Thursday, 11 August 2011

Eating in...

For the past few nights, we have been experimenting with a variety of different traditional greek dishes. My cooking is improving haha! Tonight I am cooking spaghetti bolognaise, which isn't so Greek, but I have fresh mince from the butchers, so lets hope it goes to plan! Last night I made Moussaka. It was a great turn out and the kids loved it! Here is the recipe:

Moussaka is a casserole made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling then topping it off with a creamy bechamel sauce that is baked to golden perfection.
It is perhaps the most widely recognized of all Greek dishes and was made famous by the legendary Greek chef, Nicholas Tselementes.
This eggplant version is the traditional rendition, however you can also layer in potatoes, zucchini, or whatever vegetables you prefer. It's hearty and filling so you won't need many side dishes.
While it can be time consuming to prepare, I think you will find that once complete it is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes


  • 3-4 eggplants, about 4 lbs. total
  • 1 lb. potatoes
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 cup tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • 8 egg whites, lightly beaten (reserve yolks for bechamel)
  • 1 cup grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese

  • Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk, warmed
  • 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg


Prep the Vegetables: Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, preferably an hour. The salt also helps to remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant.
Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they are just done. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. Drain, cool and slice them in 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Add a splash of water to the egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork. Add breadcrumbs to a flat plate.
Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels. Dip the eggplant slices in the beaten egg whites and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Place breaded eggplant slices on baking sheets and bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 an hour, turning them over once during cooking.
When eggplant is finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Make the Meat Filling: In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef (or lamb) until the pink color disappears. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a drier, chunkier, tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make the Béchamel Sauce: Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.
Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.
Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.
Remove from heat, and stir in beaten egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg. Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.
Assemble the Moussaka: Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (lasagna pan). Sprinkle the bottom of pan with breadcrumbs. Leaving a 1/4 inch space around the edges of the pan, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Top with a layer of eggplant slices.
Add meat sauce on top of eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.
Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
You can make this dish ahead up until the béchamel sauce and refrigerate. Make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.

Anyway, off to prepare my spag bol! Den x

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Birthday Celebrations

Villa Mercedes
The weekend has been a busy one, with plenty of exciting things happening in Chania! On Friday the 5th, the boys and Andreas went out to 'Villa Mercedes' in Agia Marina! I highly recommend it for an enjoyable, lively night out, as the boys came in at 8am, it must have been good!

On Saturday it was the agricultural festival, where local produce and companies present their products. There were lots of interesting products available such as landscape photographs, raki, natural olive oil and plenty more! The streets were so busy and the atmosphere was great.
Agricultural Festival

On Sunday the 7th, we all went to the beach in Platanias, to watch the Man Utd v Man City match, and as Man Utd supporters, we were all very pleased with the result haha!
Platanias Beach

On the Monday, it was my daughters birthday! We went on a boat for the day, to places such as Marathi beach. The sea was lovely and the weather was bliss. My daughter had a really lovely day, and we went for tea at the Italian called Kyriatis. She had a lovely surprise birthday cake from the restaurant which was delicious.
Happy Birthday Amber

Today we have all been working very hard, to catch up for the loss of time over such a hectic, but wonderful weekend! Catch you all soon Den x

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Chicken Souvlaki kids LOVE it!

As much as souvlaki is traditional Greek “fast food” or “street food”, it is also very common home-made dish especially when it comes to Chicken Souvlaki. You may have Chicken souvlaki with pita bread or without it.
Greeks love food and they are ready to spend hours in the kitchen to bring their favorite dishes to perfection. Souvlaki is no exception although it doesn’t need hours of preparation. There is no particular secret about making chicken souvlaki on skewers at home, because it’s all about marinated meat and adding herbs to enhance the overall taste. The only secret is the dedication and love of Greeks for food. Adding some love into any dish will bring the best of it at your plate!!

Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

  • 8 pieces of boneless chicken breasts, cut in pieces
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 medium red onions
  • Fresh juice of 2 small lemons
  • Oregano
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wooden (or metal) skewers
Prepare a marinade of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and dry oregano. Add chicken pieces to the marinade and mix everything well to cover meat completely. Put it in the refrigerator and keep it overnight there so that flavors of ingredients mix well.
The following day, when ready to prepare your chicken souvlaki, turn the oven on and while warming, prepare the other ingredients: cut bell peppers and red onions in thicker circles. Then put one piece of chicken in the skewer, then a piece of bell pepper, then a slice of red onion. Again, start with chicken and keep repeating steps until you fill skewer by skewer. Salt and pepper to taste.
Take a big oven tray, add some water and squeeze some lemon juice in it as well as rosemary, place skewers on the tray edges so that they don’t touch water, and place the tray in the oven. Grill until meat is tender. When chicken souvlaki is done, throw the pitas in the oven so they get crispy. When done, cut them in four pieces and serve at the plate.
Some people use tomato slices as well in the skewer. If you do so, just place tomatoes between onion and bell pepper, and repeat the rest of the procedure.

