Kalliopi Kitchen 75
“Spring & Veg Mezes”
Written by Karen Watts
Last week most of Rodos experienced an entire week of torrential rain. Yesterday for the first time in seven days we woke to sunshine. The island is intensely greener and everywhere are the yellows, purples and pinks of hundreds of wild flowers that have sprung up after what felt like the most concentrated amount of rainfall all winter.
Last Friday we found ourselves stranded for a few hours at Alabama in Faliraki. The Rodos – Lindos Road at Faliraki could best be described as an 8 – 10 inch deep fast running river and rather than risk driving through it we stopped off for a drink or three with the lovely Lora, behind the bar and Yiannis, the owner. While there we were privileged to witness, in the driving rain, the first day of the 2017 International Cycling Tour of Rhodes. On this first day of three these amazingly fit and determined cyclists did 156 km around the island. In the pouring rain. Many looked stalwart but struggling with the conditions, but just as many looked like they were truly loving the experience. Laughter, determination and adrenalin literally beamed from some of the cyclists. After all, it’s only water.
These last few weeks of March are generally spent with friends who in a few weeks time we will not see again until the end of the summer season. Most people who live and work in the tourist industry here will start work at the end of March and will not finish until the end of Oktober, many working seven days a week for the duration of this time.
Our friend Snowy, who has been mentioned in previous blogs, is one such person. She is head chef at Alkionis Sports Bar & Grill and in a few weeks time we won’t see her except when she runs a marathon. (This year – Rodos, London & Athens!) So, last night was a chance for me to cook for her.
Snowy is also a vegetarian.
While the sunshine is back and inevitably leads to thoughts of al fresco eating, the nights are simply still a little too cold to eat outside in comfort but I wanted to make a meal that felt a little bit like spring is not on the way, but actually, really here.
The Greek & Turkish concept of Mezes has been written about in this blog before. There are obvious dishes that belong to the Meze style of eating but if you use your imagination you can make fabulous, long running meals with many dishes.
A Mezes Meal for Snowy
Rick Stein’s Baba Ghanousch
(Working anti-clockwise around the photograph)
1 kg Medium Sized Aubergines
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed to a paste with a little Sea Salt
3 tbsp Tahini Paste
1 Lemon, Juiced
1 tsp Olive Oil, plus a little extra to serve
Heat the grill to its highest setting and grill the aubergines for 20 – 30 minutes, turning regularly till their skins are blackened, the insides are squidgy and they smell smoky. (Obviously this can also be done on a bbq).
Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Using a potato masher, work into a coarse paste. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste with salt. Mix well.
Transfer to a clean bowl and spread the purée out with a palette knife. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with the pomegranate seeds and some parsley.
2 Aubergines, halved lengthways then cut into chunks
3 Peppers of different colours, de-seeded and sliced
2 Courgettes, sliced thickly
1 Large Red Onion, halved and sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 kg Tomatoes, quartered and cut into chunks
A little Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Coat a large heavy based pan with the olive oil and add all the vegetables and about 200 ml of water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat right down and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. If it goes a little dry add a little more water. Season to taste and serve garnished with parsley.
Karen’s Baked Mushrooms with Brie
(In the centre of the photograph)
As many Portobello Mushrooms as there are people to eat them
For 3 Large Portobellos:
200 gr Butter, softened
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
3 Large handfuls of Fresh Mint, chopped
200 gr Brie, skin removed and sliced
Heat the oven to 180°.
Mix the butter, garlic and mint in a bowl well. Spread over the inside of the Portobellos. Top with the Brie, pace on an oven tray and bake for 20 minutes.
(Recipe here: Kalliopi Kitchen 73)
Traditional Greek Tzatziki
1 Medium Firm Cucumber, peeled and coarsely grated
500 gr Greek Yogurt
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
2 tbsp Fresh Mint, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
Salt the grated cucumber in a bowl, allow to stand in a little water for a few minutes, transfer to a small-wholed sieve and gently press the water out. Return the cucumber to the bowl and add the yogurt. Mix well and add the garlic. Mix in the mint, olive oil, vinegar and add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (the longer the better for the tastes to blend and meld). Before serving, sprinkle with more chopped mint.
Serve the whole mezes meal with bread of your choice, ideally a little warmed, lots of Greek Parsley, Ouzo and wine.
All previous editions of Kalliopi Kitchen can be found at Kalliopi Kitchen by Karen Watts
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Karen Watts 14/3/2017
Photography by Chris Watts – https://galleryfoodphotography.net/