Sunday, 31 July 2011

Foraging in Cyprus - food for free

We always foraged in the UK and enjoyed our annual harvests of blackberries and damsons for jams and jellies. We even made wine from wild fruits and cordial from elderflowers. However, we were always wary of mushrooms due to the difficulty in separating the edible from the poisonous and we never tried wild mushrooms.
Foraging is a whole new experience in Cyprus and has long been part of village life. 

Before foraging, however, ensure you have researched the plants fully to ensure you are selecting the correct plants and If you are not 100% certain in identifying a plant - then leave it. Also consider the following guidelines before you begin.

(a) Only take flowers and foliage from large patches and never take more than 25% to ensure the plants can reproduce.

(b) Try not to damage other vegetation in the area you are foraging

(c) Do not trespass and always ask the owner of the land's permission before foraging 


(d) Avoid foraging where agricultural spraying has taken place or where vehicle traffic may have contaminated the plants.

(e) Always wash well all produce before consuming

Cyprus has an abundance of wild foods:

Capers which are pickled
Mallow (Molocha) it leaves can be eaten raw and the stem cooked 
Wild spinach which is fried with eggs or boiled with legumes
Wild leeks which are eaten raw with olives and bread or boiled with legumes
Wild asparagus which is boiled or fried with eggs
Wild garlic which is eaten raw with olives and bread or boiled with legumes
Wild celery which is eaten raw in salads, boiled with legumes or dried and used as a scent
Samphire leaves are used raw or the stems cooked with onions & tomatoes
There are also a wide variety of wild herbs such as marigolds, lemon balm, borage, thyme, fennel, various varieties of mints, marjoram, nettles, sorrel, shepherds purse, dandelion, poppies and black cumin. 

As in the UK I would be wary of wild mushrooms. There are apparently 50varieties of edible mushrooms in Cyprus but there an equal number of poisonous ones and ten are deadly. 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cypriot trahana (tarhana) or cracked wheat soup recipe

Trahana or tarhana is a traditional Cypriot winter village soup. The trahana is by made form crushed wheat mixed with goats milk  (which has been left to sour for eight days) lemon juice and yoghurt. After cooling, the mixture is shaped into cigar shaped biscuits which are sun dried to for preservation. 

The following recipe is enough for 4-6 servings.

Ingredients: a litre of chicken stock, 200g of diced hellim or halloumi, 400g or trahana, a little olive oil for frying, lemon juice to taste and salt and pepper to taste.

1. Soak the trahana in cold water for 45 minutes
2. Drain the trahana and add to the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes
3. Fry the diced hellim
4. Add the hellim to the soup just before serving
5. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Make your own medicines

Home made medicines or remedies made from home grown fruit, vegetables and herbs, with the addition of a few other ingredients, have long been a tradition for centuries. Making your own cures is easy, simple, cheap and you have the satisfaction of curing yourself. 

Arthritic Pain

Make celery seed tea by boiling a teaspoon of seeds in a cup of water for about ten minutes. The tea helps remove uric acid from joints to provide relief. Also try to use turmeric in your cooking as it has anti-inflammatory effects.

Athletes Foot

Place slices of garlic in between your toes daily and in contact with the affected area. Wear socks and shoes, leaving the garlic in place all day. Garlic with its ant-bacterial and anti-fungal effects will clear the infection after a few days.

Bad Breath

Chew dill, aniseed or fennel seeds to take away bad breath. You can also boil dill, fennel or aniseed leaves and seeds for 5-10 minutes and use the cooled liquid as a mouthwash.

Colds and Influenza

Make a tea with freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey. Also eat raw garlic cloves.

Digestive Problems

Place one tablespoon of aniseed, with a little sugar into a pan with half a litre of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and drink as a tea.

Wash a small amount of chicory root, chop and simmer in half a litre of water for 15 minutes. Strain into a pre-sterilised jar and drink to relieve stomach aches and heartburn.

Steep 15g of dried dill seeds in 250ml of boiling water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, strain and drink as a tea.

Eczema

Extract gel from an aloe vera leaf and apply to the affected area.

Fluid Retention

Parsley is a natural diuretic - add to salads, cooking or drink three cups a day of tea made using dried parsley.

