Tag Archives: Greek

Blu Kouzina

Grilled sardines with lemon and parsley

***UPDATE*** We finally made it back and were restrained enough to just stick to the mezze menu.  Couldn’t go past the tzatziki, taramasalata and saganaki with figs again.  From the specials board, sardines and a cheese which I can’t recall the name of, but has a similar texture of haloumi cheese.  The sardines were simply grilled with olive oil and lemon juice with parsley, and the chewy, dense cheese was fried on the griddle and served with a light balsamic dressing.

 Saganaki with figs

Again, the warm service makes you feel like you are a guest eating in their home.  Love love love this place.

***END OF UPDATE***

Smoked eggplant dip with herbs

After hearing so much about Blu Kouzina, we did a little pre-planning and made a reservation for a table a week in advance (previous failed attempts to reserve a table were probably because we called on the day we wanted to eat).

The small restaurant is packed to the gills when I get there at 8.15, which is the second seating.  The staff look harrassed and stressed.  I arrived before the rest of my table, and I sat there by myself with no menu, no drink. Nothing.

So far not too impressed.  I finally ask for, and get a menu, and then things started to change.

Growing up in Sydney I had access to authentic Greek food.  Not the tacky restaurants popular with brides-to-be, and where everyone gets plates to smash. I’m talking authentic, rustic, home-made Greek. It helped tremendously that one of my Greek friends and I used to go on exploring adventures around Chinatown (new for her) and Marrickville (new for me) to seek out ingredients, home made treats and other goodies to sample.

Greek food to me is again, all about the ingredients.  The food is usually simply prepared, which means what you are using to cook needs to be good.  From reading the menu, Blu Kouzina promised all that.

And it delivered in leaps and bounds.

We should have stuck to  a selection of the mezze dishes OR the mains.  However, we were hungry and indecisive so we ordered far too much, but the food was just so good that it was hard to avoid the self-induced food coma we all left with.

The owner Effie Tsakiris came to our table and served us a plate of grilled eggplant and feta to apologise for the delay in our order.  It was apparently busier than normal that day and they were short-staffed. 170 people dined that night with five wait staff and three cooks. Completely unnecessary, but such a nice touch.

Our mezze came shortly after – all stupendous, and I remembered to take ONE SINGLE PHOTO I was so hungry and everything was so good.  (We will definitely be going again, so I will add on to this post :)). We had dips – smoked eggplant, taramasalata and tzatziki (which inspired me to make yoghurt this weekend).  The tzatziki was the winner in my eyes – thick, creamy yoghurt with just enough tang and heat from the garlic.  I could have eaten the entire dish by myself.  The other fantastic dish was saganaki with figs – sheep and goat’s milk cheese, baked and topped with a fig compote.  This dish disappeared in minutes.

For mains we ordered the meat plate, which had lamb cutlets, beef skewers and beef balls.  We also had whole grilled snapper, which Effie de-boned at the table for us, while she explained that while she was born in South Africa, the food she served at the restaurant was what her mother cooked and what she grew up with.  Most of the ingredients are shipped in from Greece – which is probably why it’s going to be difficult finding anything similar in Singapore at least.

We even managed to squeeze in baclava – a traditional Greek dessert made of chopped nuts rolled in filo pastry and sweetened with honey.  A lot of baclava that I have tried is often too sweet, and I’m not saying Blu Kouzina’s wasn’t, but it wasn’t so sweet that we couldn’t finish one piece each.

If you are after authentic Greek food in Singapore, this is the place the go.  Absolutely delicious.  Make a reservation well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Blu Kouzina
893 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 589615

T: 6875 0872

ps – as a bonus the Greek wines there are also incredibly good and really good value !


Dolmades

Dolmades with tzatziki

After a week of eating out with my parents while they’ve been visiting, I felt like I needed to a) eat something home-cooked and b) spend some time fiddling around in the kitchen.  The answer: make dolmades.

Healthy and time consuming, it’s the perfect panacea for me, and adding that my office is closed between Christmas and New Year, meant that I had all the necessary ingredients to make them – food as well as time.

Dolmades – Greek stuffed vine leaves are delicious and adaptable to what you feel like on the day.  Tonight I felt like pork in the stuffing.  You can substitute that for any other kind of meat (it’s traditionally made with beef or lamb mince) or take it vegetarian and leave the meat out altogether.  Serve with a good dollop (or bowl!) of tangy tzatziki.

Ingredients (to make around a dozen average sized dolmades)

  • 1/2 cup of uncooked shortgrain rice – you can use white or brown (I used brown tonight)
  • 1 cup water for white rice, 1 1/2 cups water for brown rice
  • Handful pinenuts
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 150g pork mince (or more if you prefer a meatier version.  Leave out for a vegetarian option)
  • Handful dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vine leaves x 12 plus a few extra to line the bottom of the saucepan
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Tzatziki to serve (recipe below)

Method (for stuffing):

  1. Cook the rice by simmering the rice in the water for 10-15 mins for white rice, 40 mins for brown rice
  2. Toast the pinenuts in a frying pan.  Set aside
  3. Brown mince.  Set aside
  4. Gently sweat the onions
  5. Add the browned mince, rice, pinenuts and dill and season lightly

Method (for wrapping):

  1. Line a heavy-based saucepan with a few vine leaves
  2. Take a vine leaf and place on a large plate with the raised veins of the leaf underneath and the stalk away from you.
  3. Place a spoonful of the stuffing in the middle across the leaf
  4. Fold the bottom part of the leaf up first, then roll, wrapping the parcel with the left and right sides of the leaf, until you have a little parcel
  5. Place on top of the vine leaves in the saucepan.
  6. Continue to pack them snugly in the base of the saucepan as you make them
  7. Once you have wrapped them all, pour over the olive oil and lemon juice – you can also add some of the brine from the jar of vine leaves (which will add salt, hence seasoning the stuffing lightly)
  8. Weigh down with a plate
  9. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for an hour
  10. Once the hour is up, turn off the heat and let them cool in the saucepan with the lid on
  11. Store in the fridge with a generous drizzle of olive oil

Tzatziki – mix in a large bowl:

  1. 1 x 500g tub natural yoghurt – look for the ones which are naturally set in the tub as they are thicker – strain out excess liquid
  2. 3 medium lebanese cucumbers (or equivalent), skin and seeds removed and then grated – sprinkle salt over to draw excess liquid out and then squeeze the grated cucumber to get rid of as much liquid as possible
  3. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
  5. 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 – 4 tbs finely chopped mint or dill
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. Cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to develop