Come To Susies Place
Kitchen Techniques of Greek Island Cooking
It's important in Greek cooking to
have the freshest ingredients available. Other than the pure
nutritional value, you can't beat the taste of fresh vegetables and
meats. In this section you will find ways to clean and prepare the
freshest of ingredients as well as some of my own tips and shortcuts
for cooking the Greek way.
Special Thanks have to go to my
daughter Mary, who was so patient with me and took on the gruesome
task of drawing the diagrams. Thanks Mary.
Cleaning Chicken and Game Birds
Get yourself a pot or pan, larger
than the bird that you want to clean and fill it 2/3 with plain
water. Bring the water to a boil them set the pot into a large sink,
or even outside on your porch, depending on where you want to work.
Note that this does get messy, so have a large work- space
available. Lay the bird into the hot water and let it soak for a few
minutes, using a wooden spoon or dowel to submerge it.
Now lift the bird out of the water
and begin to pull the feathers off with your hands. It will be hot,
so be careful. Though slightly uncomfortable, you may want to try
wearing plastic gloves for this. Continue to dip the bird into the
hot water and pulling off the feathers until they are all gone. Some
birds have very fine feathers that are almost impossible to get off.
Don't worry about them as they can be burned off later with a flame
from a candle.
And now for the fun part! Set the
plucked bird down on a cutting board. Cut off the neck, head and
feet. Feel for the bottom of the breastbone and cut from there all
the way down and to the back. Remove the organs from the inside
cavity, taking care not to rupture the small green sac of bile as
this would ruin the meat with its bitterness. Wash the bird inside
and out and pat dry.
How to Skin and
Clean an Eel
An Eel is a very slippery creature,
so hold it down by the head on a solid work surface with a towel.
With a sharp knife, make an incision around the neck, just below the
head. The thick filmy skin will separate. Grip the skin with a pair
of pliers, and pull it down the length of the eel to the tail and
cut it off.
Make a slit down the length of the
stomach and pull out the innards. Rinse the eel well under cold
running water. Cut off the head and slice the body into pieces.
How To Clean Squid
Although you can purchase frozen
squid that has already been cleaned and cut into rings, using fresh
is always best.
To clean a squid, you must first
remove the elastic, gray skin from the body of it. Its easily done
by using a paring knife and just scraping down the sides of it. The
skin will come up and then using your fingers just peel it off and
Cut the head away from the body just
above the eyes. Cut off the tentacles from the rest of the head,
just under the eys. If you break the ink sac while doing this,
don't worry. Just rinse the squid under cold running water while
discarding the head and inards. There is a small bony beak in the
center of the tentacles, which can be squeezed out easily. The
tentacles are completely edible.
The body cavity contains a quill like
cartilage. Pull this out and then squeeze out any jelly like
insides. Rinse the squid under cold running water and let drain.
How To Skin and
Clean A Moray Eel
Moray Eels are ferocious looking
animals. Their bodies are much thicker than fresh water or smaller
salt-water eels and their teeth are razor sharp.
Begin by hanging up the Moray from
its head from a sturdy structure. You will need two rods from wooden
dowels or pieces of bamboo reed. Don’t use your hands as you may get
stuck with a broken piece of spine. Take the rods in one hand and
arrange them front and back around the Moray. With your other hand,
clamp the rods together, so you are forming a sort of vice around
the neck of the eel. Now, holding firmly, pull the rods down the
length of the body. Move the rods back to the neck and again, pull
down the length. Continue doing this until a clump of bone forms at
the tail. This clump is composed of the finer bones along the spine
so by doing this, your meat will be that much cleaner.
While the eel is still hanging, make
an incision around the neck, just below the head. The thick filmy
skin will separate. Grip the skin on both sides of the body with
pliers, and pull it down the length of the eel to the tail.
Lay the Moray down on a sturdy work
surface and use a cloth towel to hold it down while you’re working.
Cut off the peeled skin and the knob of bones at the tail. Slice
down the stomach of the eel and remove the innards. Rinse the eel
under cold running water. Return it to your work surface and cut off
the head at the neck and slice the body into pieces, about 1 inch
Folding Phyllo Pastry into Triangles
Lay a stack of
phyllo sheets on a cutting board and cut them into 3" x 10"
strips. Phyllo dries out very quickly, so keep it covered with a
slightly dampened cloth until you're ready to use it.
Using 2 layers of
cut phyllo, put 1 tablespoon of filling about 2 inches away from the
bottom edge. Fold the bottom corner, forming a right angle, over
the filling. Continue to fold up the pastry and filling into right
angles - or 'flag style' until it is a neat little wrapped package.
instructions, place the triangles on a greased cookie sheet, seam
side down and brush them with butter, or olive oil.
The actual size of
the triangles can be altered to accommodate more filling if you
wish. Just cut the strips into bigger pieces.
The recipes for Stuffed Grape Leaves - Vegetarian
or Stuffed Grape Leaves with Meat
call for a bit of special technique in rolling up the delicate
packages of stuffing.
The best grape leaves to use are the
tender, fresh ones that grow on the vines in the summer months
before the vines begin to bear fruit. Here in the Islands, the
village women will harvest the small leaves and preserve them in
brine so that the traditional dish, Dolmathes can be enjoyed
year-through. Since most of us don't have grape vines growing in
our yard, you can check out a Greek specialty shop or market that
will have the preserved leaves.
Either way, fresh leaves or
preserved, begin by rinsing them well under running water and
setting them aside to drain. Place a grape leaf in the palm of your
hand 'veins up'. Put a tablespoon of the stuffing mixture into the
center of the leaf. Fold in each side over the stuffing, then fold
up the bottom so it resembles an envelope, and roll it up into a
parcel. Be patient, as it takes time and practice to learn how to
roll these babies up.