by Lyn Hagin Meade
This will serve 6 hungry adults. It is brilliant for a picnic!
As the weather begins to cool, I like to remember summer days and wistfully recall Greece. I have so many memories of happy summer trips there – the friendly baker who insisted on me saying the Greek to purchase my Tiropita (Cheese Pastry) and baklava literally melting through the wrapping filled with the rich honey sauce. Mostly I remember the blue sun drenched skies, regardless of the season. As a student, I stayed in a hostel and we feasted on the tasty and inexpensive dishes of the locals!
1kg tomatoes (you need ripe tomatoes for this)
1 large cucumber
100g black kalamata olives, pitted
2 large red onions
1 green pepper
Dressing: 100ml extra virgin olive oil, 30ml red wine vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
Thinly slice the onions, put in a bowl. Roughly dice the cucumber, pepper, feta and tomatoes and add to the bowl, with the black olives.
Make the dressing by mixing the ingredients with a fork.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss – the feta will start to crumble through the salad. If you don’t like yours like that, only add the feta after you have stirred!
I like to leave my salad for an hour, to let the onions soften in the dressing, but you can serve it straight away.
I never put tahini in my hummus – but you can: add 1 teaspoon with the chickpeas. Remember, it always needs more salt and oil than you think!
1 tin chickpeas, drained
50ml extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Large pinch of salt
Squeeze lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil to serve
In a hand blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add alternating tablespoons of olive oil/water until desired consistency is reached.
To serve, pour olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.
Tip: I buy dried chickpeas and freeze them once they are cooked and cooled in portion bags – approx 240g of cooked chickpeas is equivalent to a tin. If I’m pressed for time and the only chickpeas I have are frozen, once they are in the food processor, I add boiled hot water in place of the water in the recipe, and the chickpeas blend smooth – otherwise you may end up with hummus sorbet!
Tiropita (filo pastry with feta and a honey dip)
Yum, my absolute favourite, I spent a whole springtime eating these in Athens one year! in Athens, they are made with a rougher homemade filo. Leave a comment if you would like the recipe.
½ pack filo pastry, defrosted in the fridge (unfurl the sheets, cut in two to make a stack of rectangles)
200g feta cheese
40g melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
To serve: 2 tablespoons runny honey
To prepare, cut the feta into 4 triangles, if you can – to make rolling easier!
Lay out the rectangular pieces with one corner facing you.
brush with butter and lay another layer on top.
Place a piece of feta on top, with a drizzle of honey and some thyme leaves.
Fold over the pastry, sealing the edges with melted butter and place on a baking sheet..
Repeat to make the other three triangles.
Bake for 20-25 mins at 180C.
To serve, heat up the remaining honey until lukewarm (you can do this by standing the honey in a cup of hot water. Serve with the triangles to drizzle over.
Greek Honey Bread
This bread is yummy as it has polenta inside it to give it a grittier texture. It is a good country bread and mops up the salad juices and beans well.
300ml tepid water
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 teaspoons dried yeast
325g strong flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
75 g quick cook polenta
Poppy seeds to decorate
Dissolve the yeast in 100ml water and 1 tablespoon honey. Leave for 5 minutes to bubble.
Combine all the other ingredients in the mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Add the yeast mixture and using the dough hook, mix for about 5 minutes, until we.ll combined and elastic
Leave the dough to rise for about 1 hour (until doubled in size).
Bake for 40 minutes at 220C – until the underside of the bread is hollow when knocked.
Leave to cool on a wire rack – I like to wrap it up still warm for a picnic.
Knock the dough back, then taking 1/6 of the dough, form into oblong bread rolls (fingers). Place on a lightly greased baking tray. Continue with each piece and gently press each piece into the previous until there is a line of bread dough loaves.
Leave the dough to rise again for one hour, covered with a cloth.
Brush the top with milk and poppy seeds if desired.
Many nights in the hostel, we made one version or another of this hearty bean dish. I vary whether I serve it hot or cold – with the cold version, I top it up with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt before serving.In the winter, this makes a brilliant baked potato filling!
2 tins butter beans
5 Mixed veg: such as: 1 celery, 1 carrot, 1 leek, 1 onion, 1 celeriac, 1 parsnip
4 large garlic cloves
½ jar passata (approx 200-250g)
1 bay leaf, parsley, oregano or basil
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
50ml extra virgin olive oil
Finely dice the mixed veg – I use a mini blender
Fry in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring regularly over a medium heat.
Add the beans, passata and herbs.
Simmer gently for 20 minutes, with a lid, until all the vegetables are tender.
Season well and stir in the remaining olive oil. (see tip above for serving cold)
If you can find an authentic version of this, by all means treat yourself to the bought version! This one though, isn’t as scary as it seems, it will have less sugar, but still work for those with a sweet tooth!
1 packet filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge)
200g melted butter
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
200g finely chopped walnuts
100g caster sugar
100g runny honey
Semolina for rolling (approx 3 tablespoons)
Make the syrup by dissolving the sugar in a pot with the lemon and 200ml water. Once it is boiling, add the honey. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 minutes, until thick. Cool while making the rest of the baklava.
Mix the walnuts, cinnamon and sugar together for the filling.
Cut the filo pastry layers in half width ways – now you have approx 14 small rectangular sheets.. Lay out the first layer of filo pastry on a greased baking tray. Brush with the melted butter, and a fine dusting of semolina (to stop the sheets sticking) repeat with 4 more sheets. Now add half the filling, put a layer of pastry on top, brush with the melted butter and a sprinkling of semolina, add 4 more sheets the same way. Spread over the rest of the filling, top with remainder of pastry sheets, as before brushing between each layer. Finish with the last of the butter.
Leave to rest for 1 hour to set. Once set, you can cut the baklava into small pieces. (approx 12).
Bake at 180C for 40 minutes until the top is crisp.
Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the syrup all over the pastry. Leave it to soak in for at least 30 minutes before serving.
You can make this a day or two in advance, I keep it in the fridge. It changes texture slightly, but is still delicious!
For extra authenticity, stay with simple cutlery and plates and choose a blue and white tablecloth.
In Greece, your cappuccino will have a sprinkling of cinnamon on top instead of chocolate.
© copyright Lyn Hagin Meade 2018