Recipes: 'Vefa's Kitchen' So many of the elements of the Greek kitchen are well known, yet for one reason or another they don't add up to something we turn to night after night. Maybe that's because there hasn't been a basic, here's-how-we-do-it Greek Joy of Cooking — until now.

Recipes: 'Vefa's Kitchen'

Chicken Pilaf Phaidon Press Inc. hide caption

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Phaidon Press Inc.

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These recipes appear in Vefa's Kitchen, by Vefa Alexiadou, Phaidon Press Inc., 2009.

Chicken Pilaf Wrapped In Phyllo (Filo)
(Serves 6)

1 small chicken, about 2 1/4 lb, skinned
10 black peppercorns
1 small carrot
1 small onion
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2/3 cup melted butter, plus extra for brushing
1 onion, finely chopped
scant 1 cup blanched almonds, slivered
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants
salt and pepper
6 sheets of phyllo dough

1. Put the chicken into a large pan, pour water to cover, add the peppercorns, carrot and onion, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for about 1 hour or until tender.

2. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and let cool, then remove the bones and shred the flesh. Strain the stock and make up 5 cups by combining with water. Reserve 2 cups and bring the remaining stock to a boil in a pan. Add the rice, cover and cook for 10 minutes, until almost tender. Drain the rice and spread it out on a clean dish towel to drain until completely dry. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Heat half the melted butter in a large pan. Add the onion, almonds and pine nuts, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened. Increase the heat to medium, add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, until the grains are thoroughly coated with butter.

4. Stir in the chicken, currants and reserved stack, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

5. Brush an ovenproof dish (9 x 14 inches) with melted butter. Line the base of the prepared dish with the sheets of phyllo, letting it hang over the sides, and brush with melted butter. Spread the rice mixture into the dish, gather the overhanging phyllo and fold it over the filling to form a boureki, or large pie. Brush with the remaining melted butter and bake for about 20 minutes, until the phyllo is golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a platter. Serve immediately.

Octopus With Eggplants Phaidon Press Inc. hide caption

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Phaidon Press Inc.

Octopus With Eggplants (Aubergines)

3 1/4 lb octopus, cleaned
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
20 black peppercorns
4 1/2 lb eggplants (aubergines), cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup olive oil
1 onion, grated
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Put the octopus into a large pan, add the vinegar, bay leaf and peppercorns, and pour in water to cover. Cook for about 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle the eggplants with salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes.

3. Heat half the oil in a pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, sugar and balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Drain the octopus, cut into bite-size pieces and add to the sauce. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until the octopus is tender and the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, rinse the eggplants, drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.

5. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet or frying pan. Add the eggplants and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden, then remove and drain on paper towels. Add the eggplants and parsley to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes more. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Vefa's Kitchen
By Vefa Alexiadou

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Vefa's Kitchen
Vefa Alexiadou

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