Gout

Drink the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon combined with lukewarm water after each meal. This will stimulate the formation of calcium carbonate which acts to neutralise acid and provide some relief.

Headache

Make a herbal tea with peppermint to relieve a headache.

Influenza

Infuse chopped ginger in boiling water for 15 minutes to make a tea. Ginger has anti-viral properties, helps with sore throats and eases upset stomachs.

Mouth Ulcers

Make a gargle using two teaspoons of coriander seeds boiled in water. Once cooled, strain and use the gargle 3-4 times a day.

Nausea

Make a herbal tea using dill seeds and leaves to soothe nausea and help with upset stomachs.

Rheumatic and Arthritic Pain

This ginger tea is said to relieve pain because it acts as an anti-inflammatory. Peel and chop a small piece of ginger and cover in boiling water. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes and some honey or sugar to taste.  

Wash about 50g of freshly picked young nettles and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 8-10 minutes, strain and drink as a tea.

Sore Throat Soothers

Wash a small bunch of sage and simmer in a pan with honey. Allow to completely cool and strain the liquid into a pre-sterilised jar. Keeps for about 6 months.

Chop garlic cloves finely and pour over boiling water. Allow to stand for two hours and strain liquid into a pre-sterilised jar and use as a gargle.

Wounds

Apply this turmeric paste to speed up healing of wounds. Put 50g of dried turmeric in a pan with 250ml of water and simmer, whilst continually stirring, until you have a tick paste. Once cooled apply the paste to the wound.

Alternatively, squeeze some gel from an aloe vera leaf and apply to the wound. The gel will soothe the wound but with it's anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities will also speed healing.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Molohiya or tossa jute vegetable stew

Molohiya or Tossa Jute is harvested in Cyprus from mid-May to mid-June. It is also dried for winter use. The leaves have a bittery taste, so are not eaten raw, but cooked when they become thick and glutinous like okra. The leaves are rich in vitamin C, iron and calcium. The following recipe can be made using fresh or dried molohiya leaves.

Ingredients - 250g of molohiya, 1 large potato, 1 medium carrot, 1 medium courgette or some squash, 3 large tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 medium onions, olive oil, bunch of coriander, a tsp of cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

1. Peel and chop all vegetables into small chunks, slices or pieces
2. Fry the onion, garlic, coriander in olive oil in the pan
3. Add the rest of the vegetables and cumin
4. Cover with water and add salt and pepper to taste
5. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes

Serve hot with rice.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

lemonade syrup - make your own

A recipe to use freshly harvested or shop bought lemons which makes a refreshing drink full of vitamin C.

Ingredients: two and a half cups of sugar; the finely grated zest of four lemons; a pinch of salt; three cups of lemon juice from about twelve large lemons and a cup of water. 

(1)  Add the sugar, zest and salt to a cup of water and bring to the boil for about five minutes whilst stirring continually until the sugar is fully dissolved.

(2) Allow to cool to room temperature.

(3) Pour the syrup through a strainer into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice.

(4) Pour into a pre-sterilised bottle and close with a tight fitting lid.

(5) Store in a fridge and use within 3 weeks.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cypriot black eyed bean recipes

Dried black eyed beans have long been a traditional favourite in Cyprus. Beans are usually harvested fresh between August and October or are left to dry in their pods before podding and storage for use throughout the year. The following two recipes can either be made using fresh or dried beans. The only difference is that the fresh beans will cook a lot quicker.  Black eyed beans are  high in protein, with a content of about 25%, but are also an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C and also contain calcium and folate.

Recipe One Ingredients - 250g of black eyed beans, a bunch of spinach, 1 medium onion, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

(1) Boil the black eyed beans for 15 minutes
(2) Chop the onion and spinach finely and fry in olive oil
(3) Drain the black eyed beans and add to the spinach and onion mixture
(4) Just cover with water, bring back to the boil and cook over a low heat until the beans are tender
(5)  Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Also adding finely chopped tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions before serving.

Recipe Two Ingredients - 250g of black eyed beans, a bunch of spinach, a medium sized onion, 4-5 fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 

(1) Boil the black eyed beans for about ten minutes and drain
(2) Chop the onion and spinach finely and fry in olive oil until tender
(3) Add the black eyed beans, finely chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
(4) Just cover with water, bring back to the boil and simmer until the beans are tender
(5) Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve hot with fresh bread

Monday, 25 July 2011

How to make your own cheese

A hard cheese is usually made with cow's milk. The following recipe will make half a kilo of cheddar cheese.

