Unique traditional Pies of Greece

pites-filoPies are a significant part of the global gastronomy. Generally pie is defined as a mixture of pastry and filling. It can be closed, open, sweet or savory. Its origins are found in the Mediterranean region. We can say that all today’s pastry creations (open tarts, flans etc.) are pies’ “descendants”. Pies even existed in the ancient world. During that times, pies were made with a simple mixture of flour with eggs and cheese. Later on, meat and other ingredients were added to the recipes.

Regarding Ancient Greece, we have evidence of a clay figurine from 5th century BC that shows a woman holding in her hands a kind of pan filled with small pies. As we read in historical texts, pies was a very common dish, and people were fond of them and would eat them in regular basis. There was “Plakous” which was a pie from flour and water that was baked on a stone (“plaka”) near the fire and therefore got its name. The most typical pie of ancient Greece was made with flour and cheese, honey and olive oil. Nowadays we have a resembling recipe from8955415_s Crete, called “Kaltsounia”. Another famous ancient pie was “Mitotos” that was made with cheese, garlic and honey. The fat that was originally used in the making of Greek pies was olive oil. Later, more kinds of fat were added to the recipes like butter, lard etc. Still, there are a lot of pies that are solely made with olive oil.

Pies later on spread in all Greek regions. It was considered the food of the poor. During the past decades, women that were hard working farmers etc., used to prepare a pie in the morning before they went to the field, so the rest of the family would have a ready meal to enjoy when they returned home. Later, they started to experiment with its ingredients, accordingly to what grew in each land. Vegetables, cheese, meat and herbs were added and pies started to become a rich dish full of taste. Then they started to use different kinds of flours, wheat, corn or semolina. Using honey or sugar they even turned them into desserts.

As a tribute to this delicious legacy of Greece, we would like to present you 5 unique pies, from 5 different regions of Greece, indicative of the imagination and the taste habits of each region.

  • Chaniotiko mpoureki (Chania, Crete)

  μπουρέκι 2-1304586194  This is a Cretan traditional recipe made mainly during the summer months, when zucchinis are freshly grown. It contains zucchinis and potatoes in thin slices and dairy ingredients like anthotiro, mizithra, milk and yogurt. It is light and rich in aromas of the Cretan land. There is an alternative of this pie, where handmade phyllo is being used both in the bottom and the top of the vegetables.

Ingredients
1 1/2 kg zucchini
4 medium sized potatoes
1kg xinomyzithra
½ kg grated ricotta
1 ½ cups. Grated gruyere
1 cup. Strained yogurt
1 cup. Milk
2 medium tomatoes, grated
1 cup. Fresh mint, chopped
2 cups. Plain flour
1 ½ tbsp. Sesame seeds
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. Olive oil for the Pyrex
How to
Peel the potatoes and rinse the well. Wash zucchinis and remove their tips. Cut the zucchini and potatoes into very
thin slices, almost transparent. Put the sliced zucchini in a colander and add salt to remove their moist. Boil the potato slices in a pan with plenty of salted water for 2-3 ‘. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a colander. Leave to drain and then pour them into a large bowl.Preheat the oven to180 °C. Pour the cheese in a bowl, break with a fork, add the yogurt and milk and mix well. Add the grated tomatoes to the bowl with zucchini and potatoes and mint, half the quantity of the mixture of cheese, milk, olive oil, pepper and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir to mix all the ingredients well.Oil a Pyrex 35×24 cm and spread the mixture with a spatula. Lay over the cheese mixture, sprinkle with flour that you have left over and sesame.Bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven at 180 ° C in air. Then cover the baking dish with foil and bake for another 40’ at 150 ° C. Remove it from the oven and allow to cool. Cut into portions and serve.
  • Ladenia Kimolou (Kimolos, Cyclades)

ladeniaIt’s said to be the ancestor of the Italian pizza. Ladenia is a traditional pie recipe from Kimolos, a small island of Cyclades. It is one of the easiest and simplest pie recipes of Greece, and is truly admired for its taste. They key to success is the quality of the ingredients, the sweet mature tomatoes, the authentic Greek onions and the herbs of the Greek land. For the recipe to succeed, you also need Greek extra virgin olive oil, in order to highlight the flavors.

