Greek cuisine

Fáva – a velvety Greek dip

Posted on Updated on

Fáva is a velvety, smooth dip very popular in the taverns and homes of Greece. Not to be confused with the fava bean or broad bean, it is usually made with yellow split peas. Occasionally it is also made with dried and broken fava beans (κουκιά) but that dish has a light, green colour instead of its usual pale, mustard-yellow. It is usually served cold with chopped onion, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. But mother often fed us warm fava for a filling and nutritious meal – and we loved it. My favourite fáva flavour has a Cretan inspiration. Toasted cumin seeds and fried onion flavour my fáva recipe whilst roasted tomatoes and often caramelised onions are also paired or ‘married’ with it, as the Cretans say. Fáva can be paired beautifully with lamb but also octopus. It is nutritious and filling, and an impressive alternative to Hummus.

Fava (1)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (around 250g) yellow split peas
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (optional)
  • Pepper (optional)

Preparation

  1. Rinse the yellow split peas well and place in a sieve.
  2. Add enough oil to coat the base of a medium pot (2 to 3 tablespoons).
  3. Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and stir fry for around 5 minutes till the onion slightly softens.
  4. Toss in the yellow split peas and coat well in the oil and flavours.
  5. Add the boiling hot stock and bring to a low simmer for up to 40 minutes.
  6. At the beginning the mixture might froth. If this happens remove the froth with a slotted spoon.
  7. Half an hour into cooking check whether the dish requires additional water so that it does not stick to the pan.
  8. When cooked the peas should be getting mushy when mixed and should not have a bite.
  9. Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, add the lemon juice and cream the mixture with a hand blender.
  10. You can serve mixed in with roasted tomatoes and topped with caramelised onions.

Lia’s notes: 

  • Yellow split peas are not the same as chana daal (yellow split lentils) commonly used in Indian cooking. You can source great quality, British grown, organic peas online through hodmedods.co.uk.
  • Good quality ingredients make a great dip, so as well as using Hodmedods yellow split peas, I recommend you source use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this dip. Some of my  choices include Oliveology, the Olive Press in Ludlow and The Greek Secret olive oils.
Advertisements

The Wasteless Skordalia Bread Dip

Posted on Updated on

This Wasteless dip is inspired by my Greek heritage. Skordalia is a popular dip which can be made with stale bread or potatoes. My favourite is the one using bread. It is a kind of bread sauce, brought to life by walnuts, sharp vinegar flavours, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is traditionally served with deep fried salt cod and once you start you can’t stop eating it. At Wasteless suppers we usually serve it with smoked paprika temperate vegetable and cucumber slices.


Ingredients

  • 200g leftover bread, soaked in water and well drained
  • 1 large handful walnuts
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper (optional)
  • a generous pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)

Preparation

1.     Soak the bread slices with the crust in some water until soft.
2.     Squeeze out the water well with your hands and place in a food processor.
3.     Add the garlic cloves crushed. You can add more garlic but the longer you leave the dip in the fridge the stronger it becomes.
4.     Top with the walnuts, salt and pepper/nutmeg and olive oil and blitz until lovely and creamy.
5.     Taste to adjust the salt and vinegar levels. The vinegar really makes this dip special so if you feel something is missing add another teaspoon.
6.     This dip is absolutely delicious with raw vegetable, as an accompaniment to salads, with tempura vegetable and fried fish (in the traditional Greek way).

Forgotten Foods – Nettle pie Video

Posted on Updated on

The resurgence of nettle, wild garlic and other foraged greens cooking is a delight to me. I still think that eating and foraging wild greens is a skill that needs more nurturing to become part of our yearly eating calendar. I don’t mean that you have to see nettles on supermarket isles to be able to say they are back. I am not talking about food trends. I am talking about making wild green habit and seasonal eating more of a habit for life.

