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Inspiration behind this recipe: The winter sun came out just in time to remind me of something I love to do on a hot summer’s evening when I have guests coming for supper: mezze. Lots of little bites that fill you without making you feel heavy or too hot. Summer may still be a long way off, but a little respite from stew and soups feels like an Indian summer around my dinner table!
Taking inspiration from the ingredients we were given took a little while, but as the sun slowly crept across my big living room from the balcony door and windows, it warmed me on my couch and reminded of how much fun it is to eat as they do in the Mediterranean.

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Ingredients

For the pita bread:
14g active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cake flour

For the lahanodolmades (cabbage dolmades):
6 cabbage leaves, softened in hot water
1 cup brown rice
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of half a lemon

For the pilchards:
1 can (400g) Lucky Star Pilchards in Chilli
1 cup cake flour
Olive oil for pan frying

For the spicy feta dip:
The sauce from the pilchards; 3 rounds feta

For the pesto:
1/2 packet green beans, topped and tailed
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp coriander, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the pita bread:

Mix yeast with water and a pinch sugar. Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the olive oil. Slowly add the yeast mixture. Turn out onto a dry surface and knead in the remaining flour by stretching out the dough and folding it, repeating as many times as possible till all the flour is incorporated. Set aside in a well-oiled bowl and allow to double in size. When doubled stretch and fold the dough again a few times and allow a second rising.
Heat up your pan to a medium heat. Shape dough into balls and roll out to about 1/2cm thickness. Pop into the pan and when the dough puffs up and is golden on the one side, flip over.

For the lahanodolmades:

Ensure cabbage leaves are softened and cooled. Cut leaves on either side of the stem in the middle.

Cook the rice as instructed on the packet.

Fry onions and cumin in a little bit of olive oil and set aside.

When the rice is cooked, add the chopped coriander to wilt and release the flavours straight into the rice. Add the onion mixture. Mix well.

Put 2 teaspoons of rice mixture on one end of the cabbage leaf. Roll once, then fold in the ends of the roll all the way. Repeat until all the cabbage leaves are done. Place in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes; until the leaves become translucent.

For the panfried pilchards:

Take the pilchards out the can and keep the chilli sauce to one side (for the feta dip). Rinse pilchards slightly and then coat in seasoned flour.

Heat up your olive oil in a pan and gently place the pilchards into the oil. When golden brown, carefully turn over. When ready, remove from the pan and place on a paper kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.

For the spicy feta dip:

Put the chilli sauce from the pilchards through a sieve to remove little bits of fish. Put into a pot on a low heat. Crumble the feta into the pan and mix occasionally until the feta melts into the sauce. (You can put it in a blender or food processor if you want to make it smooth or simply pour into a bowl and allow to set).

For the bean-and-coriander pesto:

Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Process till the green beans are finely chopped.

 

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