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Basic Greek Pantry

Aubergine: Large firm vegetable with a purple almost blackskin is used in moussaka and many other dishes.

Bread: Bread is served with every Greek meal and is often used to soak up any sauce, oil or juices on the plate. Loaves are traditionally round with a light coating of flour.

Cheeses: Feta, kasseri, kefalotiri and ricotta are commonly used cheeses.

Feta is a soft, moist white cheese made from ewe's milk, creamy sometimes crumbly in texture.

Kasseri is a medium-hard, strongly flavoured yellow cheese with a rind pressed into the shape of a cylinder.

Kefalotiri is a firm, dry, salty yellow cheese with a tough rind moulded into the shape of a skull.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The most versatile and commonly used ingredient in Greek Cuisine.

Filo Pastry: Paper thin sheets of pastry made from flour and water, used for both sweet and savoury dishes.

Garlic: Used fresh in Greek cooking and available all year round.

Greek Coffee: Also known as Turkish coffee, it is very finely ground to a powder. The coffee is combined with water and sugar and cooked over a flame in a cylindrical pot with a pouring lip called a "briki". It is heated until it just reaches the boil and a thick froth has formed and served in demitasse cups accompanied by a glass of iced water.

Herbs: Oregano, thyme, mint and parsley are used fresh and dried in Greek cooking.

Lamb: The most popular meat used in Greek cooking. It combines well with almost any herb, spice, fruit or vegetable. Lamb is particularly complemented by olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano.

Lemons: Used to flavour sauces, soups, dips and syrups, to marinate and tenderise meats, and to garnish meat, fish and poultry dishes during and after cooking.

Octopus: Baby octopus are used for pickling or pot cooking. Do not salt octopus as this will toughen the flesh. Larger octopus are less tender and need to be pounded with a mallet, marinated for several hours or overnight before being grilled or barbecued.

Olives: Kalamata olives are the most commonly used today. They are black, firm-fleshed, slightly sweet olives ideal for salads, and cooking.

Ouzo: Colourless, aniseed-flavoured spirit, traditionally served in small straight-sided glasses, often mixed with a little water.

Pulses: Brown lentils, chick peas, black-eyed beans, broad beans, canellini beans and lima beans are commonly used in Greek cooking. They are added to rich tomato-based sauces to make soups or casseroles, or simply mashed into a dip with oil and lemon juice, or served cold as a salad with a dressing to taste.

Semolina: Both fine and coarse ground semolina are used in sweets and cakes.

Spices: The main spices used in Greek cooking are ground white pepper, cracked or whole black peppercorns, ground or bark cinnamon, whole cloves and allspice.

Taramasalata: A highly flavoured dip usually made from cod's roe, olive oil, lemon juice, mashed potato or soaked and squeezed dry stale bread.

Tzatziki: Traditional yoghurt dip made with thick yoghurt, grated or chopped seedless cucumbers, garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

Vine Leaves: Available from supermarkets and delicatessens in packets, fresh young leaves are used. Soak vine leaves in warm water and rinse well before using to remove excess salt.

Yoghurt: Firm, plain natural yoghurt is always best for dips and cooking.