A Greek Spice: Masticha

Masticha is also know as the greek vanilla since it used to flavor the deserts in greece before the fabulous vanilla appear in the picture. Personally although I don ‘t want to get into the game of supporting one versus the other, but I just think that mastic is more versatile and can substitute vanilla in 90% of the deserts. A different taste, but equally tasty. It was used since the ancient times, for various applications mainly for the hygiene of the mouth. Currently the market is flooded with pills, mouth wash, gum and palms that carry as basic ingredient the masticha resin. So much that is actually easier to find the masticha products than the masticha itself.

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Spinach Pie with a Twist

A spinach pie with a real twist I gave it. Just to make more fun the process of eating. And increase the mystery that surrounds the pie. The concept is actually not original. It is inspired by a pie called saricopita and it is very very common at the mountains of Crete. It resembles the way the sarici (a cretan traditional head-wear) is wrapped around the head. Spinach pie (spanakopita), in every form, is a great summer food. Light, tasty and goes great with Ouzo.

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Saffron or Crocus

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant’s carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and coloring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world’s most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece. The tedious and elaborate process to produce and grow saffron makes it the most expensive spice on earth right now, and one of the most expensive food items. It requires 160,000 flowers to produce a kilogram of saffron. Saffron flower has three yellow and three orange buds. The orange is the most flavorful and has the highest amount of chromatic substances and pure orange saffron can easily reach to $3,000 per lb. Powder saffron is cheaper but that ‘s because the saffron is mixed with turmeric that reduces the price and unfortunately the taste and color ability.

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Halvah

Halva is on of my favorite deserts. Not only because it is simple to make, but mainly because in my eyes it is just a canvas where you can play with the spices and the flavorings you want. Traditionally this is known to be a Greek desert, however, I now that a similar variation is encountered in Turkey and in India. I will highlight the differences later on the post, but for now let me tell you more about the desert. It was originated somewhere in the middle east, most likely to the region close to India. The basic ingredients are, fat, starch and sugar. We start with the fat that will be the carrier of the flavors and intensify the sweet taste. The starch will provide the main body and structure of the desert. The sugar… Well that you can guess. The only other basic ingredient required here is a water based ingredient that will cook everything.

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Eggplant Quest

Summer is here… And all that comes with summer. Warm weather, heat waves, ice creams… and eggplants. Yeah I said eggplants. You know it is a vegetable that you can find year around, but the price, the quality and the taste are so much better during the hot summer weather. It is a vegetable, or to be precise a fruit, that is very popular around the Mediterranean, specially in Greece, Turkey, Italy and Egypt. Yes I said a fruit. Technically a fruit, in botany, is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant. And that is exactly what eggplant is.

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