This summer in Christchurch I have been enjoying an abundance of the most juicy, flavoursome tomatoes. My local Mt Pleasant farmers market has been offering vine tomatoes, big meaty heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. My husband has been requesting that I make this dish quite a few times over Summer. It is based on a very rustic Greek Cypriots casserole. I love the simplicity of it; big chunks of pork shoulder, new potatoes, tomatoes, onions and a few spices cooked slowly in the oven in my round earthenware dish. It is utterly divine served with rocket and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. This is rustic and simple food exactly how I like it.
Recipe – Hirino spithkasimo/Greek Style Pork
1 kg shoulder of free farmed pork, cut into fist size pieces
- 1 kg waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered
- olive oil for drizzling
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 onions, peeled and sliced lengthways
- 1 crushed garlic clove (optional)
- 5 tomatoes, (more if in season) sliced lengthways
1. Fry the onions gently in olive oil until translucent and softened quite a bit. Be careful not to brown or burn at all. Once done set aside for a minute. Put the pork and potatoes in a large earthenware dish.
2. Pour a good drizzle of oil in the dish and mix around well. Add the spices and mix again.
3. Lay the onions and tomatoes over the top pour over a little more oil and season.
4. Cover with foil and cook in a hot oven (200C) for around 1 hour, then lower the heat to 180C and remove the foil and cook for another hour till browned. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
5. Serve straight from the earthenware dish with rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
I love the fact I can
Armchair kitchen travel to the mediterranean via my cookbooks. I have just finished reading a fiction book (not a cookbook) by american author Luanne Rice titled Deep Blue Sea for beginners. It is set at a romantic villa on Italy’s Isle of Capri. There are wonderful paragraphs where friends and family gather in the evening light under the scented Bougainvillea to share in simple italian meals which are enjoyed at a long table on the cliff side patio, overlooking the azure waters of the mediterranean. Reading this book had me reaching for all my italian/greek cookbooks I could find to dig out inspiration for recipes to create food which would evoke the same mediterranean smells from my New Zealand Kitchen. I may not be on the Isle of Capri but I see no harm in fantasies, for a few hours I was on the Isle of South Island of the Long White Cloud.
These are some of the dishes I prepared for my family after this week of mediterranean inspiration!. I bought five stunning long skinny eggplant at my local Lyttleton Farmers Market and was wondering what to do with them when I found this excellent little recipe for preparing eggplant in a marinate from the cookbook Lucio’s liguarian Kitchen.
Recipe for Marinata di melanzane – Marinated Eggplant
- Wash 5 long skinny eggplants (aubergines) and then boil in plenty of water for 4-5 minutes. I find it helps if I place a plate over the eggplant to weigh them down and stop them from floating to the surface. Drain and pat dry and slice thinly in to discs.
Whisk 150ml of extra virgin olive oil, 30ml of white wine vinegar, 2 garlic cloves chopped, pinch each of dried thyme oregano, 1 small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Combine dressing with eggplant you may layer in a small dish. Set aside in a cool place for 3-5 hours, checking after 1 hour that it is not becoming too dry, if it is add some oil.
serves 4 (This would be delicious on bruschetta bread too. )I also roasted red and yellow peppers/capsicums and chopped these up into long strips and added them to the leftover eggplant marinate as a side dish for dinner tonight.
I found this brilliant book, lets say it is like The Bible of Greek food – Vefa’s Kitchen published by Phaidon . It weighs a ton, it is 700 pages long!. This book is going to become a permanent fixture amongst my cookbooks. The author covers off every bit of greek cooking plus more that you could imagine. I became mesmerised by the photo of lamb, currants, mint, parsley, pine nuts cooked in apples covered with a white sauce and baked in the oven. My daughter loved this dish as much as my husband and I did. I served it alongside a traditional unadulterated pure greek salad. To achieve this you MUST use only the BEST feta cheese, salty ink black olives, miniature sweet romaine lettuce quartered, spray free tomatoes, old-fashioned lebanese cucumber and I scattered some baby greek basil (A grower from the Horotane valley below my house has been growing this is has a very small leaf). I tossed the salad gently with a little lemon juice and a little of the dressing from the marinated eggplant. This meal was exceptionally delicious, have I said that already.
This is my adapted recipe for Meat stuffed Apples.
12 very small or 6 very large eating apples
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, grated
500g ground lamb mince
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
pinch of ground cinnamon
2 cups of chicken stock
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium grain rice
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons currants
pinch of grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups of white sauce
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the onion and ground lamb breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon and for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned. Add the fresh chopped herbs, cinnamon and half the stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the meat from the heat and stir in the almonds, rice and currants. (The nutmeg is to go into the white sauce.)
Take the lamb mixture out of the heavy based pan and add the apples skin side down. pile the lamb mixture on top of the apples pour the remaining stock over. Cut a piece of baking paper which will fit the pan and put the paper under a tap to damp and screw up in a ball like you are making a pilaf and place this baking paper tightly over the apples and meat mixture to seal in the moisture and heat. Put a lid on the heavy base pan and simmer on the stove on a low to medium heat low enough it will not catch the bottom mixture and burn. Simmer for approx 15 minutes.
After this time place in the hot oven covered with baking paper and lid and bake for 20 minutes.
Then take out of the oven take the lid and baking paper off and cover in the white sauce and place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the whole dish is hot, golden and ready to enjoy.
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A serving for a worker.