Ceviche octopus sandwich with red bell pepper and caper

Ceviche octopus sandwich with red bell pepper and caper

A traditional Portuguese dish with a twist!


It's almost a month since we returned from Madeira and I already started reminiscing the island's indolence, the steep cliffs and the gigantic tropical trees. But what I miss the most are the irrestistable Portugese dishes; red fish soups, roast beef, tropical fruits in every corner and the ceviche fish and seafood.

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The best way to roast (& boil) chestnuts in the fireplace

The best way to roast (& boil) chestnuts in the fireplace | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

Due to the bitter cold and the strong wind I reminiscence over the evenings during Christmas that we were roasting chestnuts in the fire. We would gather all around the sparkling fire and we would start discussions and open wine bottles, preparing the terrain (and the charcoals) for the show – the roasting chestnuts big time! Oh, we may have been roasting even a kilo per night, so wonderful.
If you do not have access to a fireplace or an open fire but want to revive such moments too, you can use your gas stove (it will just take a little more time). And you can always resort to the boiling-chestnuts solution, which I assure you that will fill your home with the same delicious magical smells.

The best way to roast (& boil) chestnuts in the fireplace | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

If you roast the chestnuts on a fire or charcoals (watch them and turn them in time so they don’t burn), use a pan made of tin. If you find also one that has holes in the bottom it’s exactly for this job. You can also use a piece of tinned steel or an opened oil tin etc. Be cautious not to roast the chestnuts on aluminum as it is toxic. If you boil chestnuts, you can use any of your pots obviously.

The best way to roast (& boil) chestnuts in the fireplace | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

And now, could I have your undivided attention please? All the magic of baking or boiling lies in the way you prepare (a.k.a. cut) the chestnuts. For the roasting you MUST cut them otherwise they will explode. The best way to do so is to cut them lengthwise in their ass ( at the base of the chestnut) and to extend the cut sidewise. When they are done they will open with only one sweeping move taking along them the bitter inner skin and leaving behind only the gold –deliciouuuuuus- fruit. Say goodbye to all this wasted cleaning time. For the boiled ones, you have to cut a cross at their base to facilitate the passage of more water during the boiling so that the chestnut swells enough.

The best way to roast (& boil) chestnuts in the fireplace | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

During all my childhood the chestnuts preparation during the cold months was a rite and a family tradition we loved and we looked forward to. And we keep this sweet tradition until today. Do you also love roasting or boiling chestnuts with your loved ones? Do you have any tips and tricks you want to share too? I wish you the most cozy night tonight. xoxo

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Déspina Kortesidou

Déspina Kortesidou was born with the April flowers sometime in the '90s in the sunny peninsula of Greece. She is a graduating master student of neuroscience & metabolism, and a born adventurer.

(3rd person statements sound so official, love it)

She founded In Whirl of Inspiration, back in 2011 when she was (just) a biology student, in the island of Crete. In Whirl of Inspiration started as a creative and writing outlet for when studying molecules, became too monotonous. Recently, she started writing a children book and a not-so-children's book about the civil war in Greece. She has a soft spot for cheese, elder people, and (her own) jokes, but can't tell any as she ruins them by laughing too early. She enjoys sharing advice for eating healthier, or inspiring people to cover themshelves with plants, color and confetti.

Feel free to email her at hello@inwhirlofinspiration.com, or find her on Instagram and Twitter. (breaking the 3rd person narration to thank you properly)

Thank you so much for reading!

Make easily salted fish: sardines and anchovies for ouzo meze trays

Make easily salted fish: sardines and anchovies for ouzo meze trays | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

If you have Greek friends or you have been in a good amount of Greek dinners you may noticed that whenever ouzo or tsipouro (strong drinks, drank before main courses to enhance appetite) are served fish meze dishes (small dishes of appetizers) come along. You never probably took the time to think why, or you did and you concluded that Greece has sea all around her, so fish accessible almost everywhere (true too). Well the reason is that the saltiness of salted or non seafood blocks the taste of bitterness ( of the alcoholic drink) in the tongues's taste buds. Thus your brain receives stronger salty signals, which are much more pleasant than the bitter ones, right? Over time, ouzo and seafood are customarily served side by side on the table and make the forks to dance under the rhythm of ouzo-discussions.

So next time you have people over and ouzo appears on the table, make sure that you have some salted fish meze dishes to accompany it, eg like salted anchovies or sardines. You can make them yourshelf,  extremely easily and quickly (sardine takes 4 hours to be ready for corrosion!).

Make easily salted fish: sardines and anchovies for ouzo meze trays | from IN WHIRL OF INSPIRATION

For the anchovies:
Remove the back bone and the head, as I showed you here, and open the fish like ... a mat. In a colander with a plate beneath it (for fluid drainage) array the fish fillets in between layers of coarse salt until all fish are covered with salt and leave them like that for 2 hours. After that, rinse the salt off and place them in a bowl with white vinegar (of good quality) for 2 more hours. After that are basically done, so rinse them again in water, drain it well on paper towels and array the fish in a glass bowl cover them with olive oil and add also spices of your choice. In this condition you can keep the anchovies in the fridge almost indefinitely. Whenever you want to serve them, take some off the olive oil and just serve them in a plate. Easy peasy.

