Gemista (pronounced: Yemista)

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Since Sunday was Greek Easter, my mom and I cooked the entire weekend for a big, fun, family gathering. My cousins from France, very close friends, boyfriend, parents and brother all spent the day together and we had such a great time. A big part of Greekster is the food. The food is so unbelievable! My yiayia (grandmother) lives in Greece so it’s tough for the entire family to get together but I always love making her classic recipes.

One of my all time favorite dishes is Gemista (pronounced: Yemista) which is a Greek staple dish. It’s essentially vegetables stuffed with homemade rice and minced meat. Honestly, the recipe takes a good amount of time from the preparation to the finale, but hey all good things take time! Here, I wanted to share my very secret yiayia’s Gemista recipe – take a peak!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions finely chopped
  • 3/4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 500gr of rice (uncle Ben)
  • Small bunch of chopped parsely
  • Small bunch of fresh mint choppped
  • Pomi tomato pure about 14oz
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
  • Oregano
  • 250 gr ground beef

Instructions: 

  1. Slice off the top of the tomatoes; using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. The flesh of the tomatoes will be used for the base of the tomato sauce for the Gemista.
  2. Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside, as you will also use them later for the filling of the Gemista.
  3. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables as thin as possible, leaving just a little of the flesh, but be careful not to poke through the skin.
  4. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
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  5. In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsps olive oil, the tomato pure, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sautee the onions and garlic until translucent.
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  7. Add 250grams (8.8oz) of ground beef with the onions . 
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  8. Once the beef juices have been absorbed and the meat is done, add choppped parsley and min. Chop the zucchini flesh in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped)  until softened.
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  9. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes transculent.
  10. Pour in the Pomi tomato sauce and the tomotoe flesh sauce and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, the stuffing is ready.  Note: the rice is not totally cooked, it will finish cooking in the oven when. Remove the pan from the stove.
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  11. Spoon the rice and minced meat filling inside the empty vegetables and pour some olive oil and if any tomatoes sauce over the vegetables and in the baking tray.
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  12. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 2-3 glasses of water around the vegetables.
  13. Cover the Gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.

Prep Time: 45 -55 min

Cook Time: 60-75 min

Greekster

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What an absolutely gorgeous day today! The sun was shining and I spent most of the day outside which was a very very nice change. Every year, I get to celebrate two easters, Catholic Easter and Greek Easter. Depending on the calendar cycle, they can fall on different Easter Sunday’s. Having a French mother and a Greek father can really mix things up. Today, is Greek Easter so we’ve invited family and close friends to celebrate and to eat lots & lots of traditional Greek food (more recipes to come!).

Christos Anesti (happy Easter) to those celebrating today! 

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Marshalls Pastel Skirt (similar here) // Express White Peplum Top $20.93// Ralph Lauren Cardigan (similar here) // Vans $55.00

PS. If you haven’t seen my Passover post – check it out!

Fava Dip

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On my way to work yesterday, I read on The Skimm (I am a HUGE fan of The Skimm and I highly recommend signing up) that a ton, 30K to be exact, Saba Classic Hummus containers could be contaminated with Listeria. No thank you Listeria, get outta my fridge.

As much as I love hummus, hummus is NOT Greek. I repeat, hummus is NOT Greek. Instead, Greek families like my family, eat a delicious spread made from split yellow peas called Fava. Fava is essentially hummus on steroids, no lie. It’s a really filling snack and it’s so good for you too.

So what’s a girl to do without hummus? Well, Fava. Here is a family recipe I whipped up this afternoon!

Ingredients:

  1. 500g yellow split peas (18 ounces)
  2. 3 red onions, roughly chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 1 lt warm water (3 and 1/3 cups)
  5. juice of 2 lemons
  6. 1/3 of a cup olive oil
  7. thyme
  8. salt and fresh pepper

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Instructions:

  1. Rinse the split peas with plenty of water.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat; add 2-3 tbsps olive oil, the chopped onions, garlic and some fresh thyme and sauté.
  3. As soon as the onions start to caramelise add the peas and blend. Pour in the warm water and the olive oil, turn the heat down to medium and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer with the lid on for about 40-50 minutes, until the split peas are thick and mushy. While the split peas boil, some white foam will probably surface on the water. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
  5. When done, pour in the lemon juice and transfer the mixture in food processor. Mix, until the peas become smooth and creamy, like a puree.
  6. Serve the fava with a drizzle of olive oil, a tablespoon of diced onion and some capper or chopped parsley.

Throw that hummus out and make some Fava, Greek style!

Espadrilles – Yay or Nay?

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 10.46.04 PM{Flamingo Soludos // $65.00}

Since I just cleaned out my winter closet, it’s time to turn a new leaf and spruce up the wardrobe, shoes included. Lately, I’ve been seeing espadrilles everywhere – Instagram, magazines, Pinterest, on people’s feet, everywhere! I can’t seem to decide whether it’s going to be a yay or nay for me this season. On one hand, they seem so comfortable and chic but on the other hand, they seem like they are going to fall apart and everyone will be wearing them. Decisions…decisions…

As I’m couching (verb – to sit on the couch for hours on end) and watching my Monday night Bravo TV lineup (Real-housewives of Atlanta, Shahs of Sunset and Southern Charm), I’ve also been web surfing espadrille options. Honestly, I’m itching just a tad bit towards yay…what do you think?! Help!

