“I hate to cook. I really do”. Yet I signed up for a Greek cooking class with Viator while I was in Crete. What was I thinking? “Abundance of food to eat”, probably.
Meeting our teacher
So when the sun was setting on our first night there, Jennifer from Moi, mes souliers, Amanda from MarocMama, Erin from Travel with Bender and I met with Maria, a Cretan lady who gives cooking classes in the very house in Chania she was born in. Maria hasn’t always lived there. She moved to Athens for a while, but then came back. Chania and that house will always be her home, she told us. I immediately noticed this wasn’t going to be a typical cooking class and it turned out I was right.
I thought we’d all be standing in a big room full of stoves, preparing the same dishes by ourselves, following the instructions of Maria. Instead, we all sat in Maria’s kitchen and helped her prepare the ingredients for the various courses while she looked over the stove and the oven.
This was fine by me, though. I watched on and took photos while my fellow bloggers were cutting, cleaning and arranging potatoes, zucchini and mint. Only near the end of the preparations did they feel that I’d have to prepare at least some of my food myself, and so I was put in charge of dough-rolling (if that’s even a verb). True respect for cooks, because this sure is heavy on the arms! So, what did we prepare?
Our Greek dishes
Zucchini and Greek cheese pie
Most of our time was spent preparing an of oven pie which consisted of a layer of sliced potatoes and then consecutive layers of Greek cheese, mint and zucchini. As you can maybe tell from the photo above, we didn’t just slice the zucchini and throw it in there. It was first very finely sliced by slicing queen Erin (honestly, that girl does millimeter work), then put in a bowl with salt to extract the water and then squeezed to get rid of all that water.
The mint was very finely cut as well and the cheese crumbled onto the layers in the baking dish. It wasn’t feta, the Greek cheese we all know, but it quite looked like it except that it was much softer. When Jennifer had filled up the baking dish with all the potatoes, cheese, mint and zucchini, the whole thing went into the oven for an hour.
Just look at that cheesy crust!!!
But before that was ready, we prepared some other traditional Greek dishes.
The Greek salad
I think almost everyone knows what a Greek salad is, right? Greek salad ingredients are tomato, cucumber, feta, red onion, olives and a lot of olive oil. Maria also added a bit of green pepper, which complemented the whole nicely.
We didn’t prepare this salad as a course but as a side dish to have with the zucchini pie and the lamb we would prepare as well.
Lamb with egg-lemon sauce
Maria had lamb chops for us, but we would prepare them with a sauce that none of us had heard of yet: egg-lemon sauce. The trick is to mix the two carefully so that the egg doesn’t thicken and the sauce doesn’t become chunky.
In addition to the egg-lemon sauce Maria also prepared some kind of wild green that looked a bit like long strings of lettuce, but tasted much stronger and more bitter, I found, than lettuce; I wasn’t a big fan of that, but the lamb tasted great.
What it looked like when it was finished? Well…
Lastly, we made spanakopita triangles. These are triangles of dough filled with Greek cheese or with cheese and spinach. That’s what we were preparing the dough for a few photos higher up.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the finished spanakopita as we were starving by the time they were ready and immediately dug in.
You know me.
What I do have after this cooking class, is a love for Greek cuisine.