My last IMK post reported a decided lack of cooking in my kitchen due largely to construction chaos. Although the construction on the house finished a while ago, we are still (slowly slowly) clearing away all the dust and grime generated. But, the summer season (when Athens empties) is still upon us. Plus, the heat continues. As a consequence, cooking activity idles – stalls – brakes. Even the weekly market is largely empty as I reported in my IMK post last year. That and escape beckons. We have been away for a few days here and there – ping ponging in and out of Athens. Just so, I have not been able to keep up to date with reading and commenting on posts lately. I hope to rectify that soon.
Excuses, I know, but, cooking is not upmost on my mind these days. However, some essential things do get done – not exactly stalled, but sluggish, slowed down, not completely inert. Sorbet (and sherbet) making is necessary for our coolness balance. The mixture is quick to make and only requires time to churn and chill. We love this chocolate sherbet and think it better than chocolate gelato – more refreshing with its lower milkfat content.
I’ve also been experimenting with citrus based sherbets – a little trickier when you mix citrus with milk products, but it seems to work well if whisked properly – no curdling! The lemon sherbert was not a success (too milky tasting) and we’ve vowed to stick to simple lemon sorbet which is much more refreshing. But, the orange sherbet was fabulous. It was made simply by substituting milk for water and fresh orange for mandarin juice in my mandarin sorbet recipe. It reminded me of those ‘dreamsicles’ (sherbet popsicles of vanilla coated in orange) we used to eat in the summer around the pool.
The garden has been active and continues to produce prodigious amounts of courgettes, requiring searches in cookbooks or on the internet for new courgette recipes as well as revisiting old ones. One well-loved recipe is zuchinni fritters. And, I’ve recently expanded into more traditional kolokithokeftedes (with the addition of carrot) to produce something that is decidedly more Greek. Both versions are delicious, but slightly different. The more substantial Greek variety makes a fantastic quick meal along with a juicy tomato salad.
Roasting courgettes with other summer vegetables make a satisfying salad for supper, the juices sopped up with a crisp sourdough baguette. This one pictured below combines my garden courgettes with aubergine slices and tomatoes topped with a dressing of basil oil and white balsamic and a scattering of olives, capers and feta.
Or the fitst one pictured below – a meal in itself of roast courgette slices with halved cherry tomatoes and chopped tarragon (all fresh from the garden) then topped and baked with feta and rough conza-type toasted bread pieces. I must admit that this was inspired by a recipe I read on the internet of a baked courgette and feta casserole with a savoury cobbler on top. The second one is simple courgette slices interspersed with tomatoes and topped with thyme and Parmesan, roasted then drizzled with a balsamic glaze. These roast salads are different every time I make them, depending on what veg I have to hand and where my imagination has wandered.
I also have jars and jars of dried lemon verbena. For a while my luisa (lemon verbena) bush was growing like a weed and it needed a weekly prune. The bunches of branches dry within a day or two, so I harvested tisane leaves on a regular basis. I have been making loads of iced lemon verbena tea, but (for now) my supply of leaves far exceeds the demand. That was lucky, since the shrub has given up the ghost in the herb garden. A replacement plant is in order. I suspect it needs a place in the herb garden with well-drained soil and away from water-loving plants.
There are more herbs to harvest and preserve in the garden. I’ve replenished my stock of basil oil and am now experimenting with herb butters. They will be stashed away in the freezer for future use in cooler months. It is always satisfying to hoard and preserve supplies garnered from the garden’s bounty.
Last, but certainly not least, my mind is on escaping (again) to the countryside on our own holiday – this time for an extended period. I will be posting from the far north of Greece quite soon, relaxing and reading all those backlogged posts (that’s the plan anyway). I’m also looking forward to exploring the regional Greek cuisine of Macedonia and Epirus. Going with me are two new purchases – biographies of cooks that might also provide inspiration when I return. Watch this space for more on these biographies.