Crust:
   400 g plain flour
8 gr dried yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
     1, 5 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking powder
125 ml olive oil
225 ml slightly warm water
Topping:
     2 large, ripe tomatoes
     2 large onions
150ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. coarse salt
     black pepper
How to
In a bowl place the flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder and salt and stir softly. In the middle make a gap, big enough to see the bottom of the bowl. Mix the warm water with the oil and pour in the gap. Using your palm try to slowly incorporate the liquid mixture in the flour mixture. Knead until you have a soft dough that does not stick to your fingers. Leave the dough covered with a towel in a warm place for 1 hour to rise.Grease a medium baking pan. Cut the tomatoes and onions into rings. Open the dough on a floured surface in 2 cm height. Transfer it to the pan and try to cover the bottom of the pan, by using your palms.Place the tomato and onion slices on top. Season with salt, pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano. Bake in preheated oven at 180C, for 45-50 minutes. Can be enjoyed hot and at room temperature.
  • Skopelitiki Strifti Tyropita (Skopelos, Sporades)
pie_1
Ingredients
1 Kg Skopelos feta cheese
1 Kg flour
1 tbsp olive oil
water slightly warm
half cup of corn flour
Olive oil for frying
pepper
How to
Put the plain flour in a bowl and create in the center a small puddle to pour the oil and salt. Begin to knead the mixture throwing gradually lukewarm water (as needed) until the dough is not soft but not too hard. Cut the dough into three balls and let them rest for 20 minutes. Put the cheese in a bowl, crush with a fork and add pepper. Sprinkle the counter with corn flour and roll one sheet. Brush the surface of each sheet with a little olive oil and spread cheese on it. Roll the sheet roll and then shape it like a snail. Fry each piece in plenty of hot olive oil on both sides until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Eaten warm.
  • Mpougatsa/ Bougatsa Thessalonikis (Thessaloniki, northern Greece)

DSC01528This is a really old Greek recipe, firstly made from Greeks of Istanbul. When they came back to Greece as refugees, they also brought the traditional recipe and their experience on how to prepare an authentic bougatsa. Preparing a bougatsa is relatively easy. Preparing an authentic bougatsa needs experience, traditional recipe and accuracy. It has a so-called air dough (it is lifted in the air) and it is the most important part of the recipe. Classic Bougatsa is sweet, and is made with handmade cream filling. During the years the bougatsa dough has been used with many ingredients and now we have an enormous variety of bougatsa pies with cheese, spinach, meat and many others.

Ingredients
(for the dough)
300 g. flour
40 g. fresh butter
150 g. water
1 pinch salt
+ extra butter for dough sheets
(for cream)
6 glasses of milk
12 tablespoons corn flour
18 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
5 eggs
cinnamon
Powdered cinnamon for serving
How to
Cream
Heat 5 glasses of milk in the pot until warm enough and then remove from heat.In another glass of cold milk dissolve the corn flour. Add the cold milk with the corn flour, sugar and cinnamon into the hot milk and stir well. Pour butter and stir until melted. Beat the eggs and slowly add them to the mixture, stirring slowly. Continue stirring over very low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
Dough
Pour all of our materials in your mixing bowl and mix (preferably with special hook for yeast) for 10 minutes at moderate speed. Divide the dough in two and make two dough balls. Place them in two basins with a little bit of butter, cover with cling film and leave for 1-2 hours to rise.With a rolling pin press the first ball of dough until it reaches the size of a pizza base. Using your fingers start to toss them high and place it back on the counter in order to stretch it enough to form a large sheet. Butter your dough sheet and fold it in half. Cut in 2 pieces. Repeat the process for the second dough ball. You should have 4 ready dough sheets by now. Put the cold cream on the first sheet and fold the sheet as a folder. (Size of the “folder” should be like an A4 paper) Bake in a preheated oven at 170-180 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, until golden brown. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  • Kefallonitiki Kreatopita (Kefallonia, Ionian Sea)

