25 February 2015

Wild summer greens: Quick skordalia with purslane & horta style warrigal greens

 

 

 

My love for wild greens has not abated this summer. My first love, the sweet green summer vlita (βλήτα), had to vie for attention as my affection for crispy lemony purslane has grown. We have enjoyed purslane slowly braised along with zucchini and vlita in a spicy tomato sauce, as well as a variety of salads - from simple tomato and olive - to a really fresh and punchy traditional Lebanese fattoush, the recipe courtesy of my gorgeous friend, Mama Z. I hope to share the recipe for fattoush with you soon, before the purslane of summer disappears. However, this week I needed a starchy hit - but I had a basket absolutely brimming with freshly picked purslane. The solution - a quick skordalia with purslane (σκορδαλιά με αντράκλα).

 

This recipe for skordalia is 'quick' because I cheated and used my food processor instead of using the more traditional mortar and pestle. I was a little worried, as I hate putting potatoes near a food processor for fear of a heavy, gluggy sludge - a mortar and pestle is guaranteed to always give you a lighter, fluffier skordalia. However, I need not have worried, as the food processor version worked well - it had a big hit of good Greek olive oil, richly green unfiltered of course - and lots of lemon, making more of a zingy, saucey skordalia compared to a more 'mashed' style.

 

 

 

Skordalia with purslane (σκορδαλιά με αντράκλα)

7-8 garlic cloves (or to taste)

450g or 1 pound of potatoes

2 cups of purslane, chopped

1 cup Greek, first harvest unfiltered olive oil

Lemon juice (or Greek wine vinegar to taste)

Salt

Method:

1. Peel the potatoes cut into even sized pieces. Boil until tender.

2. Meanwhile, add the garlic cloves and a pinch of sea salt to a food processor and process until it is a paste.

3. Add ½ of the olive oil in the food processor and continue mixing.

4. Then add the potatoes and pulse, while gradually dribbling in the rest of the olive oil, alternatively with dribbles of lemon juice, until the oil and lemon is absorbed. Taste regularly to make sure you have the right balance.

5. Remove from the processor and fold through the chopped purslane. Drizzle over a little oil and some more pieces of purslane to garnish.

 

 

 

Just when I thought I had settled on my two very favourite wild summer greens - vlita and purslane - a healthy crop of warrigal greens (sometimes known as Botany Bay or native spinach) came along. They are quite 'spinach' like in taste but are a little more robust in texture and have the tiniest metallic or salty sort of end note. They also grow.....,well,... like weeds. They self-seed and require no love or attention to grow in abundance in the garden. I used my first harvest of warrigal greens in a simple horta style warm salad and I can't wait to use them with lots of wild fennel and feta in a traditional Greek pita.

 

Horta style warrigal greens

Harvesting

To harvest the warrigal greens, cut off young shoots by hand (as opposed to cutting the whole plant with a knife from the root or base).

Cleaning

Throw away an old or yellowing leaves. Remove the tender shoots from any thick stems. Discard the tough, thick stems. Wash the warrigal greens by placing in a large bowl of water and keep changing the water until there is no dirt left floating in the water.

Cooking Boiling

Add the cleaned warrigal greens to a saucepan. Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan ( there is no need to fully cover the warrigal greens with water). Cover the pan with a lid and bring to the boil. Cook for around 10 minutes. You want to retain its bright green colour. Remove the warrigal greens from the pan and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle very generously with olive oil and lemon juice.

A bonus tonic

Don't throw away the water from the cooking. Like all wild greens and artichokes, my mother in law swears by the juice as a powerful health tonic. Simply drain into a glass or jug, add extra lemon juice, allow to chill and drink. It has a very cooling effect.

 

14 February 2015

Yemista Politika (Γεμιστές Πολιτικά)

 

 

 

Ask any Greek child, what is their favourite dish and I am sure many would answer yemista – a dish of stuffed tomatoes and sometimes eggplant, zucchini or zucchini blossoms and capsicums that are baked in the oven. A childhood love of yemista never fades. The other day Mr K was reminiscing about how the capsicums were always his favourite and he would carefully select them from the big ‘tapsi’ containing the colourful yemista.

 

13 January 2015

Stuffed zucchini flowers with rice, mint & fennel pollen (Λουλούδια κολοκυθιάς γεμιστά)

Like many food bloggers, I am often asked, why do you have a blog? Why do you write about food? Why is it all about Greek food? The simple answer is, when your Greek father in law gives you a dazzling basket of freshly picked, home grown zucchini blossoms – you need to know what to do with them. So much love and hard work goes into home grown produce and I want to be able to treat it with the respect it deserves.

