Portokalopita from The Peloponnese – Greek Orange Phyllo Pie

 


  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Basic Skills

Amazing, Delicious, Heavenly, Impressive are just a few words to describe this mouthwatering dessert! I had the pleasure of learning to make this creamy custard dessert at THE GREEK KITCHEN while in Athens. If working with phyllo was ever intimidating to you then this is the specialty dessert you will love to make to impress your family and friends...the phyllo is shredded and you cannot make a mistake. Imagine mistake proof and impressive! 😋😋😋

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients:

  • 500g Phyllo Sheets (18-20 sheets)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g sugar (1 cup)
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 300g fresh Greek Yogurt-full fat (1.057 cups or 10.7 ounces)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 200 ml Sunflower oil (7 ounces)
  • sunflower oil for greasing

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 200g Sugar (1 cup)
  • 1.5 cups room temperature water
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1 Cinnamon stick                                                                                                                                       

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 360 F.
  2. Remove the phyllo dough sheets from packaging and shred into small tears using a knife or your hands.
  3. Grease an 8″ or 9″ baking dish or cake pan with sunflower oil.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs and sugar with a whisk. Beat until the mixture is pale and frothy.
  5. Add the orange zest, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and baking powder and continue to beat until well combined.
  6. While beating, slowly add the sunflower oil.
  7. Gradually put the shredded phyllo into the bowl and combine with a spatula until everything is fully incorporated.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and place in the oven for 45 minutes-1 hour or until the cake has risen and is golden brown.
  9. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan. You will need to let the cake cool completely before adding the syrup.
  10. To make the syrup: bring the water, sugar, orange juice, and cinnamon stick to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  11. Pour the hot syrup over the cold portokalopita and set aside for approximately 1 hour until the syrup has been completely absorbed by the cake.
  12. Slice and serve. It’s amazing on its own but adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream is Divine!

Notes:

“The Greek Kitchen”

Athens, Athinas 36, Athina 105  51, Greece

+306978464701

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Authentic Greek Tzatziki

 


  • Difficulty: Easy

While in Athens I took a 4 hour cooking class at “The Greek Kitchen” and learned to make this delicious tzatziki, the best I ever tasted, along with several other traditional Greek specialties and a trip to the market (butcher, fish, and produce markets ). It's so simple to make and is a great appetizer dip for dolmades, raw vegetables, or as a sauce over chicken or vegetables. I’m working on updating the blog with the other specialties so please standby . 😋

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 1 carrot, shredded (Optional)
  • 2 cups strained Greek Yogurt, (I used Fage 5% milkfat)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dill, finely chopped to taste
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Slice peeled cucumber lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt and leave to drain.
    2. Using a cheese grater, grate the cucumber then squeeze with your hands to remove as much liquid as possible and place in a mixing bowl.
    3. Stir in yogurt, finely chopped dill and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Mix all together well. For best results refrigerate overnight. (2-3 hours is a good amount of time to really let the yogurt take on all the flavors).
    5. Garnish with a sprig of dill & kalamata olive and serve with pita bread as an appetizer or as a delicious topping to souvlaki.

    Notes: In the class we omitted the carrot and I omitted it as well for this posting because I prefer Tzatziki without carrot. Feel free to add it as original recipe states.

    “The Greek Kitchen”

    Athens, Athinas 36, Athina 105  51, Greece

    +306978464701

     

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    Refreshing Cucumber, Tomatoes & Dill Salad 🥒🍅 😋

     

    Refreshing Cucumber, Tomatoes & Dill Salad

    • Servings: 4-6
    • Difficulty: Easy

    Every year Gary & I along with Teresa & Jack, celebrate 4th of July on the USS Battleship NC. We sit on the deck with our friends and neighbors and have great conversations, shared laughs and view the most spectacular fireworks display. Everyone brings their own chairs, snacks, food, and drinks. My friend and neighbor, Rob Sherman, brought the most delicious cucumber, tomato & dill salad to share. It was delicious! He said he found the recipe on the internet some time ago & has been making it ever since. We are happy to share Rob's recipe with you. It's light and refreshing for these hot, humid summer nights & naturally gluten-free. Rob, we thank you for sharing your recipe with us so we can pass it along!

