The basic seasonings of Greek cooking are oregano, cinnamon, lemon, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. And olive oil--lots and lots of olive oil. With these they treat lamb, chicken, fish, pasta, rice, and potatoes in distinctly Greek ways. Although we kidded about Greece having only eight dishes – moussaka, souvlaki, spanokopita, taramosalata, Greek salad, calamari, and roasted lamb or chicken, and baklava – I picked up enough recipes to write a small cookbook. Here are a few.

  1. Greek Spaghetti

  2. Avgolemono Soup

  3. Boiled Chicken

  4. Tzatziki Sauce

  5. Lentil Soup

  6. Baklava


Our first night with our friends George and Jean Vlastos at their family olive farm in the Amari Valley of Crete we had special Greek spaghetti. The sauce was chock full of onions, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, ground meat, grated cheese and olive oil. Its light base is made with tomatoes--crushed, chopped and in a paste. It is flavored with basil, and oregano--and George says to add lots of cinnamon. (Another tip they shared is to take the green center out of the garlic before using it to avoid bitterness.)


Jean was kind enough to share her favorite recipe for "Avgolemono Soupa"

Make enough chicken stock for at least one plate of soup per person (you can substitute chicken bullion for a quick fix)

Add carrot slices, onions and de-boned chicken meat to the broth. Bring the broth to a boil and toss in 2 to 3 handfuls of washed rice and simmer until rice is cooked (10 to 15 minutes)

Whisk 2 to 4 eggs very well and add the juice of 2 or 3 lemons (our friend Jane says it is best to separate the eggs--beating the egg whites until frothy, but not stiff, add lemon juice then yolks). Remove soup from heat and pour a ladle full in a thin stream in the egg mixture whisking all the while, then slowly tip contents back in pot and stir in. Taste for seasoning. Continue to cook over very low heat to thicken soup slightly. Do NOT boil or it will curdle. Serve in warm soup plates.

This really is pretty easy to make and the ingredients are usually cheap and available. It can be a great quick light supper with salad and bread when you are exhausted at the end of the day.


(you can use the stock for Avgolemono soup)

  • 1 large chicken (2 to 2.5 kilos)
  • 3-4 potatoes, halved
  • 2 medium onions, whole
  • 2 carrots scraped and sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 - 3 stalks of parsley
  • a few whole peppercorns
  • 1 stick cinnamon (2.5 cm)

Remove some of skin and fat, wash liver and heart

Half cover chicken with water in large pan and bring to boil

Skim fat and scum

Add potatoes, onions, liver and heart, carrots, salt/pepper, celery, parsley, and spices tied in a muslin bag

Simmer covered for 1 hour, topping up with hot water until meat is tender and coming away from the bone

Remove chicken to dish and keep warm

Strain contents of pan in colander and use stock for Avgolemono soup

Discard the bag and arrange boiled veggies around chicken and serve

If hot, a tomato sauce is recommended. If cold, serve with Tzatziki sauce or mayonnaise with yogurt sprinkled with parsley,


  • 1 large cucumber, grated or diced
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 C yogurt
  • Optional: 2 tbs. oil and 1 tbs. vinegar
  • mint, chopped for garnish

This sauce can also be used as a dip for bread or dressing for green salad


All good things are made with olive oil!

  • lentils
  • water

  • 1/4 C olive oil (more or less)

  • 2 cubes bullion
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 -5 cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Boil (presoak/parboil) lentils w/spoonful of vinegar; drain

Put oil in pan and put all spices, onion and garlic in pan; add tomato, tomato paste, then lentils last--sauté. Add water and bullion and simmer until lentils are tender.


60 to 70 "diamonds"

There are many individual variations to baklava -- using honey, cognac, lemon peel and juice, cinnamon, cloves--and all are characteristic of Greek baklava. This version uses everything but the cognac. My friend Jane Kallionakis says that this is the best recipe she had found in her 20 or so years in Greece.

  • 5 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 C water
  • 2 T honey (optional --but Jane says put it in, and more!)
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves
  • 1 1/4 lb. English walnuts and blanched almonds, med. -- finely chopped
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 scant t ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 lbs. commercial filo pastry
  • 1 lb. sweet butter, melted and clarified

Combine 3 C sugar, water, honey, lemon rind and whole spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the lemon peel, spices and cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the nuts, remaining 1/2 C sugar and ground spices and set aside. Use a 11 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 3 inch pan). Keep 8 sheets for top and bottom, then follow instructions on package for handling, brushing each sheet with warm butter. Every 3 sheets, scoop a handful of the nuts and sprinkle evenly over the top of the filo.

Using a sharp, long knife, score the baklava from top to bottom in diamond shapes for the size you want. Heat the remaining butter and pour over the top. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/4 hours until golden in color and flaky. Remove pan from oven and pour cooled syrup over top -- cool in pan.

  • Rule: pour cool syrup over warm baklava or hot syrup over cool baklava for maximum flakiness.

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