Summertime recipes

Happy New Year to you all! I hope it has been a wonderful beginning to the year, filled with deliciousness, of course!
January for me is a time for rest; it’s a time to reflect and plan, a time for lazy days, and long lunches with family and friends.
Here are some summertime recipes to create, share and enjoy…hope you love them as much as I do.

Eggplant rolls with feta, olives and sundried tomato

60 mls olive oil
2 large eggplant, trimmed and sliced into 1.5 thickness lenghthways
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
12 sundried tomatoes, diced
small handful of basil leaves
1 tablespoon parsley, fined chopped
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl combine well the feta, olives, sundried tomatoes, parsley and mint.

Prepare the eggplant and brush the slices with olive oil. Heat a frypan with a little extra olive oil over a medium heat and fry the eggplant slices, about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked. You can also cook the eggplant over a grill or barbeque if you prefer. 

Allow to sit on some absorbent paper while cooking the remainder of the eggplant. Season to taste.

Lay out each eggplant slice and place a heaped tablespoon of the feta mixture at wider end and roll up tightly. Place onto a serving platter and drizzle a little more olive oil over, a grind of black pepper and some extra herbs.


Watermelon and haloumi 

30 mls olive oil
1 kilo watermelon, cut into chunks
250 grams halloumi cheese, sliced 1 cm thickness
½ Spanish onion, finely sliced (optional)
½ cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon

Fry or grill the halloumi cheese on a medium/high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. 

Place the watermelon chunks into a large serving bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon and add the herbs and onion (if using). Add the halloumi and using your hands combine gently. 

Variations

Watermelon, haloumi with prawns 

24 cooked prawns

Add cooked prawns to the salad and combine gently. 

If using green prawns, sauté the prawns in 30 mls olive oil for 2 minutes, or until cooked. Cool and add to the watermelon and haloumi

Watermelon, haloumi with chicken

1 cup shredded cooked chicken or 2 chicken fillets grilled or pan fried
1 handful baby spinach

Add the baby spinach to the watermelon and haloumi salad. Top the salad with the chicken and combine gently.

from “Everyday Mediterranean”

Summer couscous salad

Summer is here and it is time to slow down. 

Dreamy summer holidays for me are all about relaxing, having lazy days, enjoying time with family and friends over long lunches that turn into dinner. Summer food includes the idea of simple cooking, and this recipe is not only simple but perfect for summer eating. 

Summer Couscous Salad

150 grams couscous
½ small watermelon
150 grams haloumi cheese, sliced
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 pomegranate, cut in half and deseeded
small bunch of mint

Dressing 

100 mls olive oil
50 mls white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

flaked almonds to garnish

Prepare the couscous by placing the couscous in a bowl and adding150 boiling water. Cover with a plate and leave for 5-6 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Pour in a teaspoon of olive oil and fork up. Transfer the couscous onto a serving plate.

Cut the haloumi in small squares and pat dry. In a frypan heat some olive oil and fry the haloumi until golden and set aside.

Cut the watermelon flesh into pieces and add to the couscous. Place the haloumi on top and add the mint and red onion. Scatter the seeds from the pomegranate onto the salad. 

Place the olive oil, vinegar, pomegranate syrup, honey and salt and pepper into a bowl or jug and whisk to combine.

Dress the salad with the dressing, scatter with flaked almonds and serve.

Langham Masterclass MF&WF

Stuffed zucchini with avgolemono

8 white (Lebanese/white) zucchini
200 grams beef mince
¾ cup medium grain rice
2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley
1 heaped tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ½ cup tomato passatta
olive oil
salt and pepper

Avgolemono (Egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from stock

Prepare the zucchini by washing and trimming the stalk end.  Carefully remove the pulp using a teaspoon or knife, making sure not to pierce the other end, and set aside.

Place the mince, rice, tomato paste and herbs into a bowl and season. Mix well using your hands and fill the hollowed out zucchini.  Place the filled zucchini into a large pan, add 1 cup water and a teaspoon of the tomato paste and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cook slowly on the stove top, keeping an eye on it, for about an hour or until cooked.

Prepare your avgolemono. Lightly beat the egg whites in a small bowl using a fork, once frothy add the yolks and keeping beating   Add lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture beating all the time, add a little more stock, continue mixing.  Pour the egg and lemon sauce over the zucchini stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.

Delicious served on its own with some fresh crusty bread.

Spanish omelette

How do you like to cook potatoes?

The humble potato can be transformed into many delicious Mediterranean meals.

When my children were young, one of their favourite quick meals was fried potatoes (chips) with egg…delicious on its own or accompanying a stew for a more sophisticated dish.

I love the comforting combination of potato and eggs and it seems that each country has their own variation as to how they put these two together.

The Spanish omelette is perfect.

Spanish omelette

4 large potatoes
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
6 eggs
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare potatoes by peeling and slicing into thick slices, about 4 mms.

In a deep frying pan pour in some olive oil, about 1/3 cup and heat.  Add the potatoes and onions and cook on a medium heat, turning occasionally, until they are cooked.  This should only take about 10-12 minutes.  Pour out any excess oil from the frypan.

In a large bowl beat the eggs using a fork and season.

