Spaghetti with Basil, Feta and Roasted Chickpea Pesto

20140826-191217.jpg

Just put yourself in the shoes of someone who is in pain or suffering from a long illness or trauma. Imagine watching a circus of healthy happy people perform on a hot summer day, some by poolsides and in sunny gardens being cooled off with a bucket of iced water.

If I were in that person’s shoes, I may feel inadequate somehow and it would bring me no joy, irrelative of the size of donation that accompanies each ice bucket. Helpless, with an illness out of control, unable to escape clips of those glowing with good health, wealth and happiness frolicing in the summer, but perhaps i am boring…

Back to my wonderful environment on an island in the sun where it is so very hot that ice buckets this month would certainly be a welcome relief especially if one is in suitable attire.

And today I am making a delicious new pesto using ingredients found in every Mediterranean kitchen.

Basil is at the peak of its season right now and instead of pine nuts, I use roasted chickpeas and I am swapping the parmessan with feta.

And you will need :

20140826-234120.jpg

A bunch of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup roasted chickpeas
1/2 cup feta cheese, cut into small pieces or crumbled
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water

I use a hand blender

Blend all the ingredients in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and consistent.
Taste and adjust the flavor and texture by adding more olive oil and water as necessary.
if you are using it with pasta, it should not be too thick.
I like to serve mine immediately.
Cook the spaghetti according to instructions on the packet. Allow 80g to 110g per portion depending on appetites.
Drain and add the pesto while the pasta is still hot.
Serve immediately

20140827-002929.jpg

Parsley and Tomato Couscous Salad

20140826-104915.jpg

It is very humid here and vegetables need to be prepared within two days that they are purchased as they do start to wilt away. I had lots of flat leaf parsley this morning and with every intention of making tabouleh i found we had no Bulgar in the store cupboard. Instead I made this couscous salad and served it with local black peppered cheeses and it made a great light lunch.

You will need:

200g Couscous or as require
Boiling water as per instructions on the couscous packet less 20%
Parsley, I used a large quantity but use as much or as little as you wish.
Juice of half a Lemon
Fresh Mint, a few sprigs
Dried mint, 1/4 teaspoon
6 tomatoes, chopped, skin on
1 clove grated or minced garlic
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Generous drizzle of good olive oil

I bought my first mezzaluna when I was in my teens in the Middle East. It is a necessity for chopping parsley very finely and effortlessly. The rocking action to chop up a large quantity is very therapeutic !

20140826-105432.jpg

Pour boiling water onto the couscous but reduce the water measurement by 20% of the amount to allow for the lemon jiice and oil addition. This gives a much better consistency to the end result and allows also for the juice that comes naturally with the tomatoes and parsley.
Squeeze the fresh lemon and add. Stir and cover until liquid is absorbed.
Chop up very finely the parsley and mint with a mezzaluna if you have one.
Add all ingredients to couscous and stir until it is even in appearance.
Drizzle with some olive oil and season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.
Refridgerate for at least two hours.
Fluff up with a fork before serving

And I leave you today with this beautiful church in a wonderful village from my assigment with Ian Noel Pace last week.

20140826-110329.jpg

Nina Maria Rallis makes Galaktoboureko on One TV today !

20140825-075511.jpg

For my feature in English on Ambassador Rallis and his family click here

Remember to tune in today to One TV at 17 40 to see Nina Maria Rallis, in the picture above with her mother Stella Rallis.

For Nina’s Galaktoboureko, you will need :

1 packet filo pastry

For the custard
1 cup fine semolina
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 liter of whole milk
4 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
2 drops vanilla
Plenty of orange zest (optional)
Melted butter for brushing the leaves

For the syrup
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
peel of one lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Oven dish 20cm square or equivalent

In a saucepan, place the milk, semolina, eggs, sugar and vanilla
Lower heat and stir constantly until the custard thickens
Once thickened remove from heat and add the butter
When the butter melts into the cream, stir until it is consistent
Add the orange zest if you are using this
If cream is very thick dilute with some water
Cover with cling film while you prepare the filo sheets, you need to work quite quickly before the cream solidifies
Grease well the bottom and sides of a baking dish
Spread half sheets of packing, well buttered onto the bottom and sides of the dish
Pour the custard
Spread the remaining sheets buttered one by one
Collect all sides of the leaves and fold them to the bottom
Divide the galaktobureko into pieces
Drizzle with butter
Bake in moderate a oven at 180 degrees until it browns for around 35 minutes

Simmer ingredients for the syrup
Cover, bring to a boil and skim the froth.
Pour onto the sweet as soon as it comes out of the oven

20140824-212143.jpg
Above, the recipe in the newspaper earlier this month and below fun in the kitchen at One TV !

20140825-075558.jpg

Refreshing Melon Mosaic

20140824-161309.jpg

For my weekly update on this beautiful island in the heart of the Mediterranean click here

The summer brings manna in our journey through life in the form of fruit here, so much of it with the fullest of flavors that you can imagine. And watermelons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including these mini ones i picked from Joseph‘s harvest.

20140824-150005.jpg

I have small, medium and large ones today and you can compare the size with the lemon.

