This month I opened the floor to suggestions through my instagram page and was inundated with plenty of suggestions but the winner was clear.. By a landslide, the most requested country was.. MEXICO!
Wait, what? Well yes.. The intention was there - I did my research, chose my dishes, picked the recipes and off I went to do my shopping, only to discover that the vast quantity of various dried chillies essential to the success of my dishes were not to be found in Lossiemouth and not available for a speedy delivery due to being classified as ‘Highland & Islands’.
So here we are, I am very prepared for next month and the runner up gets the glory for now - Greece. I am actually delighted with this turn of events as it gives me an opportunity to plug my next course ‘Taste of the Med’ - not available to book yet, but coming soon(ish). All recipes for this month’s dishes came from Georgina Hayden’s ‘Taverna’.
I’ve had my eye on Prawn Saganaki for a while now and have been confused by the recurrence of the term ‘Saganaki’ in various completely different looking dishes - what does the word mean? All was explained when I found out that Saganaki just means ‘little pan’ and so pretty much anything cooking in a little pan can be Saganaki. It generally refers to Greek appetisers.
This was a really simple dish to make and rates highly in terms of ‘low effort, high reward’. First you make a tomato and chilli based sauce with Ouzo, then you add in the prawns and feta and finishing off under the grill - sprinkle with parsley and voila. I served this with Olive bread (not homemade) to mop all of the sauce.
Did you like it?
Yes - it was truly delicious. I was a bit nervous about buying a whole bottle of Ouzo just for this dish (because let’s face it, I will not be drinking it) but this was so easy to make that I will definitely be doing it again.
Marks out of 10: 10/10
‘Souvlaki’ comes from Medieval greek, translating as ‘skewer’ so it will be no great surprise that Souvlaki is meat on a stick; distinguishing it from Greek Gyros - where the meat is cooked vertically, like a kebab. Any kind of meat can be used but pork is most traditional and so I opted for pork tenderloin (fillet). Georgina Hayden’s recipe suggested a myriad of accompaniments and I went with a Mustard Sauce, Tzatziki and pocketless Pita. My only regret is that I did not go with her suggestion to serve with chips.
I found this to be a very enjoyable meal to put together - it would be perfect for having friends over for a BBQ in the Summer. I prepared the Tzatziki and Mustard Sauce in advance at the same time as marinating the pork with fresh rosemary and thyme and some red wine vinegar. I then went on to make the dough for the pita - I have made pita bread many times previously but decided to try out Hayden’s recipe and was delighted that I did. Rather than making a pita bread with a pocket in it, these breads are still leavened with yeast (and so not a flatbread) and then cooked in a frying pan. This resulted in deliciously chewy pita bread, perfect for wrapping around the pork and accompaniments.
My slight blunder in this dish came with the cooking of the skewers. The result was still delicious but the process was.. Painful. The skewers I had purchased were just that little bit too big to fit in the griddle pan, meaning I had to slide the meat from one end to the other and swap which side was sticking out halfway through - accidentally burning my hands more than once in the process (I did use a tea towel to aid my efforts but not very successfully). I anticipated overcooked meat in the middle of the skewer and undercooked on the two ends but was happy to find it was all delicious. Lesson learned for next time, however, I will wait until BBQ season before attempting this again.
Did you like it?
Yum yum yum yes I did.
Marks out of 10: 9/10
There are two commonly consumed dishes in Greece consisting of custard wrapped in filo - Bougatsa and Galaktoboureko. The main difference as far as I can tell is that Galaktoboureko is soaked in syrup whilst Bougatsa is not. Different folding techniques appear to exist as well but I believe these are interchangeable across both dishes. Bougatsa can be savoury or sweet and is typically eaten for breakfast.
I haven’t actually made custard before and so this was a first. The custard used in Bougatsa is thickened with fine semolina which means it keeps its shape when cut into pieces. At the time I thought it had gone okay, the eggs didn’t look like they had curdled and the mixture appeared to look like custard. Hayden’s recipe included orange zest in the custard which I added but with hindsight should have left out. I layered the pastry in the tray, filled it with the custard and folded the pastry on top. On my next attempt I will scrunch the pastry to look more appealing, or will try the alternative method of wrapping up individual portions of custard to make lots of little pastries. Once baked, it is finished off with a dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon.
Did you like it?
Couple of contributing factors here - the custard didn’t taste eggy but had a grainy texture to it. I am not 100% sure if this is down to the semolina not being fine enough or if I cooked the custard at too high of a heat. Secondly, I didn’t enjoy the flavour - I’m not a huge fan of orange and would have definitely enjoyed this more with a vanilla flavour. In conclusion, I will most certainly be trying this again in the future and making the above adjustments.
Marks out of 10: 9/10