Roast sea bream with potatoes and olives

Oh my goodness, this was so tasty! And another really simple dish to cook. I used a different fish in the sea bream family which is smaller, called tsipoura, but I will definitely be making it again with a whole sea bream.

Ingredients – serves 2

3 or 4 potatoes
Large handful of black olives
2 garlic cloves
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 whole sea bream, about 450g in weight
175ml white wine

Method
Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7

  1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 10 minutes and leave to cool.
  2. Remove the leaves from 4 of the rosemary sprigs and chop. Mix together with the olives, 1 clove of garlic (chopped), 1 tbsp. olive oil, lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Slice the potatoes into 1cm thick slices, add to the olives and toss well. Transfer the mix to an oven-proof dish.
  4. Season the fish inside and out, and place 2 sprigs of the rosemary and one garlic clove, quartered, inside the cavity.
  5. Lay the fish on top of the potato mixture, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes then pour over the white wine and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the fish and set aside (you may wish to cover with silver foil to prevent it cooling too much).
  8. Turn oven up to 250C/480F/Gas Mark 9 and finish the potatoes off for another 10 minutes, until nice and crispy at the edges. Serve with steamed broccoli and a crisp white wine.

 

 

Salmon with courgette salad

This isn’t exactly a dish that is difficult to put together, but it tasted so delicious that I had to include it in my blog. The courgette salad is one of my favourite summer dishes, and I’d forgotten all about until I was stuck for something to cook the other night and saw the courgettes lying lonely at the bottom of my fridge. I’m also lucky enough to have fresh mint and rocket growing in my garden, so it really was a no-brainer.

Ingredients – serves 2

2 salmon fillets
2 courgettes
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
Handful of fresh mint, chopped
2 large handfuls of rocket

Method
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7

  1. Mix the oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic clove and chopped mint in a large bowl. Finely slice the courgettes using a mandolin or potato peeler and add to the bowl, mixing well. Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Rub the salmon fillets with a drizzle of olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Put a piece of silver foil on a baking tray, place the salmon skin-side down on the top, and transfer to the oven. Salmon takes 8-12 minutes to cook, so check after 8 and if the flesh flakes away easily, it is ready. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rocket to the courgette salad, toss lightly and serve alongside the fish and a glass of crisp white wine.

 

 

 

Chicken Stifado

It’s been a while since I published a recipe, and this dish is so tasty, I thought why not? So here is the recipe for a delicious chicken stifado.

Ingredients – serves 3

500g shallots
6 tbsp. olive oil
3 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
250ml dry red wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp. tomato puree
250ml water
6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
10 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Method
Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6

  1. Blanch the onions for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, drain and allow to cool slightly, then peel, but leaving them whole.
  2. Heat half the oil in an ovenproof pan, add the chicken and cook over a medium heat, turning occasionally until sealed all over.
  3. Pour the wine into the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes, scraping the sediment from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy pan. Add the onions, cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. Uncover, sprinkle with the sugar and stir until caramelised. Add the onions to the chicken.
  5. Combine the tomato puree with the water and pour over the chicken. Add the garlic, rosemary, peppercorns, nutmeg and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover and transfer the dish to the oven. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours.

I served this with boiled potatoes and green beans, but would be equally good with some crusty bread, or simply on its own.

IMG_2978

(Recipe adapted from Vefa’s Kitchen recipe, published by Phaidon Press Inc in 2009)

Cashew pilaf

No surprises for guessing that this recipe is another adaption from Vefa’s Kitchen. All the recipes (I’m ignoring the salt fish recipe I made as I think that was disgusting because of the fish I used, rather than the recipe itself) from this book have been really delicious. Hardly surprising considering the amount of oil and/or butter used in them. And this recipe is no exception.

I had this with leftover Greek chicken and a simple tomato salad. And it is the first time I’ve used the fresh parsley in the garden, grown by my own fair hands!

Ingredients – serves 2

40g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 cup long-grain rice
300ml hot chicken stock
0.5 tsp salt
40g roasted cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsps. finely chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute, until the grains are all thoroughly coated.
  3. Pour in the hot stock, add the salt, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Stir in the cashew nuts and parsley and serve immediately.