This nettle pie is a simple way to connect with wild greens that are available in abundance in your surroundings in Spring. Turn the TV off. Take a stroll into your local forest or park. Pick, cook and taste. Have a look and hopefully be inspired by this video.

Melomakarona and a Happy New Year…

Posted on Updated on

Well I hope you are having the most wonderful time this festive period! Whether you are resting, working, travelling (to, from and) at faraway places, having some precious time alone or sharing precious time with your loved ones, you deserve every single moment of the rest or adventure you get.

melomakarona 1.jpg

The most precious time of the winter holidays for me is between Christmas and the New Year. In Greece, our Santa Claus traditionally visited on New Year’s eve (Agio Vasili). By that time our religious or traditional fasting had finished so we could eat whatever we wanted. On New Year’s eve our grandma enchanted us with stories of the little Kalikantzaroi elves, naughty mythical creatures that hid things and played pranks on us and each other. We were allowed to stay up past midnight and often dance into the night at family or communal parties. So, I love these next few days and their promise of renewal and light. So I wanted to remind everyone that the fun is not over.

Celebrating the year that is gone, with all its ups and downs, and welcoming the year ahead is a wonderful process. It is our life that we are talking about after all. I hope you reflect but also rejoice in the thought of all times ahead.

My gift to you is my ‘Melomakárona’ recipe, the Greek Christmas biscuit, the ‘honey-macaroon’ which when baking fills your home with festive scents of cinnamon, orange and clove, and when eaten melts into your mouth in sweet delight.

Take some time to make these for yourself. And indulge in them with a nice glass of hot coffee, mulled cider and a nice red wine.

May you have a wonderful 2018 and happy times ahead!

Melomakarona recipe

Ingredients (make 30-40 biscuits)

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 175ml olive oil
  • Zest of half an organic orange or one clementine
  • Juice of one orange and one clementine
  • ¾ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 100g sugar
  • 60ml cognac
  • A generous handful of coarsely ground walnuts

For the syrup:

  • 300ml water
  • 250ml honey
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Preparation (45 minutes depending on the size of your oven)

  1. Sieve the flour and mix in the baking powder.
  2. Beat the oil, sugar, baking soda, spices, citrus fruit zest, cognac and sugar well together until combined.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the flour and mix well with clean hands until you have a soft, pliable dough (about 5 minutes).
  4. Use two non- stick baking sheets or line baking trays with baking parchment.
  5. To shape the biscuits use a tablespoon of dough (max) and roll into a 5-8cm long tube about 3cm wide.
  6. Place on the baking sheet allowing at least 3cm between biscuits. This will allow the biscuits to expand when baking.
  7. Before you add to a preheated oven (175 centigrade) press the middle of the biscuit tube down lightly with the back of a fork. You should be left with an oval, oblong dough shape with the markings of the fork clear on it.
  8. Bake for 20-30minutes in 170 centigrade or until they are firm on both sides but not too hard. This often depends on your own preference so try a couple of different baking styles to decide what you like best. I prefer my melomakarona on the softer side so that they can absorb more syrup. My cousin prefers them dry with no syrup.
  9. Whilst the biscuits are baking place all the syrup ingredients in a pot and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. As soon as the biscuits are ready throw in the syrup, soak and turn.
  11. Remove almost immediately or maximum after a minute if your cookies have baked too hard. The biscuits should absorb enough liquid but should not be falling apart when your remove them with a spatula.
  12. Place on a serving plate and sprinkle with the walnuts.
  13. Cool down and even refrigerate. The biscuits are better the next day.

Spetzofái – the last of Blaencamel Farm’s Broad Beans Crop

Posted on

Whilst I may have skipped a month of sharing recipe ideas with you inspired about one of my favourite places in Wales, it seems that the summer crop that has done so well on Blaencamel Farm’s land this summer keeps going strong this first week of September. This year the almighty broad bean has inspired various summer version of one of my favourite Greek dishes, Spetzofai, a stew which hails from beautiful Pelion on the Greek mainland (the land of the Cyclopes).