11 January 2015

Kalamari pilaf (Καλαμαρί πιλάφι)


 

Rice pilaf dishes are incredibly popular in Greece and come in varied forms. The most simple pilaf is made with homemade stock, olive oil, lemon and herbs such as bay and cinnamon. Special occasion or ceremonial pilaf, such as the Cretan wedding pilaf is cooked in stock made from quality meat and bones. To enhance the taste of the pilaf, fresh butter is also used in generous quantities. My sister in law's mother, who is from Crete, is well known for her amazing pilaf recipe. I am hoping to learn this dish one day soon. Then there are homely pilaf dishes, which feature regularly on our weeknight menu, such as spanakorizo (spinach rice) or prassorizo (leek rice) - and my mother in law's delicious kalamari pilaf.

7 January 2015

Imam Bayildi (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί)





There has to be a gazillion recipes for Imam Bayildi (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί). It is one of those shared dishes amongst Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and it is very popular in Greece – available on most tavern menus in summer.


The phrase imam bayildi is Turkish for "the priest fainted". It is believed the amount of olive oil used in the dish when first served to the priest was so abundant, it caused him to faint – olive oil being incredibly expensive at that point in time.


4 January 2015

Patzarosaláta: chilled beetroot and garlic yoghurt salad




This has to be one of my most favourite salads - it's a variation on the traditional Greek beetroot salad, patzarosaláta (παντζάροσαλάτα).

In Greece, patzarosaláta, is usually served two ways. The beetroot, along with their greens, are boiled. Once they have cooled, they are sliced and served with a generous dressing of olive oil and wine vinegar. This salad is served alongside a dish of skordalia, feta cheese and bread.


2 January 2015

In my kitchen January 2015



Καλή Χρονια! Kali Xronia – happy new year!!

Καλή Χρονια to Celia, In My Kitchen bloggers and lovely readers! I hope your 2015 is full of good health, happiness.....and loads of new kitchen discoveries and inspiration from all my fellow IMK bloggers.


In My Kitchen this January...

we are enjoying plenty of refreshing summer salads packed with one of my favourite summer greens - purslane. We have a little crop growing in our garden, but my parents in law have an abundance. My mother in law calls purslane andrakla (αντράκλα) - as it is called in her home island of Zakynthos and my father in law calls it by its Peloponnesian name - glystrida (γλυστρίδα). By either name, it is delicious and packed to the brim with potent antioxidants - a happy relief after I enjoyed perhaps a little too much wonderful Christmas feasting. Purslane is lemony tart, but sweet and crunchy all at the same time. It is hard to substitute and if you don't have any growing in your garden, but you might find some available at Farmer's markets.


29 December 2014

Summer dolmádes (ντολμάδες)



The grape vine is probably one of the most used plants in Greek home cooking. Nearly every part of the plant is used, except for the roots. In late Spring, the fresh stems and shoots are pickled in a spiced vinegar and used in salads or served on its own as as a meze (see this link to Kalofagas for a very moving blog post about how Peter's papou made pickled grape vine shoots).

28 December 2014

'Apricot, sour cherry & metaxa delights' & classic rum balls



As I mentioned in my last post, apricot delights and rum balls have long been a favourite holiday treat in our house, courtesy of my Nana. They are perfect to have on hand in the fridge over the festive season when friends or family drop in - but they are also pretty good at any time of the year, especially as a great way to finish off a meal as a part of a petit four or on a fresh seasonal fruit platter.


23 December 2014

Christmas Eve Sweet Treats




This little plate of goodies will be waiting for Santa this Christmas Eve at our house, along with a small bottle of homemade Irish cream liqueur. The White Christmas with plenty of toasty roasted hazelnuts will satisfy Santa's nostalgic leanings and almond shortbreads, kourambiethes will tick the box for traditional Greek Christmas treats.


24 November 2014

Moustalevria (μουσταλευριά) and a visit to Varsos

 

In Greek, the grape harvest is called trygos. During the trygos, from late August to November this traditional pudding, made from moustos (grape must) will be made at home or you can find individual portions in little plastic dishes in bakeries and supermarkets.

 

Moustos is the unfiltered and unfermented juice from freshly pressed grapes. It has many culinary uses in Greece from moustalevria to petimezi - grape molasses syrup, pies, bread and the very popular Moustokoulora, which are grape must cookies.

16 November 2014

Black-eyed pea salad (Φασόλια Μαυρομάτικα Σαλάτα)

 

 

 

Legumes have such a proud and prominent place on the Greek table. Mainly due to the rules of fasting in the Greek Orthodox faith - but their use goes all the way back to Ancient Greece. Heard of the saying, "to spill the beans"? The folk etymology of this saying, meaning to give away a secret, derives from the electing of a council member in ancient Greece. Each council member would vote with either a white bean (yes) or a brown bean (no), and these would secretly be put into a pottery jar, so that no one would know which way the members voted. However, if the jar was knocked over causing the beans to spill out, the proportion of yes and no votes would be seen. Perhaps voting with a black eye pea that is both white and brown was hedging a bet each way?