Oranges and (Preserved) Lemons
What is the mediterranean for you? For me the essence is in the smell of warm sunshine on the leaves of a lemon tree, and the radiant orange yellows of the citrus fruit.
I love seeing pyramids of oranges and lemons in the market and I pile them high in bowls at home. The juice and zest, sparkling with Vitamin C, can be used for a 1001 mediterranean delights.
We buy lemons with thick, glossy and unblemished skins in abundance when they are in season.They are kept in glass jars all year round. (Click through for the MoreSouth Preserved Lemons recipé!)
We add them to our Merguez sausage in baguette – which can be tasted every Saturday at the Berkhamsted market in Hertfordshire.
This is how to use Preserved Lemons in as many mezze and salad dishes as you like:
- Pull away and discard the pulp, rinsing the peel quickly under cold water to reduce salt intake
- Cut very finely
- Use tiny amounts for a shot of intense, unforgettable flavour. Half a teaspoonful can be combined with the juice of half a lemon in a salad for 4
Seasonal salad of the moment: Tabbouleh
Originally from the mediterranean shores of Lebanon, Tabbouleh is made of parsley, mint leaves and cracked wheat. It’s a green dish – note the proportion of fresh parsley – and it is essential to cut with a large sharp knife to avoid soggy green bruising of leaves.
–200g flat leaved parsley leaves
–20g fresh mint leaves
- 50g cracked wheat (soaked for an hour)
- 1 very ripe tomato
- Olive oil, Preserved Lemon, lemon juice, salt & black pepper to taste
Combine ingredients, stirring in the finely cut parsley and mint, and diced tomato very gently. Serve within an hour as a mezze dish to awaken the senses.
What uses have you found for the distinctive taste and fragrances of Preserved Lemons?
Flatbread in 5
‘And the cupboard was bare?’
Why not make some flatbread, fast? The quickest method is to pour a runny dough of flour, water and a pinch of salt into a non-stick pan. Fry and flip.
For breakfast spread it with butter and honey, and fold into quarters or roll it up like a pancake with some jam. Fresh and sustaining, this is one of the simplest recipés ever. It will take five minutes.
Pitta bread in an hour?
To make and bake pitta bread it can take less than an hour, – and that includes the dough’s resting time. (Pittas have distinctively teenage qualities. )
They can be kept fresh until evening by storing in a couple of clean tea towels to retain softness and moisture. By the way, next-day-pittas are not great; don’t try it.
20g salt (or less)
5g dry yeast
650 ml water
Knead together ingredients and rest for 25 mins on a floured surface, while pre- heating the oven to the heighest temperature. Insert 2 baking trays, overturned, with space above each for high rising. Flatten fistfuls of dough into very thin (half a centimetre) round shapes and let them rest for 5 mins -always on the floured table. Place them very quickly on the heated baking trays without losing too much heat from the oven.
Now watch the magic through the glass window. Puff balls rising , swelling… and then as soon as they drop, take them out! Depending on the temperature this can be as little as 5 minutes baking time.
for lunch, or a healthy mid morning snack, with omelette, fresh salad vegetables, houmus, tahini or guacemole.
Tear it, and dip it…
for supper, with mezze. The classic mediterranean combination is olive oil, fresh herbs and soft white cheese with olives.
As life get’s busier times becomes shorter and more precious. ‘Eat, pray, love?’
Or make bread from scratch? You can do it in 5.
Courgette recipes and cake
It is fortunate that courgettes can be adapted for such a wide range of recipés because they do not stop for many pauses in the 4 month UK summer growing period.
Courgettes are currently Britain’s 10th favourite ‘vegetable’ ( though they are technically a fruit). Their name originates from the french ‘courge‘, with their US alias, zucchini, coming from the Italian ‘zucca’.
In the first MoreSouth bumper courgette blog we showed how the classic mediterranean method of cooking courgette could be transformed into soup, omelette, quiche, soufflé or risotto, and promised 3 delicious salads.
Summer Allotment Salad
Use your own selection of : green beans, celery, asparagus, spring onions, green, red and yellow sweet peppers, chives, parsley, cherry tomatoes, courgettes and mozzarella cheese.