kreatopita

Ingredients

1 package puff pastry
1/2 kg lamb cut into small pieces
1/2 kg pork cut into small pieces
1/2 cup. Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tbsp. mint, finely chopped
4 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup. Robola (Kefallonia dry white wine)
1/2 cup. water
1/2 cup. rice
1 egg
freshly ground pepper
salt
1 cup. Kefalotiri cheese from Kefallonia
This recipe is for a rectangular pan of about 40 cm length.
In a wide frying pan sauté the chopped meat in olive oil for 6-7 ‘. Add the onions and let them become translucent. Add garlic and after a few minutes add the tomato paste and wine and mix well. Add the water. Lower heat, cover and let simmer for about 1 hour, until the meat pieces become tender and soft. Add salt and pepper and the rice. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the spices, the chopped herbs and the egg. Mix well. Brush the baking pan with a little bit of butter. Gently stretch the pastry to cover the sides of the pan. Spread a medium layer of cold filling. Sprinkle with Kefalotiri cheese. Cover with second pastry. Tweak with fingers the edges to seal the pie. With a sharp knife, carve the pastry in medium pieces. Bake in a well preheated oven at 220oC or at 200oC in air, in the middle rack. After the first 10 minutes lower the temperature to 180oC or at 160oC, respectively, without opening the oven. Bake for about an hour and until the surface of the pastry is golden brown.

Pie was and is a famous dish because of 4 main characteristics. Easy to make, can be eaten every hour of the day, taste delicious and are full of nutrients. Moreover it can be kept in the fridge for some days, and is easy to transfer in pieces. That makes it the perfect lunch for work or school, the perfect breakfast, and a snack to be eaten at any time.

Do you have a traditional pie recipe to share ?

We’re waiting for your comments and ideas!

  • We would like to thank our friends and partners who kindly shared with us the above recipes. They are part of the traditional Gastronomy of Greece, and we are happy to share them with you.
  • Do not forget to like us on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/greekbrandsfoods

Sources

  1. http://www.everythingpies.com/history-of-pie.html
  2. http://www.kerasma.gr/default.asp?entryID=412&pageID=114&langid=2&pageCode=&tablePageID=33&pageNo=3&direction=asc&orderby=&f_Eating_Greek_
  3. http://www.athinorama.gr/umami/food/articles/?id=2005594

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Greek Olive Oil : Export trends for 2014-2015

10905523_s It is considered one of the most valuable export products for Greece. This is why we refer to it as liquid gold. Greek olive oil offers us a competitive edge in quality and a powerful asset in our exports portfolio.

The way Greek olive oil has been exported has changed dramatically through the years. From bulk containers with no actual product specifications, we have reached an era in which everything is reported and controlled. Olive oil products are now in specific packaging and come with labels of nutrients, expire dates and lot numbers. They also have quality certificates and are traceable in terms of crop, producer and batch.

Greek olive oil may have a bulk history, but it seems as though this era has come to an end. Now branded Greek olive oil is gaining ground. It comes in sophisticated packaging, ready to be communicated and sold internationally. Behind all this, lies a great effort in marketing, promotion and communication.

583338_sAbout exports, year 2013-2014 has not been a good year for Greece in terms of quantity and pricing, as it wasn’t a good year for the olive trees. Fortunately this prediction is not going to be verified this year. As described in the International Olive Oil council’s newsletter this is going to be a success year for Greece. The production is predicted to double since last year and is projected to surpass even other countries’ production climbing up to more than 300.000 tons. In the meantime, rest of the Europe is facing a rough year, mainly due to bad weather conditions. Moreover, predictions indicate that there will be higher demand than supply and consequently, that will lead to higher prices.

Taking into account its qualitative superiority, its supreme taste and its beneficial characteristics, one can easily conclude that this is an opportunity for Greek olive oil to develop and flourish.

This is more like a Marathon run, so the required supplies towards this goal are resistance, determination and persistence.

The focus point is to keep the demand in high levels, by pointing out its added value in comparison to other olive oils. This goal can be achieved, but it requires a lot of effort in marketing, a full exploitation of distribution channels, and continuing advertising.

http://www.greekbrands.com

http://www.greek-olive-oil.com

Ideas for a Greek style Thanksgiving

Yes. It’s almost Christmas!

thanksgiving recipe

But before Christmas, there is another beautiful opportunity for celebration. It’s Thanksgiving time!

During this month we have come across hundreds of articles and recipes on Thanksgiving and we came up with the idea to demonstrate some of these recipes combining the spirit of Thanksgiving with a Greek unique twist! Authentic Greek food products have unique healthy characteristics (climate, soil etc) as well as a rich delicious taste. Greek yogurt, Greek olive oil, Feta cheese and Greek olives are starring in our everyday cuisine but now we’ll see them starring in Thanksgiving classics too.

