Zucchini flowers, stuffed with rice, summer veggies, and herbs

Aug 31, 2015


     Searching the Internet for some info on edible flowers, I saw some beautiful pictures of cakes and other fancy desserts decorated with, among other exotica, small blue and yellow pansies and chrysanthemum flowers. Did we always eat pansies on our cakes and in colorful salads or is it one more innovation from Noma (with its inventive kitchen) that has been immediately adopted by all of us?  
     Well, in fact, dried flowers have been used for thousands of years as spices in cooking or in herbal teas for medicinal purposes. Their use in modern cooking today as decorative edible ingredients is really a rebirth of this very old tradition.  Roses and zucchini- squash flowers have never stopped being used in cooking. 
     In Greece we make rose petal jam and we use zucchini flowers in different savory recipes.  When I was a child, whenever my mother made stuffed tomatoes, there would always be some space left in the baking pan for some zucchini flowers to be stuffed especially for me. Stuffing them with rice and summer veggies is still the most popular recipe.
     Today we make entire pans full of stuffed zucchini flowers for the restaurant; it is our most popular summer dish. In order to have as many flowers as possible available every day, we have planted zucchini plants of a climbing variety which can be counted on to produce the greatest number of flowers all across our garden fence. 
     They have to be picked early in the morning when they bloom, almost magically, for only a few hours. If you don’t have a vegetable garden of your own, you can look for them at your local farmer’s market. 

Pita, souvlaki, tzatziki: in other words, a classic Greek yummy!

Jun 8, 2015

Imagine this. You are in Greece; it’s Saturday night and some buddies are gathered in the living room to watch the football game. There is tension in the air, but they love what they watch. In front of them on a coffee table are cold beers and pizza - just delivered!
But… if you see only pizza, then what you imagine is not taking place in Greece! 

On a Greek coffee table there would be souvlakia (plural of souvlaki) and pites (plural of pita) and, of course, beers; beers are always there. We do love pizza, but we love souvlaki more.

During these years of crisis, souvlaki places have opened one after the other. People who are thinking to start a food business, more often than not think about a ‘’souvlatzídiko’’ (souvlaki place).  With just 2-2.5 euros you can  buy a pita stuffed with souvlaki, tomato wedges, onion, fried potatoes and tzatziki, a tasty full meal that is cheap and a real life saver especially for people who like their veggies served with meat. . Not every business succeeds but the logic is sound. We Greeks love souvlatzidika.  As a kid I would prefer souvlakia over legumes any day.

The truth is that almost no one makes the pita bread at home, preferring to buy a store bought frozen pack. I believe that happens because they just haven’t experienced the taste of fresh, soft, homemade pita bread. You can make them at home and freeze them for several months. Try them, I swear they are great.