For the sardines:
As sardines are bigger, they need slightly more time in the salt. So with that said, decapitate and clean the bellies of the fish from all the guts without removing the spine. In a colander (for drainage) array the sardines between layers of coarse salt until they are all covered by salt. Leave them like that for 4-5 days and after this, the fish are basically ready to eat. In order to serve them, take them off the salt and let them rest in the water for half an hour, so that the excess salt goes off the fish. Serve them with olive oil, white vinegar, oregano and other herbs if you have a preference. (Two observation on this point: the sardines are becoming more salted when staying in salt, so if you keep them like that for a lot more extra days, make sure to increase the time in the water too. Also, the salt acts as a natural preservative so the fish don't need to stay in refrigerator while being covered with salt.)

You can accompany you fish meze dishes and your ouzo with Greek salad, olives, pickled purslanes, pilaf with wild greek greens, cuttlefish with spinach or anything else that talks to your heart.

Also here's an interesting video on how overfishing 4 large fish groups (salmon, cod, tuna and shrimp) destroys the ecosystems, pushing to extinction the endemic fish of every region. Prefer local fish that don't have to be transferred from the other side of Earth, they are delicious and full omega-3 fats (yes I know, my meze tray has smoked salmon too. You got me! :D)

Happy ouzo-situations and feel free to share any favorite appetizers with yours that go along with strong drinks. xo

2 Comments

Déspina Kortesidou

Déspina Kortesidou was born with the April flowers sometime in the '90s in the sunny peninsula of Greece. She is a graduating master student of neuroscience & metabolism, and a born adventurer.

(3rd person statements sound so official, love it)

She founded In Whirl of Inspiration, back in 2011 when she was (just) a biology student, in the island of Crete. In Whirl of Inspiration started as a creative and writing outlet for when studying molecules, became too monotonous. Recently, she started writing a children book and a not-so-children's book about the civil war in Greece. She has a soft spot for cheese, elder people, and (her own) jokes, but can't tell any as she ruins them by laughing too early. She enjoys sharing advice for eating healthier, or inspiring people to cover themshelves with plants, color and confetti.

Feel free to email her at hello@inwhirlofinspiration.com, or find her on Instagram and Twitter. (breaking the 3rd person narration to thank you properly)

Thank you so much for reading!

A pesto alternative: with parsley, strawberries, walnuts and feta cheese

A pesto alternative - with parley, strawberries, walnuts and feta cheese (via inwhirlofinspiration.com)1

You know what's the funniest thing that I have heard? "Why to experiment with an already perfect recipe and possibly ruin it?" Maybe some people agree with this, but I don't. Who can define a dish as perfect? And why not try making it more perfect? defined it as perfect? And why not try to do it even more perfect?
An already-close-to-perfection recipe. It gives character to many dishes. But it could be modified to fit with the season's vegetable and fruits or with various local products. This alternative pesto recipe contains parsley and strawberries that are everywhere this season, walnuts instead of pine seeds and feta cheese (so cliche Greek) instead of parmesan. And let the summer vibe rush over your dishes.

A pesto alternative - with parley, strawberries, walnuts and feta cheese (via inwhirlofinspiration.com) 3

Ingredients (for 1 bowl pesto):

1 large bunch of parsley
100 gr. of feta cheese
15-20 medium strawberries
2 cloves of garlic
2 handfuls of walnuts
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
oregano, salt and pepper

Procedure:

The process is simple: cutting, cutting and more cutting. You can cut all the ingredients on a large board, starting with the toughest and largest pieces (eg. walnuts and garlic) and continue with the softest ones. Then in a big bowl add the chopped ingredients, the olive oil and spices, stir, taste and add anything that misses according to your taste.
The other method is to mash all ingredients in a blender, so much quicker and cleaner, but I don't like the mashed-all-together outcome.  All textures are mashed together and the color is ehmmm not my favorite. ;) But as you wish, serve over bread as a snack or with savory dishes.

A pesto alternative - with parley, strawberries, walnuts and feta cheese (via inwhirlofinspiration.com) 2

If this version is too experimental for you, you can always return to the old safe classic pesto recipe. And here are three of my favorite ways to serve the pesto: on corn on the cob with feta cheese (omg!), with gnocchi and in a quick santwich tomato, prosciutto and a fried egg. 

Credits | Words & photos: Debbie Kortes

Comment

Déspina Kortesidou

Déspina Kortesidou was born with the April flowers sometime in the '90s in the sunny peninsula of Greece. She is a graduating master student of neuroscience & metabolism, and a born adventurer.

(3rd person statements sound so official, love it)

She founded In Whirl of Inspiration, back in 2011 when she was (just) a biology student, in the island of Crete. In Whirl of Inspiration started as a creative and writing outlet for when studying molecules, became too monotonous. Recently, she started writing a children book and a not-so-children's book about the civil war in Greece. She has a soft spot for cheese, elder people, and (her own) jokes, but can't tell any as she ruins them by laughing too early. She enjoys sharing advice for eating healthier, or inspiring people to cover themshelves with plants, color and confetti.

Feel free to email her at hello@inwhirlofinspiration.com, or find her on Instagram and Twitter. (breaking the 3rd person narration to thank you properly)

Thank you so much for reading!