People and their stories about food.

Penne with feta pesto, courgettes & corn

in The Others -

Warm days call for lighter dishes, filled with lots of vegetables and herbs- one of my all time favourites is pasta, like this penne with feta pesto, courgettes & corn.

I love everything about pesto– from its gorgeous colour and irresistible creamy texture and perfect saltiness, to the wonders it can work on any dish it is added to. The few times I’ve used store-bought varieties have left me utterly disappointed. Nothing can compare to a jar of the homemade kind, which is not only a child’s play to make, but also offers almost countless possibilities for additions and variations. And since I always have a pot of basil by my kitchen window, fresh greens and cheese in the fridge and nuts in my cupboard, there’s always lots of pesto experimentations to be enjoyed.

This one is quite straightforward, with feta instead of parmesan, which adds a delicious extra creaminess to the sauce and leads me straight into summer- as I always associate feta with warm weather and the freshest dishes. You can use pistachios, which add a dash of lovely colour, but I’ve gone with the traditional pine nuts here.


You can simply toss this with al dente pasta and be good to go, but come spring and summer, I always crave more vegetables, so I added sautéed courgette and corn which add a slight crunch and sweetness to every bite.

*I recommend doubling the pesto quantity and keep the rest either in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for up to a month (defrost in the fridge overnight); apart from pasta, it’s a treat served with roast vegetables, fish and chicken, or simply added to a sandwich.

Penne with feta pesto, courgettes & corn

WHAT

for the pesto:

40g fresh basil (you can substitute some of it with baby spinach or rocket)

80g feta

25g pine nuts

1 fat garlic clove

100ml extra virgin olive oil

for the pasta:

350g wholewheat pasta

1 large courgette, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

a pinch of sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper

100g corn (about 1/2 cup)

to serve:

parmesan

fresh basil leaves (optional)

freshly ground black pepper

WHAT

To make the pesto, place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth, scrapping down the sides if needed. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water according to pack instructions until al dente. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat; add the sliced courgette, salt and pepper and cook tossing lightly for about 5′, or until soft. Combine with the corn and et aside.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water to use later if needed. Toss the pasta with the pesto, adding a couple splashes of the pasta water to thin out if necessary. Add the courgette and corn and divide into plates.

Serve with grated parmesan, fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.

Giant couscous with blueberries, hazelnuts, feta & preserved lemons

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Bursting with spring flavours, this giant couscous with blueberries, hazelnuts, feta & preserved lemons is colourful, filling and prefect for these first sunny days.

I love a colourful salad all year round; come spring however, I switch from my favourite winter one, or those filled with roasted vegetables and thick dressings to something which pays homage to the first days of spring: I add fresh fruits and lots of herbs which I barely touch, but merely wash them quickly and toss them with bright green leaves.

This little beauty comes together in almost no time- you start with some cooked couscous (I used the Israeli variety here, as I love it’s wholesome texture, but the regular one would also do, or you may as well use quinoa or barley) and start layering flavours, textures and colours: baby spinach, lots of parsley, big handfuls of blueberries and a couple preserved lemons. Toss and finish off with generous sprinklings of chopped hazelnuts and crumbled feta, so you get a bit of everything in each bite: sweet, acid, salt and lots of freshness.

Giant couscous with blueberries, hazelnuts, feta & preserved lemons

WHAT

300g giant couscous, cooked

2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach, washed
1/3 bunch fresh parsley, washed, leaves picked

50g blueberries, washed

2 preserved lemons, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, toasted & crushed

sea salt flakes, to taste
for the dressing:

a pinch of salt

to serve: 60g feta, crumbled, 3 tablespoons hazelnuts, chopped

HOW

Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper & mustard seeds (an easy way to do this is in a jar- seal well and shake vigorously until well mixed).

Roughly chop the spinach leaves and parsley and toss with the couscous, blueberries and preserved lemons. Add the dressing and top with some crumbled feta & hazelnuts.


Vegan baked feta with olives & thyme

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Two of my favourite ingredients combined and baked to bubbly perfection. We’re gonna need a bigger loaf of bread for this one.

