Thursday, 16 April 2009

Octopus stew

This is a dish suitable for the Greek lent, since seafood is allowed. Serves 3-4

2 octopuses
5-6 onions, thickly cut
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4-5 bay leaves
black peppercorns
2 cans of tomato (or plenty of ripe tomatoes)
Olive oil
1/3 glass white wine
1/2 glass red wine vinegar (approx.)

To soften the octopus, cut into pieces and boil in a pan for 30 minutes and drain (keep the broth, we need it later). In the meantime...

Lightly fry the garlic and onions in a large, deep pan (which has a lid). Add the boiled octopus and the bay leaves and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and let it cook for 3-4 minutes more on low heat.

Add the tomatoes, peppercorns, vinegar and some salt, and some of that broth you had from boiling the octopus. Put the lid on and let it simmer for 90 minutes, or until the octopus is really tender. Check every now and then so that the liquid doesn't run out, add some more water if it does. If you don't like vinegar much, use less.

Serve it with rice. You can use the octopus broth to make the rice, it makes it yummy.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Cypriot Eliotí (Ελιωτή)-Olive Bread

approx. 400gr flour (wholemeal or white)
1 sachet of yeast
400ml lukewarm water
Olive oil
approx. 1 cup pitted olives
chopped fresh coriander (or parsley if you prefer)
dried mint
1 large onion, chopped

Add the yeast to the water and allow to stand for about 20 minutes, until it forms a foam at the top. In the meantime, prepare your flour in a large mixing bowl, or a skáffi if you are lucky enough to own one. When the yeast is ready, add to the flour with some salt and mix well. Add about 1/2 a cup of olive oil. Knead until you have a nice dough which isn't too moist. If it's too moist add some more flour. When the dough is ready, let it rise in a dark place (I use the oven-off of course) for about 30-40 minutes.

When the dough has risen, take your bowl, lift the dough and throw underneath the onions, parsley, mint, some more olive oil and of course the olives. Let the dough drop on top, press it so it picks up some of the ingredients, and then turn, turn, turn until all your ingredients are nicely spread in your dough.

Place your dough in a lightly oiled metal oven tray as in the picture. Again allow to rise for as long as you can, but no less than 40 minutes. I once left it for over 90 minutes and the result was excellent, as the dough rose very well. When you are ready, bake the bread in a preheated oven at about 200 degrees for roughly 40 minutes. If you want to check whether it's cooked well inside, slide a knife into it and check the blade when it comes out. If it's very moist it needs to bake longer.

When you're happy with it, take it out and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before devouring. Lovely. Store well and eat again and again for breakfast, preferably accompanied by Cypriot coffee (or Turkish/Greek coffee as some people call it) and some halloumi perhaps...

In Cyprus you can find this bread with the olives in it whole, stone included. This makes the bread slightly bitter, but it balances well with the sweetness of the onion. You can also make it with white flour or a mixture of the two as you like. If you use olives kept in salt, they usually melt slightly in the kneading, making the bread even tastier. But be careful not to add extra salt, as this will make it lyssa as we say in Cypriot, very very salty. Enjoy!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Stuffed Aubergines with Spinach, Fetta and Mushrooms

2 Aubergines
250gr Spinach
1 pack fetta cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Some mushrooms, chopped
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

For this recipe I am using the same method as the Stuffed Aubergines with Fetta and Pepper.

Step 1: Cut the aubergines at length, score them with a knife and put them in an oven tray. Sprinkle them with some olive oil. Roast them at 200 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.

Step 2: While the aubergines are roasting, in a large frying pan lightly fry some garlic and onions, add your spinach and mushrooms and sautee until cooked. Add the fetta cheese and stir for 1-2 minutes.

Step 3: Take the aubergines out (they should look like the ones above). Lightly mash the middle, creating a cavity.

Step 4: Add your stuffing, carefully, and return to the oven for about 15 minutes to give it that nice, crispy look. Enjoy!

Mixed bean salad

Mixed bean salad
For this recipe I use ASDA's mixed beans. About 500gr feeds easily 2-3 people. Soak the beans overnight in water. I usually cook them in a pressure cooker for about 25 minutes. If you are boiling them in a pan allow about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain the beans and mix with fresh tomatoes, spring onions and herbs of your choice. I like fresh coriander and/or dill in this. Season with olive oil and lemon juice.