23 May 2015

Name day celebrations: Fried sardines with rigani, capers & lemon (σαρδέλες τηγανητές)

 

 

This week saw the name day of my dearest Mr K, who was named after his paternal grandfather, Konstantinos. In Greek culture, name days are much anticipated and more significant than birthdays. Name days originate from the Greek Orthodox Church's calendar of Saints - people celebrate on their particular saint’s day with a special feast or party. Traditionally, the person celebrating their name day offers sweets or drinks to family members, friends and work colleagues and in return they are given the blessing of 'Hronia Polla' meaning ‘many happy years’.

 

Given that my Mr K is a seafood conisseur, what better way was their to celebrate than with one of his favourites - sardines. The choice to prepare one of Mr K's favorite fish was made even easier by the fact that the fishmonger at my local market that sells them fresh, already filleted in a neat little packet.

 

While sardines are lovely dipped in flour and fried simply in olive oil with a big squeeze of lemon - a name day celebration called for something just a little more special. This recipe if filled with lots of Greek flavours - rigani, lemon zest and capers - and the panko crumb makes for a wonderful crunch. These little fishy treats were perfect alongside a big bowl of horta - red dandilion, or radiki doused liberally with new season olive oil and lemon, a glass (or two) of chilled ouzo and some fries with feta and rigani - made that little more interesting by the use of some purple Crimson pearl potatoes. This lovely little feast really highlighted all the wonderful healthy flavours of the Mediterranean diet - the sardines, wild greens, lemon, herbs and plenty of new season olive oil all being part of the Greek diet and lifestyle that will bring my Mr K many, many, many, more happy and healthy years to come.

 

 

Fried sardines with rigani, capers & lemon (σαρδέλες τηγανητές)

Ingredients

12 Sardines, filleted and tails attached

75g panko crumbs

Zest of one lemon

Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Greek rigani

1 tablespoon of Greek capers in vinegar, finely chopped

1 clove garlic

Corn flour, for dusting

1 – 2 tablespoons milk

Olive oil for frying

Sea salt to taste

Lemon to serve

Method:

1. Prepare the crumb mixture by mixing together the panko crumbs, lemon zest, rigani, chopped capers and parsley. Place in a shallow bowl and set aside.

2. In another two seperate shallow bowls, place the corn flour and the milk. Set aside.

3. Wash the sardines and pat dry with paper towels.

4. Dust each sardine at a time with a little corn flour flour then dip in the milk and then the crumb mixture, making sure they are well coated, by pressing gentley into the crumb mIxture. Set aside.

5. When the sardines are all coated in crumbs, heat the olive oil in a large frypan and add the garlic clove. Stir the clove around in the oil and remove when it starts to brown. When the oil is hot, cook the sardines (don't overcrowd the pan) on one side for a few minutes then on the other until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve warm with a little sprinkling of sea salt and plenty of lemon wedges on the side - best to let your guests squeeze the lemon as the go, as you don't want the crumb to go soggy.

 

 

 

3 May 2015

Apple picking & Greek Apple Pie - Milopita (μηλόπιτα)

 

 

Sometimes what I need more than anything is a little time away in the country - even if that means actually only just a short 40 minute drive away home. And that is how I came to find myself, with Mr K and the Zen's, at Glenbernie Orchard at Darkes Forest on a bright crisp autumn day, picking apples.

 

 

 

The Apple Shack of Glenbernie Orchard is a 4th generation family owned farm where you can purchase fresh fruits, juice, cider, honey and preserves - if you visit in the right season you can also pick your own apples, persimmons and raspberries.

 

 

The season for apple picking runs from from about November to April, so we made it right at the end of the 'pick your own' season. The apples on the trees were incredibly beautiful and of spectacular quality - the pink lady apples tasted fresh, tangy and sweet.

 

 

 

 

With a few kilos of fresh apples in my kitchen, I decided to make a milopita (Μηλόπιτα) or Greek apple pie for Mother's Day - which is this coming Sunday in Australia.

Milopita (Μηλόπιτα) or apple pie is more of a traditional breakfast, or mid-morning snack in Greece. It is full of sweet, juicy apples and spiced with plenty of cinnamon. My version makes a great dessert, as opposed to a breakfast treat, with the additional of some Caramel Metaxa Yoghurt on the side.

 

 

Milopita (Μηλόπιτα)

 

3 Pink Lady (or other tangy) apple

Fresh lemon juice

50g butter

50g brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinammon

1 teaspoon of Metaxa or other brandy

125g butter (at room temperature)

1 cup raw caster sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

1 lemon, zested

1 orange, zested

2 eggs, separated

1 cup self raising flour

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1/4 cup whole milk

Icing sugar to dust

 

Caramel Mextaxa Yoghurt

2 tablespoons of Mextaxa

50g brown sugar

1 cup Greek Youghurt, preferably Dodoni

Method: Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160C and grease a pie dish.

2. Peel, core and slice apples finely. Toss well in lemon juice to coat, to prevent apples browning. Set aside.

3. Beat together 125g butter, caster sugar, orange and lemon zest, vanilla paste and egg yolks until pale, light and fluffy.

4. Add half the sifted flour and cinammon, combine well. Then add milk and combine well. Add the remaining sifted flour and cinnamon and beat well to combine.

5. In a seperate bowl, whisk egg whites into stiff peaks. Fold half of the egg whites through the batter to loosen the mix, then fold through the remaining egg whites. Spread the batter into the prepared pie dish.

6. In a small pan, melt 50g of butter, 50g of brown sugar, cinammon and Mextaxa.

7. Drain the apples, discard the juice and then pour over the cinnamon butter mixture, toss to combine well.

8. Arrange the apple slices over the batter and drizzle over any remaining butter. You can also add some chopped unbalanced almonds or pine nuts for a little texture if you wish. Bake for around 50 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Serve with the caramel Mextaxa yoghurt.