Ingredients - 5 litres of full fat cow's milk; a teaspoon of rennet and approximately 10g of salt. 

Add the rennet to the fresh milk which has been heated gently to 32c (use a thermometer to ensure the correct heat) and leave for about 30 minutes to set. Break up the curds and place the solids into a large muslin bag or several and allow the whey to drain into a pan. 

After the whey has drained fully wring the muslin to squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cheese. Remove from the muslin and break the curd into pea sized pieces, sprinkle with the salt and roll gently with a rolling pin to further break up the curd. 

Use a mould lined with a sterilised cheesecloth, press the curd into the mould until full and cover with the cheesecloth. Place a weight on the mould and exert pressure onto the weight with a homemade press  which uses a car vice to exert pressure (lots of instructions are available just search for homemade cheese press) to extract any remaining whey for about a day.

Remove the cheese from mould and the cheesecloth and dip the cheese into very hot water for a few minutes to allow the surface of the cheese to smooth. Leave in a well ventilated but warm area to dry for a few days and a rind will begin to form. 

The cheese at this stage is rather tasteless and needs to be left in a cool and dry place (about 7-10c) for 3-4 weeks to mature whilst turning daily. 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cypriot squash pastries recipe

A traditional Cypriot pastry which is traditionally made during winter using stored squash but can also be enjoyed when squashes are in season. A very tasty snack but also nutritious which can be eaten warm or cold.

Ingredients: The stuffing is prepared twenty-four hours before baking, to allow the flavours to mix and allow the cracked wheat to expand in the mix. The stuffing includes - three cups of diced squash, four Tbsp of cracked wheat, three Tbsp of olive oil, two Tbsp of sugar, one cup of sultanas, one tsp of cinnamon, half a tsp of salt and pepper.


Ingredients: For the dough are four cups of flour, one Tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, one tsp of salt, half a cup of olive oil and half a cup of water.

(1)   As mentioned above prepare the stuffing 24 hours before baking
(2)   The next day, prepare the dough by placing the flour in a bowl and mix in the salt
(3)   Add the olive oil and hand mix until the oil is thoroughly absorbed
(4)   Gradually add the water and lemon juice and knead until the dough feels firm
(5)   Cover the bowl and leave the dough, in a warm place, to rest for 40 minutes
(6)   Re-knead your dough for about five minutes
(7)   Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and make each into a ball
(8)   Roll each ball into a round shape which is 15cm in diameter and about 3mm thick 
(9)   Brush the edges with water and fill the centre with 2 Tbsp of stuffing
(10) Fold in half and seal the edges with a fork
(11) Place on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180c for about 20-25 minutes until brown 

Friday, 22 July 2011

Make your own hellim or halloumi

Hellim or Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese and is usually made with sheep or goat's milk. It is a white cheese with a distinctive layered texture which is enjoyed in Cyprus with watermelon and fresh bread during the summer months. It can also be grilled or fried as it does not melt or grated and sprinkled on pasta. 

Ingredients - To make 2-3 rounds of hellim use 4.5 litres of goat, ewe or cow milk; 1 tsp of rennet and a little salt.

Add the rennet to the fresh milk which has been heated gently to 32c (use a thermometer to ensure the correct heat) and leave for about 30 minuted to set. Break up the curds and place the solids into a large muslin bag or several and allow the whey to drain into a pan. 

Once the curds have fully drained bring the whey gradually to the boil. Any curds that form at this stage can be gathered and hung to dry to form a much harder hellim which is traditionally grated onto pasta. Or alternatively the curds can be mixed with sugar and cinnamon and used as a filling for traditional Cypriot filo pastry cakes.

Return the first curds to the boiling whey and simmer for about 20 minutes until the hellim floats. Allow the hellim's to cool fully, fold in half and place in the fridge with a weight on top for a few hours to allow the hellim's to firm up. Your hellim can be stored by freezing or in a container with some of the cooled whey.

The remaining whey is not wasted and can be used to cook pasta in or used as a base for soup.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Okra in tomato sauce recipe

A great traditional Cypriot recipe for using when harvesting okra from May onwards, or when fresh okra is available in the shops, which is served hot with some fresh bread.

