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Keep It Simple

Wise words: keep it simple.

Cooking should be simple, life should be simple. Do not complicate either. If you have good quality ingredients you will do amazing things!!! Choose your ingredients carefully! That goes for life and cooking. :)

When I teach my classes (yup, I teach cooking classes, and I’d love to do a class for you and your friends!), the first thing people say when they taste the finished product is, “oh, this is so good!” They can not believe the few ingredients I used made the amazing flavor they’re trying.

The key is good quality ingredients, even if they are simple.

I am always trying new things from different companies. I like to try produce from many different sources - and I also try different versions of the products. A tomato from California might have an entirely different flavor than one from Florida - and certainly nothing like the flavor one grown right down the street by a local friend. The same holds true for canned/packaged ingredients. For example, when I make domaldes, stuffed grape leaves, I’ve tried a variety of tomatoes, but my favorite is a Roma. I find they have less water content and are smooth and mild in flavor. But when I make a Greek salad, I like using very fresh heirlooms or nice bright red ripe Beefsteak tomatoes. They are juicy, bold in flavor and have such a rich, deep color. In the end, it’s just a tomato. But it’s a quality one that makes all the difference.

Farmer’s market season is one of my favorite times. I love to wander the stalls and see what looks fresh, perhaps still warm from the summer sun as it sits in the back of a pick-up truck, having just arrived from the fields. I’ll decide what I am going to make right on the spot.

So how about a simple secret or two? It’s really not a secret - I love to share what I do - so maybe more of a helpful suggestion!

My Greek to Go Seasoning is my go-to with a lot of the things I make. You can easily kick up the flavor of pork or chicken - veggies or starches - with this simple combination. In the middle of a pandemic where we stay home and stay safe, check your spice rack and change up your meal!

Seasoning mix:

  • Oregano - the good stuff - like Mediterranean oregano - very fragrant don't be cheap. Did you know oregano is a natural antibiotic?!

  • Salt - I like sea salt just because it has a great zing to it

  • Pepper - I like restaurant-style, coarse grind - so I can see it

  • Granulated Garlic, don't be stingy with it

  • Lemon juice powder - this is hard to find and it is ok if you don't use it in your mix. Just add fresh lemon juice when you make something.

These ingredients make an amazing dressing for Greek Salad or any salad - stay tuned for a blog on just salads. Just remember to use good extra virgin, fragrant olive oil (another simple ingredient that’s worth it!). For a simple salad dressing - the seasoning mix, olive oil and an acid like lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Use a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid.

Use the good stuff on salads, not in cooking. You're wasting it. When cooking use olive oil or pomace oil that does not have any additives. Pomace is the 3rd and 4th press. It is OK for cooking. I use olive oil for everything in place of butter. I am Greek, what can I say? It is all about the olive oil. Butter I save for baking!

You can also use the seasoning on meats. Seasoning both sides and barbeque and then squeeze lemon when done - let it rest for a moment before eating. For fish, mix some olive oil, seasoning, lemon juice marinate and cook or broil. And for potatoes, mix olive oil, seasoning, lemon juice, cook at 350 for an hour. It’s so versatile!

Are there other recipes you’d like to know more about? Just let me know.

I miss you all - I look forward to seeing you again!

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