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Interview with Katerina Sakelliou Food Blogger Katerina s Kouzina

Interview With A Food Blogger: Meet Katerina From Katerina’s Kouzina

Welcome to another edition of Interview with a food blogger! Today we’re chatting with Katerina Sakelliou behind the food blog Katerina’s Kouzina.

We love Katerina’s blog because she shares authentic Greek family recipes and beautiful food photos. Her blog is a great place to find meal ideas and recipes, but also information about cooking classes and other activities in her Odyssey Centre on Poros.

1. Katerina, what is the story behind your blog’s name?

5 years ago when I started the blog I wanted to share the stories, the memories and the recipes from my kitchen on Poros island. My name is Katerina, so I thought Katerinaskouzina would work nicely for that. And it did.

2. What is your favorite Greek family dish?

My favorite dish from my childhood and the favorite for my family is Chicken in the oven with potatoes, local lemons and our own olive oil. In the ’70s in Greece, my mother often cooked this dish on Sundays, so it is in my memory a family and festive dish. But even if you have it on a no-festive day, the aromas fill the house and make the day festive!

3. What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, blog…?

My mother, as she always surprises me, even now at her 83 years old. She is THE master in the kitchen ‘povera’ (poor mans kitchen), she can cook with very few ingredients, she never throws away anything, and she is the best gatherer in nature. We still go together for horta in the country side. 

4. You are based in Poros and you have travelled around Greece. What’s the best food you tried here?

I was born on  Poros island. An island just south of Athens and next to Peloponnese. A small island, but so beautiful that we, the people of Poros, always felt privileged to be here. Our history and our stories are similar to the ones of the people of Athens. I have traveled a lot in Greece but I always come back to Poros with the feeling that we are blessed to be there. I love the food in our area. The rural traditions of Peloponnese combined with the influences of the nearby capital of Athens; a very interesting combination that evolved through the centuries. 

5. What should every foodie try in Greece?

I think every foodie visiting Greece should go off the main paths and find their way into the backstreets of the town they are visiting! We have amazing little restaurants that have magirefta (daily cooked dishes) that are seasonal and religion bound, meaning you will always try fresh seasonal ingredients of the local cuisine.

6. What is your dream destination regarding food in Greece?

Peloponnese and Attika. Every region in Greece has its own character and traditions. I love the Peloponnese because we have the same traditions and the same taste as on my island. The olive oil is king and basic to all the dishes. A lot of vegetables and local herbs are giving the identity to the recipes. 

We often forget Attika as the cradle of the culinary heart of Greece. For the last 200 years, Athens has been the capital of Greece. Because of that, it got a lot of influences from visitors, refuges and also people from the islands and mainland that moved and lived there. 

7. Tell us more about your family. What’s your go-to kid-friendly recipe? 

I don’t have a very big family but a very loving one. What they can’t give in quantity, they definitely give in quality! My immediate family consists of my fantastic and supportive husband Rik (who is dutch) and our daughter Dora. That being said, I am also very close to my brother and his children, my husband’s brother and his wife, and of course both our parents.

When asking about a kid friendly recipe, the person I think of first is not my daughter as she grew up to try at least once everything I made, but my father-in-law who was like a child, a very picky eater. He was scared of many ingredients such as onions and garlic. His favorite dish that I made was pastitio; he loved it and was saying always that pastitio did not have and ‘evil’ ingredients and therefore was easy to eat.

8. If you had to share one kids’ favorite Greek recipe with us, what would you choose?

It is hard to choose one recipe as every one of them holds so many dear memories, but if I would have to choose it would be the pashalina koulourakia, my daughter and I would put our favorite music on and bake them together. One time we even invited her whole school class, and we were baking koulourakia (cookies) altogether. I can’t wait to be making them with my grandchildren!

9. According to you, which place is Greece has the best food?

The whole of Greece has fantastic food and not one’recipe is lesser then the other, that being said if I have to pick a region I would pick the Peloponnese and here is why:

The Peloponnese has a huge diversity of products and recipes, the area is so big and so beautiful and sadly or luckily it has been mostly undiscovered and has not yet become touristic, meaning that you can find really amazing, organic, seasonal and traditional local food. Ingredients like lemons and oranges, the famous tsakoniki, eggplant, the world-famous Kalamata olives, grapes and all their products from sweet wines, dry wines, fragrant white wines, to raisins, currants, and vinegar–to renowned eggplants, excellent tomatoes, and other garden vegetables and herbs all grow here and are thus local. Roosters, rabbits, salt cod, and quail are among the stars of the Sunday meal. The pig and all its glorious goods, from orange-flavored sausages to cured fillets preserved in olive oil, provide the traditional winter sustenance. One of the most beloved regional dishes is a simple omelet called kayianas with tomatoes and cured pork.

10. Do you have any tips for families with food allergies or food restrictions?

Be creative! You can almost alter any recipe to your allergies or food restrictions. I am always amazed at how easily a recipe can be adapted, just be open-minded, and don’t be afraid to be creative. 

11. Lots of people are coming to Greece often asking us tips for gluten-free meals or they have questions related to (nut) allergies. Can you share any insight?

I think Greece would be an easier destination than most other European countries for travelers that are vegetarian, vegan or having allergies for gluten or nuts. If guests are allergic to certain ingredients they should be open and straight about it at restaurants. I believe everybody respects and listens to guests with allergies nowadays.  

Fruit and vegetables are available everywhere and delicious. Greek salad is available at all meals. Cooking is with olive oil (no meat products), and it is easy to get lots of vegetarian cooked dishes in restaurants. 

My guests at Odyssey say that is easy for special demands as long as you stay safe with authentic Greek food which is simple and made from just a few basic ingredients. Awareness of ingredients and quality of food, in general, is very high in Greece, travelling around and eating safely at restaurants is relatively easy in my opinion. Just avoid the overly touristy and/or unauthentic looking places. 

Thank you Katerina!

Here is Katerina’s favorite recipe for Chocolate and
Orange Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 600 gr. flour (3 cups)
  • 1 water glass sugar
  • 1 ½ glasses olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • ½ glass fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • Grated orange rind
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 170C (340F).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil and sugar. Dissolve baking soda in orange juice (hold over the mixing bowl with the olive oil and sugar to catch any spill as the soda froths). Add orange juice mix to the bowl. Stir in orange rind.
  3. Combine spices with flour, then slowly stir dry ingredients into the bowl. When completely mixed, stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Cover two baking trays with baking paper. Using two tablespoons, scoop cookie dough and transfer to baking sheets (use the second spoon to push off the mixture). Space cookies as they will rise a little and spread.
  5. Bake at 160-170C on air for 8-10 minutes. Do not bake for more than 10 minutes as the cookies will become too dry and hard.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
  7. With this recipe, you make 40-50 cookies.

For more information on Katerina’s Kouzina and Odyssey Centre: odysseyactivities.com


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