You will need the following ingredients: 500g of okra, a medium sized onion, 3 ripe tomatoes, a quarter cup of olive oil, half a cup of water, 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic, half a cup of hot water and salt and pepper to taste. 

(1) Wash and then top, tail and split down the side without cutting in half
(2) Chop the onion and garlic finely and fry in the olive oil
(3) Add the okra, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
(4) Add the hot water and salt and pepper to taste
(5) Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until tender

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Make your own yoghurt

Yoghurt is easy make at home. All you need is a good quality wide mouthed vacuum flask, or several, which will allow the temperature of the milk to be maintained until the culture sets.


To make yoghurt you can use goat, sheep, cow's milk or even soya milk. You will also need a good quality unflavoured organic yoghurt as a starter which should be allowed to warm-up to room temperature before use. 

Heat sufficient milk to fill your vacuum flask, or flasks, to blood temperature which is around 37c. Then stir in two tablespoons of yoghurt for every litre of milk and mix thoroughly. At this stage you can add fruit or nuts if desired.

Pour your mixture into the vacuum flask, replace the lid and store somewhere warm for 1 to 2 days until your yoghurt sets. Once set store in a fridge and use within a week. Use a new starter yoghurt every third batch.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Apricot and Almond Muffin Recipe

A recipe to use when fresh apricots are harvested in May to June, although dried ones work equally well. The recipe also uses fresh or stored almonds.

Ingredients: 150g of stoned and chopped apricots; 400g of flour; 200g of sugar; 2 tsp of baking powder; 2 tsp of cinnamon; a little salt; 125g of chopped almonds; 3 eggs and 150g of olive oil.

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the apricots, almonds, eggs and olive oil.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the liquid gradually.
4. Divide among muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes, in an oven preheated to 190c, until the tops turn a golden brown.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Make Your Own Pasta

Making your own pasta is easy, inexpensive and the 
resulting pasta is delicious. If you are going to make
pasta regularly it may be worth purchasing a pasta 
maker or pasta machine but you can successfully make it by hand. All you need is wheat flour, eggs and salt. 

To make sufficient pasta for four people you will need: 200g of wheat flour, two eggs and half a teaspoon of salt.

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the salt. Form a well and add the eggs. Use your hands to bind the flour and eggs into a smooth but firm dough. 

2. Flour a surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes adding a little water if if the dough is to too crumbly. 

3. Roll out and use straight away as lasagne sheets or cut into thin strips using a sharp knife and allow to dry, hanging over wooden dowel, for an hour before cooking your taglliatelle.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Spinach wheel recipe

A recipe to use for freshly picked spinach which, with a fresh salad, is enough to serve four.

Ingredients: 450g of potatoes. 300g of spinach. 1 grated onion, 2 crushed and finely chopped garlic cloves, 60ml of tomato puree, 160g of grated mature cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, 100g of plain flour and 1 beaten egg.

(1) Boil the potatoes until tender, drain, mash and leave to cool.
(2) Chop spinach and steam for 10 mins.
(3) Place the spinach in a bowl and add the onion, garlic, tomato puree and 80g of cheese. Mix the ingredients well, season to taste and leave to one side.
(4) Mix the flour and mashed potato, add the egg, season and knead together until smooth.
(5) Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 25cm by 30cm.
(6) Spread the spinach mixture over the pastry but leave half a centimetre edging.
(7)  Starting with shortest side, roll up the pastry and place the joined side down on your work surface.
(8)  Cut into 8 equal slices and place flat on a lightly greased baking tray.
(9)  Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and bake at 190c until golden brown.
(10 Serve hot with a fresh salad.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Make your own tahini

Tahini or sesame paste is made by grinding sesame seeds and can be used as a base for making hummus. You can make your own tahini using your own home grown sesame or shop bought seeds. Tahini also makes a healthy alternative to peanut butter.

You will the following ingredients: 4 cups of toasted sesame seeds and a quarter to half a cup of olive oil.

(1) Place the sesame seeds in a food processor
(2) Add a quarter of a cup of olive oil
(3) Process until smooth but a thick consistency, adding more oil if required
(4) Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 months

Friday, 15 July 2011

Easy lemon cake recipe

A lovely recipe for using freshly picked lemons which is finished by pouring a lemon syrup over the cake to give it an even more lemony flavour.

