which intensify the flavours, they will have taken the fresh herbs and hang them to dry themselves rather than buying the packaged dried variety
Sultanas, currants, pine nuts, garlic, sesame seeds, honey - used abundantly in Greek cooking - as a spread on bread, to sweeten instead of sugar, over yogurt and in many desserts.
Legumes - Ospria - lentils, beans, chick peas - dried legumes are an integral part of the Greek cuisine and will appear on a family's meal table at least once a week, healthy, filling and tasty, a great choice for meals without meat.
Greek coffee, instant coffee - for frappe, sugar, herbal teas - such as camomile or mountain tea (not tea bags), these are much more popular than black tea
Packets of french toast and paximadia - a wholeweat rusk.
Nuts - Kseri Karpi - walnuts, pistachios and almonds - all grown in Greece and used abundantly in Greek meals and desserts, as well as for snacks or to serve with alcoholic drinks
Olive oil - Eliolatho - extra virgin olive oil - used for dressings, to drizzle over food, and for many, many other uses! Pure or light olive oil - this is best used for cooking and frying.
Red wine - Kokkino Krasi - for drinking and cooking!
Fresh loaf of bread (or two)! - Psomi - depending on the size of the family of course, but bread is eaten with every meal, so a daily visit to the bakery is the norm for every Greek family. Its fresh, crusty and very tasty. The white, doughy, sliced, packaged stuff we call bread has not made much of an impression in Greece - once you've tasted their bread, you'll understand why!
In the Fridge
Cheese - Tyri
You will always find cheese in a Greek Kitchen,it's such a nutritious, versatile food.
feta - used in salad and many other dishes as well as for light snacks
graviera - hard cheese, ideal for pasta as easy to grate and melts well, good for cooking
kefalotyri - hard, strong flavoured cheese ideal for grating, cooking and frying
Milk - Gala - not used much in drinks or cereals, mostly for dishes with bechamel sauce such as Moussaka
Yogurt - Yiaourti
Greek yogurt is natural, thick and very tasty - used for a simply divine dessert, breakfast, tzatziki.
Butter - Voutiro - olive oil is used far more than butter for cooking in Greece, some desserts do use butter
Eggs - Avga - used quite a lot in Greece - good protein source instead of red meat which is eaten less frequently, used for light meals such as boiled, fried, or omelette, and in sauces such as Moussaka and Pastitsio and many desserts
Olives - Elies - green and black - a favourite with every Greek, always a supply in the fridge for salads or snacks.
Filo Pastry - used for pies and desserts, most people will save time and buy pre-made pastry to be either kept in the fridge or freezer.
Fruit and Vegetables - Frouta kai Lahanika
Depending on what is in season you will find a good supply of a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in the Greek Kitchen.
Every area in Greece, country towns and cities, still have a market day, where you can buy all the fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season.
lemons, potatoes, onions - red and brown,
okra, garlic, courgettes (zucchini),
aubergines (eggplant), cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumber,
capsicum, celery, carrots, horta - greens,
spinach, artichokes, fennel, lettuce,
beetroot, cabbage, green beans.
figs, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, plums, pomegranate, apples, oranges, mandarines, grapefruits, quince
Outside - In Pots
Herbs - oregano, parsley, dill, rosemary, basil, mint, coriander - these fresh herbs are used often in Greek cooking and most Greeks will try to keep some fresh herb plants growing, even if they only have a balcony! The flavour of freshly picked herbs in a home cooked meal is well worth the little effort of growing your own.
The main secret to Greek cooking is using fresh, quality ingredients, hang a bunch of fresh herbs up to dry in the Greek Kitchen, for decoration and to freshen the air!
Most meals in Greek cooking are traditionally only prepared and eaten at certain times of the year. This was due to the seasonal supply of fruit and vegetables and other ingredients. Although now more readily available year round, this tradition is still held with most Greeks prefering to eat only in season produce, a key factor in keeping variety to the meals, and ensuring they are eating the freshest, most natural ingredients.
The Greek Kitchen is the heart of every Greek home!
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