 

This simple sausage stew requires flavoursome, good quality sausages containing at least leek with a hint of spice, fresh seasonal vegetable and beans. The freshly podded broad beans make for a lighter and quicker version of the dish. To replace the broad beans chose either giant (Lima/Butter) beans or cannellini. As I am always inspired by my Greek heritage, Welsh producers and my local farmers’ market so I recommend you use Charcutier’s Italian fennel or their Thyme sausages for this recipe. The stew follows the same cooking method as the July 2017 Fasolakia dish which is popular in Greek cuisine. You can adapt it to make your own vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes Greek-Stylee. As usual you can source most of the recipes at the Roath and Riverside Farmers’ Market in Cardiff as well as other farmer market locations supplied by the farm in Wales.

Order your seasonal Blaencamel veg box online www.blanecamelbox.com Find out more about Lia’s Kitchen and subscribe on Lia’s newsletters here www.liaskitchen.com

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pack Charcutier Italian Fennel or Thyme sausages, in chunky cubes (280 g)
  • 1 bag Blaencamel farm broad beans, podded (250g when podded)
  • 2 Blaencamel bell peppers, halved, seeded and sliced
  • ½ Blaencamel Hungarian wax pepper
  • 4 Charlotte potatoes, washed and halved with skin on
  • Optional – half a pack of Blaencamel farm spinach (200g)
  • 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1 large tomato grated
  • ½ glass white whine
  • 1.5-2 tsp. sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 parmento/all spice berries
  • Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil

Preparation (60 min)

  1. Coat the base of a wide pot with enough olive oil to cover it.
  2. When the oil is hot add the cubed sausage and sauté until browned.
  3. Add the onion, peppers, one teaspoon sea salt and sauté until the onion softens.
  4. Add the tomato paste or grated tomato and fry for a couple of minutes stirring well.
  5. Add the chunky cubed potatoes, beans of your choice and roughly chopped spinach. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until they are well coated in tomato paste and oil.
  6. Add the wine and the chopped parsley. Stir well.
  7. Add half to one tsp of sea salt and enough boiling water to almost cover the veg and meat (but don’t submerge them).
  8. Stir well but before you place the lid on the pot to simmer for around 40 minutes, try to push the meat and potatoes to the bottom of the pot and the beans and courgettes closer to the top so that they steam.
  9. From this point on do not stir so that your vegetable does not fall apart when cooked.
  10. The dish is ready when the water has reduced but not fully evaporated.
  11. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Or for a real Greek meal enjoy (cold or in room temperature) the next day.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of Greek Agiorgitiko Wine .

May’s Recipe – Vegetarian Mageiritsa, a Greek soup of greens and mushroom

Posted on

img_7081

May is the period of the hungry gap but at Blaencamel Farm where, during this period of summer anticipation , they continue to grow nourishing greens. Gem and pink, and green Battavia lettuce have appeared on the stall. There is spinach, sweetheart cabbage, wild and green garlic. Whilst the seasonal bouquet garni can complement the dill that makes this spring soup so special.

May’s recipe is a Greek traditional Easter soup with a Welsh and clean-eating twist! Mageiritsa is traditionally cooked with lamb’s liver and plenty of greens and salad leaves. This is a vegetarian version and could be made vegan if you choose to not use avgolemono, the egg-lemon sauce typical of many Greek recipes. If you live in Wales what makes this Mageiritsa extra special is using dried kelp from Pembrokeshire. And the final Greek note is the use of the tangy and sharp sea buckthorn berry, which is becoming a staple in my cooking this year.

Visit www.liaskitchen.com for more ideas and monthly seasonal recipes inspired by Blaencamel Farm’s crops.