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Shack at Glenbernie Orchard

259 Darkes Forest Rd

Darkes Forest NSW

Open Times: 7 Days 10am - 4.30pm

30 April 2015

South Coast Oyster (and olive oil) Odyssey

 

 

Oysters. You either love them or hate them. As I am a new fan – and Mr K is a long-standing, dedicated fan, we headed to the NSW mid-South coast to explore the ‘oyster trail’ and discover where, the oysters we love, come from.

23 April 2015

ANZAC Biscuits: a recipe for remembrance


 
ANZAC biscuits were probably one of the very first recipes I made with my mum, when I was very little. My mum had learnt the recipe from her mother who had, in turn, learnt the recipe from her mother. During World War I, my great grandmother made these biscuits and sent them to her brothers who served overseas with the Australian Army during World War I, like so many other Australian mothers, wives, girlfriends and sisters. My paternal grandmother also used to make them regularly too - ever since the 1940s when she would prepare the biscuits and send them to my grandfather, while he was serving overseas in the Australian Army during World War II. The recipes from either side of my family are fairly similar, the only difference bring the addition of some desiccated coconut by my Grandmother.

21 April 2015

Greek style cheesecake with petimezi syrup (Γλυκιά μυζηθρόπιτα)



The end of Lent calls for a little dairy indulgence. This Greek style cheesecake called a 'myzithropita' (μυζηθρόπιτα) is the perfect way to indulge after abstaing from dairy and eggs for over 40 days. Best of all, it contains very little added sugar and is not overly sweet - so it doesn't leave you feeling too guilty if you happen to have a second slice!


19 April 2015

At look back at Greek Easter '15




Easter is the most important celebration for my Greek family. It just inches ahead of Christmas and it holds a very special place in my heart. I love the traditions of colourful dyed eggs, tsoureki, the Easter biscuits - Koulourakia, spit-roast of lamb and the "lambathes" decorated candles. The Easter rituals of the Orthodox Church are rich and spiritual. Even though it falls during the start of Autumn in Australia, there is still that feeling of energy and renewal that often comes with the start of spring.

6 April 2015

In my kitchen April '15




Καλό μήνα lovely readers and welcome to April!! If you are wondering what Καλό μήνα (Kalo Mina) means - it literally means "good month" and it is a Greek greeting given every first day of each month. It is the Greek way of wishing friends and family a good month ahead of them - a way of wishing you, lovely reader, well.


3 April 2015

Ma's kalamari yemista: calamari stuffed with leeks, currants and pine nuts (καλαμαράκια γεμιστά)





When I first got married, I was fascinated by the way my mother in law expertly cleaned calamari. Nearly five years on, nothing has changed. Where Ma may use a toothbrush to painstakingly clean fish for her family, she often uses a knitting needle to ensure the inside of the calamari tube is immaculately clean. Having grown up on a Greek island, her skill in cooking all types of seafood and her knowledge of how it should be treated and used is truly impressive. Ma's "salty" island blood and passion for seafood has been passed on to her children - certainly my Mr K, so it was early in my marriage that I got to grips with cleaning calamari and octopus - and selecting it at the market. 

29 March 2015

"Fix Hellas" beer battered salt cod, basil infused skordalia and beetroot salad for Greek National Independence Day (Μπακαλιάρος για την 25η Μαρτίου)




In our house this week, we celebrated Greek National Independence Day. In Greece, 25 March is a public holiday, but people of Greek heritage all over the world celebrate the origin in of the modern Greek state, which had its beginnings on 25 March 1821.


20 March 2015

Lenten salad with quinoa & pomegranate (Σαλάτα με ρόδι και κινόα για τη νηστεία)

 

 

Autumn makes herself known when the soft orange-pink pomegranates start to appear on my father in law's trees, like spectacular Christmas ornaments. It marks the start of one of my favourite seasons and always reminds me that my wedding anniversary is not too far away. I can always remember my dad and my father in law enjoying a very happy, animated conversation and a Greek coffee in the garden with an impressive backdrop of pomegranate trees, that were simply heaving with fruit, behind them on the day after our wedding. My father in law took cuttings from his trees and now they grow in my parents garden - and this is the first year that the new trees have produced a very generous and healthy quantity of fruit that is filled with sweet ruby coloured gems.

3 March 2015

In my kitchen: March

 

In my kitchen this month, I am enjoying the rich bounty of late summer produce – tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants from the garden. I am also very excited to be welcoming into my kitchen, over the coming weeks some spectacular autumn produce – figs, pomegranates, chestnuts and more! Thankfully, there are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables in season at the moment, as over the next few weeks the menus in my kitchen are going to be fasting friendly.

1 March 2015

Lenten Onion Pie (κρεμμύδoπίτα νηστεία)

 

 

While Greek food is so much about the seasons and homegrown produce, it is also driven by the festival calendar. We recently started one of the most significant fasting periods in the Greek calendar, Great Lent.

 

This period is called nistia (νηστεία) and traditionally requires you to abstain from meat, eggs, dairy, fish (shellfish are ok), olive oil and alcohol. You are also required to limit the number of meals consumed each day. In recent times, many people do not fast for the whole period of lent (Clean Monday until Easter Sunday) but they do still fast in different ways. For many people, they will not eat meat for the entire period of lent but will still eat dairy. For others, they will not eat meat for the entire period of lent and will also be completely vegan, oil and alcohol free on Wednesdays and Fridays - which are regarded as significant fasting days in the Orthodox calendar year. In addition to this, most people fast strictly during the first and last week of Lent as well as Holy Week, breaking the fast after midnight on Easter Saturday with bowls of mageritsa soup.