    Ingredients

    • 4 medium cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thick rounds, skin on. (We used a mandolin slicer for uniform slices)
    • 2-3 whole tomatoes, quartered or 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half (more or less if you  prefer)
    • 2-3 Tablespoons red onion, sliced thin then chopped
    • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons EVOO
    • 2 tsp granulated sugar
    • 1 ¼ tsp sea salt, or more to taste
    • freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

     

      Directions

      1. In a large bowl combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk together.
      2. Add the sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and dill then toss to combine.
      3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow the flavors to come together.
      4. Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if needed before serving.

      Notes: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days.

      I recently made this salad with grilled flank steak, chimichurri, and a jasmine rice medley. Pairs well with our Slow Cooker Spare Ribs and corn on the cob.

      This recipe is naturally Gluten-Free.

       

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      Keto Omelet with Bacon 🥓

       

      Keto Omelet with Bacon

      • Servings: 1
      • Difficulty: Easy

      Last year I gave the Keto diet a try and was pleasantly surprised when my doctor told me to keep doing what I was doing as my labs came back great and I lost 25 pounds! So what did I do? I went to Italy! When we returned from our trip it was very hard to go back on Keto 100%. Well, Teresa is off to Greece so I'm back on Keto. For those of you eating Keto, this is a quick and easy breakfast that satiates you until dinner time and it's a tasty way to start your day. You don't have to follow a Keto diet to enjoy this hearty breakfast!🥓 😋

      Ingredients

      • 2 large eggs, beat well with a fork
      • A 1/4-inch thick slice of onion, diced
      • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
      • 1/2 tsp coconut oil (I use LouAna® Coconut Oil, it has no coconut aroma or taste to distract from your other ingredients.)
      • salt & pepper to taste
      • 3 slices of bacon (preferably with no antibiotics, sugar-free, & nitrate free)
      •  1-2 Tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese (may be substituted with your favorite cheese)
      • 1 tsp fresh parsley for garnish

       

        Directions

        1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
        2. Line a small baking sheet with foil and place the 3 slices of bacon on top.
        3. Cook 4 minutes then turn and cook another 2-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels (You will have perfectly rendered bacon fat that can be stored in a glass container in the refrigerator for future sautéing).
        4. In a small skillet on medium heat place 1/2 tsp coconut oil.
        5. Add the bell peppers and onions, salt & pepper. Saute until translucent.
        6. Lower heat & add the eggs and stir quickly to mix in the peppers & onions.
        7.  Gently cook for 1-2 minutes or until the bottom is set and can be flipped over.
        8. Flip eggs and sprinkle Swiss cheese on top.
        9. Cook another 1-2 minutes until eggs are fully cooked but not overcooked.
        10. Slide omelet onto a dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
        11. Add the cooked bacon and enjoy!

        Notes: This recipe is naturally Gluten-Free.

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        Penne Alla Vodka – Gluten Free

         

        Barbara first made Penne Ala Vodka for her son’s engagement party using a recipe from a friend of a friend. It has undergone a few changes over the years before it became an all-time family favorite. As you may know, whenever possible we always make a gluten-free version of our recipes for Teresa’s husband Jack.  We don’t want him to ever feel left out. This recipe was very easy to convert since you just replace regular penne pasta with Gluten-Free penne pasta.  Thanks to great improvements in gluten-free products, having Celiac’s disease no longer means you have to miss out on delicious pasta meals.

        This recipe is delicious and not your typical restaurant flavor. If you’re not a fan of a little heat, omit the cayenne but it’s really not a strong kick. 

