10 July 2017

λαδοβρεχτό – what a Quick, Easy & Delicious Surprise!

I have just made λαδοβρεχτό and am amazed at how delicious this simple traditional Greek grilled bread is.  I can’t believe that, having been to Greece and also being passionate about good food, I have never heard of or eaten this wonderful stuff. I will, however, eat LOADS of it in the future.



The-Greek-Village-Collection-by-Sara-Alexi



The reason I had this, suddenly (as befits a blog called Sudden Lunch!) is that one of my favourite authors, Sara Alexi who writes The Greek Village Series was asking for people to photograph recipes in her new book Greek Village Cooking: The Short andHappy Tale of Pippo Alampo - a love story with recipes!

I have sent her the photos I’ve taken, I hope they are OK. 



How to Make Greek Grilled Bread                               


It is important to use good thick slices of substantial bread – I used my homemade sourdough.  

The thing that makes this so delicious is that, surprisingly, the bread is grilled dry and then generously brushed with lovely rich green extra virgin olive oil, while it’s piping hot, so that some of the oil is absorbed. As my real man says, “like butter on hot toast”, which makes me wonder why I never thought of “inventing” it anyway!  The bread is then sprinkled with sea salt and dried oregano which is lovely, but now I think I shall try other seasonings too. 
Sara Alexi suggests roasted garlic – which is already a huge favourite of mine so probably try that next. I will also experiment with other herbs and maybe other oils; chilli or garlic infused, for instance.
grilling-bread-in-a-ridge-pan


This is one of those recipes I wish I had been aware of when I was cooking professionally – I'm sure it would have been very popular.  Then I would, of course, have cooked it on a chargrill but at home I am using a ridge pan and it works fine.




This crunchy, salty, juicy, wonderful grilled bread is delicious just as it is – well, maybe with a glass of red wine!
It also goes well with so many things, pretty well anything you might eat with bread, although perhaps go easy with the oregano if serving with something sweet. A little salt is OK as we have all learned from salted caramel!
~   Sara Alexi suggests diced tomatoes so I tried that and she is absolutely right.
~   I am very prone to hummus so added that and am pretty sure I will always have λαδοβρεχτό with hummus from now on.
hummus-balsamic-glaze-and-grilled-bread

skordalia-made-with-bread

~   Try it with Skordalia a kind of garlicky mayonnaise with either bread replacing the egg yolk as in my Skordalia recipe here  or with potato as in Sara’s recipe in Greek Village Cooking: The Short and Happy Tale of Pippo Alampo.  Both are good!





~   I can see no reason why this gorgeous grilled bread should not be joined by some cheese – maybe Feta, maybe not!
~  It would (in fact will, in our house) be a great accompaniment to soup or to bean dishes such as Gigantes or Creamy Fava (recipes for both of these are in the book).
I urge you to try this simple recipe - I'm sure you will be delighted!

Sara Alexi

If you haven’t heard of Sara Alexi, then it is time you did!  
Sara writes The Greek Village Series of books – and I have read them all!  The first in the series is The Illegal Gardner  which  got me hooked. As the series builds up you get to know all the people who live in the village, their lives and adventures. Every book in the series is snapped up as soon as it is published and several have become best sellers. There is even a Village Newsletter which you can subscribe to so that you can keep up to date with the villagers’ lives! Read more about Sara Alexi’s books and the Greek Village newsletter here.  

Why I want to be Just Like Sara Alexi when I Grow Up!

I’ll have to hurry – I’m almost 63! Sara not only writes brilliant books but she seems to be great at marketing them too. I receive mostly five star reviews and lots of lovely feedback for my cookbooks when they do sell but I just don’t seem to be getting them out there. Yikes!



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4 July 2017

The Perfect Cream Tea Formula



We recently popped over into Devon. As we crossed the Tamar bridge from Cornwall, where we live, it occurred to me how narrow a gap it is for there to such a large difference in the preparation of Cream Teas.

Cornish-vs-Devonshire-Cream-Teas

The importance of this matter was made clear to me the other day, National Cream Tea Day as it happens, when I mentioned on Twitter why jam first is the correct way to prepare a cream tea. This prompted a truly impressive (to me) amount of interest so I thought I’d expand on my information and reasoning in the hope of making things clearer – especially to people in Devon!

Devonians, as I understand it, for some pervie reason, apply their clotted cream to scones before adding the jam! In Cornwall we do as nature intended; the jam is spread onto the scone first and then topped with a dollop of clotted cream and I can prove we are right!

The Correct Way to Prepare a Cream Tea


Dr. Eugenia Cheng, a mathematician at the University of Sheffield’s School of Mathematics and Statistics did some research on the subject and came up with the following info:

~  Jam, due to its density, needs to be spread prior to the application of the clotted cream.  Putting it on after the cream may cause the jam to run off – creating sticky fingers.
~   The thickness of the cream should also not be thicker than the scone, as the scone will become off balance whilst trying to eat it.
~   If r is the radius of the scone, then we have the following formula for the thickness of the jam and the thickness of the cream …
jam-first-on-cream-tea
Cornish-cream-tea



Roddas, who make superb Cornish Clotted Cream have simplified these instructions to 2 parts scone, 1 part jam, 1 part cream – which looks just right to me!

The Cream Tea Society, who surely must know what they are talking about, also agree that jam goes on first and give instructions on ...


The Proper Way to Enjoy Cream Teas


Their final point is …

Never use whipped cream. It’s utterly improper.

I do so concur but am sad for Americans (or possibly everyone not in the UK) – the jars of “clotted cream” available elsewhere are really no substitute, not at all at all, for the real thing.

So the cream must be clotted, the jam is usually strawberry but raspberry and blackcurrant are both fine alternatives. Some people, additionally, butter their scones before adding the jam and cream – presumably they are on holiday so the calories don’t count.  What about the scones?

Genius Scone Recipe


Makes 6-8 normal sized scones or 4 embarrassingly large ones, the recipe can easily be doubled.

225g/8oz self-raising flour
OR
225g/8oz plain flour + 1 rounded tsp baking powder (about 8g/a scant ½oz)
a pinch of salt
60g/2½oz cold butter or margarine
25g/1oz caster sugar
100ml/3½ fl oz milk
~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180C fan/gas 6.
~   Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder (if using).
~   Add the butter or margarine and “rub in” with your fingers until a breadcrumb texture is achieved (see below).
~   Stir in the sugar once you have finished rubbing in; if you add it earlier it’s uncomfortable on the hands although, of course, it does exfoliate.
~   Add the milk and mix in, by hand is easiest, add a little more milk if too dry or a little more flour if too wet – work just enough to form a soft dough.
~   On a floured surface press or roll the dough out to about 1½cm/½” thick and using a cookie cutter cut into rounds. Or you could cut into squares which are easier and more economical on time: no re-rolling. They look quite good too.
~   Transfer the scones to a greased baking try, brush their tops with a little milk and bake in the oven till risen and golden – about 15 minutes.
~   Transfer to a cooling rack till needed.

genius-scone-recipe


The reason I call this my genius scone recipe is that it not only makes excellent scones but also numerous other wonderful things such as rock cakes, shortcakes, griddle cakes, dumplings, doughnuts, crisp biscuits and lots more. 


how-to-make-perfect-scones



The recipe is so flexible and useful I have written a whole book about it – The Secret Life of Scones  giving every bit of information and idea I can think of to help make delicious scones and their friends and relations.




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