LR espadrilles{White & black Loeffler Randall // $195.00}

tory{Stripe elastic Tory Burch // $135.00}

zara{Tropical Zara // $39.90}

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 11.29.16 PM{Spiked Rebecca Minkoff // $150.00}

5 Passover Lessons

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{A pretty clever contraption}

Last night, I celebrated my very first Pesach (Passover) and…… it was fabulous! I am not just saying that because Aunt Barbara reads the blog (shoutout for being one of my biggest supporters, Aunt Barbara!) but it truly was such a great night. A lot of laughter, history learning, red wine, Matzah, and happiness – the night was a hoot and I can’t wait for next year’s Passover already.

I’ve rounded up 5 Passover lessons I learned which I will be carrying with me for years to come. Thought I’d spread the love and share over here!

1. Bring a Kosher dessert & spring flowers: I’m a big fan of bringing a little something when I am invited to someone’s home. For Seder, I brought a Kosher dessert and something springy to celebrate the holiday. I’m personally a big tulips fan. Whole Foods had an entire section of Kosher desserts (which I actually just learned about) – I went with the coconut and chocolate covered macaroons. Big hit!

2. Don’t be shy: We each had a print out that outlined the story of passover in English and it also had a few embedded Hebrew prayers. Before dinner,  I was asked to participate in reading a section of the story and I nervously obliged. Honestly, I loved it and I am really happy I didn’t shy away from the experience.

3. Try e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g: There were plates of food which were completely new to me like Kugel, a baked pudding casserole dish. I decided to try a piece and ended up really really liking it. The dish actually reminded me of Pasticcio, a greek noodle casserole. I can’t wait to steal Aunt Barbara’s Kugel recipe…!

4. Ask questions: There really is no dumb question. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about the history behind Passover or what Seder meant. I felt a little silly asking these 101 questions but realized it was important to do so if I wanted to learn more about Judaism. Everyone was so open about teaching me the basics and sharing their knowledge.

5. Enjoy and embrace: Like everything in life, it’s so important to enjoy family time and embrace new experiences. I was so happy to have been invited to be a part of this holiday and it was personally important for me to learn about my other half’s religion.

First Passover

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Tonight, I’m celebrating Passover with my boyfriend’s family for the very first time. His aunt puts together a beautiful Seder every year and I am honored to be part of such a special night.  Since this is a very first for me, I am really excited to try the different foods, desserts and to learn a few prayers too!

I was told the dress code for tonight so naturally I’m wearing a dress and heels…oops! I’ve put this number together for tonight, my first Jewish holiday, because I thought it was comfortable with a bit of a c’est moi natasha twist. Happy Passover for those of you celebrating this weekend!  

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Banana Republic Jersey Dress (on sale $78.00!) // J.Crew Heels (old pair) // Wink NYC Earrings (similar pair here, $38.00) // Club Monaco Clutch (pretty clutch on sale here $139.00!)

 PS. See my Valentines Day outfit here and my 25th Birthday outfits here, here and here if you haven’t already!

Music Thursday ~ No.6

I’m feeling a bit under the weather today – I think the shift from cold to warm to hot to cool weather sickness is going on around town. Sore throat, headache, achy feeling, it’s all pretty yuck. I tend to push myself a little too much when I’m feeling not so good which of course makes everything THAT much worse. Today, I decided to take it a bit easy so I can nip this one in the butt (bud?) and avoid the grouchiness altogether.

My good friend who is currently army training introduced me to this artist Mat McHugh. His guitar skills are pretty insane and his voice is really mellow. I’ve grown to love a lot of his music but this is one was my favorite listen today since I was looking for something soothing and calm. Take a listen and let me know what you think!

Isn’t he great?

PS. Have you checked out last Music Thursday’s Post?! (also more here, here, here and here)

Looking Back

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{Pretty bathroom decor in Boca, FL}

March absolutely flew by. From a beautiful Florida trip, to spending time with friends brunching in the city, to a laid back March Madness weekend in New Jersey, it was overall a great month. As the weather is warming up and April is coming into play, there is so much to keep looking forward to. I am spending this weekend with close family and friends celebrating both Passover and Easter, my cousin from France is visiting me next week to explore New York City, and I am celebrating two years with the boyfriend at the end of the month!

I really want to thank you all for continuing to read c’est moi natasha. This has been such a fun journey – your supportive comments, kind notes and thoughtful emails are so encouraging and very much appreciated. I enjoy sharing parts of my life here on the east coast and I also love sharing my adventures through c’est moi natasha’s instagram account (don’t forget to follow me!). There have been a lot of happy moments to look back on but here are some of my March favorites!

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 { #cestmoinatashatravel outfit // What I’m wearing – GAP boyfriend jeans, Chanel ballerinas, JMcLaughlin scarf, Marshalls white t-shirt}

IMG_5722{New Arkins plaid shirt paired with a J.Crew pencil skirt}

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{the prettiest bar cart – similar Target one here}

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset{Blood Mary treat at The Black Horse Tavern}

unnamed{Easter decor for this Sunday}