Just some of the things the children made during the summer…
Souvlaki inspired dishes. Serve inside or out, sunshine or rain, barbequed or grilled. Easy meals to share with family and friends.
Soak your kebab sticks in water for a couple of hours before use.
Monkfish Souvlaki – cut the monkfish into chunks (Tip: get your local supermarket to take off the membrane so that the fish does not shrink when cooked). Grab a handful of cherry tomatoes and put in a bowl with the fish and drizzle in some basil oil to coat the pieces. Alternate toms with monkfish on the skewers. Grill on a high heat (it doesn’t take long at all) and serve with basil pesto.
Drunken Chicken Souvlaki – marinade chunks of chicken overnight in white wine, good quality olive oil, thyme and chopped garlic. Thread onto skewers, leaving a little space between each chunk to ensure the chicken cooks thoroughly, barbeque or grill and before serving squeeze on some lemon juice and add a sprinkle of fresh thyme. To accompany the chicken homemade bruschetta…to good quality olive oil add a clove of garlic and dried mixed herbs. Leave to infuse overnight. Slice some ciabatta bread and before serving the chicken soak the slices of bread in the infused oil and cook in a flat or griddle pan on top of the stove. Place the bruschetta on a plate, cover with rocket leaves and place the chicken on top.
Hawaiian Tuna Souvlaki – chunks of fresh tuna skewered either with chunks of green mango or fresh pineapple coated in a little oil. Serve with a sweet chilli sauce (or if you like more spice use a red hot jalapeno sauce) and some coriander leaves.
Cajun Spiced Veggie Delight – your favourite veg, e.g. mushroom, artichoke hearts, mini bell peppers (green or red) in a bowl mixed together with some dry Cajun spice mix and some olive oil. Serve on some saganaki (grilled Greek cheese). To make saganaki take slices of Graviera or Kasseri cheese. Prepare a bowl with whisked egg and a plate with semolina. Dip the cheese in the egg then the semolina. Cook in a pan on top of the stove until both sides are golden brown. Before serving squeeze a little lemon juice over it.
We had lots of fun this half-term holiday, we made sun-dried tomato ravioli, Omusubi sushi, a yummy roasted potato salad and much more. One of our favourite things we made was this chocolate flowerpot cake where we crumble some cake to make it look like soil, the kids got all creative adding some extra arty flower bits to it.
Over the rest of this term, amongst lots of other yummy things, we are making roasted vegetable pasta, chocolate brioche bread and butter pudding. We will be looking at all things spring and springy. How many different ways are there to cook an egg? We have an ostrich egg and goose eggs to look at and we will be making a duck egg cake.
Most young children wake up snuggled to their favourite teddy but Valentis (chef extraordinaire) woke up surrounded by lobsters. Why? Because Valentis’s father is a fisherman and at the age of six he would take Valentis in his boat fishing with him. As Valentis slept in his hammock his father was busy catching lobsters. The noise of the clapping lobsters used to work well as an alarm clock to wake him up! I think I will stick to the traditional way of waking with an alarm clock and a very kind husband’s lovely coffee.
To prepare a lobster for cooking: when I was training as a young commis chef we were taught to use a sharp knife to dig straight into the lobsters head right between the eyes killing it instantly. For me this appears to be a far more humane way, others prefer to immerse them in boiling water.
Cooking lobster at Valentis’s grill bar: You can cook lobster in many different ways; in Halki they do a wonderful lobster spaghetti where all of the lobster, including the shell, is used to produce a most delicious flavoured sauce which soaks into the spaghetti making a most sumptuous, flavoursome meal. However I prefer mine grilled and at Valentis’s grill my lobster was cooked beautifully. The Greeks say that the meat in the lobster’s head is the sweetest. My lobster was also full of beautiful pink roe which tastes most delicious, a sweet delicate flavour, with a smooth light texture. The lobster was served with a sauce in a separate bowl of lemon and olive oil with oregano . Now lobster is one of my most favourite foods to eat and this was the best lobster I had tasted in 15 years. It was fresh Halki lobster, not brought in from another island, and was like a fresh fruit handpicked from a tree, ready and ripe to eat. It was truly divine and a thing of (unusual!) beauty to look at.
Valantis has an exciting new menu. Livanio Roditis, a chef with 24 years experience and specialising in fish, has joined them. He also kindly taught me a few things about his local fish dishes.
The Scorpion fish comes from the family of the world’s most poisonous fish. As it’s name suggests it has a sting – sharp spines coated in venomous mucus. However properly prepared this fish makes a delicious Greek fish soup rich and creamy. Red snapper and Sea Bream (which tastes a lot like Sea Bass) are two other fish prevalent in the Dodecanese.
If you haven’t ventured to Brest in Brittany I would highly recommend you do. For starters it is a very short plane journey. I stayed with friends and their family in a wonderful maison Villa Ker Izella right on the beach, Plage du Kelenn in a very pretty area of Finistere. We had a truly wonderful time, the weather was superb and all the French people I met there were amazingly welcoming and very friendly. The coastal path from the beach had fantastic views and historic points of interest. The beaches were sandy, full of shells with lots of boats bobbing up and down in the shimmering sea. Beautiful cafés providing the most delicious crepes you could ever wish to eat.
One warm and sunny morning (actually everyday was sunny), as the tide was out my friend and her family took me and my daughter shell fishing. We had to search for keyhole shapes in the wet sand and when one was spotted we then put a pinch of salt in the hole. This, as my friend explained, was to make the shellfish think that the tide was coming in. The clam would then start to push its way to the surface of the sand. You then held the tip of the shell tightly (but not too tightly) and for a while it felt like a game of tug of war with the shellfish trying to suck itself back into the wet sand. After a short while the clam gave in then you were able to gently pull the clam out from the wet sand. Between the children it became a competition to see how many each child could find, it was great fun and I loved every minute of it.
Oh and of course we cooked the clams for tea.