- Blanch the beans, asparagus and courgettes by plunging them for 2 -3 minutes in a large pan of salted water
- Rinse in cold running water
- Add to the chopped celery, onions, tomatoes and peppers
- Make a light dressing (eg. olive oil & lemon)
- Add the fresh herbs and mozzarella just before eating
Baby Courgette Salad
This is a salad which you should only make if you grow your own.
500g of small, picked-today courgettes
handful of fresh mint leaves
- Cut the courgettes into 1cm rounds
- Add mint
- Season with olive oil and either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, and a little salt
Bi-colour Ribbon Salad
250g young carrots
olive oil, soya sauce
- Peel the courgettes lengthways, including skins
- Peel the carrots lengthways after removing outer peel
- Marinate for 60 minutes in oil and soya dressing at room temperature
Lemon and vanilla are two ingredients which particularly complement the delicate taste of courgette in cake but cupcake makers ‘Petit Pois’ claim that the high percentage of vegetable they use cannot be tasted directly. (They can be bought in posh shops in London.)
And if that doesn’t appeal today-
- maybe a journey back to the mediterranean to tackle Ratatouille is called for as the warmth of summer evenings draws to a close.
If you’ve enjoyed reading all this about courgettes please share it on facebook or tweet it. Thank you. ♥
The courgette: bumper recipes and cake
Courgettes are one of those pushy plants that once arrived in your garden or allotment just keep… well… growing: they are a bumper breed.
The more you pick these ‘immature fruits’ the faster they seem to reappear- from July until mid October. Summer squash can reach a good metre but should be harvested for the best taste at half this size. At the height of summer this can mean picking every day!
Courgettes also want you to know that they are not marrows.
Marrows will become big and hefty, and need more help with flavour, usually by being stuffed. They can be stored in a cool dry room for a few weeks. Courgettes should be used after a couple of days. (And taking them out of a fridge to room temperature causes small, dark pits to form if you don’t get cooking within an hour or two. )
They should not be bought in enormous quantities unless you plan to have a courgette bonanza with all the recipe suggestions that are included in this blog. Don’t choose imported ones because of local gluts -as described above, and because airplane-fresh is particularly unappealing with these smooth, firm, green, gleaming …
So are they good in cakes? Courgettes add a very pleasant fluffy texture and moisture to a cupcake. The delicate flavour complements lemon, vanilla, pistachio, cinammon, camomile, rosewater, coconut, banana or mint. They are low in calories (15 per 100g uncooked) and contain foliate, potassium and vitamin A. So that’s a yes!
The trick is to finely grate and lightly drain of excess moisture immediately before adding to the mix.
Flowers can be stuffed with spinach and ricotta, and deep fried.
The usual way to cook this mediterranean food as a side dish is to stew it gently until the liguid has evaporated, and it is soft, pulpy and aromatic: 1k courgettes, 3 tbs oil, salt, thyme & 3 cloves of garlic.
Add milk and black pepper to this purée to make a soup or add the cooked mixture after draining for 30 minutes to an omelette (with added pinenuts), soufflé, quiche or risotto (with added peas or broad beans) .
Coming next week : 3 delicious salads with courgettes. And more about cakes!
Do you have a recipé to share?
Do share the Courgette-Love online if you have found this interesting!
Breakfast goes on holiday
What is food indulgence for you? A dessert after dinner to linger over or a special breakfast to start your day?
If you are a morning person it can be great fun to invite friends over at the weekend. Start with a jug of juice, a loaf of fresh bread and a large platter of summer fruit on the table.
Dishes like ‘Fresh Baked Beans’ (cf. Recipé below) can be prepared the day before and warmed in the oven. Or you could create a hotel buffet of breakfast side bowls with roasted tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and crispy potato cubes.
Or maybe you prefer breakfast in bed? (You just need to know a Morning Person to collaborate here!)
There is an intimacy about breakfast that cannot be recreated in even the most gourmet restaurant dinner.
What about a delicious bowl of red, white + blue (supporting Team GB ,of course, in London 2012) of Raspberry Swirl Yoghurt with Blueberries? Purééd redcurrants or strawberries work just as well.
Can’t get away?
Holiday is time as well as place. It’s a change or a surprise. It’s doing what you want and eating what you love.
Whether you want a Balcony Breakfast (=newspaper, coffee + view) or a Spa Breakfast (Avocado Salsa with lemon, coriander leaves and finely cut spring onions ) just make sure you grab the day and make it what you love.
