We soon realised we had a couple of mornings of rain ahead of us, so we started planning fun things we could do that didn’t require a bikini and a bottle of P20. So a when we saw a little deli offering cooking lessons we signed ourselves up straight away.
We got up bright and early, and headed into the town to Ergon, a trendy little deli on the main cobbled street of Skiathos Town.
Skiathos has a real mix of traditional tavernas and restaurants that you’d expect, mingled in with a handful of quite trendy places. This is one of the latter.
We washed our hands, donned our aprons and made friends with our chef and fellow cookers.
Our menu was Greek coffee, tzatziki, courgette spaghetti (my recipe for courgetti is here) with tuna and a fresh, creamy sauce, and my favourite – vine leaves.
We started with Greek coffee, which is strong and fine and the ‘silt’ doesn’t get filtered out but sinks to the bottom of the cup. It was surprisingly tasty.
Next we prepared the cucumber for tzatziki, learning how to drain it properly to get all the moisture out – something I don’t normally bother to do but which resulted in a deliciously thick and tasty dip.
We then moved to the star of the show, the vine leaves. I have a vine growing in my garden at home and had been talking for a few weeks that I was going to have a go at making vine leaves so I thought this lesson would be perfect. Sadly our chef informed us that you need to use the young leaves, not the old tough ones at the end of the summer so that ruled that out but I was glad to find out you can buy the leaves in a jar and they taste just as good.
We started by making the filling. Our chef showed us a time saving way of starting to cook the rice a bit like a risotto, and we added lots of fresh dill and mint into the mixture too.
Once that was done, we got to the fun bit of rolling the leaves.
Not too dissimilar to making the perfect fajita, you dollop a bit of rice mixture in the middle of the leaf veiny side up, roll the flat end away from you and around the mixture, folding in the sides as you go. Voila!
Once they were all rolled, off they went into the pan to be cooked.
For the courgetti, the deli had these nifty little hand held instruments to make your ‘spaghetti’ strands which I thought were a great alternative the bulky spiraliser I have at home. You can buy them here.
Whilst we were hard at work making the ‘spaghetti’, our chef knocked up his special sauce that is on his menu at the restaurant he is head of at a local fancy hotel.
By the time all that was done, so were our vine leaves and it was time to taste the fruits of our labour. We were invited to take a seat at a table, where we were poured local wine and left to enjoy the meal.
Finished off with a delicious selection of halva from the deli.
Our fellow diners told us that they tried to do a cooking lesson in every country they visited and had learnt recipes from all over the world including Vietnam, Spain and their next one was booked in Cuba. Isn’t that a great idea!
Here are the recipes:
Dolmades (Giaprakia) stuffed vine leaves recipe
Around 30 vine leaves blanched
1 cup of medium grain rice
2 ½ cups warm water
1 white onion
3-4 branches of spring onion
Dill, parsley, fresh mint
Lemon juice for taste
In a pot heat some olive oil, add chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions on a medium heat till they start become transparent. Finely chop the spring onions and the herbs and add the with the onions.
Add in the rice and sauté for a few more minutes till it starts to stick in the bottom of the pan and then add a cup of water and simmer for five minutes and take off the heat and season. To stuff the vine leaves, ensure the veiny side of the leaf is facing you and add a small amount of stuffing. Roll whilst folding the sides in neatly.
In a large pot add olive oil in the bottom and place the stuffed vine leaves very firmly one next to each other. Add water, some lemon juice salt and pepper cover with a grease proof paper and a heavy plate on top. Bring to the boil and then on low heat for around 20 minutes. Pull out one to check if rice is cooked. If not! Add some water and boil few more minutes.
400 g plain Greek yoghourt
2 garlic cloves
olive oil / vinegar
Grate the cucumber into a strainer and add some salt. Salt will help the cucumber to loose most of the water. Leave on the side to drain for a few minutes. Squeeze out the cucumber with your hands then add in a bowl all ingredients and serve with some fresh hot bread and pitas.
Fresh sourgette spaghetti with tuna and lemon recipe
For 4 people
1,5 kg medium sized courgettes
Around 400g of tuna in brine or olive oil
300g cherry tomatoes
150g creamed cheese/ricotta/greek yogurt
Lemon juice from around 2 medium lemons and its lemon zest
Salt and pepper
½ cup cold water to make the dressing lighter
Slice the courgette in long thin strips or use a mandolin or a spirelli by Gefu, lightly salt and leave on a side. In a large serving bowl mix the cheese, oil, lemon zest and juice and add a bit of water and stir well to make a nice soft creamy sauce. Add the capers, cherry tomatoes and the tuna, season and then mix in the courgette. Dress with some extra virgin olive oil and chopped dill.
Ergon also has a number of delis in Greece including Athens and Rhodes, as well as closer to home including Brussels and London! Check out their website here.
Did you see my first Skiathos post yet? Arriving in (rainy) Skiathos