Ingredients (4-6 portions)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 green garlic or 1 bunch of wild garlic
  • 500-700g finely chopped mixed Blaencamel greens, such as spinach, lettuce and/or sweetheart cabbage
  • 500g mushrooms, Blaencamel farm or chestnut if they are not available
  • 1 punnet of mixed Blaencamel farm herbs (fennel, sage, mint, thyme) (Optional)
  • 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp. tried dill
  • 2 Tbsp. uncooked rice
  • 1 heaped tsp. Pembrokeshire Beach Company Kelp or other dried/crumbled sea weed (optional)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea buckthorn berries roughly chopped (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Around 2 litres of stock

For the Avgolemono sauce:

  • 1 small egg
  • Juice of one small lemon

Preparation (45 minutes)

  1. Coat the base of a deep pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one teaspoon of salt until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the cubed mushrooms (2 -3 cm chunks) and sauté for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Add the finely chopped herbs, wild or fresh garlic and greens, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Then add the stock, stir well and (if you are using) add the dried kelp or other sea weed, pepper and sea buckthorn berries.
  5. Simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rice.
  6. After 20 minutes (when the rice has softened and soup has thickened) remove from the hob.
  7. Beat the egg really well until it is fluffy and creamy (around 5 minutes), and whilst you continue whisking gradually add the lemon juice.
  8. Take one ladle of hot stock from the soup, strain through a fine sieve and add the hot stock slowly to the egg-lemon mixture whilst still whisking on low speed or by hand.
  9. Finally add the thinned egg-lemon and stock juice to the hot soup stirring in well to make sure it flavours and thickens all of the soup.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

April Recipe – Spinach, chard and leek risotto

Posted on Updated on


In April return to Greece for culinary inspiration. This month’s recipe is a risotto dish much loved in my homeland and to make it I am using seasonal organic Greens from Blaencamel Farm in West Wales. The key difference of this Greek risotto, called ‘Spanako-rizo’ or ‘Spanakoprasó-rizo’ is that it is less complicated in its cooking process (when compared to its Italian cousin) and it uses a lot of greens as the star ingredient rather than focussing on making a creamy rice. Whilst the rice is also added before the water it does not follow the Italian risotto method and you add all the water at once simmering the rice slowly to complete the dish.

Traditionally this dish is made with a rice called Karolina. In the UK, you can find this in Greek specialty shops, but also on the shelves of many of the Middle Eastern shops where you should seek it as Egyptian Rice. It is a short grain variety which keeps its bite when compared to Arborio. If you cannot find Karolina/Egyptian rice why not try Thai Jasmin rice which I find is a great replacement for many Greek recipes. In fact, as I am not a purist, I recommend that you try this dish with all rice varieties to find your preferred version.

Chard is regarded a wild green in Greece and has traditionally been foraged. Now cultivated widely in farms such as Blaencamel it has become a staple of our diet in the UK. Which is why I am using it together with spinach. Its meatier leaves, organic spinach, delicious Welsh leeks, foraged wild garlic and wonderful onions complete this version of the dish. In fact, Blaencamel farm’s April box will include all the ingredients you need to make your Greek Risotto. A perfect gift of the emerging Spring time and a great dish to help your body detox the heavy flavours of winter!

Ingredients (4 portions)

  • 300g Blaencamel leeks (1 bunch), sliced
  • 450g spinach (1 bag), roughly chopped
  • 450g chard (1 bag), roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch wild garlic
  • ¾ cup of rice
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • Up to 2 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. sea buckthorn berries (optional)
  • 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp tried dill
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation (30 minutes)
1. Coat the base of a 20cm pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one tsp of salt until soft and translucent.
2. Add the tomato paste and stir well.
3. Gradually add the chopped greens (spinach, chard, wild garlic) so that wilt slightly.
4. Add the raw rice and mix well.
5. If using chop the sea buckthorn berries roughly or crush and add to the rice and green.
6. Add the lemon juice, around two cups of boiling water, dill (if adding), another teaspoon of sea salt and the pepper.
7. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
8. Serve with more crushed sea buckthorn, some feta cheese and drizzle with raw olive oil.