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Archive for the ‘mezedes’ Category

As you may know if you’ve been following this blog for a while, I’ve been trying to make more use of my large cookbook collection (as part of goal 153). However, I mostly end up using the same cookbooks again & again; not because I necessarily consider them the best ones in my collection… but just out of habit. As we get used to the characteristics & idiosyncrasies of partners & good friends, in much the same way, I think, we get used to certain cookbook writers. It doesn’t mean they’re the ‘best’ food writers; it just means they’re the ones we’ve become more familiar with.

So, as you may have guessed, here comes yet another recipe from Nigella Lawson, this time from her book ‘Forever summer’. So: why is it that Nigella Lawson has become the food writer I draw from more? Who knows… it’s one of those mysteries, I suppose like trying to answer ‘why did I choose my partner’ or ‘why do I feel so close with this particular friend’. However much I try, I can never find fully satisfactory answers to these questions!

Griddled involtini with feta, mint & chilli (from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Forever summer’)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large aubergines, each cut thinly, lengthwise, into about 10 slices
  • about 4 tablespoons olive oil (basically use as much as you need)
  • 250 gr. feta cheese
  • 1 red chile, finely chopped, seeded or not, depending on how much heat you want
  • A large bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped, with some saved for sprinkling over at the end if you want
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Black pepper

Method:

  • Preheat the barbecue or griddle to high heat
  • Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with oil
  • Cook them for about 2 minutes each side, until golden and tender (it actually took me a bit more time, for some reason, so just make sure they’re nicely golden when you take them out)
  • Crumble the feta into a bowl and stir in the chile, mint and lemon juice and grind in some pepper
  • Pile the end third of each warm aubergine slice with a heaping teasspoon of the feta mixture and roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle
  • Place seam-side down on a plate, and sprinkle with a little more mint if you want (I didn’t bother with this)

Lovely to take with you to a barbecue at a friend’s, that’s what I did; they keep well sitting outside for a few hours.

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A short while ago my friend N. and I made a cheese & mushroom tart but had some left-over shortcrust pastry. We quickly dismissed the possibility of throwing out the pastry, & decided to improvise & make little cheese pies (tyropitakia, in greek). This is what we did:

We mixed up some feta cheese with a bit of greek yoghurt, added some dried mint, some fresh parsley, chopped up, & some olive oil (not too much). We then cut up the shortcrust pastry in 5 squares, put some of the mixture in each, & shaped them loosely (as you can see in the picture, our little cheese pies were by no means shaped in a brilliant or professional looking way!) We then baked them at around 180-200 degrees celcius, until they looked ready (can’t give you an exact amount of time!)

The result? We both agreed that these were even more delicious than our cheese & mushroom tart, & we concluded that improvisation is always the way to go… Will surely be making these again!

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This is one of the things we make so often at home, that we don’t have a recipe for it. In Greek it’s called ‘melitzanosalata’ and it’s commonly found at meze-meals (something like tapas, except with Greek food). I suppose you could translate it as ‘aubergine dip’. It’s quick, it’s delicious, it’s easy as can be to make, and it’s a lovely, healthy way to use up those aubergines sitting in your fridge. The recipe that I’ve given is just the variation I used yesterday. You can improvise as much as you want.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 aubergines
  • some extra-virgin olive oil (as much as you want, but don’t overdo it)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (or add more if you feel like it)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • some fat-free Greek yoghurt- I used 2 full tsps (it goes without saying that you can also use full-fat Greek yoghurt or indeed none at all. Quantities according to taste)

Method:

  • Grill the aubergines or just roast them in a very hot oven, having ‘stabbed’ them a couple of times with a fork
  • Once they’re done (you’ll know because they’ll be soft when touching, and a fork will easily go through them) let them cool
  • Peel them & then either chop them in small pieces with a fork & knife, or alternatively use the blender or food processor to liquidify. Try not to mush them up too much, you want this to be a bit chunky and not completely creamy. But again, go according to taste
  • To the mashed-up aubergines add some cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper and the yoghurt
  • That’s it! Eat with toasted bread, paprika and some lemon (if you want)

Variations:

You can add some chopped walnuts if you want. You can also add some minced garlic or finely chopped onion- in fact, garlic is a very common addition to this dip. The other thing we often do is eat this alongside beef which has been cooked in a tomato sauce. It makes a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes, and I suppose it can be seen as a light, easy version of the Turkish dish hunkar begendi.

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