I’m in my last week of fasting and I have quite a lot of feelings about it; on the one hand, I can’t wait to have lots of thick full fat Greek yogurt, some shaved parmesan over two perfectly fried eggs, or a full plate of baby potatoes and lots of smoked trout; on the other, I can’t help but think and marvel at how much I’ve enjoyed my diet for the last month or so: the reason I decided to fast (for the third consecutive year) in the first place is purely to challenge my self both in terms of my cooking and eating habits. So my meals were filled with vegetables and herbs, simple, delicious and so satisfying: from saucy green beans to lemony peas, everything but the kitchen sink pasta or fragrant curries.

I am not a very adventurous person in general, but when it comes to food and a few other things, I love to give in, try new things and be completely open. Still, inevitably, there are patterns and preferences and every once in a while, I like to deviate from them and just see what happens. And though my diet is mostly vegetarian, with lots of eggs and some fish and a little chicken on the side, going vegan for these weeks really made me so much more inventive and playful in the kitchen. I relied heavily on spices and herbs, more than I usually do, fell in and out of love with pulses a couple times and satisfied my minor sweet tooth with sliced pineapple and papaya, baked with vanilla beans and pure maple syrup. Last but not least, I discovered (and may have also become addicted to) the bliss of vegan feta

Let me explain: in Greece, cooked pulses are often eaten with a generous side of feta cheese and, as I’ve been eating chickpeas and beans in almost every way possible, I realised that what I was probably missing the most was feta. And then I found it: mildly flavoured, made of coconut, reminding me of another favourite Greek cheese (the name escapes me). And then I wish I hadn’t, since I literally could not stop eating it: for breakfast, over crunchy toast, with a pinch of sumac and a drizzle of olive oil, accompanying baked chickpeas for lunch, tossed with juicy tomatoes and buttery avocados for dinner- you name it, I’ve probably had it with some vegan feta.

Today’s dish is probably my favourite way to enjoy it- and almost definitely the last time I’ll have it for a while: combined with chubby black and green olives (pits on, always!), lots of good olive oil, orange juice and zest, chipotle flakes, bay leaves and fresh thyme. Put it in the oven for merely 15 minutes and brace yourselves for melted, bubbly heaven. And for the love of all things delicious, don’t forget the bread!

Vegan baked feta with olives & thyme

WHAT

200g vegan feta (I used this one)

about 3/4 cup black and green olives

130 ml extra virgin olive oil

juice & zest from 1/2 orange

1/4 teaspoon chipotle flakes

3 small bay leaves

3 fresh thyme sprigs

4 small garlic cloves, skin on

a pinch of sea salt flakes (taste your olives first and season accordingly)

HOW

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC FAN).

Place the feta in a deep-ish baking dish and arrange the olives around it.

Add the olive oil, juice & zest, sprinkle with the chipotle flakes and then add the bay leaves & thyme sprigs.

Season and bake in the preheated oven for about 15′, or until the “cheese” is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, let it sit for about 5′ and serve immediately either from the baking dish or after transferring it (carefully! Vegan feta melts quicker and more than the real thing, so try to transfer it whole as much as possible) on a serving dish. And, again, don’t forget the bread!

Dawn Garcia

in The Others -
So happy to be featuring the  mighty Dawn Garcia, creator + CEO of ATOD Magazine, print Editor of Lapalme, writer, screenwriter, host, mom and entrepreneur. 
Dawn Garcia
Mike met Dawn about a year ago, while in LA for the Academy Awards; he loved her instantly and just would not shut up about her energy, social skills and overall badassness. When we went to Cali for our honeymoon, she was at the top of our list of people we wanted to spend time with. When I finally met her… honestly, forget about her accomplishments and the very many hats she wears professionally; the most amazing things about Dawn are her generosity, warmth and adorable family. We spent an evening with them in their beautiful LA home and in no time, I felt that deep admiration, kinship and connection, that exquisite bond women share with each other, which is both empowering and an extraordinary driving force.