20140824-162905.jpg

Joseph has winter Cassaba melons too, the ones with white flesh and a tough bright yellow rind. It may seem a bit unusual to have fields full of winter melons in the height of summer.

20140824-145815.jpg

I was surprised this morning while I was preparing my dish, having a feast with all the left overs because i was not expecting the ripe sweet flavors, much more so than when we find them in the middle of winter when we leave them to ripen at room temperature.

For my dish today you will need:

1/4 of a regular size watermelon, peeled and deseeded
1/4 of a winter melon, peeled and cleaned
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon honey

Cut equal sizes, about 1/2-inch thick square shapes of watermelon and melon. Arrange alternate colors checkerboard style on a serving tray or plated individually.

20140824-163702.jpg

Drizzle a few drops of lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. Refridgerate.
I used fresh chocolate mint leaves

For more watermelon recipes, these two were very popular last year ! Watermelon amd feta checkerboard salad
and watermelon Chili Preserve.

Stuffed and roasted Baby Zucchini (vegetarian, gluten free)

20140823-171814.jpg

Here we call these vegetables marrows. Unlike zucchini Mediterranean marrows come in all shapes and sizes. These are round mini ones and were cut for me by Joseph during our peach afternoon this week and I took a photo of the shrub and we ate these vegetables literally from the tree into the pan on the same day.

20140823-181502.jpg

Just to give you an idea of the size here are the mini zucchini near a regular sized one

20140823-181509.jpg

The flesh is scooped out and I added it to a soup. The zucchini are filled with a ricotta mix and roasted in the oven.

20140823-185717.jpg

This is a gluten free, nut free recipe and you will need :

20140823-181518.jpg

12 mini zucchini, scooped out
200g ricotta
1 egg
A handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped, remove stalks
A pinch of nutmeg
Finely grated zest of 1/4 lemon
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

Immerse the scooped out zucchini in boiling water and leave for 5 minutes.

Mash the ricotta with a fork. Add the egg, parsley, nutmeg, lemon zest, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix until it is consistent.
Place the mixture into a piping bag, no nozzle needed. Pipe the mixture into the cavity.

20140823-181537.jpg

Place in an ovenproof dish covered with baking paper.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Roast in a hot oven preheated 200 C for 15 minutes.
Serve as a starter or with drinks instead of canapes.
They can also be eaten as a main course with a salad or as a side with a main meal.

20140823-171804.jpg

Grilled chicken and peach salad

20140822-213812.jpg

So many peaches in the market this week. Peach season is now with us. I met local farmer Joseph and the ambundance of peaches on his land is almost surreal. I love the combination of peaches with grilled chicken. Here is something light and a wonderful marriage of flavors.

20140822-214258.jpg

You will need :

1 large peach, skin on cut in thin segments
1 scallion (finely chopped)
1 red chili deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
4 boneless chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
Arugula according to preference
2 spoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon peanut oil and a few drops sesame oil mixed in three spoons of mayonnaise
Handful of cranberries
Handful of toasted flaked almonds
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange the arugula leaves on a plate and place the peach slices around the dish. Put the chunks of chicken into the middle of the plate. I grilled my chicken pieces with just a bit of sea salt, olive oil and freshly ground pepper on baking paper. The boneless thighs are delicious.

Squeeze some lime juice all over. Make the dressing using peanut oil, a few drops of sesame and mayonnaise and three spoons of water. Stir until the mixture combines and has a smooth and even texture.

Sprinkle the ground coriander all over the dish very lightly and then pour the mayonnaise mix sparingly over the chicken. Sprinkle and garnish with toasted flaked almonds and the dried cranberries. Cut a few very fine slivers of fresh red chili and again sprinkle sparingly on the chicken with dressing. Use a lime slice as garnish.

20140822-214154.jpg

Gluten Free Scottish Potato Oat Cakes

20140821-221608.jpg

I baked these tonight and this is another gluten free, dairy free and nut free recipe with no added sugar. These are pefect served with cheeses and chutneys.

Instead of gluten free flour, i use a cooked potato and with the rub in method, i mixed the potato pieces into the oats until i get a consistent mixture. A couple of spoons of olive oil and some cold water to bring the dough to a good consistency. I added sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper for flavor before baking them.

You will need :

100g gluten free oat meal
100g potato, baked in the microwave, peeled and chopeed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
cold water

Place the oatmeal in a large bowl. Add the chopped potato. Using your fingertips, rub the potato into the oats until the mixture is consistent.

20140821-231750.jpg

Add the bicarbonate of soda.

Add the salt and pepper. Add the oil, mix and start to bring together. Add a teaspoon of water at a time and knead the dough until you have the right consistency.

20140821-235415.jpg

Roll out using a rolling pin onto a clean surface lightly covered with oats. When the dough is about 1/4 of an inch thick, use a cutter the size of your choice.

20140821-231806.jpg

Cover an oven dish with baking paper. Cut out the oatcakes. I used a small cutter for mini oatcakes. If the dough dries out and cracks just add another few drops of water and knead.

Bake in a hot oven 180 C for 10 minutes. Turn them over and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Take out and leave to cool.

These oatcakes will keep in an airtight container for 4 days.

20140821-231800.jpg