The ingredients are:
150g of margarine; 
225g of brown sugar;
 the grated rind and juice of two medium sized lemons;
 2 small eggs
 and 150g of wholemeal self-raising flour.


(1) Heat the margarine and add only 175g of sugar and stir until the margarine has fully melted.
(2) Take off the heat and stir in the lemon rind.
(3) Whisk the eggs and add to the sugar mixture.
(4) Fold in the flour and turn into a greased and floured 20cm tin.
(5) Bake at 180c for about 30 minutes or until just firm to touch.
(6) Warm the remaining 50g of sugar with the lemon juice.
(7) Prick the cake all over, whilst still warm, with a fork and spoon the syrup over the cake.
(8) Leave to cool in the tin and cut into squares and enjoy. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Make your own bread and pitta bread

Baking your own bread is easy.  You can make an organic loaf at a fraction of the cost compared to a supermarket and you will have the satisfaction of controlling the ingredients. The smell of bread baking is irresistible. The taste of a freshly baked loaf is wonderful.


Most bread is made using white or wholemeal wheat flour which is rich in gluten. Other flours such as rye and barley also make good breads. 

The following is a basic recipe for a standard wholemeal loaf but there are innumerable variations available.

Wholemeal Loaf:

Ingredients: 1.1Kg of wholemeal flour; 3 tsp of salt; 15g of dried yeast; 2 teaspoons of sugar and 0.75 litres of warm water.

1. Add the sugar to the yeast with sufficient warm water. Cover and leave in a warm place to allow the yeast  to activate and become frothy.

2. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt, pre-activated yeast and the remaining water.

3.Flour a surface and knead until the dough it is soft and malleable, cover and leave in a warm place for about 40 minutes until it doubles in size.

4.Flour a surface and knead again for five minutes, shape into a loaf, cover and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes until the loaf doubles in size.

5. Place in a warmed, oiled and floured loaf tin and cook for 45 minutes at 220c.

Pitta Bread: 

You can use the above dough mixture, with the addition of a few teaspoons of olive oil to soften the dough, to make pitta bread which accompanies many Cypriot meals. 

1. When the dough has doubled in size after the first kneading, divide it into small balls roughly the size of a tennis ball. 

2. Flour a surface and flatten each ball into an oval shape about 0.6mm thick. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes. 

3. Brush each pitta with cold water before baking in a pre-heated oven at 230c for about 8 minutes. The pittas should be removed when they start to puff but before they harden. 

4. Wrap the pittas in a tea towel to retain their moisture and serve with a fresh salad, kebab and hummus.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Almond and apricot muffin recipe.

A recipe for when fresh apricots are harvested in May to early July, although dried ones work equally well, which also uses some of stored almonds.

Ingredients: 150g of stoned and chopped apricots; 400g of flour; 200g of sugar; 2 tsp of baking powder; 2 tsp of cinnamon; a little salt; 125g of chopped almonds; 3 eggs and 150g of olive oil.

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the apricots, almonds, eggs and olive oil.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the liquid gradually.
4. Divide among muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes, in an oven preheated to 190c, until the tops turn a golden brown.

How to Make your own cleaning products

A great way of saving money and helping the environment is to make your own non-toxic cleaning products using everyday items such as vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda. Many household cleaning products contain chemicals which are harmful to the environment and pose a risk to our health.  A few common cleaners are listed below but there are numerous recipes available on the web from spot removers to fabric conditioners.

Toilet Cleaners:

Most toilet cleaners contain chlorine which is poisonous to humans and pollutes water systems. Use vinegar to remove lime-scale and as a disinfectant. Clean the toilet with a brush and mix a little vinegar with hot water to wipe around the toilet.

Furniture Polish:

Most polishes are made using synthetic solvents, silicones and artificial perfumes. Use a damp cloth to wipe over surfaces and use polishes made from natural oils and beeswax. Make your own by mixing one part of lemon juice to two parts of olive oil.