[READ MORE]

COCO-MAT Hotel Athens

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COCO-MAT Hotel Athens

COCO-MAT Hotel is located literally opposite my parents’ house in Kolonaki. Ever since it opened, it filled the street with vibrant colours, new faces and beautiful wooden bicycles. I’ve always been a big fan of Cocomat products (seriously, the best mattresses you’ve ever slept on) and aesthetic and since we’re neighbours, last time I was back home, I popped in for the inside scoop. [READ MORE]

Rocabella Hotel Mykonos

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One of the best hotel experiences I’ve ever had was in Rocabella Mykonos: gorgeous views, beautiful architecture, bright, clean rooms tastefully decorated and the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across. And don’t even get me started on the menu and cocktails! I’ve only been to this one, but judging from photos, its little sibling in Santorini must be equally stunning. Lucky for me, it just so happens that one of the people running this family business is my friend Roy Kalfopoulou. I met Roy years back in London and she’s one of the kindest, warmest and most generous people ever. She’s been around the hotel since day one and lately has been focusing on all press related actions, as well as everything regarding the hotel’s image and style. Not surprisingly, when I visited the hotel a couple summers ago, her hospitality was spot on, a perfect match for the hotel’s gorgeous serenity and impeccable service. The secret to their success? Read on…

Rocabella Hotel Mykonos

Rocabella Hotel Mykonos [READ MORE]

40ft Brewery

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40ft Brewery

First I met the Irish, Steve (founder of Root & Bone), then one of the Swedes, Andreas. They’re both photographers, working at the large Dalston studio where Mike often spends the better part of his day (and night). Both are funny, sweet and polite and, as I find out soon after, they’re also making their own beer. How awesome is that? Since I’d never met any beer makers before, I naturally wanted to know more. [READ MORE]

Nassia Matsa (FAQ FOOD)

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Nassia Matsa, Editor of FAQ FOOD & working full time at the advertising department of WIRED (on the side: production coordinator for the documentary platform The New British / drummer for EX-PRESIDENTS), from Athens, Greece, lives in Hackney

I met Nassia about a year ago through mutual friends. I was immediately taken in by her energy, social skills and enthusiasm about food. That first night we met ended very appropriately (and very late) with pizza at Voodoo Ray’s (one of Nassia’s favourites)- were we had our first of many conversations about ingredients and trends, food porn and London, favourite childhood food memories and new-found exciting dishes.

One of these conversations took place at her cool pad, a converted warehouse opposite The Dolphin. It started with strong, freshly brewed coffee and ended up with Nassia’s delicious ‘drunken’ risotto. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to start and end a conversation- can you? [READ MORE]

Adrienne Katz Kennedy

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Adrienne Katz Kennedy, PR & Special Events Manager at the School of Wok, from Cleveland, OH, lives in Kingston

I first met Adrienne back when I was doing an MA in Dance Anthropology; she was one of the first people I met and we instantly clicked. I thought she was cool, funny and interesting and after 8 years or so, I still do. Years later, we’ve found ourselves sharing similar interests once again: Adrienne has turned her passion for food into a career (I think she has the coolest job and I’m constantly proud of her for going after it) and I’ve turned my never-ceasing appetite and curiosity about food into a blog. Speaking of blogs, Adrienne’s Season and Sprout combines two of the things I mostly love about her: beautiful writing and delicious recipes. [READ MORE]

Agathe Cerezo from Champagne + Fromage

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Agathe Cerezo, Assistant Manager of Champagne+Fromage, from Metz, France, lives in Bethnal Green, London

As clearly indicated from last week’s posts, cheese is only one of my absolute favourite things to eat (baked camembert anyone? or a bite of an ever so fancy comté grilled cheese?). So when I discovered Champagne + Fromage in Brixton, about 6 months ago, it quickly became one of my go-to destinations both for shopping and for a relaxed night out: the cheese and charcuterie platters are a ‘best of’ of what’s in store and the small dishes they offer, such as the champagne/ pear crostini, are delicious and taste even better with a glass of champagne- or two. [READ MORE]