If you want to add a little bit of Greek spirit in your holiday dishes this year, this list will show you how!

Every Thanksgiving dinner needs its starter dishes; you can prepare a Greek salad  or watch how you can prepare one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vFC62iwsvM . An excellent idea is to prepare several starters so your guests are occupied until you finish with the serving of the table. Check some ideas with feta here. You can also bake a different homemade bread stuffed with Greek olives to serve along with a platter of cheeses.

When thinking about side dishes, there are many inspirations like this recipe for Greek oven roasted potatoes. If you have decided to prepare the classic mashed potatoes, check this wonderful recipe for fluffy mashed potatoes with Greek yogurt and chives,

Without the all-time classic dish of oven roasted turkey, we could not speak of Thanksgiving. You can follow the classic instructions for the baking process and prepare a separate stuffing recipe. You can watch a unique Greek stuffing recipe with Kalamata olives and feta cheese. Or if you’d like to prepare the traditional turkey with stuffing watch these 4 Greek inspired stuffing recipes here http://www.dianekochilas.com/greek-style-stuffings-and-gravy/ . Except of the classic gravy recipe you can also prepare some other “side” sauces that are beautifully combined with meat dishes like these http://www.topgreekyogurt.com/greekyogurtrecipes.html .

Last but not least comes the selection of the dessert that will close your dinner in a sweet way. We have some suggestions based on light and fresh ingredients rather than heavier choices. The choices we propose are a Greek yogurt Cheesecake with pomegranate syrup or a lemon mousse with Greek yogurt.

Share these lovely Greek inspired recipes with your loved ones and make this holiday season unique. We hope you have a great time!

Thank you,

Greek Brands.

5 + 3 reasons why Greek olive oil is so precious

Olive oil is a world known product with significant consumption. It is widely known that using extra virgin olive oil in cooking gives us better taste results and major health benefits. Greece has the highest extra virgin olive oil production and consumption rates. Greek olive oil is considered the best olive oil in the world, due to its unique valuable characteristics.

So, why Greek olive oil is so precious?

History of more than 4.000 years

According to mythology, Athens city took its name from goddess Athena, when she decided to offer the city an olive tree, considering that this was the most valuable offering she could give. The olive tree in Greece has a history of more than 4 millennia, and historically was considered a sacred tree and a symbol of peace, wisdom and triumph. Olympic champions were crowned by olive wreaths.

Authentic – Not blended

Lots of olive oils produced, are a blend of various oils in terms of origins and qualities. This is happening for cost reduction. Greek extra virgin olive oil is not blended, it’s authentic, 100% Greek.

Superior taste, aroma & color

Greek olive oil due to all its quality characteristics, is a product of excellent taste, has a fine aroma and a deep golden-green color.

Hand-picked olives

The terrain where Greek olive trees are naturally grown, is not always accessible by collecting vehicles and equipment. For this reason, the majority of the Greek olives are hand-picked by experienced farmers, to ensure top quality and perfect timing, maintaining the tradition.

Low acidity by default

Mild climate and physical environment ensures naturally low acidity in the Greek extra virgin olive oil being produced from the fruit.

Features of Greek extra virgin olive oil seem quite amazing, don’t they?

As a consumer you enjoy an amazing product with so much stories to tell and so much culinary and healthy benefits to gain from.

Why Greek olive oil is a must for a food business?

Unique consumer satisfaction

Greek olive oil is so healthy and enjoyable and thus the consumer has a unique taste experience. It’s a win-win situation for both customers and businesses that creates loyal, returning customers, willing to repurchase the offered products.

Well-known branded product

Greek olive oil is very well known around the world due to its quality characteristics. It is a highly appreciated product, not only from the Greeks, but also from the millions of visitors to Greece that enjoy Greek traditional cuisine during their visit.

Variety and competitive advantage

Greek olive oil gives an edge to any portfolio and a more attractive products variety. Furthermore, Greek olive oil is so premium and unique that differentiates from competition, gives an extra weapon to the price war and provides a competitive advantage.

Have you ever tried Greek olive oil?

Share with us your thoughts and comments.

Panos Mavrakis,

Owner of Greek Brands.