General Purpose Cleaner:

Most contain a cocktail of powerful chemicals such as ammonia, formaldehyde and ethanol which are bad for the environment and poisonous. Wipe surfaces with soapy water and use vinegar diluted in warm water. To remove water lines in hard water area use neat vinegar or lemon juice. To make a general all purpose cleaner mix half a cup of vinegar and a quarter cup of baking soda in two litres of warmish water. Use to clean shower panels, chrome fixtures and mirrors.

Window Cleaner:

Add half a cup of vinegar to four litres of water.

Oven Cleaner: 

Make a paste of a quarter of a cup of baking soda, two teaspoons of borax, two tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of liquid soap and sufficient water to make the paste.

Disinfectant:

Simmer leaves and stems of rosemary, sage and lavender in just enough water to cover the plants for about 25 minutes. Once cool, strain and use to wipe over sinks, toilets and baths to provide a fresh scent. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Pitted black olive bread recipe

A lovely recipe for using some of your stored black olives and olive oil.  The ingredients are: 500g of bread flour; 2 Tbl of dry yeast; 2 Tbl of white sugar; 1 tsp of salt; one cup of pitted black olives; 3 Tbl of olive oil and 200ml of lukewarm water.(150ml to reactivate the yeast and 50ml to form the dough)

(1) Reactivate 15g of dried yeast by mixing with 150ml of warm water (1 part boiling and 2 parts cold), dissolving 1 tsp of sugar in  the water and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

(2) In a large bowl, mix the flour, the activated dried yeast, sugar, salt, black olives, olive oil and warm water.

(3) Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes until smooth and pliable.

(4) Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes until the dough doubles in size.

(5)   Knead again for 7 to 10 minutes.

(6)   Recover and leave again in a warm place for 30 minutes to double in size.

(7)   Form into a round on a floured surface and place in a bowl for about 30 minutes, cover with a towel and allow the dough to again double in size.

(8)   Place a bowl of water in the oven, which will keep the bread moist, and pre-heat to 220c.

(9)   Place the rounded dough on a baking tray which has been oiled and dusted with flour.

(10) Bake at 220c for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 180c and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Enjoy on its own, with a bowl of fresh salad or pasta.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Stuffed marrow flowers recipe

An excellent recipe, which will serve four, using marrow flowers which are currently available or which continue to grow from September onwards but have little chance of setting fruit.

Ingredients needed are: about 35 to 40 marrow flowers depending on their size, 150g of rice, one small onion, two medium sized tomatoes, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 300ml of water and fresh mint leaves washed and finely chopped.

1. Remove the flower stems and pistils and gently wash and dry the flowers.
2. Chop the tomatoes and onion finely.
3. Mix together the rice, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, chopped mint and seasoning.
4. Carefully stuff the flowers with a teaspoon until 3/4 full and fold the petals in.
5. Gently place the stuffed flowers into a small saucepan and add the water and olive oil.
6. Gently heat, bring to the boil and then leave on a low heat for about 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
7. Your stuffed marrow flowers can be enjoyed hot or cold with a fresh salad.  

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How to make grape must roll (sucuk or soutzoukos)

Sucuk or soutzoukos is a traditional Cypriot sweet which has been  made in villages for generations. This grape must roll is usually made in August or September when grapes are at their best. The process of making them is in two parts. Firstly, the making of the grape jelly. And secondly, the dipping of shelled walnuts or almonds, which have been threaded through a string to about one metre after being left in water to soften, into the jelly mixture. 

The grape must is made by gently heating pressed grape juice in a large cauldron whilst adding slaked lime or calcium hydroxide. The addition of the lime acts to release any impurities in the must to the surface where they can be skimmed off. An alternative, if you cannot locate lime, is the addition of lager which has the same affect. Once cleansed, the must is left to cool and flour is added whilst gently heating and continually stirring. The mixture will gradually thicken and is ready for dipping the stringed nuts into the mixture.

 For fuller instructions and a recipe go to http://cyprusgardener.blogspot.com/2013/10/sucuk-or-soutzoukos-recipe.html 

The strings are left to dry and the process is repeated for the next 3-4 days, dipping in the must and allowing to dry or until the thickness desired is obtained.

The strings are hung to dry for a further 4 days in an airy but insect free environment, after which the grape must roll is ready to slice and eat. 

Cypriots use the sweet as to accompany the traditional distilled drink zivaniye or zivania. Keep in the fridge for a short period or for longer storage freeze.