All Greek to me, with a Nis­tis­sima touch

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Skin­ner

Greece’s eco­nomic plight is widely dis­cussed and I hear “tut tuts” about the profli­gacy and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity of those in charge there. Es­pe­cially the Teu­tonic “tut tuts” com­ing from Ger­many. It brought back mem­o­ries of driv­ing around Pelo­pon­nesus a few years back and talk­ing to one of the many thou­sands of Ger­mans tour­ing there in vast Mercedes camper vans (or as my friend who has one says: “Mo­tor Home”). This chap told me proudly he had brought ev­ery­thing with him, in­clud­ing the bot­tled wa­ter – he was bring­ing vir­tu­ally noth­ing to Greece ex­cept his trash, and wouldn’t have to spend any money in there.

More than 2 mil­lion Ger­mans vis­ited Greece in 2014. Per­haps if they all bought their food and drink whilst there, Greece’s prob­lems might be a lot smaller.

This small out­burst arose from my read­ing this news item at the week­end, when I re­alised how un­der-rated and un­der­pro­moted Greek food and wine are in mar­kets like Bri­tain.

The first Real Greek was opened in 1999 by Athe­nian-born chef Theodore Kyr­i­a­cou and was im­me­di­ately seized upon by Lon­don’s Mediter­ranean food lovers. Not sur­pris­ingly, Theodore soon put his recipes, ideas and ex­pe­ri­ences to book and he has be­come a fine am­bas­sador for his coun­try. With eight restau­rants he clearly knows how to run a busi­ness, bal­ance his books and keep the ledgers in the black. They could do with him back in Athens.

This Real Greek’s recipes look good and they are good. The home-made Baklava pic­tured on the front of one of his recipe books is not dif­fi­cult to make (if you buy ready made Filo) and wickedly yummy.

It be­ing Lent, I have adapted this recipe from the book, which is an ap­pro­pri­ate dish to try with the ex­cel­lent lo­cal beet­root and our lovely ca­pers. 2kg (4.5lbs) good, firm, fresh beet­root with leaves and roots on. Oth­er­wise use 1 kg (2 lbs 3 oz) cleaned beet­root. Salt and pep­per to taste. 20 pick­led ca­per leaves, or 25g (l oz) ca­pers. 100ml (3.5/2fl oz) ex­tra vir­gin olive oil. 2 tbsp vine­gar.

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wine 1. Re­move the beet­root tops and roots and set aside. 2. Wash the beet­root with­out re­mov­ing the skins, then cook them in a large pot with plenty of salted wa­ter. 3. Clean the beet­root leaves with the stems. Add them to the pot when the beet­root have been cooking for 30 min­utes. When the beet­root are ten­der (which will de­pend on their size), re­move and strain off the liq­uid. 4. Feel the beet­root and cut them into wedges. Chop up the greens. Add the ca­per leaves and mix well. Pour the olive oil and vine­gar over the top and ad­just the sea­son­ing.

For my sec­ond Len­ten recipe this week, I have adapted one from an­other in­dis­pens­able Greek cook book: “The Olive and the Ca­per” by Su­sanna Hoffman. 60ml (2 fl oz) olive oil. 1 small onion, coarsely chopped. 3 cloves gar­lic, coarsely chopped. 225 g (8 oz) medium or coarse ground bul­gur wheat (Pour Gouri). A se­lec­tion of coarsely chopped veg­eta­bles which would fill about a cup and a half. Use three or four from: cour­gettes, squash, bell pep­pers, cau­li­flower, ar­ti­choke bot­toms, cooked chick­peas or cooked Gi­gantes. 30 cl (10 fl oz) veg­etable stock. 2 medium-large ripe toma­toes. 1 wine glass (175 ml) of dry white wine. 1 tea­spoon fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 tea­spoon dried. 1/2 tea­spoon salt. 2-3 pinches of freshly ground black pep­per. 1 ta­ble­spoon chopped fresh dill. 1. In a deep fry­ing pan, heat the oil. 2. Add the onion, gar­lic, bul­gur, and veg­etable mix­ture and sauté un­til the bul­gur is translu­cent and the veg­eta­bles are wilted, about 10 min­utes. 3. Stir in the stock, toma­toes, wine, oregano, and salt and pep­per and bring to a boil. 4. Re­duce the heat, cover the skil­let, and sim­mer un­til the bul­gur is just ten­der and all the liq­uid has been ab­sorbed, 20 to 25 min­utes. 5. Re­move from the heat and stir in the dill. Cover and set aside for five min­utes. Fluff with a fork and serve right away.

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