20 July 2020
Euromed 2020 — Traditional Gastronomy
Issued on: 2020-07-20
Printing: Offset lithography
Denominations: €0.40, €0.50, €2.50, €3.00
Booklets of 4:
Face value: €6.40
Print run: 5,000
Miniature Sheets of 4:
Face value: €6.40
Print run: 5,000
Spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα, from σπανάκι, spanáki, spinach, and πίτα, píta, pie) meaning “spinach pie”, is a Greek savory pastry, typically with spinach and feta cheese filling. It is similar to the börek pastry of other eastern Mediterranean cultures.
The traditional filling comprises chopped spinach, feta cheese, onions or scallions, egg, and seasoning. Other white, preferably salted cheeses such as kefalotiri may also be mixed with the feta cheese, and some may be used as a substitute for feta cheese. Herbs such dill, mint and parsley as may be used as flavouring. The filling is wrapped or layered in phyllo (filo) pastry with butter or olive oil, either in a large pan from which individual servings are cut, or rolled into individual triangular servings. While the filo-dough recipe is most common, some recipes use a village-style pastry horiatiko, which has a thicker crust. It can also be made with puff pastry. The pastry is golden in colour when baked, the colour often enhanced by butter and egg yolk. It can be served straight from the oven or at room temperature.
There is a “fasting” (“nistisimo”), or vegan, version of spanakopita, eaten during the Great Lent and other religious fasts. This version has spinach, onions or green onions, other green herbs like dill, parsley or celery, as filling, and uses olive oil and a little wheat flour but no eggs or dairy products. The mixture is oven-baked until crisp. Non-traditional vegan versions are available that typically use tofu instead of cheese.
In rural Greece, smaller amounts of spinach are used, with the missing amount replaced with leeks, chard and sorrel.
€0.50 Grilled Octopus
Greek grilled octopus (χταπόδι στη σχάρα), loses a lot of its volume during cooking, so expect that the finished dish will look like quite a bit less than the original quantity. You should try to purchase octopus that has been cleaned, but if you realize it hasn’t been, under running water remove and discard the ink sac, stomach, and eyes from the large head cavity. Remove the beak, which is at the bottom of the head where it joins the tentacles, with a sharp knife.
€2.50 Roast Lamb
Greek lamb roast is all about fork tender meat, not a pink center. Disregard internal temperature and slow roast until desired tenderness is achieved. A rule of thumb is about 60 minutes per pound of lamb shoulder, but this varies based on the size of the meat and whether boneless or bone-in.
Moussaka is an eggplant- and/or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, which is common in the Balkans and the Middle East, with many local and regional variations. The best-known version in Europe and the Americas is the Greek variant created in the 1920s by Nikolaos Tselementes. Many versions have a top layer made of milk-based sauce thickened with egg (custard) or flour (béchamel sauce). In Greece, the dish is layered and typically served hot.
This is quite different from the versions that continue to be made in Turkey and the Middle East. In Turkey, mussaka consists of thinly sliced and fried eggplant served in a tomato-based meat sauce, warm or at room temperature. In the Arab countries, it is often eaten cold, but occasionally hot as well.
The English name for moussaka was borrowed from Greek mousakás (μουσακάς) and from other Balkan languages, all borrowed from Ottoman Turkish, which in turn borrοwed it from Arabic musaqqa‘a (مسقعة), literally “that which is fed liquid”. The word is first attested in English in 1862, written mùzàkkà.
Most versions are based primarily on sautéed aubergine (eggplant) and tomato, usually with minced meat, mostly lamb. However, the Greek version includes layers of meat and eggplant topped with a Béchamel (“white”) sauce, and baked.
The modern Greek version was created by the French-trained Greek chef Nikolaos Tselementes in the 1920s. A standard Tselementes-style recipe has three layers that are separately cooked before being combined for the final baking: a bottom layer of sliced eggplant sautéed in olive oil; a middle layer of ground lamb lightly cooked with chopped or puréed tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spices (cinnamon, allspice and black pepper); and a top layer of Béchamel sauce or savory custard. The composed dish is then layered into a pan and baked until the top layer is browned. Moussaka is usually served warm, not hot; if cut hot out of the oven, moussaka squares tend to slide apart and consequently the dish needs some resting time to firm up before serving. Reheating, however, does not present the same problem.
There are variations on this basic recipe, sometimes with no top sauce, sometimes with other vegetables. Such variants may include, in addition to the eggplant slices, sautéed zucchini (courgette) slices, part-fried potato slices, or sautéed mushrooms. There is a fast-day (vegan) version in Tselementes’ cookbook, which includes neither meat nor dairy products, just vegetables (ground eggplant is used instead of ground meat), tomato sauce, and bread crumbs.
Another variant is (melitzanes) papoutsakia (μελιτζάνες) παπουτσάκια (lit. “eggplant, little shoe style”) which consists of whole small eggplant stuffed with ground meat and topped with béchamel and baked.