        Ingredients

        Servings: 8-10

        • Prepare basic tomato sauce ahead of time (see recipe link below)
        • 2 lbs. Barilla Gluten-Free Penne pasta with the lines (sauce sticks to it better)
        • 6 Tablespoons of salted butter
        • 8-10 large garlic cloves, minced
        • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more for a bigger kick)
        • 6-8 shakes red pepper flakes (more if you like it hotter)
        • 1/2 lb. very thin sliced Prosciutto, shred into pieces with your fingers
        • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
        • dash of black pepper
        • 4 ounces vodka
        • 1 qt heavy cream (light cream can also be used)
        • 4 cups of already prepared Basic Tomato Sauce, (or your favorite red sauce)
        • 4 heaping handfuls of Pecorino Romano grated cheese (approximately 2 cups)
        • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese,  shredded or diced

        Instructions

        • Saute garlic and prosciutto in melted butter in a deep skillet.
        • Add salt, cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes.
        • Add vodka to deglaze and stir well.
        • Add cream, red sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese. 
        • Simmer & stir until it comes to a boil, don’t overcook.
        • Add mozzarella just after it comes to a boil to avoid mozzarella from balling up.
        • Pour 2 ladles of vodka sauce over cooked penne to coat.
        • Use remaining sauce to top individual servings and pour the additional sauce in a gravy boat for the table.
        • Garnish with fresh basil leaves. 


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        Penne Alla Vodka

         

        Barbara first made Penne Ala Vodka for her son’s engagement party using a recipe from a friend of a friend. It has undergone a few changes over the years before it became an all-time family favorite…her granddaughter Stefani could live on this alone! Stefani recently requested that Barbara make it for her baby shower, and she was disappointed when there weren’t any leftovers to take home to Virginia! It’s always a big crowd pleaser and a must have for every holiday dinner.

        This recipe is delicious and not your typical restaurant flavor. If you’re not a fan of a little heat, omit the cayenne but it’s really not a strong kick. 

        Ingredients

        Servings: 8-10

        • Prepare basic tomato sauce ahead of time (see recipe link below)
        • 2 lbs. Penne pasta with the lines (sauce sticks to it better)
        • 6 Tablespoons of salted butter
        • 8-10 large garlic cloves, minced
        • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more for a bigger kick)
        • 6-8 shakes red pepper flakes (more if you like it hotter)
        • 1/2 lb. very thin sliced Prosciutto, shred into pieces with your fingers
        • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
        • dash of black pepper
        • 4 ounces vodka
        • 1 qt heavy cream (light cream can also be used)
        • 4 cups of already prepared Basic Tomato Sauce, (or your favorite red sauce)
        • 4 heaping handfuls of Pecorino Romano grated cheese (approximately 2 cups)
        • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese,  shredded or diced

        Instructions

        • Saute garlic and prosciutto in melted butter in a deep skillet.
        • Add salt, cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes.
        • Add vodka to deglaze and stir well.
        • Add cream, red sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese. 
        • Simmer & stir until it comes to a boil, don’t overcook.
        • Add mozzarella just after it comes to a boil to avoid mozzarella from balling up.
        • Pour 2 ladles of vodka sauce over cooked penne to coat.
        • Use remaining sauce to top individual servings and pour the additional sauce in a gravy boat for the table.
        • Garnish with fresh basil leaves. 


