My parents (Martin and Jane) have always loved Greece and when I was a child we spent many holidays exploring the country (including its food). This element of discovery is one of the reasons why I started unearthed®.
Easter is their favourite time to visit Greece, but this year they decided to host their own celebrations, along with about 30 people from their local village. Here’s how the preparations all unfolded…
Preparations started on Wednesday and Thursday with a very large shop and a visit to the butchers.
On Friday cooking began in earnest. The red eggs were prepared. The Easter bread was made and several dishes started, including the stifado.
Saturday saw all hands to the pump. Olive bread and Greek bread went into the wood-fired oven, followed by spanokopitta (spinach and feta pie) and baklava. Meanwhile the tzatziki and fava dips were prepared. The fava (chick pea dip) took dedication and patience, with several hours of cooking and stirring involved! Now was also the time to check that there was enough drink, crockery, cutlery and glasses available and to peel pounds of potatoes!
On Sunday (Greek Easter Day) we made an early start. Martin lit the fire, there was a furious sound of chopping as he made the briam and Jane made politiki salata (cabbage, carrots, celery and red pepper) and Greek salad. Into the oven went two legs of lamb, moussaka, lemony potatoes, briami and gigantes (giant beans in a tomato sauce).
The guests arrived at 12.30 and celebrations started in earnest. We started with the breaking of red eggs, moving on to eating and drinking. A few brave souls tried Retsina, which is an acquired taste that we’ve acquired!
With family and friends to help, the clearing up was a breeze and to cap it all the day turned out bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. It was definitely more typically Greek than British – so there were baseball caps distributed to the follically challenged!
Kalo Pascha / καλό Πάσχα
As you know we’re all about discovering lovely new ingredients for you to cook with. But every so often we like to check our own ingredients are still up to scratch, so we use them too! And when we do, we share our culinary endeavours.
Here are the new recipes we created in April…
Starters and light bites
- Duo ‘nduja bruschetta
- Mini cheese and panceta quiches
- ‘Nduja salumi bhajis
- Baguettes for (goose and pork) rillettes
In the meantime have a browse and if you see anything that takes your fancy…cook it!
And if you want to post your results on the Facebook page – we’d be delighted! If you’re a blogger we’ll feature you on our Facebook page – ‘blogger recipes’
Doesn’t the old saying go – ‘never work with children and animals’? Well I couldn’t disagree more after spending a morning cooking with a friend’s 9 year old son. It all came about, when, a few months ago when I was round for lunch and he was talking about his Scouts’ ‘Chef Activity’ Badge. He explained how much he loved cooking, then disappeared off, only to return with an autographed picture of Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace. The accompanying note from Gregg explained how he had been a Scout and encouraged Dillon to keep cooking.
At only 9 years old, Dillon is smitten and has a culinary passion which is both endearing and exciting. Imagine being that age and being able to make a chocolate tart and take part in a bakes-off against your Mum! An avid watcher of the Great British Bake Off, he makes a mean Dorset Apple Cake and when asked if he would like to make lunchbox-friendly mini quiches for our website recipes he asked if he could make the pastry from scratch.
On the day in question he was feeling a bit off-colour, but no matter he literally and metaphorically rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in. He loved making the pastry – especially the hands-on nature of combining the flour and butter. But he found rolling it out to be a bit tricky (to be fair, so did I) as it was quite a stiff mixture. Since we didn’t have any cutters quite the right size for the pasty bases we were shown a little trick to lay the pastry over the tin, then tuck into the holes and cut round the lip of the individual hole. This trick was easy for our assistant (chef, Mark), but harder for him to get the hang of. In hindsight – perhaps a little too fiddly?
Dillon knew all about blind-baking and Paula (his Mum) liked the shortcut to making quiche filling – to partly cook the egg mixture, a little bit like omelette – before putting into the blind baked cases. This ensured that the bases weren’t soggy or the centre filling too overcooked. It’s a little cheat she plans to use too.
A couple of hours later the result of all the hard work was a very satisfied 9 year old and his Mum. Oh and a batch of deliciously plump, cheesy quiches with lovely salty chunks of panceta. They’re the ideal size to pop into a school lunchbox, but would also be a perfect grown-up lunch accompaniment to a rocket, watercress and spinach salad.
The morning was proof that with a little patience and some helpful tips, cooking with kids is a pleasure and a treat. Check out our recipe and give the quiches a go. They could even be a headliner for the picnic season (so here’s hoping it arrives soon!)
Thanks to Dillon, assistant Mark and lender of the kitchen – Paula
We’re several weeks into our planning and recipe collating for the #193 course meal event. We’ve got over half our recipes now, with them coming in from followers and bloggers all over the UK. Not forgetting our corporate supporters, such as our charity Action Against Hunger, who sent us recipes straight from their chefs in the field in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The tough part is going through the recipes and deciding how well they’ll adapt to being served as a tasting dish, or even scouring the web for inspiration and adapting recipe to be our own. Harder still (honest) is the tasting! Some of them we’ve made ourselves, for *research* purposes to try. Like bobotie – a South African dish of minced curried beef with dried fruit, soaked bread and mango chutney, topped with a milk and egg mixture (see picture). A ‘love it or hate it’ dish, especially if you’re not a fan of sweet/savoury combos, this was supplied by one of our staff, who grew up in South Africa. But it’s perfect for serving in small portions, as a ‘taster’.
We also had some fun adapting a recipe called Tonga Toast – which was served up to an unsuspecting houseguest over the bank holiday weekend (he loved it). We even made a little video to show you how it’s done – basically French toast (eggy bread, if you were a brownie), with cinnamon sugar and a banana stuffed in the middle, served with smoked bacon – yum!
Another thumbs up went to Sri Lankan chicken stew – with lots of ground spices, such as coriander, garam masala, cumin, ginger and cayenne pepper. Spicy and warming, served with rice this could definitely be a tasting dish served in a little bowl.
Elsewhere behind the scenes we’re working with the very talented Miss Cakehead, to curate the event. The venue is being finalised, the catering team are being selected and we’re preparing to take photos of all the dishes. That way we’ll be able to tempt you with the pictures and the stories behind them between 11th April and 14th June – when the event launches in London to the public.
ps be in with a chance to win an unearthed® hamper by uploading your recipe here