Note: to roast the cashew nuts, drizzle with a tiny splash of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Cook in preheated oven (200C) for about 10 minutes, shaking/checking occasionally until slightly golden. Remove from heat and they will crisp up as they cool.

Delicious Dakos

There is a lot of really hard, dry rusk bread on sale in Crete and I’ve been so intrigued I decided to try some. I ordered Dakos last time I went out as a starter and was so pleasantly surprised by the flavours and textures, I decided to make my own for lunch. They are yummy! It’s the Cretan take on bruschetta really, so this would probably be equally as tasty with a bit of goats cheese and basil. They are so versatile, you just need to find what flavours work for you. Experiment!

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 medium, ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
100g feta cheese
1 barley rusk roll
Oregano
Salt and pepper
2 tbsps. olive oil

Method

  1. Sprinkle the top surface of each half rusk with water – enough to moisten it, so about 1tbsp on each side
  2. Remove the skin and seeds from the tomatoes, dice and split between the two rusks. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Crumble half of the feta over each rusk.
  4. Sprinkle with a large pinch of oregano and more pepper if required.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and serve on their own or with a leafy green salad on the side.

Variation: add a little sprinkling of alfalfa sprouts on top of the feta after you’ve added the oil for another fresh, light element, or dot a few sliced black olives over it.

 

Stuffed vegetables

Wasn’t sure about this one as you don’t cook the rice before putting it in the veg, but it did work. The top was a bit crunchy, but I think I overfilled the veg. I also added quite a bit of water after an hour, and put foil over the top. I have amended the ingredients to what I used which was dependent on what I had left in the fridge!

Ingredients

2 tomatoes, peeled
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 courgettes
1 large aubergine
175ml olive oil
1 large onion, grated
300g medium grain rice
Large handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. tomato ketchup
2 large pinches of ground allspice
250ml tomato juice
Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Cut the courgettes and aubergine in half lengthways, scoop out most of the flesh and set aside. Blanch the shells in boiling water for 5 minutes and drain.
  3. Finely chop the scooped-out flesh and the peeled tomatoes. Seed the bell peppers without piercing the skin (reserving the lids) and sprinkle the interior of all the vegetable shells with salt and arrange in a large ovenproof dish.
  4. Heat half the oil in a pan over a high heat, and add the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened.
  5. Add the tomato, courgette and aubergine flesh and continue to cook over a high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rice, mint, tomato paste, tomato ketchup, allspice and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Fill the vegetable shells 3/4 full with the mixture and replace the tops of the peppers. Mix the tomato juice with 150ml of hot water and pour over the top. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake for about 2 hours, or until lightly browned and the rice is cooked to your liking. After 1 hour, I added another 250ml of hot water and covered the tray with foil.

Recipe adapted from Vefa’s Kitchen recipe, published by Phaidon Press Inc in 2009

 

Lamb Baked with Orzo

All my meals so far have been recipes from Vefa’s Kitchen – a superb cookbook! This is my favourite so far, the lamb is so tender it just falls apart. I actually had a bit of difficulty getting the lamb as I have only just started learning Greek, but I ended up with chunks of lamb that were easy to cut off the bone and removed the fat before cooking. As it’s just me out here, I have amended the recipe to make two servings.

Ingredients – serves 2

2tbsp olive oil
500g stewing lamb
1x400g tin of chopped tomatoes, puréed
1 garlic clove
Large pinch of sugar
15g butter
170g orzo pasta
250ml hot water
1 tomato, thinly sliced
20g grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to garnish
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the lamb. Cook over a medium heat for 8-10mins until lightly browned all over.
  2. Add the garlic, puréed tomatoes, sugar and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the orzo and cook over a high heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Transfer the orzo to an ovenproof dish, place the lamb on top and pour over the tomato sauce. Carefully add the hot water, cover the dish with foil and bake for 1.5 hours.
  5. Remove from the oven and discard the foil. Lay on the thinly sliced tomatoes and scatter the grated cheese. Return to the oven, adding a little more water if necessary, for another 30 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately with extra grated cheese, and a leafy green salad on the side.

(Taken from Vefa’s Kitchen, published 2009 by Phaidon Press Inc)