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        The Best Gluten-Free Meatballs – Twiins Style

         

         

        The Best Gluten-Free Meatballs - Twiins Style

        • Servings: Yields 14-16 meatballs
        • Difficulty: Easy

        One of our best Sunday morning memories is of our mother frying meatballs for our Sunday dinner. There is something to be said for the wonderful aroma of meatballs frying along with the anticipation of the meal to follow, as it was usually shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It wasn't just a meal...it was an event! Sundays were always special in our home because we would get to spend time with our cousins who we had so much fun with. As soon as Mom started placing the cooked meatballs in the bowl we would sneak into the kitchen to grab them out of the bowl while they were still hot; a tradition that our children and husbands still carry on today! Most of our followers know my husband Jack has celiac disease and I've had to adapt all our recipes to gluten-free when cooking for him. Converting some recipes can be quite challenging; however, I used some really good GF Italian style bread crumbs to substitute for the Italian bread and Jack loves them! Without a doubt the best Italian style Gluten-Free meatballs ever! 😋😋

        Ingredients

        • 1 lb ground beef 80-85% lean/20-15% fat
        • 1/2 cup whole milk
        •  4 ounces Aleia’s Italian Bread Crumbs* (please see note below)
        • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
        • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
        • 3 Extra-Large eggs
        • 1 ½ large handfuls grated Pecorino Romano cheese
        • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
        • salt and pepper to taste
        • EVOO (for frying)                                                                                                                                           

        Directions

        1. Place ground meat in a medium size mixing bowl, break up with a fork and set aside.
        2. In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in  1/2 cup milk until completely absorbed (about 2-3 minutes).  This should yield about 1 cup of bread crumbs. (If too loose add a little more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a little more milk).
        3. Place bread crumbs on top of ground meat.
        4. Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to combine well.
        5. Make a well in the center of the meat mixture and place all the eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and the parsley.
        6. With a large fork scramble the eggs, cheese, and parsley in the well, then start to combine into the entire meat mixture. You can do this best with your hands that are scrupulously clean or with gloves…your preference.
        7. Once well combined (don’t over mix) scoop out about 1/2 handful of meat mixture and roll into a ball and place on parchment or waxed paper. Continue making meatballs until all meat has been formed.
        8. In a large skillet pour enough EVOO to half the size of your meatball. Let the oil get hot, then working in batches, brown all sides (Don’t overload, allow each meatball some breathing room).
        9. When meatballs are browned and crisp remove to a paper towel lined bowl or tray. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.
        10. 30 minutes before your tomato sauce is ready, place cooked meatballs in the tomato sauce and continue cooking the sauce.
        11. Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

        Notes:  These meatballs are delicious as a stand-alone meal with or without tomato sauce. Make them smaller and they become a delicious appetizer

         As a substitute for the breadcrumbs above, I have also used with great success UDI’s Gluten-free white bread soaked in milk or Against the Grain gluten-free baguettes soaked in milk. Against the Grain is my preference; however, this brand is not available in the Wilmington, NC area.

         

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        The Best Napoletana Meatballs – Twiins Style

         

        The Best Napoletana Meatballs - Twiins Style

        • Servings: Yields 30-35

        One of our best Sunday morning memories is of our mother frying meatballs for our Sunday dinner. There is something to be said for the wonderful aroma of meatballs frying along with the anticipation of the meal to follow, as it was usually shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It wasn't just a meal...it was an event! Sundays were always special in our home because we would get to spend time with our cousins who we had so much fun with. As soon as Mom started placing the cooked meatballs in the bowl we would sneak into the kitchen to grab them out of the bowl while they were still hot; a tradition that our children and husbands still carry on today! 😋 😋

        Ingredients

        • 2½ lbs ground beef 80-85% lean/20-15% fat (or 2½ lbs of  ground beef, veal, and pork mixture)
        • 1/3 – 1/2 loaf day-old Italian bread soaked in milk (should yield 8 squeezed-out meatball sized mounds of bread)
        • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
        • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
        • 6 eggs
        • 3 large handfuls grated Pecorino Romano cheese
        • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
        • salt and pepper to taste
        • EVOO (for frying)                                                                                                                                           

