Monday, 27 April 2015

Vicar's Kitchen: My Greek Kitchen

I love Greek food. The love affair started early with a trip to Athens when I was 18 where I stayed for six weeks. Given that my repertoire at that time cooking wise was chucking a Birds Eye Chicken Pie in the oven or pouring a sauce over pasta it was no small miracle that some of the local ladies managed to get me into the kitchen. Alcestis, a woman with a truly beautiful soul who rescued stray animals and fed stray English students, taught me how to make proper Tzatziki. Tip: lots and lots of garlic!

Where I long to dine!

Now that the weather is warming up nicely I find myself craving those Greek flavours and none more so than the trinity of Greek ingredients, Olive Oil, Garlic and Lemon. Put that on pretty much anything and you've got yourself a meal but I have recently managed to perfect lemon oven baked potatoes which, if you haven't tasted them, are like a mix between boiled and roasted potatoes and just sing of summer.I served this recently with a new slow cooker recipe I have discovered for Lamb Stifado. It was absolutely beautiful topped with a generous helping of feta.

One of my last Greek meals actually in Greece

So here are a few Greek favourites for a summer dinner, enjoy!

Alcestis' Tzatziki

Grate one cucumber into a sieve and give it a good squeeze to release some of the water. Into this add two crushed garlic cloves (this is for some seriously garlicky, i.e. proper, Tzatziki. Adjust as you prefer!) and about half a tub o Greek yogurt. Just add as much yoghurt as you like for you desired thickness. Leave the Tzatziki over night if possible for the garlic to really infuse.

Courgette Balls

I have been looking for a good recipe for these yummy morsels for an AGE and finally came across this one from Abel and Cole. The secret -  halloumi! They are delicious served warm with a dollop of Tzatziki.

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Slow Cooker Lamb Stifado (serves 2-3)

500g lamb shoulder in bite size pieces
1 tablespoon of flour
400g red onion
2 bay leaves
A sprig of rosemary
A Sprig of oregano
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cloves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato puree
100ml red wine
200ml chicken stock
50g feta cheese, for sprinkling

- Coat the lamb in the flour and add to the slow cooker basin
- Peel and quarter the onions and add to the slow cooker with the herbs and spices
- Mix in a jug the vinegar, tomato puree, red wine and chicken stock and pour over the lamb and spices in the slow cooker
- Cook on Low for six hours. Serve sprinkled with feta.

Lemon Oven Baked Potatoes

400g large potatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
A pinch of dried oregano
1 garlic clove finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil

- Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges (as an idea for a fist size baking potato I would get about 8 wedges from this).
- Place the wedges in an oven proof dish, add the lemon juice, garlic and dried oregano. Top with some salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave this for one hour.
- Add the olive oil and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven (at about 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4) for an hour. Remove the foil and bake for another half an hour.

Have a fab time in your Greek kitchen!

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