Back to school Greek snack ideas

back to school snacks

The new school year is just beginning. Students are preparing mentally and physically for the new season’s demands, and probably the parents are in the same position. Depending on the grade, weekly schedules can be very demanding. Especially when it involves physical activity like sports, swimming etc. Nutrition of students plays a crucial role in their performance, energy supplies and good mental health. Generally, give an extra notice on quality of ingredients, flavor, versatility, and fat percent. Based on the high nutritional quality of certain Greek products and in order to be prepared in terms of snacks and lunches, we are giving you some alternative snack ideas with a Greek touch, that your family will love, and you will enjoy the most preparing them.

Preparing snacks with Greek ingredients, will bring variety on your table and health characteristics that you needed!

avacado1. Aromatic sandwich with avocado and feta cheese

Ingredients:
Bread of your choice
2 thin slices of barrel aged feta cheese
Some basil leaves
1/2 mature avocado
2-3 tomato slices
Some fresh onion in really thin slices

Open your bread in half, spread the avocado and add all the ingredients. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Close your sandwich, and prepare for the most exciting bite!

Stuffed baguettes  2. Stuffed baguette

You’ll need some baguettes, a long spoon, and all of our favorite sandwich ingredients!
Cut the baguettes in half, and remove all the crumb. Stuff the baguettes with the ingredients you like, but make sure they are a little moist (cream cheese, or sauce) so they cover up the inside of the baguette evenly. Put them in the fridge for a half day, and remove it. Cut in 2 cm slices, and serve.

Stuffing: 2 slices Feta cheese, ½ tomato, 2 slices ham, 2-3 sliced Kalamata olives  , oregano.
Tip : You can adjust the ingredients according to your taste, but do not overdo it with the quantity.

 3. Quick Cheese Pie8487183_s

Ingredients:
1 cup raising flour
1 cup soft butter
2 cups Greek yogurt
4 eggs
1/2 kg. Feta cheese, crumbled, not mashed
bread crumbs
sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients together except breadcrumbs. Grease an ovenproof baking pan and spread the breadcrumbs. Put the mixture into the pan and spread some sesame seeds on top. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 180oC. Serve warm or cold.

burgers-b4. Homemade Greek Burger

Ingredients:
Burger breads
Slices of feta cheese
Slices of tomato
1 homemade beef burger (made of minced meat, onion and olive oil)
Yogurt dip (yogurt, salt, dill, mustard)
Some lettuce
Onion slices

Slightly bake your breads after you have cut it in halves, and prepare a buffet of the ingredients, so everyone in the family can prepare his/her own version of Greek Burger.
Variety matters!

banana-smoothi 5. Greek Yogurt Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 banana
1 cup Greek yogurt
Some ice cubes
A pinch of cinnamon
1 jar
1 thick straw

Mix the banana, the yogurt and ice with the cinnamon together, until creamy. Pour them into the jar, and place a thick straw. Done. Running late? Grab the jar, and take it with you!

Share with us your thoughts and recommendations.
Which are your typical school snacks?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil. But why Greek?

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Greece is a land that is blessed with an amazingly fertile soil and ideal climate conditions. Many of the Greek food products are considered to be unique in terms of taste and nutritional characteristics. Greek Olive Oil is one of these products. All of us have at some point read about Olive Oils and how many benefits arise by their consumption.

Then what is it that makes Greek Olive Oil so special?

Greece’s long lasting tradition in olive tree cultivation and olive oil production has a history of more than 5 millennia.
In Greece there are perfect soil and weather conditions in order for the olive trees to grow and fructify at their maximum. That also appears in the numbers of the yearly olive oil production. Greece produces more than 430,000 tons of olive oil annually, a percent that places Greece in the 3rd position in the world classification of olive oil producer-countries.

While speaking of percentages, notice that more than 75%-80% of that is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is the best type of olive oil, due to its lowest acidity levels (< 0,8).

In fact about one third of the total olive oil production (Extra Virgin and Virgin) is exported. The remaining quantity gives Greece the first position in per capita consumption at world level, at approximately 26 liters per year.
Another unique characteristic of Greek Olive Oil, is that it comes from hand-picked olives. There is a majority of small producers that do not use machinery and special equipment to harvest their trees. So it is much more special to taste a juice of a fruit that it is carefully hand-picked from the tree.

The taste, aroma and color are also indications of the unique quality of the Greek extra virgin olive oil. It is an extra virgin olive oil with an extremely fine taste and comes from cold first pressings that meet the ultimate standards.

Greek extra virgin olive oil is the best nutritional gift we can offer to ourselves.