Recipé: Fresh Baked Beans
handful of ripe cherry tomatoes
2 tbs of olive oil
can of cannellini beans
Small pinch of chilli flakes
1 red onion
Large pinch of fresh basil or oregano leaves.
- Fry the onion lightly for 2 minutes in olive oil, adding garlic & chilli flakes.
- Add the tomatoes and beans, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bake covered in a medium oven until the tomatoes are slightly shrivelled.
Garnish with fresh, shredded basil ororegano leaves.
(Optional extra: add prociutto when you are frying the onion.)
What breakfast really makes your day?
I’d love to know what your favourite holiday breakfast is!
If you have enjoyed reading this feel free to share it on facebook or Twitter. Thank you.
Mystified by mezze? It’s the mediterranean meal deal otherwise known as tapas, hors d’ oevres or the good old British starter. Oh, and Americans say appetizer, while the French adore their entrées.
Wait a minute! First we need a quick french fanfare (courtesy of Wikipedia!)
”The word entrée is French. It originally denoted the “entry” of the dishes from the kitchens into the dining hall. In the illustration from a French fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript of the Histoire d’Olivier de Castille et d’Artus d’Algarbe, a fanfare from trumpeters in the musicians’ gallery announces the processional entrée of a series of dishes preceded by a covered cup that is the ancestor of the tureen, carried by the maître d’hôtel.”
Britain made some good moves in this direction with the Cocktail Party and Canapé Reception.
Mezze is a prelude to a meal or evening together. And in Persian it simply means ‘a pleasing taste.’
But what if you just want to stay with the starters trying tantalising little mouthfuls of what-you-don’t-yet-know-you-fancy? You’re not in the mood for old favourites; you want to be suprised and enticed to choose Something New.
Perhaps you’re not even very hungry after the steak and chips lunch but you really don’t need another packet of the salty stuff with your glass of vino?
Or you’re looking forwards to welcoming a houseful of friends for the evening and don’t want to do the trumpets of a 4 course dinner party but you do love to eat great food?
Heard of the Mediterranean Diet? It’s about the sun, the colours of the earth and what’s in season. You go to the market. You choose what delights you. Half an hour before eating you cut selected vegetables into bite-sized pieces and serve with toasted pitta bread or focaccia, and a dip.
If you love aubergine (& garlic & olive oil) you will love this mediterranean smoked dip.
Aubergine Dip (Baba Ganoush)
You will need 2 aubergine, tahini,1 lemon, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, paprika and fresh parsley.
- Chargrill the aubergine on the barbecue or on your gas ring until the skins are completely blackened, and it is soft.
- Rinse under cold water, while discarding either end, and scraping off all the skin.
- Mash with a fork (doing this electrically spoils the texture… don’t be tempted!), and add 3 tbs of tahini.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil slowly until you have a pleasing ‘dippable’ consistency.
- Add salt, 2 cloves of garlic and black pepper.
- Spread with circular motions on a flat plate, leaving a slight dip in the middle in which to drizzle olive oil.
- Garnish with sweet, red paprika and fresh parsley.
And if you have a Pomegranate tree in your garden by all means feel free to garnish with these jewel-like seeds.
Here’s another recipe for a mediterranean style dip.
What is your preferred way of preparing a meal to enjoy with friends?
Mediterranean dips on the mezze table
Warm bread, torn and dipped in freshly prepared mediterranean sauces and salads are the basis of mezze.
It starts with a bottle of olive oil, a basket of pitta or focaccia and some seasonal crudités. You then add to the table a jewel-like mosaic ( inbetween 3 – 10 different dishes) of glistening colours and tastes.
Mezze means in Persian ‘a pleasing taste.’
There are three secrets of a good mezze table:
1) Be surprising. Enhance the appetite for what is to come. Think Canapés.
2) Be sensual. Give pleasure for the eyes as well as the mouth and sense of smell.
3) Be satisfying. Think mediterranean abundance.You should be able to eat as much or as little as you please at a buffet.
Have you tried this recipe for Houmus? A north African cousin to the Middle Eastern houmus uses broad beans (fava) instead of chick peas – or split green peas in Tangiers.
