My Mother’s Island


The island of my mother’s birth: Aperi, Karpathos, Greece


My mother was born in Karpathos, the second largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands, in the southeastern Aegean. Κάρπαθος is a beautiful part of Greece. My mother, Fotene, came to America when she was two years old. A part of my heritage is cooking the many Greek dishes that my grandmother used to cook.

One of my favorites is a rich, tomato based beef stew called Stifato.

Στιφάτο /Stifato

1 pound of lean beef ,cubed
10 boiling onions
1 large yellow onion
1 large can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
10 whole cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Red Wine
2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 can tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp of ground nutmeg
4 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste


Sear the meat in the olive oil

Add yellow onion (chopped) and garlic and sauté until onion is transparent.(about 5 minutes).
Add the red wine and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, cover and leave for 5 minutes.

Add cinnamon, canned tomatoes, cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, sugar, tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring to let all your ingredients mix.

Add about 1/2 cup of water, being careful not to drown the sauce.

Cook for at least one hour on low heat, keeping checking you dont want it to dry out and add water if needed you are aiming for a thick rich sauce texture.

While cooking place your boiling onions into hot water to soften the skin and peel, then saute these in a little olive oil. Be careful not to burn them. Just soften them and add a little colour.

Add these to Stifato after one hour of cooking. Cook for an additional hour until the meat is tender.

Serve over rice.