Traditional Greek salad recipe

On the menu in every Greek restaurant and many non-Greek restaurants as well, this salad has many individual variations, but here are the basics to work from. This is the traditional version that does not include lettuce.
Note: Many cooks peel the tomatoes if the skins are tough; it's a personal call.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
  • 4-5 large, ripe, tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/4 pound (113.5g) of Greek feta cheese, sliced or cumbled
  • dried Greek oregano (rigani)
  • sea salt
  • top quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 dozen Greek olives (Kalamata, green Cretan olives, etc.)
  • pickled pepperoncini hot peppers (garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon of water (optional)
Wash and dry the tomatoes, cucumber, and green pepper. Clean off the outer skin from the onion, wash, and dry.
Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized irregularly shaped chunks, removing the core. Salt lightly. Slice the cucumber into 1/4-inch slices, cutting slices in half (whether or not you peel the cucumber is a personal choice). Salt lightly. Slice the pepper into rings, removing the stem and seeds. Salt lightly. Slice the onion into thin rings.
Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper and onion in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with oregano, pour olive oil over the salad, and toss. Just before serving, place the feta on top of the salad, either as a slice or crumbled (as in photo), and toss in some olives. Sprinkle the cheese with oregano (and pepper if desired), mix the oil and water and drizzle over the top, and serve, garnished with hot peppers.
Yield: Serves 4-6
Additional ingredients
  • Anchovies: if you like this salty fish, add a couple to the salad before tossing.
  • Capers: toss in a few if you like them.

Where did Shelley go?

Last night was very eventful and tragic because one of Oscars baby turtles went missing! Ozzy was really upset as 'Shelley' was nowhere in the house! Anyway today started with some early appointments and a Starbucks. In the afternoon, we went to one of our properties 'Vista Del Porto' that we are renting on the Chania harbour front, to check in a client! He was extremely excited and thrilled with the views of the sea and the interior. For more information on this apartment, visit:  where there is a range of properties that can be rented, including Villa Dionysia! Later on, we are also going to check another client into one of our other houses, so we are busy, busy, busy! Just off for some lunch in the Palace with Andreas and the kids, the salads there are delicious! Hope everyone has a lovely day Den x

Kitchen of Vista Del Porto
stunning views of the harbour

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fire in Chania!!!

Today the morning started slow...I had a quick sunbathe on the terrace, before Andreas came and dragged me into work and my new PA (my 9 year old son) Oscar. He was really helpful and loved learning about running Cretan Life, he now wants shares in the busineess and to become the MD haha!

Half way through the morning I got a phone call from the kids at home. 'Mum, have you heard about the fire?' They were sunbathing on the roof, when a massive black cloud came over them! Suddenly, there was screaming and shouting coming from around the Turkish quarter! The top of a house was on fire, and smoke was blowing everywhere! The streets of Chania soon crowded, to find out what was happening! The kids said that the fire was quite big, but the fire men were very quick at putting it out! I'm just eating a yummy ice-cream from the shop next door! Love Den x

Happy Birthday Kyriacos! Hope you enjoyed your night! (August 2nd)

Yesterday was a very hot day. My daughter Clarissa was excited because her boyfriend Max was arriving! Unfortunately my youngest Oscar was very ill, so i spent my day looking after him and making sure the house was tidy. Andreas, Harry, Max and Clarissa went to Kyriacos' birthday party at the Swedish Hotel in Kalives (Kiani Beach Resort.) Andreas and the kids seemed to have had a really good time, and said the service was good and the free champers was even better, shame i missed out haha! They said the entertainment was good too and they generally had a fab night and met a few old friends. I think the boys went for a secret drink after in the Palace too! What are they like!? Tonight I cooked my poorly boy a carbonara and watched a movie with my kids! I then went on the roof terrace with a cappuccino, enjoying the lovely views and the cool breeze, watching the people party in Chania.
Below is a picture of the Kiani Beach Resort! It is lovely, friendly and a great place to go in the day! I highly recommend it! Ps Kyriacos, hope you liked your prezzie :)