‘Byesar’ is both a vegan and gluten-free dip. Traditionally the bread is first dipped in ground spices such as thyme or za’atar.
Byesar / Fava bean dip
115g dried beans (fava), soaked overnight
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tbs olive oil
fresh mint leaves, to garnish
extra cumin seeds, cayenne pepper
Put the soaked beans in a pan with the whole garlic cloves and cumin seeds, and add just enough water to cover.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat until beans are tender.
Drain, cool and slip off the outer skins of each bean.
Puree the beans adding sufficient olive oil and water to give a smooth, soft dip. Season to taste with salt.
Garnish with mint, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper and serve with warm pitta bread.
What is your favourite mediterranean style dip?
Recipe: Hotch Potch Tortilla
By guest writer, Dan Knowlson
It was one of those days recently, I’m sure you’ve all had them. That empty feeling started up so it was clearly time for lunch, but on opening up the cupboards and fridge first appearances matched my stomach; empty!
But let’s be honest, very rarely does the average person in the UK have empty cupboards and nothing to eat. Sometimes it just needs a bit of imagination, inspiration and outright experimentation. I’ve always loved cooking so there was bound to be something to throw together, it might just not be the first thing you’d think of.
So rummaging around I managed to find a few eggs, some odds and ends of veg. and some leftover new potatoes from the night before. Aha, Spanish tortilla of sorts - although I was missing some cheese which always goes well with this type of dish. My only hope was the local corner shop, which doesn’t exactly excel itself when it comes to culinary fare. I ventured out none the less, and to my amazement they actually had some decent looking feta among the very rubbery looking cheddar cheeses.
Back home I was all set and got cracking , literally.
Ingredients3 medium free range eggs a slosh of (hemp) milk 1/2 dozen boiled new potatoes 1/2 onion 1/2 pepper few florets of cauliflower 1/2 courgette 1/2 packet of feta cheese freshly ground Himalayan ground salt (or sea salt) freshly ground black pepper a handful of fresh basil 1/2 tsp caraway seeds slosh of olive oil
1) Crack eggs into a bowl, adding milk, salt and pepper. Whisk together with a fork, then leave to stand.
2) Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan over a high heat, but do not allow it to smoke.
3) Roughly slice onion, courgette, pepper and cauliflower (into 1-2cm chunks), and slice up potatoes.
4) Add potato, onion and cauliflower to pot, and start cooking them through.
5) Add caraway seeds, salt and pepper to the pan.
6) As the onions soften add the pepper and courgette.
7) Continue to cook until it is all softening and browning nicely.
8)Add roughly chopped basil to pan and stir in
9) Give eggs and milk a quick stir, then pour into the pan spreading evenly, turning down the heat
10) Roughly break the feta into even sized chunks and put in the pan.
11) Leave the eggs to cook through from the bottom, and turn on your grill to medium.
12) Put the pan under the grill to melt the feta and brown the top, for approximately 3-4 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.
If it’s just you, (as it was me) then eat as it is and you might make it all the way through. Alternatively, serve with a fresh salad and enjoy with friends.
This quick n easy recipe was made up by Dan Knowlson and actually tastes rather good. Dan is most definately a food lover, knows that being healthy is easy and doesn’t need calorie counting or any such nonesense. Find more of his silliness on the Elements for Life Raw Chocolate Blog where he spreads the healthy raw chocolate message to the world!
Family fun in the sun, healthy Mediterranean eating
By guest writer, Garth Delikan
My sister had promised us a BBQ, and as my brother and his partner and two young kids were going to be there, it was an afternoon we were all looking forwards to, - and the weather was gorgeous which is a definate prerequisite if you want to enjoy the alfresco experience fully.
Well instead of the usual British BBQ what a treat we had waiting for us. My brother’s partner, who is a Greek Cypriot had decided to take charge and had spent the day preparing lovely fresh skewers of Souvlakis which were roasting beautifully on the spit as we arrived. Prime pork from one of the best butchers in north London, yummy!
I was immediately transported back to every holiday I have ever had on the wonderful Greek islands over the years.
The cook got me busy helping her to prepare the Tsaziki, and as I had only bought mine from the shops before this was a real treat for me. I grated cucumber while she chopped up garlic, then mixed it all together with fresh Greek yoghurt, flavoured with lemon and salt.
