Kathy Tsaples is the proud owner of Prahran Market’s Sweet Greek. Leaving a successful career in finance, she gave in to her love for Greek food and approached a friend who ran a very successful gourmet deli.
“There I learnt about retailing, food products, suppliers and cheese management skills,” Kathy says.
“I always held the dream that one day I would have my own store where I could display and sell the food that is so close to my heart and my heritage.”
After several years of working as a manager, while pursuing her passion for cooking and perfecting Greek recipes, she decided it was time to take that extra step.
Over the years she has garnered quite the following in Melbourne, making her sweet Greek treats and home-cooked foods famous.
Kathy creates her delicious recipes using tips passed down through the generations of her family. “Born in the migrant suburb of Richmond, I grew up learning to cook traditional Greek cuisine from my mother,” Kathy says. “These recipes are about celebrating life, taking traditional food, cooking it today and passing it on to new generations.” Indeed, the homely meals, not to mention the freshly-baked cakes and pies, encompass the essence of traditional Greek cuisine, the way our mothers and grandmothers deliver it. “I learnt to cook instinctively through my family,” she explains. “The Hellenic cuisine evokes memories I will cherish forever.”
Her passion to strengthen and ensure the transcending experience of the Greek food culture led her to publish a cookbook packed with her own memories from the kitchen.
In her best-selling hardback Sweet Greek, Kathy tries to convey the importance of family feasting and celebration in the Greek calendar.
“Our food is ingrained with our culture and spirit,” she says.
Everything at the Sweet Greek shop is made freshly on the premises with produce from Prahran Market’s fruit and vegetable traders.
On weekends there are special offerings such as loukoumades (honey doughnuts) or avgolemono (traditional egg-lemon chicken soup). Kathy’s spanakopita and take-away moussaka are praised across Melbourne. Her walnut and cinnamon baklava as well as her juicy slow-roasted lamb recipe definitely hold a place on our Easter favourites list, which is why she was more than happy to share these recipes with Neos Kosmos.
Red Dyed Easter Eggs with herbs
Easter is a time to celebrate that we had prepared ourselves through Lent, cleaning, reflecting and praying. During Holy Week, we go to church every night and during the day all the women bake traditional festive sweets. It is on Easter Thursday that we dye the eggs. Their red colouring symbolises the blood of Christ.
2 dozen small
to medium white eggs
2 packets of
Greek red egg dye
1 cup of sunflower oil
2 cups of vinegar
a variety of herbs (any pretty leaf you’d like to see on your eggs, such as parsley, dill, even leaves from flowers)
You will also need a wide cooking pot, stockings, a cloth and string.
1. Start working the night before. Firstly, have your eggs at room temperature. Wash and dry them thoroughly. Check for any cracks and get rid of eggs that are damaged.
2. Prepare your leaves. Using a wet sponge, moisten your leaves and attach them the egg. Get a piece of stocking, cover the egg with it and, using some string, tie a knot at both ends. It will look like a bon-bon.
3. The next day, Easter Thursday, prepare your dye according to the packet’s instructions. The only difference is that for two dozen eggs I add two cups of vinegar. I find that this assists in achieving a more intense colour.
4. Put the eggs into the dye mixture and boil as you would normally prepare hard-boiled eggs. They will need to simmer for a little longer than a normal hard-boiled egg (about 10 minutes).
5. Remove the eggs from the heat and let them stand in the dye for several more minutes before taking them out.
6. Using a cloth dampened with oil, start wiping and polishing your eggs after removing the stockings. The oil helps to remove the leaves and makes your eggs shine. Display them in a beautiful platter.
*You can also naturally dye eggs using the boiling juice from onions, beets or even greens, and present them as part of your weekend buffet.
Everybody knows about Baklava. There are so many variations of it depending on where it comes from and who it is made by. Our Baklava is a traditional one using filo pastry and walnuts. I’m sure you will enjoy it.
-For the pastry
1 packet (approx. 375 g)
of filo pastry
4 cups of walnuts, chopped
250 g unsalted butter
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves, ground
½ cup of caster sugar
cloves (as garnish)
-For the syrup
1 wedge of lemon
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 cup of honey
2 cups of water
3 cups of sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
2. Combine the walnuts, caster sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves in a bowl.
3. Melt the butter. Start with four pastry sheets and brush butter on each one.
4. Spread some of the walnut mixture on the sheets.
5. Add another four layers of pastry, buttering each one, then spread the walnuts again. Keep doing this until all the ingredients have finished. It’s good to finish with about six layers of filo pastry on top.
6. Using a sharp knife, score the baklava into diamonds, then pour any remaining butter over the top. Place a clove on each diamond and bake for about 45 minutes.
7. Create the syrup by boiling the water, sugar, honey, lemon juice and the wedge of lemon for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
8. Once the Baklava is out of the oven and while still hot, pour the cooled syrup over the top.
Slow-roasted Shoulder of Lamb is a family favourite. It is the hero dish we make on Easter Sunday. The aromas of the lamb, garlic, lemon and herbs permeate the kitchen as it slowly cooks. After the long period of fasting from any meat product, we await anxiously to sit at the table to enjoy the succulent lamb. That said, I do cook this dish at other times throughout the year as well, especially if I’m entertaining for lunch or dinner.
Rule number one: Start with the best lamb. I buy Salt Bush lamb from my butcher and get him to de-bone it, leaving only the shank. You can leave the bones if you prefer. Select your best platter and serve your friends and family a dish that they will never forget!
1 shoulder of lamb
2 lemons, skin and pith removed so you have
just the flesh
1 head of garlic
8 cloves of garlic,
peeled and sliced
1 tbsp oregano
sprigs of rosemary
2 tsp cooking salt
1 tsp black pepper
1. Firstly, clean your lamb using a damp paper towel. Remove any fat that you don’t want, but don’t remove too much because fat keeps the meat moist.
2. Preheat your oven to 200˚C.
3. Clean and peel the onions. Slice them about L/e inch thick and assemble them on the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them and drizzle olive oil. Place the lamb on top. In a bowl, put the salt, pepper, oregano and garlic cloves (halve the garlic cloves as it is easier to insert). Generously sprinkle the seasoning over the lamb on both sides.
4. Using a sharp knife, make incisions all over the lamb. Insert the garlic cloves and a little rosemary into these incisions. Now you need to slice your lemons and place the slices all over the lamb. Cut the whole head of garlic in half and place halves in the baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the lamb.
5. Tear a sheet of baking paper large enough to cover your dish. Wet it under a tap, scrunch it up and cover your lamb as though the baking paper were a little blanket. Cover the entire baking dish with foil and put it in the oven. For the first 30 minutes, bake it at 200˚C in a fan-forced oven.
6. Then reduce your temperature to 150˚C and bake for a further 1B/c hours.
7. Remove the foil and baking paper and bake the lamb uncovered for another 30 minutes.
*For further information, go to sweetgreek.com.au