Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Where are the celery leaves? {Recipe: Xoirino me selino}

Every time I go to the supermarket, I am so disappointed to see the celery stalks with no leaves.  Look at the picture below....aren't the leaves the prettiest part of the celery? Why are they chopped off?  In my opinion, the green foliage is the best part especially for cooking.  They add so much flavor to my soups, to my sauces and even my salads when they are freshly chopped.

This week I was so excited to see the luscious celery leaves in my garden!  Just by looking at them, I knew instantly which recipe I would be sharing for today's post. My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish.

Lucky me, I will be eating this amazing dish tomorrow!   Double lucky because my dad's sister will be preparing it for me!  She is the expert at preparing "xoirino me selino."  I will be paying close attention to her cooking method and I will be sharing her secrets in another post.  For those that cannot wait, here is the recipe inspired by Lynn Livanos Athan:

{Xoirino me selino avgolemono} Pork stew with celery leaves:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3-1/2 lbs. pork shoulder (or pork butt) roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 small can of tomato juice
  • celery leaves from 20 stalks cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces and blanched
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Juice of two lemons (strained)
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the olive oil together over medium high heat. Season the pork chunks with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then saute until nicely browned on both sides.
Remove the pork to a platter and keep warm. Add the onion to the pot and saute until nicely tender, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 tbsp. flour to the pot and cook for about a minute until incorporated. Add the pork (with the juices), the stock and tomato juice and allow the liquid to come to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.  Add the celery leaves and the dill to the pot and simmer covered for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Prepare the Avgolemono sauce:
Using a whisk, beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy.  In another bowl beat egg yolks and slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Add egg yolk-lemon juice mixture to frothy egg whites.  Ladle one cup of the pot liquid little by little into egg-lemon mixture to temper the eggs.
Remove pot from heat and add egg-lemon mixture stirring gently. Heat over very low heat until sauce thickens and is heated through. Take care not to allow the sauce to boil or the eggs will curdle.
Re-season with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Reminiscing... {a greek summer recipe: stuffed veggies}

I tend to reminisce a lot.  I know from now that I will probably be the type of grand-mother that likes repeating stories about her past over and over.  My husband already has a taste of this quite often.  Whenever I start remembering the past, my husband's response is "Here we go again!", while rolling his eyes.

Today, I am in a pensive mood because my trip to Greece has been booked.  The moment I knew that the air plane ticket was reserved, the first image that crossed my mind was the view of the sea as I am approaching my parents village, Pylos.

The second image is actually a collage of all the delicious food I will be eating during my stay. Greek salad, fresh bread, cheese pie, spinach pie, fresh fish, grilled octopus, gemista, "gournopoula" during a "panigiri" (festival), pita souvlaki with lots of tzatziki, zucchini patties and the list goes on and on. 

Speaking of "gemista", I have selected for this post a recipe that brings me back to the past; a recipe that my grand-mother used to make in her wood burning outdoor oven in Greece.  In her version, the vegetables used to swim in olive oil but the taste and smell still linger.

Nobody cooks like "my" grand-mother but today I'll be trying Elena Paravantes's "Gemista" (her mom's recipe) that is full of vegetables.  I will however add grated sweet potato and carrot in the stuffing.  As I prepare this recipe with the help of my son , I hope that the taste and smell will leave a lasting impression on him as my grand-mother's cooking did for me.

{GEMISTA} Stuffed vegetables by Elena Paravantes