Sitting on my kitchen windowsill next to the pots of basil is my new ceramic chicken from Puglia – said to bring good luck in the kitchen. I call her Caddina, meaning hen or chicken in the Southern Italian Salentino dialect. It as a gift from my lovely “Sicilian Informant” (AKA my husband’s PhD student) after she returned from a recent trip back home.
Caddina has been overseeing the whirl of activity this past month – preparing for and hosting visitors from abroad. My sister and her family arrived from Pennsylvania for a short visit, so, naturally, we’ve been cooking up a storm. A fresh fruit tart made with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries on top of a base of lemon curd in a sweet pastry crust was a joint sister effort to celebrate their arrival. Very red, white and blue.
We’ve also been revisiting recipes from the blog – “Moravian” cinnamon swirl buns (for nostalgia), ajvar (everyone’s favourite), pizza (including a new one to me passed to me by my creative sister – will blog about soon), lemon barley water (which seems to be one of the most popular of my blog recipes at the moment), barley pancakes (after replenishing flour supplies when visiting the mill), and Damson cheese served with a variety of English (and Welsh) cheeses. The latter was made with the last of the pulp from the 2014 harvest. All of these made and consumed before the cameras came anywhere near the kitchen. What can I say…there was too much talking and laughing going on to even remember to take photos. Also, it explains my recent silence on the blog.
Although we did a lot of revisiting, it did not preclude new experiments. A recipe featured on Aglaia Kremezi’s blog, Aglaia’s table in Kea, Cyclades, was someting I wanted to try for some time. It is a 4th century AD Greek recipe for grilling fish wrapped in fig leaves. Yes, you read that right: fig leaves. And, served with a lemon and olive oil sauce. It was very good and the wild sea bass was subtly flavoured and tender, although I suspect I didn’t lay on enough fig leaves to cover the whole fish. I will try it again, but for now my personal preferance is to wrap fish in vine leaves as I think they impart a more pronounced flavour.
With the weather turning warm (AKA British “heat wave”), I laid on a lot of new ices – berry sorbets and frozen yoghurts. The ice cream machine was kept busy! Recipes to follow in future blogs.
The family’s visit was all too short. But, a packet of Muriel (daughter of Priscilla) sourdough starter went back with them to the US. Meanwhile, list making and plans of what to pack for our removal to Greece resume, which includes more drying of Muriel – for me and extra for Athenian friends. Muriel will be well travelled, although not approaching the milage racked up by Priscilla (yet!).
With my own Muriel starter, I made a sourdough pumpkin bread, originally posted by Glenda @ Passion Fruit Garden in her IMK post. It was made from pumpkin pulp from last year – more attempts to use up things in the freezer – with soaked currants, pumpkin seeds and spiced with a little cinnamon. I know, it seems the wrong season to be eating things made with pumpkin, but those winter posts from Australian bloggers can be seductive. Makes a great breakfast bread, light with an open crumb, almost brioche-like. Although, my oven heats on the high side and the loaves came out a bit more browned on top than I would wish. I will adjust for next time – and there definitely will be a next time. The recipe is a keeper.
And…experimental soft wheat tortilla shells made with sourdough for all those future fajitas we plan to grill during the brief British summer. The recipe needs a little tweeking, but it is almost there.
I’m looking forward, also, to making my red currant salsa to go with those fajita wraps. I made this salsa last year based on the classic Latin American condiment, Pico de Gallo. Just waiting for the red currants to ripen. Shouldn’t be long.