Pour over the potatoes and onions and cook over a medium heat.  When the sides are cooked you can slide it onto a plate and then place the frypan over the plate and return the omlette to the frypan upside down.  Return to the heat and cook the other side.

Serve hot or warm.

Cabbage rolls

I love these charming cabbage rolls.  I used to love helping my mother make them…they are a little fiddly, so it is nice to have someone to share the job.

My mother called these cabbage rolls ‘sarma’.  I never did ask my mother why this was, but I do think this name comes from the Turkish language.

There are many ways of serving and preparing this meal. In Northern Greece these cabbage rolls are prepared using pickled cabbage (toursi) and pork mince, which is also lovely.

They are delicious served with the traditional avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce), Greek yogurt or, my favourite, simply a squeeze of lemon…served with some fresh, crusty bread and feta cheese, it makes a perfect meal.

Delicious…serve your favourite way.

Cabbage rolls

I large cabbage
750 grams minced beef
1 onion finely chopped
300 grams medium grain rice
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
egg and lemon sauce (optional)

Wash cabbage well and with a sharp knife carefully cut into the core and remove it.  Place the cabbage into a large saucepan filled with water and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove carefully, drain and allow to cool.  Start removing cabbage leaves one at a time when cool enough to touch and set aside.  You can put the cabbage back into hot water if it becomes difficult to detach the leaves.  Trim the hard stems of the leaves and cut into 2 or large enough to roll.

In a large bowl combine meat, onion, rice, parsley, seasonings, tomato paste and oil.

Line a large casserole dish with 2 or 3 cabbage leaves.

Place a cabbage leaf into the palm of your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in the leaf, fold bottom over it, sides in and roll up.  Place in the casserole dish  seam side down, repeat until all the mixture is finished.  You may have more than one layer of cabbage rolls, make sure they are packed tightly.

Pour 1 cup hot water over and drizzle some olive oil.

Place a heavy plate upside down over the rolls to keep them in shape.

Simmer for about 45 minutes or until cooked.

When cool you can pour over egg and lemon sauce or if you prefer just a squeeze of lemon juice, which is what I prefer.

Keftethes (meatballs)

These delicious keftethes (meatballs) are perfect on a meze platter accompanied with tzatziki and fresh crusty bread.

I like to add some feta cheese, olives and a Greek salad and make it a complete sharing meal.

Keftethes

500 grams minced beef
2 thick slices day old bread (crusts removed) or
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 finely chopped or grated onion
plain flour for coating
olive oil for frying

Soak the bread in water and squeeze out excess and crumble, if using bread.   Mix with other ingredients well, the mixture should be moist.

You can use beef or lamb combined with some pork if you prefer or simply the meat of your choice.

Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Take small pieces of the meat mixture and roll into walnut sized balls, coat in flour and fry in hot olive oil making sure that the oil is not too hot, you don’t want to burn the keftethes.  Take care not to overcrowd the frypan and cook over a medium heat, turning a couple of times so they are golden brown in color.

Can be served hot or at room temperature.

Time for a coffee…

In a Greek household, drinking coffee is a way of life.  As a young girl I remember my father always drinking it and my mother always making it.  I remember these days fondly, sipping coffee and chatting…these are the memories that I love so much.

2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons coffee

Greek coffee is brewed in a long-handled copper (or stainless steel) classic ‘briki’ coffee pot.

Pour 2 cups (500 mls) water (small coffee cup) into the briki. Add sugar and coffee and stir well.  Place over a low heat and allow to simmer.  Before it starts to boil, remove from heat and pour the froth into the two coffee cups.  Return to the stove and allow to boil, then carefully pour the coffee into the cups.

Take care not to disturb the froth too much.

Homemade filo pastry

Homemade filo pastry made into delicious savoury pies (pita) is something that I love to make and am still working on mastering, the delicate and light paper thin sheets.  I remember watching my mother, who was a master at this art, pulling at the pastry from each end over a table covered with a tablecloth until the pastry was silky and transparent.  Many have said that women from Northern Greece make the best pitas…I am not going to argue with that.

My filo recipe is basic and easy to make and work with.  There are many variations depending on which part of Greece you come from and each household may have their own version.  Some recipes add yogurt, others eggs but always olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.

For many the idea of making your own filo pastry is frightening…but have a go as it can be very satisfying.  For those of you who have electric kitchen mixers and would like to use it, you can use you dough hook, that will also work.

Here is my recipe…

Homemade filo

500 grams bakers flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup warm water

Sift the flour and place into a large mixing bowl with the salt, sugar and baking powder.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the olive oil, vinegar and warm water.  Mix the flour into the liquid mixture slowly,  you can add more water if you need to.

Knead the mixture into a soft and elastic dough.  Make a ball with the dough, leave in the bowl, cover with a cloth and allow to rest for at least an hour.

When ready to use divide the dough into small balls and roll out into sheets using a long thin rolling pin.  Keep rolling all directions until you have made a large round very fine sheet.  When using these sheets brush with a little melted butter and olive oil between sheets.

To make pita filo which separates during baking, stack three or four balls of dough on each other brushed with a little melted butter together with olive oil.  Roll this stack into a sheet.

Ready now for your favourite fillings.