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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 March 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 MARCH 2019 13 FOOD FOR THOUGHT RECIPE SOFIA’S FASOLADA Cook time: 2 hours 15 minutes Stunning blog by Australian Philhellene documents Greek culinary culture ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS W hen Katerina Kallos met her now husband at a New Year's Eve party in Sydney, little did she know how much it would change her life, in particular the culinary aspects of it. Marrying a Greek often means marrying their families too, and it couldn't have made Katerina any happier. The Irish Australian was instantly welcomed into the family with the hospitality and philotimo Greeks are renowned for, which has of course meant an abundance of food. While she already had a passion for food herself, when Katerina, armed with her Greek cookbooks would set out to cook her husband's favourites, she noticed that they just weren't turning out the same as her mother-in-law Sophia's. "With Greek mothers it's a pinch of that and all by the eye, measurements by the hand, and you've got to be sitting there and learn," she says. It didn't take long for Katerina to realise her mother-inlaw had a real talent in the kitchen. Having the regret of not recording the recipes and stories of her grandmothers, she realised that she couldn't let the opportunity escape her this time around. "I'd pop around on a Saturday and have a coffee and a bit of a chat; she'd ask me 'what are you cooking this week' and I'd go 'oh I'm not sure; I've got this produce, what should I do?' And she'd give me a recipe," she says. "Stage two was definitely getting in the kitchen with her and saying ‘hang on, before you put that handful in’, having measuring spoons and measuring cups and going 'let's pop that in there'." But even with the measurements written down, Katerina says she has come to really appreciate cooking me to mati, and developing her own palette. "Some people say that Greek cooking is simple, but I don't think that's exactly right. There is a complexity to it; it's about getting the techniques right and it's really about what's in season and making the best of that," she says. turned into a widely read blog on not only food, but the Mediterranean way of life. Mulberry & Pomegranate is beautifully written from the heart and accompanied by striking imagery that instantly transports you, all done by Katerina herself, which has proven to be a welcome creative outlet from her day job as a lawyer. With her mother-in-law hailing from Zakynthos, the blog naturally has the Ioanian flavour of her teacher. With seafood and vegetarian dishes featuring prominently, her blog interest in Greek food has led her to Greece numerous times. Her favourite part of the process has been the family traditions and stories that emerge with the recipes, and the relationships. "Definitely the people has been the main benefit of the blog," she says, the smile audible on her lips. "I think most Greek people Katerina (L) and her mother-in-law Sophia. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED "One thing she's been getting me into is tasting as you go, because that's a great way to learn yourself about getting the balance of flavours right; is it too acidic? Is it too sweet? So in the process she would get me to taste things so I could learn that way too. She's been incredibly, incredibly generous in sharing her space in the kitchen ... and the cooking came hand-in-hand with family interaction." But what started out as a personal project to document the family's recipes has debunks the myth of Greek food being all about meat. "For my husband's family, meat wasn't something that was regularly on the table. It really was that kind of traditional diet where it was a special occasion sort of thing - Easter, Christmas, family birthdays and maybe occasionally for a big family gathering," she says. "And making sure when you do have meat that it's really cooked beautifully." Aside from her in-law's, who have continued to be a source of inspiration, her growing are very food focused, so when you travel and you start talking about recipes or you go to a laiki and you're shopping asking people for recipes, it's amazing; people often open their doors, open their recipe books and you have these fantastic experiences that are just beyond travelling. You really get to see everyday life." Katerina says she has always been a Philhellene, well before she met her husband. Recognising that the first generation of Greek migrants to Australia are getting older, now aged in their 80s and 90s, she says she is proud to be part of the efforts to keep the Greek cooking culture alive. Currently in the process of buying their own house in Greece, Katerina is keen to spend more time in there. "I'm really interested in exploring the regional aspects of Greek cooking too, so not just the classics, but what's happening in regions people come from and what's special there," she says. "Greek produce is just wonderful! Not only is the food beautiful to the eye – colourful and fresh - but it makes you feel good too because it's healthy," she explains. "Not so much loukoumades!" she laughs. "So everything in moderation." This is perhaps one of my favourite dishes and one of my favourite ways to use small, white navy or cannellini beans. I am not alone in my love of fasolada. The traditional soup is commonly known as ‘the Food of the Greeks’ and is something of a national dish. The combination of creamy beans, cooked until bursting point, with the holy trinity of celery, onion, carrot and gently scented with aromatic bay leaves is a very good one. You can have your fasolada ‘white’ meaning without tomato, but in INGREDIENTS: 500 grams White beans medium sized 3 sticks Celery left whole 3 Bay leaves dried 3 tbsp EVOO 1 White onion finely chopped 3 sticks Celery, plus tender leaves De-stringed and finely chopped METHOD: 1. In a bowl, add the dried beans and cover with four times the amount of water to beans and leave to soak overnight. 2. The next day, drain and wash the beans well with cold water. 3. Add the soaked, rinsed beans to a pot and just cover with water. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes. A white foam will rise to the surface. Remove from the heat, drain and rinse well with plenty of water. 4. Tip the briefly cooked, rinsed beans into a large heavy based pot. Add water to cover the beans by at least 8cm and add the bay leaves, level teaspoon of sea salt and the 3 whole celery sticks. Bring to the boil, reduce to a low simmer and cook until the beans are nearly just tender, about 1 hour. Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the celery and bay leaves. 5. In the cleaned pot, add the olive oil, white onion, garlic, remaining celery and leaves, garlic and carrot. Saute for around 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the drained beans and stir well to coat them in the aromatic vegetables and oil. Add the grated tomato, chilli (if using) and add the reserved bean cooking liquid. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further hour. About 10 minutes before the soup is ready, check the seasoning and add a little more sea salt or ground black pepper, if required. 6. Serve the soup with an extra drizzle of EVOO on each bowl, along with a seperate plate of marinate anchovies, olives and pickled toursi vegetables. For more delicious recipes like this, visit http://mulberrypomegranate.com/ 3 Carrots Peeled and sliced into rounds 3 cloves Garlic Finely sliced 4 Tomatoes grated Chilli puree, sea salt and ground black pepper to taste Marinate anchovies, olives and toursi to serve Servings: 4 our family tomato and a hint of mum’s chilli puree are essential, so too are plenty of the tender pale leaves from the heart of the celery. Although you can make fasolada with a time saving can of precooked beans, I can guarantee you that the finished dish will not have the same therapeutic and restorative effect of your own, homecooked beans. As our Uncle Dionysius once told me, “no Greek home is complete without a pot of beans cooking on the stove”.
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