Bruschetta (?) My Way

Since it is summer, I am more keen in making and creating dishes, that are summery and fresh that combine a large number of various elements: texture, flavors and engage all the senses. This is what I making today. A take on a bruschetta, the italian delicacy that is been around since the 15th century. It was a fun recipe since it is largely similar to the the previous post in regards to the ingredients. It showcases that sam ingredients put together in a different way results in such a different result.As you probably noticed on the title next to the bruschetta is a question mark. Why? Because I think that in the melting culinary pot in america many cuisines were merged, fused, combined and unavoidably either lost their origin meaning or got a load of new ingredients, that changed drastically their appearance and flavor profile.

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My Take on a Classic: Greek Salad

Greek salad is the poster boy of greek cuisine. And for a good reason. It combines in a plate all the vegetables that mean summer in Greece; sweet juicy tomatoes, succulent snappy cucumbers, peppery sweet onions, crisp peppers and of course who can leave out the greek briny cheese. All of the held together with the power of olive oil, topped with oregano. A herb that is 100% greek. You find it in abundance in the hills and mountains of the greek country side. The greek salad is not only a delicious combination, but it is also visually appealing. You eat with your eyes first. All the crisp vegetables also engage the hearing in the experience. It is therefore a full sense experience. The quintessential greek summer (and not only dish).It is also a classic dish. So why remake a dish that As my professor of thermodynamic if you are going to repeat something that has been done many times before, you either need to right a wrong, or offer something brand new. In this post I am approaching both aspects. Greek salad in the US has involved to something strange. Started with tomatoes and cucumber and soon peperoncini chilies, lettuce, huge olives joined the party. The final salad is a abomination that the only common thing with greek salad is the feta cheese. And this is a complain of mine: slapping feta cheese on top of anything and calling it greek? WRONG!!!This is the first part I will try to address. Also I will show a slightly different recipe from what it is typical in Greece. So are you ready? Of course you are…

My Mom’s Cheese Pie (tyro pita)

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This is the final recipe that concludes the countdown to the 100th recipe! It is my mom’s recipe that is her most famous dish. She made it thousands of times, for thousands of occasions, and thousands of people. It is based on a traditional greek pie made with various cheeses most notably feta cheese. This is a much better version, not only because it is made from the best cook I ever met (my mom) bt also because it is a much lighter in taste not very overwhelming with cheese. Additionally this is a recipe that can be made pretty much with every type of cheese you have around. Here, however, we stay with traditions the one and only feta cheese.

Feta cheese is the most famous cheese of Greece and it is selected as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). It is made almost exclusively with goat’s or sheep’s milk or a mixture of the two. The milk is boiled gently and rennet is added as is typical of all cheeses. Here however the temperature is slightly higher to separate casein (traditional protein in hard cheeses) from whey (typical byproduct of cheese making, used for creamy cheeses as ricotta). The curds are separated and are places in large containers left to dry. They are salted regularly each day for 5-6 days. For other cheeses normally the process will carry on for months multi it is dry and hard. Feta, however, once hard it is cut in large slices that are salted and then placed to cure in a brine solution (based on water or whey and salt) for several months. The word feta in greek means slice and that’s where the name comes from. The salt is not only for flavor but also and mail as a preservative. Outside the brine, it dries out rapidly so prefer to buy feta in brine. As long as it is submerged under the brine level it will keep for ever… Well it will last less than it keeps. It is among the oldest cheeses and was first recorded in the Byzantine Empire. Feta is a soft white brined cheese with small holes, a compact touch, few cuts, and no skin. It is very nice for baking as it is not melting and also on salads as it is very crumply.

So for this recipe other than the feta that is the main ingredient we will use:
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  • 1 lb of feta in brine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 7 heaping tbsp of semolina flour
  • 4 cups of milk (1 lt to be precise)
  • 1 package of phyllo

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Start by heating up the 3 cups of milk

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Measure and add the semolina flour. This is fine semolina flour. Many times the ratio can vary, as different semolina flours have different thickening ability.

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Stir it well and bring it to a boil and let it simmer.

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Add i tbsp of butter.

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Add it in the mixture.

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Separate the yolks from the white.

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Keep the whites separate.

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And beat the whites to a foam… (sorry no pictures). Add them to the mixture slowly until it is fold completely.

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Beat the egg yolks well.

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Add them also in the mixture. Yes technically this is just mixing all the ingredients. Keep about a tbsp of the egg mixture.

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Now take out the feta from the brine.

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And crumple it over the mixture.

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Like this…

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Mix well.

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Now take the rest of the butter and melt it.

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Oil a baking dish.

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Spread the oil well.

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Lay a sheet of dough.

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Lay one on top of the other and add butter in-between.

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When you go through half of the sheets add the cheese mixture.

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Spread it evenly as you add it. Until it is all finished.

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Spread it to even out the surface.

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Fold the sheets on top.

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And add the rest of the sheets of dough.

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Add on the surface the remaining egg for nice browning.

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With a sharp nice cut it into portions.

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Bake at 350 F. Yes these are sweet potatoes. There is so much heat in there… Don’t let it go wasted.

As always when something is very good, you don’t have the patience to take pictures out of it. So you got to imagine how it looks baked.

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Oh… I love my mom’s cooking, and I love her. She taught me all I know, all I cook. Not the techniques. The techniques you can find in cookbooks. But what is Greek home cooking.