Adriana's Symi Recipes

Greek recipes from the island of Symi.

Quince and Cheese Tart

Here is another recipe with quinces as a main ingredient – I am determined to make the most of this interesting fruit during the brief period that it is available and am keeping an eye open for new recipes that make use of it. This is a good one for lacto-vegetarians.

I found the original for this recipe in the September edition of a German women’s magazine, Freundin. As usual it required some adaptation to work in the Symi context as the original called for Continental-style sheep’s milk cheese and Herbes de Provence… The resulting flavour combination is slightly sweet but at the same time savoury and although the original recipe says ‘Serves 8’, it went very quickly between three of us!

750 grams of quince (here in Symi that is roughly one large one)
100 ml apple juice (you may need more)
A sprig of rosemary – from my garden, of course!
4 small leeks, or one fat one
200 grams sheep’s milk cheese – I used anthotyri which is a firm fresh white traditional Greek cheese with a mild flavour, similar to ricotta. Feta would have been too salty.
3 eggs – my hens were happy to oblige
150 ml milk – I used 200 ml light cream as the skim milk I usually have seemed too thin for the purpose.
100 grams fresh cream cheese (16% fat) – I used Philadelphia
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
Herbes de Provence – I used Symi thyme from my garden, finely chopped with a little more rosemary
230 gram roll of ready made pizza dough – I made 300 grams of all butter short crust pastry

1. Peel and quarter the quince, remove the seeds and dice. Put the quince pieces in saucepan with the apple juice and rosemary. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until the quince is tender but still holding its shape. Drain, discarding juice and rosemary.
2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.
3. Thoroughly wash and finely slice the leeks. The original recipe used the leeks uncooked but as I only had a large and rather mature specimen, I sautéed it in a little olive oil first to soften it.
4. Dice the cheese.
5. Beat together the eggs, cream or milk and cream cheese. A blender makes short work of this. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and herbs.
6. Roll out the dough and use to line a large pie dish or tapsi (round Greek baking pan). Distribute the leeks, quinces and cheese chunks evenly over the pastry. Pour over the egg mixture.
7. Bake in a hot oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is cooked and the filling set.
8. Serve warm or cold.

Pork and Quinces – the Dinner Party Version

The combination of pork with quinces is a very popular one in Greece at this time of the year. Usually it is made as a casserole using one of the fattier cuts of pork, the sharpness of the fruit cutting the richness of the meat. I also make it in this fashion when it is cold enough to light the wood stove and have pots simmering away for hours.

This October, however, the weather has been so mild that when the quinces appeared in the shops I decided to try a quicker, lighter approach when we had guests for dinner. My usual butcher down in Yialos had some beautiful pork fillets and there were some perfect golden quinces at the greengrocer in the lane round the corner. Here is what I did with them.

The pork:

2 pork fillets (approximately 750 grams total weight)
15 ml coriander seeds
15 ml mixed pepper corns
zest of one lemon
1 small dried red chilli
5 ml dried thyme

Grind together all the seasonings and rub into all surfaces of the meat. Cover and leave to stand in a cool place for at least an hour.

The quinces:

2 large quinces, well washed and cut into quarters (about a kilo)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

125 ml white wine
125 ml orange juice
15 ml honey
2 cm cinnamon stick
15 ml pomegranate molasses (optional)

Combine the water and sugar in a heavy pan over gentle heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chunks of quince and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, drain the quinces. Peel them and core the chunks and cut into neat pieces.

Combine the white wine, orange juice, honey, cinnamon and pomegranate molasses in a saucepan large enough to hold all the quince. Add the quinces and simmer over low heat until slightly syrupy.

Heat sufficient olive oil to cover the base of a heavy frying pan large enough to hold both pork fillets and sear the meat on all sides. Reduce heat, cover the frying pan and cook for 10 minutes, turning once. Cut the meat into slices an inch thick and sear on the cut surfaces. This should now be practically cooked through but not dry. Season to taste with salt.

Arrange the slices of meat on a platter and spoon over some of the quinces and syrup. Serve the rest separately.

Florina Peppers Stuffed with Feta Cheese

This extremely easy recipe is always a taverna favourite and I am putting this up by special request from some regular visitors who were unable to come to Symi this September due to the collapse of Kosmar. Like so many good things, it only requires three ingredients and the sum is greater than the parts.

The first ingredient is, obviously, the peppers themselves. Florina peppers are long red slipper-shaped sweet peppers from the region of Florina up in northern Greece. At this time of the year we can buy them fresh for the few short weeks that they are in season, but the bulk of the crop is actually roasted commercially and then bottled or canned so that they are available all year round. Preserved Florina peppers are available from good supermarkets and specialist food shops. This recipe uses the bottled variety. These have been roasted and peeled, giving the flesh a mellow sweetness.

The second ingredient is the feta cheese. This should be firm enough to cut into slices or fingers to fit the cavity in each pepper.

The third ingredient is some good olive oil to drizzle over everything before you put it into the oven.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Take a small roasting pan just large enough to take the peppers lying down in a single layer. Slip the feta cheese inside each pepper and arrange the peppers snugly. Pour over the liquid from the bottle or jar that the peppers came in. Drizzle over some olive oil and cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt and the whole dish is sizzling happily.

Serve hot or at room temperature with lots of bread to soak up the juices.

Variations: You can sprinkle over some chopped flat leaved parsley before serving. You can also mash the feta cheese with finely chopped sun dried tomatoes or some garlic before stuffing the peppers with it.


