This is an inevitable post. Inevitable since just in the previous I presented the sibling dish of this one, the hummus. This one is all about eggplant. The one plant that has become a stable food around Mediterranean and primarily in the middle-eastern countries. Most of these countries rely heavily on vegetables as power source. Eggplant is not one of them. It is a plant, but not a power source. With a mere 25 kcal per 100 g of the fruit, eggplant is food with low energy value. It does have some other minerals and vitamins, but again they are not even enough to make eggplant a “super-food”. Then why do we eat it? Why is it so valuable in Middle East, India etc?
If you need to add a sweet element, but the temperature required does not facilitate the melting of raw sugar, simple syrup is the way to go! Like most Greeks deserts, simple syrup is applied to a large variety of sweets like baklava and galactoboureko. In America, simple syrup is the common sweetener for iced tea and coffee. Simple syrup is also on of the best ingredients for cocktails. Syrup brighten ups the flavors and take the sharpness of harsh liquor.
This is the fourth significant recipe towards the countdown. In a way it is one more tribute to my island. It is the traditional way we are curring the green olives. And this recipe is from my grandma. The one person that knows how to make them perfect. She is making them every year for more than 50 years. This particular variations in Crete are called tsakistes ( τσακιστές ). This means crushed. You used to take the olives, and crush then with a rock or a small hammer, enough to crack open the meat of the olive. More on why later. They are served with lots of lemon and sea salt. My favorite treat since I was a kid.
This is the third recipe that has a special meaning. It is from my island in Greece the glorious island of Crete, and even more specifically from my Home town, the town of Ierapetra ( Ιεράπετρα ) that literally translates as Hollystone. Crete is most known for the agriculture and farming, ranging from olive oil, vegetables and wine to animal farming (sheep and goats) and fishing. It is in a way self sustained island. The wine industry although not well developed is responsible for a great by product. All the leftover grape mush after the juice is extracted. This waste is converted to one of the most celebrated distilled spirit of Crete tsikoudia (τσικουδιά) or raki after the turkish version of another distilled spirit. One difference with all the other spirits? It is never mixed, not even with ice. Always straight, never in a cocktail. Well things are about to change. I just made a perfect cocktail based on the same techniques of all the classic cocktails.
A hot summer day there are very few things that can beat the refreshing taste of lemonade. It is not only the aroma of the lemon but also the sour and sweet that battle on your tongue for the last word. It is also the cold liquid, very often sparkling, liquid that accommodates such an event. There are many recipes for lemonade, but the one that is the most close to my heart is the one that the best cook I know used to make. That is my mom. The best lemonade period. Why? Well it is so simple! No need to make syrup boil the juice. A few simple ingredients and that’s all. Although I added a few tweaks myself, just so it can be closer to what I like the recipe is mom all over. There are no long introduction, or history about it… It is a lemonade that’s all it is. Actually to be precise I should call it citrusade. It can be done with all citruses that are unpleasant to the taste, lemons, limes, grapefruits, pergamont etc. All you need is sugar (and love, but that is not a real ingredient). So here, since the lemons are a bit of season I chose to go with limes, that are also of season but cheaper.