Food with a twist of the Aegean

I will share two recipes that one of which  my dear friend Thaleia has shared with me (as below).Happy weekend cooking.Here goes...

1.Soutzoukakia (Greek Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce)


• 2 slices thick dense bread (crusts removed)
• 1/2 cup dry red wine
• 1 lb ground lean meat (beef or veal)
• 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 egg
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
• 2 tablespoons grated kefalograviera cheese or mizithra cheese (parmesan makes an excellent substitute)
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• salt and pepper
• flour (for dredging)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 lbs fresh tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon vinegar
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• 1 bay leaf
• 3/4 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Soak the bread in the wine for about 5 minutes, or until thoroughly softened.
Then, squeeze out and reserve the excess wine. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat with the wine soaked bread, onion, garlic, egg, parsley, grated cheese, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients until thoroughly blended. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Dampen your hands, pinch off small portions of meat mixture, about the quantity of a teaspoon or just over, and shape into approximately 20 oval rolls (looks sort of like an elongated, slightly flattened, meatball). Dredge them in flour. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the meatballs and fry until browned all over, turning occasionally and allowing time for the meat to cook thoroughly. (alternatively, if you want a 'lighter' recipe, you could just brown in a non-stick pan or bake them in the oven - not as flavourful, but still good). Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the oil you fried the meatballs in through a fine sieve into a cooking pan. Add all the sauce ingredients, and the reserved wine. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is thick. Drop in the meatballs, stir to cover all over with the sauce, and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
Serve hot with rice, french fries, or mashed potatoes. Yummm...:)

2. Asure

This isn't the easiest dish I have to admit. I personally got the help of a very advanced cook: My grandmother:)
It is believed that Asure will bring prosperity and peace to the homes it is prepared in. Its a festive food for sure. Feel free to add more different types of dry fruit as you would like...
Here's a quote from the site http://www.ethicrecipes.us/ :
 "Asure is a pudding of cereal grains, sugar, and raisins. During the month that follows the feast of sacrifice (Kurban Bayrami), women in almost every household prepare this dessert in large amounts, offering it to guests and sending it to relatives and neighbors. And, because everyone makes it, families and friends usually just end up exchanging bowls of the sweet dish.Tradition has it that asure was invented after a great flood that, according to a biblical story, covered the world. Noah built an ark (ship) in anticipation of the flood. When the flood subsided, the ark carrying Noah's group of survivors came to rest on Mount Ararat in northeastern Turkey. Noah called for a celebration. Although the passengers' supplies were nearly exhausted, they used what food remained to make a splendid feast of asure. The asure recipe we've included in this section, Noah's Dessert, is a great rainy-day activity.


  •  1/2 cup barley, soaked in 3 cups water 6 hours or overnight
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup currants, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
  • 1/4 cup short-grain rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1/4 cup dried figs, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts

How to prepare:
Soak raisins, apricots, and currants in very hot water for 5 minutes. Drain. Drain soaked barley and transfer to large saucepan. Add 4 cups water to barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until tender. Add rice. Cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in  the salt, chickpeas, kidney beans, raisins, apricots, and 1/4 cup currants. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch mixture with 2 tablespoons of cooking liquid in a small bowl. Set aside. Add sugar to barley mixture. Stir for 2 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until mixture thickens. Return mixture to a boil. Add rose water and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer pudding to a serving bowl. Refrigerate and serve cold, garnished with currants, figs, almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts.
Preparation time: 30 minutes(plus at least 6 hours soaking time)
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 6

And here's some we made earlier....