This is by request. There are many different regional variations of this dish – indeed I recently saw a Cretan version made with pork and it is often made as a vegetarian dish with no meat whatsoever. Lamb works well as it has quite a strong flavour. This is absorbed by the pasta, making a small amount of meat go a lot further. It is quite a rich dish.

You can make Yiouvetsi either in a big pan or in small individual earthenware dishes as they do in Cyprus and Egypt. As the pasta should be tender but not soggy it is better to top up the liquid little and often during the cooking process. The seasonings are typical of Greek ‘kokkinista’ – ‘red’ dishes. You can remove the whole cloves and the cinnamon stick before serving.

If you want to prepare this ahead for a dinner party, cook it up to the point marked *. At this point you can safely cool it and then reheat it later, adding the extra liquid and bringing it up to temperature before adding the pasta. If you are watching your cholesterol, letting the meat cool at this stage also means you can skim some of the lamb fat off the sauce. This is also the point at which you can divide it into individual dishes.

1 leg of lamb, cut into 4-6 chunks
80 ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
250 ml tomato puree
250 ml chopped and peeled tomatoes (good quality tinned ones will do if the fresh ones are out of season)
3 cloves
1 piece of cinnamon bark
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 1.25 litres of boiling water or stock
500 ml orzo or kritharaki (rice-shaped pasta)
100 ml grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese
125 ml diced feta cheese

Put the lamb in a roasting pan. Drizzle over the olive oil and bake in a moderate oven (about 180 degrees centigrade) for 20 minutes. Add the onion to the pan, stir into the pan juices and bake for another 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Add some of the measured liquid and stir until evenly combined. Spoon over the meat to baste. Cover the pan tightly with foil, shiny side in, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.*

Add the rest of the water and stock and stir into the tomato sauce. Add the pasta, distributing it evenly. Cover tightly and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and adding a little more hot liquid if it seems dry.
When the pasta is tender, sprinkle the cheese over the dish and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs

On Sunday I hosted a small brunch for the family of the late Helene Ingrand. Comfort food seemed appropriate, but with an elegant twist as befitted our dear friend. One of our olive groves provided a tranquil setting in which to gather round a scrubbed wood table and tuck into a big bowl of scrambled eggs with a difference:

12 organic eggs (my hens did well that day)

150 grams smoked salmon, cut into ribbons

150 ml cream

30 ml finely chopped fresh dill

freshly milled sea salt and green peppercorns to taste.

30 ml unsalted butter to cook

Crack the eggs into a large jug and cut through with a fork to break up the yolks. Pour in the cream and beat lightly with the fork until combined but not frothy. Melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok and add the smoked salmon. Turn gently in the butter with a spatula to warm through and then pour in the eggs, keeping the heat low. Allow to set lightly and then turn gently with a wooden spatula. The idea is to make sure that the mixture is cooked through evenly while still retaining a creamy texture. If it is too hot the mixture will start to separate which alters the texture.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in the dill. Tip into a big basin and serve immediately with fresh bread.

Lamb and Orange Khoresh

This is an autumn and winter favourite of mine and always goes down well at dinner parties. The orange trees from my garden make their own contribution and I know that they haven't been sprayed with anything sinister. I found the original recipe in Diana's Henry's delicious book, 'Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons' but had to adapt it to suit what is available here on Symi, and the fact that I do most of my cooking in the winter on a cast iron wood burning stove which, unlike the posh AGAs of Western Europe, tends to be a bit idiosyncratic. Mind you, I should imagine there are plenty of Iranian housewives out there cooking on much the same kind of stove.

Lamb and Orange Khoresh

3 oranges
40 grams unsalted butter
10 ml caster sugar
olive oil
675 grams lean lamb cut from the bone into 3-4 cm cubes (I use frozen New Zealand lamb for this as the local lambs don't have that much meat on them - and cost a fortune!)
2 onions, finely chopped
5 ml ground cinnamon
seeds from 3 cardamom pods, finely ground
275 ml fresh orange juice
juice of one lime (I use a lemon as limes are hard to find here)
275 ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
3 carrots
handful of fresh mint leaves
10 ml orange flower water (optional but actually quite nice)
25 grams shelled pistachios, roughly chopped or slivered (pine nuts or blanched almonds will do at a pinch)

Remove the peel from the oranges with a fine peeler so that you leave all the pith behind. Retain the oranges for below. Cut into fine strips, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cook for two minutes and then strain. Heat half the butter in a small pan and add the orange rind. Stir, then add the sugar and cook for a couple of minutes until the sugar has melted and the rind is slightly caramalised. Set aside to cool.

Heat 30 ml olive oil in a heavy casserole. Fry the lamb cubes in batches so that they are browned on all sides. Set aside.

Add 15 ml olive oil plus the rest of the butter to the pan in which you browned the lamb. Saute the onion in this until transluscent but not brown. Add the cinnamon and cardomon and cook for a minute. Add the juices, stock and the lamb with any juices off the plate. Season and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook over very low heat for about an hour. I usually put the pan on a trivet so that it is not in direct contact with the heat as it is difficult to damp down the fire far enough without it going out altogether.

Peel the carrots and cut them into thin sticks. Remove the pith from the oranges and cut the oranges into neat segments with a very sharp knife. Add the carrots for the last 20 minutes of the cooking time. Add the oranges for the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle half the mint over the lamb when you turn off the heat.

Stir in the orange flower water, garnish with the remaining mint, the orange peel and the pistachios.

Serve with a big bowl of Basmati rice.


Adriana Shum

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