I love Mediterranean cuisine and when our weather here in Uruguay (Southern Hemisphere) changes from the hot days of summer into the cooler days of fall, into winter, I find myself wanting warm comfort food. The kind of dish that cooks slowly in the oven for hours (until the meat falls off the bone) with the sweet smell of rosemary, oregano, or wild marjoram wafting in the air, Mediterranean style.

When I lived in Cyprus in the early 70s, I had a wonderful cook book titled “A Cyprus Cook’s Calendar.” It was written by a British writer, Sue Lennane, for the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Cyprus in 1969.  A delightful month by month cook book, it provided recipes based on fruits and vegetables available and in season. I used it often and was sad to lose it, along with everything I owned, following the Cyprus War in July 1974.

Years later, while living in Frankfurt, Germany, a friend who was my neighbor in Cyprus, sent me a copy of the cook book (the original First Edition 1969). I was thrilled because it had so many of my best-loved Cypriot recipes in it.

One all-time favorite is a recipe for slow roasted lamb, called Tandir in Turkish and Kleftiko in Greek. Lamb Kleftiko, roughly translated, means stolen meat. Legends say that thieves would sneak onto a remote Greek hillside and steal a lamb or goat, and cook the meat for hours over coals in a hole sealed with mud to prevent steam escaping and alerting the shepherd who previously owned the animal.

In Cyprus, Kleftiko is cooked in a sealed earthenware pot with a narrow opening buried in the earth, with a fire under it, and left to cook very slowly for hours. Kleftiko pots are still sold in Cyprus. (See picture on the front cover of the cook book.) Since my Kleftiko pot was also left behind in Cyprus, I’ve reverted to using a large, deep casserole dish, covered with aluminum foil and a tight fitting lid.

Lamb Kleftiko (Serves 6)


2 lb. lamb (a piece of leg or loin cut up)
salt and pepper
2 T.  olive oil
oregano or wild marjoram
juice of ½ lemon
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup red or white wine
1 large onion (peeled and cut into quarters)
1 T. peeled and chopped garlic


Place the meat and olive oil in the Kleftiko pot or casserole dish. Add the onion and garlic. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, pepper,  lemon juice, and red or white wine. (A glass of wine is also recommended for the chef and any helpers.) Cover the top with aluminum foil and place the lid on top. Cook in a moderate oven, No 3, 325º, for 3 hours. Turn off oven and leave simmering for an extra hour.

Kleftiko is rustic, delicious, and finger-licking good. Serve over a bed of al dente pasta or rice. It’s extra delicious when served with eggplant ratatouille.


Nothing could be fainá …

Originating in Genoa, farinata is a thin, nutty, peppery flatbread made with garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour. The French call it socca and in Tuscany it’s called cecina. In Uruguay and Argentina, it’s called fainá. It’s a delicious appetizer when seasoned with fresh rosemary, pepper, and sea salt, or topped with cheese and other tasty tidbits. But in Uruguay and in Argentina fainá is often paired with pizza and called horseback pizza, or pizza a caballo in Spanish. And nothing could be fainá.

Since Friday nights are home-made pizza night in our home (my husband makes a wicked crust), I’ve started making fainá to plop on top of slices of pizza.
You can find garbanzo bean flour (gluten free) at many natural food stores. In Uruguay, you can buy the mix in a package in the local supermarket. If you don’t have the mix, here’s a quick and easy recipe.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, or if in Uruguay set it on the hottest setting.


2 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
7 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups water


  • In a medium bowl, mix the garbanzo bean flour together with salt, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, sea salt, the Parmesan cheese, and ground black pepper.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water and stir until the mixture is well blended. Set batter aside for about a half hour, to let the garbanzo flour absorb the water.
  • When the oven’s hot, place the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch pizza pan. Put the pan in the oven until it’s sizzling hot.
  • Gradually add the remaining water to the batter mixture and whisk until it’s thin enough to pour. Remove the hot pizza pan from oven, and immediately pour the batter into the pan.
  • Place the pan back in the oven and bake until the fainá is golden and crispy (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Cut into pieces and serve. Delicious hot or cold. Plopped on top of pizza, or solo.

Buen provecho!