She then got all the ingredients together for our Greek salad with feta cheese. Next came her recipe for Houmus, which got my two teenagers involved, -and once you have made your own I defy you to ever buy it from the shops again.
Then we were ready to eat.. but no,- one final touch, the wholemeal pitta bread had to be warmed up on the BBQ before we were allowed to tuck in.
It was one of the best meals and nicest afternoons we had had, and a cheeky little Rosé added to the fun, and all of a sudden it seemed like the sun was shining even more brightly as everyone sat down on the grass or on the logs to chat and eat.
Having fun with food and using natural ingredients is what the healthy Mediterranean eating experience is about, and I want to share this wonderful afternoon with you through the recipe below.
Place in a bowl:1/2 medium grated cucumber (with liquid strained and removed– just drink it – shame to waste it.) 1/2 tub of Greek full fat yoghurt 1 clove garlic (grated or crushed) juice of 1/2 lemon salt to taste
Mix with a fork, altering proportions according to taste. I prefer more lemon, and those keeping an eye on their waistline will use reduced fat yoghurt.
Both Tsaziki and Houmus are delicious
- as part of Greek mezze
- as salad with Souvlaki
- with raw veg as a starter
- as a light lunch
Recipe: Bread on the mezze table (2)
If food is theatre the mezze table is the prelude. Canapés are a welcome and a surprise.
Compose a feast and create a sense of occaison, whether you are presenting an aesthetic spread for a corporate event or throwing a cocktail party or canapé reception.
Celebrate the beginning
Always have ‘Starters.’ Finger food is fun, and social.
Give your guests a glass of arak (similar to Pernod) or sweet, fragrant mint tea and pass round a tray of freshly roasted pistachios or cashew nuts, with warm olives in lemon and herbs, and some Rocket Pizzetas.
Make a table top of colourful ’open sandwiches’. Try mini bagels, rolls, ciabattas and baguettes with smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives or chicken cooked in thyme, topped with chargrilled red and yellow peppers.
Make mini wraps filled with sour cream, beans and guacemole, or Grissini bread sticks twisted with oven – dried tomatoes, parmesan, black olives or herbs.
Pizza dough is the same as for basic bread but with 1tbs of olive oil added for a crispy crust.
• little Turkish Pizzas are topped with minced lamb and garnished with red pepper and a slice of preserved lemon.
• Calzones are made by putting a favourite filling on half of the rounded, flat dough, moistening the edges with water and folding over to enclose with either fingers or a fork.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
This works both in the kitchen and over the barbecue coals, taking about 10 minutes to prepare. The topping can be made in advance but should be added at the very last minute before serving. ( Tip: soggy bruschetta is not so lovely.)
You will need ciabatta or similar rustic style bread that is at least a day old, ripe plum tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
1) Pour boiling water over the tomatoes for 1 minute, and peel the skin off. (not a compulsory step)
2) Deseed the tomatoes, cut into small pieces and drain in a colander.
3) Cut the bread to about 2cm thickness and toast or grill.
4) While still warm, quickly make 3 shallow slashes and rub one side with a sliced half of garlic, and then decide how much extra virgin olive oil you want to drizzle over.
5) In a bowl add shredded fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper to the tomatoes before spooning over the bruschettas.
An even simpler version of this Italian garlic bread can be made by following steps 3 & 4 but squeezing some tomato juice onto the warm toast after rubbing in the garlic.
- Add goat’s cheese with the tomato and basil.
- Mash cooked cannelloni beans with a little salt and white pepper, and top with chargrilled red or yellow peppers.
-Lightly fry small asparagus, and place on ricotta.
Crostini, meaning ‘little toasts’ is the elegant little sister of Bruschetta, and resembles crispbread. You can use baguette, – again, it holds together and does not absorb too much olive oil if it is a day old.
Cut the bread to approximately 5mm thickness, and toast under a hot grill. Use a brush to completely drench with olive oil while very hot, and then cool.
Be creative with your favourite cheese, fish, meat or vegetable topping. I like to add cream cheese, then cooked salmon with lemon and chives, but we are in Canapé Land and the sky is the limit. Cut the baguette into diamond shapes to make an amazing mosaic of colour on your mezze table or canape tray.
At MoreSouth we created Baby Bread Shots with nuts, grapes and celery.
What do you serve for canapes?
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