        Directions

        1. Place ground meat in a large mixing bowl, break up with a fork and set aside.
        2. In another large bowl, soak bread in enough milk to cover. Let bread absorb milk then squeeze out milk between your hands. (You should have 7-8 handfuls, discard milk)
        3. Place squeezed out bread on top of ground meat.
        4. Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to combine well.
        5. Make a well in the center of the meat mixture and place all the eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and the parsley.
        6. With a large fork scramble the eggs, cheese, and parsley in the well, then start to combine into the entire meat mixture. You can do this best with your hands that are scrupulously clean or with gloves…your preference.
        7. Once well combined (don’t over mix) scoop out about 1/2 handful of meat mixture and roll into a ball and place on parchment or waxed paper. Continue making meatballs until all meat has been formed.
        8. In a large skillet pour enough EVOO to about 3/4 inches in depth. Let the oil get hot, then working in batches, brown all sides (Don’t overload, allow each meatball some breathing room).
        9. When meatballs are browned and crisp remove to a paper towel lined bowl or tray. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.
        10. 30 minutes before your tomato sauce is ready, place cooked meatballs in the tomato sauce and continue cooking the sauce.
        11. Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

        Notes:  These meatballs freeze well and can be used at a later date. They are delicious as a stand-alone meal with or without tomato sauce. Make them smaller and they become a delicious appetizer, add mozzarella & some tomato sauce for meatball parmigiana heroes!😋😋

         

         

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        Creamy Garlic Shrimp & Scallops with Fettuccine – Twiins Style

         

        Creamy Garlic Shrimp & Scallops with Fettuccine - Twiins Style

        • Servings: 6
        • Difficulty: Intermediate

        Ingredients

        • 1/3 cup EVOO, plus 2-3 Tablespoons
        • 10 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
        • 2 large shallot heads (4 big cloves)
        • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thick
        • 2 cups white wine (we use Chardonnay)
        • 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley
        • 3 Tablespoons fresh basil
        • 3 Tablespoons fresh thyme (or 3 tsp dried)
        • 3 cups heavy cream or Half-and-Half cream
        • 2 lbs sea scallops (20-30 count)
        • 1½ – 2 lbs extra-large shrimp, peeled & deveined
        • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
        • sprinkle of garlic powder on scallops before sautéing
        • 2 tsp lemon zest for garnish (optional)
        • 3 sprigs fresh basil for garnish (optional)
        • 1½- 2 lbs cooked fettuccine or angel hair pasta (use Gluten-Free pasta if gluten is an issue)

          Directions

          1. Heat pasta water to boiling then lower to simmer before preparing the meal.
          2. Pat dry the scallops and shrimp on paper towels. Cover with paper towels and set aside.
          3. In a large skillet, heat 1/3 cup EVOO on medium then sauté shallots and garlic until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 3-4 minutes.
          4. Pour the white wine into the skillet to deglaze.
          5. Add the parsley, basil, and thyme and cook until liquid is reduced by half.
          6. Transfer mixture into a medium saucepan.
          7. Add the cream & half the Pecorino Romano cheese into the medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until reduced by half (about 15 minutes).
          8. In the large skillet add 2-3 Tablespoons of EVOO. Using medium-high heat, allow the oil to get hot enough then add the scallops and sprinkle garlic powder on top. Sauté on both sides just until they turn opaque & feel springy with a pair of tongs. Don’t overcook. Remove to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
          9. Bring pasta water up to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Cover and set aside until remaining seafood (shrimp) is cooked.
          10. Now sauté the shrimp in the same skillet until the shrimp just turn pink. Remove and place the shrimp in the platter with the scallops, continue to cover with foil.
          11. Add 1/2 the cream sauce to the large skillet and quickly toss with the cooked pasta. Mix well and plate the pasta in individual pasta dishes. Pour remaining cream sauce in a small gravy boat to add extra sauce if desired.
          12. Top with asparagus & arrange the seafood on top, garnish with extra sauce, grated cheese, lemon zest, and sprigs of basil, if desired.
          13. Enjoy!

          Notes: Substitute with Gluten-Free pasta for a delicious Gluten-Free meal.

           

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