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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 22 November 2014
20 SATURDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2014 Summer eating Australia’s climate has been able to mimic the produce native to the Mediterranean, meaning Greek Australians haven’t been without their favourite summer culinary treats DORA KITINAS-GOGOS Summer is around the corner, and with many vegetables and fruit coming into season, we will start to venture outdoors to enjoy the sun a bit more. While the Greeks might share our love of the outdoors, Australians are more barbecue prone given that most have backyards, while in Vlita with tuna NOTE: Vlita are blites or notch wood. I'm not sure if they can be found in Australia, at least I have not come across them, but be creative - use spinach, silverbeet or what is in season, any green you might like. Ingredients: 500 grams of preferred greens ½ cup olive oil 1 onion cut into slices 2 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds 2 tins of tuna in water, drained lemon jest and the lemon juice dill and parsley (at least 2 tablespoons, more if you wish) salt and pepper Method: 1. Place cleaned vlita (or other greens) in boiling water, cook for a few minutes, do not overcook and drain well. 2. In a frypan sauté the onion till translucent. 3. Add the vlita, garlic, coriander and pepper and salt and stir well on high heat. 4. Lower heat and add the tuna, lemon jest and lemon juice, parsley and dill. Greece they eat out or at home on their veranda. But I'm not going to compare summers in this article as both countries have their share of hot weather and outdoor living. Instead I'm going to concentrate on lots of summer recipes. We come to Australia from a country that encompasses one of the world's best and healthiest dietary cultures. We have come to settle in a country that over the decades has embraced the cuisine of its Mediterranean migrants; Italian, Greek, Spanish and Middle Eastern. Australia was able to do this because of its climate, as people were also able to grow the products for these cuisines. I must not miss the contribution and the dynamism of the market gardens that the Chinese set up and they were the first to do so, Gemista - stuffed vegetables A classic summer dish on every Greek table, if made without meat they taste even better the next day, can be eaten straight from the fridge on a hot day. I make the summer meatless version. The usual stuffed vegetables that one sees on a Greek table are tomatoes, peppers and zucchini; I have stuffed onions, eggplants and potatoes. Ingredients: 4 large ripe tomatoes 4 medium size peppers 4 fat but not to big zucchini Filling: 1 cup of long grain rice 2 cups of hot water 1 onion 1 bunch of spring onions ½ bunch of dill ½ bunch of parsley 1 cup of pine kernels 2/3 cup of raisins or sultanas the dugouts of the tomatoes and the zucchini, chopped up finely pepper and salt Preparing the vegetables: 1. With the tomato upside down slice a small lid, with a teaspoon (easier if it has a long handle) scoop out all the inside and place in a bowl. 2. Inside of the hollow tomato add a sprinkling of sugar. Do this on to the tomato only, other vegetables that are stuffed do not need sugar. 3. With peppers discard stem and cut a lid. 4. Dig out all the seeds and discard. 5. Zucchini - make a lid on the fattest side and scoop out with tomato scoop, leaving it aside. Preparing the filling: 1. In a deep frypan, sauté the finely cut onion and spring onions. 2. Add the pine nuts and sauté a little more, taking care not to burn the onions and kernels. 3. Add rice and stir for about a minute. 4. Add raisins and mix. 5. Turn down flame to lowest point and add hot water. Cover and allow cooking till rice is half cooked. 6. Cool mixture enough to handle. Fill the vegetables with the filling. 7. Put lid back, line up in oven dish. 8. Sprinkle with about ½ cup of olive oil, cover loosely with foil. 9. Bake for ½ hour in hot oven at 190°C. 10. Remove foil and bake for another ½ hour. 11. Remove from oven. 12. S erve with feta on the table and crusty bread. but this article is about Greek food. We are blessed to be able to have in Australia all that was left behind in Greece and more. We have the tropics that give us an abundance of produce that we could never get in Greece. Try mangos in Greece, imported from North Africa or Israel - tasteless and hard as a rock. Bananas are there but are few and very expensive because, again, they’re mostly imported except for a small crop from Crete, which is not worth talking about. These days we can get all the best olive oils from Greece and other products to make our Greek dishes. We have a multitude of Greek shops stocking commerciallypacked products from Greece to accompany the vegetables and fruit for making authentic Greek dishes. There is one difference: Greece has volcanic soil and for this and only reason the food from the earth tastes better than the equivalent in Australia. I'm told that grown produce tastes better in New Zealand than here, and again, we have earth that has a different mineral consistency. But any good vegetable can be cooked in ways that make it delicious. In Greece today there is resurgence of traditional Greek food. Culinary studies have been set up in universities and there is also a movement towards making the old into ‘new’, with young and innovative chefs creating amazing dishes from traditional recipes. In Australia, some of our best chefs will be tweaking their menus to make use of the abundance of summer produce, and retiring the winter produce that is on the out. Beef with beer, eggplants and rice Ingredients: 1 kilo of beef cut into bite size cubes 1 cup olive oil 1 stick of cinnamon 1 glass of beer 1 onion, grated 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 3 large very ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely cut 1 teaspoon sugar 6 slim purple eggplants, cut into thick rings 300 grams of Arborio rice or similar starchy variety a few springs of parsley and mint salt and pepper Method: 1. Place the sliced eggplants in a colander and salt well, allow to stand for 20 minutes, rinse well when ready to use. 2. In a saucepan heat the oil and sauté the beef cubes with cinnamon stick on high heat, stirring constantly. 3. Add beer and stir for a few seconds till the alcohol has evaporated. 4. Add the onion, garlic, tomato, sugar and add enough hot water to just cover the meat. 5. Cover and on low heat cook for 50 minutes, if needed add more water. Watermelon, grapes and feta cheese salad I grew up eating watermelon and cheese or/and grapes and cheese. It’s a refreshing meal on a hot day. Ingredients: ¼ watermelon 1 bunch of seedless white grapes 1 bunch of seedless black grapes 100 grams feta cheese cut into small cubes or crumbled thickly Method: 1. Cut watermelon into small cubes and clean all grapes from branch. 2. Mix all fruit together in a bowl. 3. Spread the feta cheese on fruit and mix gently once or twice.
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