Kalliopi Kitchen 73
Written by Karen Watts
I recently received an e-mail from a friend in the UK bemoaning the closure of libraries in the Britain. In Greece libraries have been closing down since the crisis began 8 years ago. While my Greek is good enough to get by in bars, restaurants and shops, it is definitively not good enough to read books in Greek with any degree of pleasure.
Growing up I was one of those kids that was described in an old fashioned way as a “bookworm”. I consumed books at a rate of knots; my failing eyesight in my fifties is probably, in some measure, due to many years of reading underneath the blankets with a torch. Due to a completely incompetent postal system Amazon is not a viable answer here on Rhodes. And, yes, I could get a Kindle, but it is just not the same. I need the feel and the smell of the paper as I turn the pages and the words leap up to my brain.
For many of us ex-pats living on a Greek island the only way to get access to books in our own language is to go to a bar. Over the years as people have come and gone bars frequented by ex-pats of all nationalities have also become lending libraries. So, if you too are a reader, please leave any of your already read books in a bar at the end of your holiday. We really do appreciate it.
As some of you may know I am also an avid collector of recipe books. While in Mike’s Haraki Dreams bar a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a gem in his “library”. “The Winning Recipes from Master Chef 1993”. Now, cuisine from 1993 may be considered a little passé, but you can learn from recipes from every period since people started writing about food, if you choose to. Over Pizza in the Walk Inn – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Walk-Inn/170179199703573 – a few weeks ago with two friends whose cooking skills I admire intensely – Snowy Rock, cake maker extraordinaire – http://www.snowycakes.com/ – and Fiona Daly, a woman whose bread is consistently out of this world fabulous, we all agreed, while boring Chris into beer induced stupidity, that our collections of cookery books from the Victorian era through to the 1970s and on to the classics of this century (Rick Stein, Marcus Wareing et al), plus the positive and negative impacts of our parents had informed how we treated cooking today.
This recipe from 1993 contestant Brian Tompkins is so simple, so good and so effective. I’m a huge fan of radishes but I have only ever eaten them raw or in a stir fry. This is a whole new way of looking at and eating radishes.
As many small Radishes as you want to eat
50 gr Butter
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Sugar
Trim the bottom of the radishes, leaving the green stalks on top. Place, cut side down, in a small pan with the butter, salt and pepper and sugar. Add enough water to half cover the radishes and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the water is reduced and the butter coats the radishes in a shiny glaze. Eat immediately.
Rifling through one of my many Greek recipe books this week I came across a glaring mistake which led me to consider that not everything you read is right or true just because it is on the page. Horta is a Greek dish that literally means greens, but cooked right this is so much more than just over boiled green vegetables. Mostly Greeks eat this as a starter or part of Mezes but I love it as a side dish to a main meal of perhaps Spring Lamb and Roasted Potatoes.
In this particular recipe in Traditional Greek Cooking the instructions were to cook the greens for 30 minutes. Never Ever do this, if you do, you are killing both a gorgeous dish as well as any nutritional value the greens have. And never slavishly follow a recipe – use your common sense. Sometimes, things are just wrong.
(Gluten & Lactose Free)
500 gr Spinach, washed and stalks removed
Juice of 1 Lemon
A Drizzle of Olive Oil
Put all the ingredients in a large pot and add no more than a centimetre of water. Bring to the boil for about 1 minute. Stir and eat.
Spring has arrived on the island. The days are clear blue and warm in the sun and out of the wind. In the wind and the evenings though it is still some what chilly. This time of year creates dilemmas – jackets and jumpers are on again and off again a dozen times a day, flip flops are fine in the day but it still has to be socks and boots of an evening. Do I make a big warming stew or soup? Or do I make a salad? This recipe is the perfect answer. You can eat this the day you make it but the flavours become so much more intense if left overnight and eaten the following day.
Prawn & Mushroom Soup with Ginger & Garlic
(Gluten & Lactose Free)
20 gr Dried Mixed Mushrooms
1 Head of Garlic
1 tbsp Corn Oil
250 gr Fresh Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
1.5 lt of home made Chicken and / or Vegetable Stock (I like the mix but if you want to keep this vegetarian, obviously use all Veg Stock)
6 cm Piece of Root Ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Dry Sherry
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
500 gr Prawns, peeled but with their tails left on (frozen or fresh)
3 Spring Onions, sliced thinly
Preheat your oven to 190°. Wrap the garlic head in tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the cloves of garlic into a bowl.
Soak the dried mushrooms in 250 ml of boiling water for 30 minutes. When cool, slice the mushrooms and return to the liquor.
In a large soup pot heat the oil over a medium to high heat. Add the fresh shitake and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the stock, dried mushrooms and their liquor, ginger, roasted garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sherry and pepper, stir. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
Leave over night to “mature”.
Add the prawns and bring to the boil. Add the spring onions and eat.
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If you have any questions, comments or reviews please send them to us at email@example.com and we’ll post them on the blog.
Karen Watts 5/3/2017
Photography by Chris Watts – https://galleryfoodphotography.net/