Greece

Greece is on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It is mostly dry and mountainous with a large mainland and more than 1,400 islands, of which 227 are inhabited.  Greece has 9000 miles of coastline, making it the 10th longest coastline in the world.

Greece has one of the longest histories of any country, and is considered the cradle of Western civilization.  It is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy and the Olympic games.  Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities with the first inhabitants present around the 11th-7th millennium BC.

Some interesting stats – it has by far the lowest number of fatal transport accidents per capita in the EU, one of the lowest death rates for cancer and one of the lowest divorce rates in the EU.

Three of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient world were in Greece – the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and Colossus of Rhodes, none of which exist today.  The amazing sights of the Parthenon, the Acropolis and Ancient Olympia are some of Greece’s ancient treasures, which along with it’s striking landscapes, and pleasing climate entices 16.5 million visitors a year.

Greece is the third largest producer of olives in the entire world.  There are estimated to be around 120,000,000 olive trees in Greece, and some of the olive trees from the 13th century are still producing olives today.

The cuisine of Greece dates back several millennia, is hugely varied and includes a wide array of ingredients.  Greek cuisine has evolved and absorbed numerous influences and influenced many cuisines itself.   Some of their typical dishes are Fasolada (bean and vegetable soup), Souvlaki (skewered meat or fish), Moussaka (casserole of aubergine, minced meat and potato), Saganaki (fried cheese), Keftedes Arni (lamb meatballs), Sofrito (veal escalopes from Corfu).  From the many recipes I came across, eventually I decided to cook Rabbit Stifado (slow cooked stew) which originates from Corfu.

Rating: 8/10

Serves 4 (alongside potatoes & veg)
Prep time: 10 mins + 2 hours marinating
Cook time: 1hr 15 mins

1 rabbit, jointed
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
150ml olive oil
1/4 tsp sugar
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small cinnamon stick
Salt and black pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1 sprig rosemary
150ml red wine
300ml hot water
675g button onions, whole

Rinse the rabbit pieces and place them in a mixing bowl together with the bay leaves and vinegar.
Mix well and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan until hot, add the rabbit and fry them in until quite brown on all sides.
Add the garlic, bay leaves, spices, rosemary, wine, tomato puree and sugar and the hot water.
Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil mixing well then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan, add the onions and saute gently for 15 minutes stirring occasionally, until golden all over.
After the rabbit has been cooking for 1 hour, add the onions and oil from the frying pan to the saucepan.
Mix, then re-cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

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