A Greek tribute to flour

Flour is a substantial part of every cuisine in the world. It comes in many types, and people around the world consume it almost in daily basis. Do you know its meaning?

123Flour drives us to the word “flower” which is derived from the French “fleur”, with the literal meaning “blossom”. This describes the fine product of flour, which was produced during milling. In Greek the world for flour is “alevri”. It is derived from the verb “aletho” which means grind. Flour is obtained by grinding the seeds/nuts/cereals and is thoroughly used in pastry, bakery and cooking. It is an ingredient that plays an important part in global nutrition, and in the past it was used as a measure defining nations’ prosperity. The lack of flour had vast economic and social results for the country.

It is not known when man started experimenting with the milling of wheat, producing flour. In his transcripts, Homer often referred to millstones and milling, as something very common for that time.

The milling works like this: 2 large heavy stones of cylindrical shape, put together, are pressing between them the seeds. The pulverized product is pushed to the sides and eventually is being collected. There were many types of mills used for the flour production. Starting from the hand mill, where the upper stone was hand moved, to mills which functioned with solar or wind energy. Nowadays, the procedure is completed with the help of automated machinery.

Flour is derived by a large variety of nuts and seeds. Semolina, hard, soft, cornmeal, oatmeal, rye, barley, chickpea, almond, soy are a sample of flour types that can be produced. The most common types of flour are: Bread flour, pastry flour, all purpose flour and self-rising flour.

sprouted flour-resized-600The quality of the flour depends on 3 characteristics:

  • Way of milling
  • Grade of panning
  • Seed quality

In Greece, there is a vast variety of delicacies, made with flour. The most significant is bread, which is an integral part of our diet for centuries. Every kind of dough/pastry (phylo pastry, puff pastry) is made with flour. Dough is used in a vast variety of dishes both sweet and savory. Traditional pies, pasta, bagels and breadsticks, cookies and biscuits, various pastries, traditional cakes, halva or semolina pastries and many more, are a small proof of how important flour is to Greek cuisine.

Examples of typical Greek dishes used with flour or flour products

  • Traditional Greek pies like tyropita, spanakopita, and others.
  • Barley rusks, made with barley flour, are used in the Cretan traditional “Dakos” recipe.
  • Traditional sweets like kourabiethes, tsoureki, semolina halva, baklava, Greek custard pie and loukoumathes, are all made with flour.

Below you will find the recipe from the Greek traditional Halva, which is made with semolina flour.

1

Semolina Halva
Ingredients
1 cup olive oil
2 cups coarse semolina
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
cinnamon
almonds
pine nuts
blonde raisins

Heat the olive oil in the pot, and add the semolina. Slowly roast the semolina, constantly stirring. When it has a darker richer color, add the sugar and water. Be careful, big hot blisters of halva are going to pop, so use an oven glove and protect your hands. Stir constantly over low fire until the mixture is detached from the pot. Add ½ spoon cinnamon, some pine nuts, almonds and raisins and give it a few more stirs. Pour the mixture in a form and let it cool. Serve and enjoy!

What’s your favorite flour delicacy?

Waiting for your thoughts and opinions.

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

Sources:

http://www.wheatworld.org

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flour

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.
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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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