24, 24, 24: Hot Weather Lunch

our beautiful veranda
The venue: our beautiful veranda

24 meals, 24 cities, 24 blogs. A fantastic live blogging event organised by Foodbuzz, a food blogger’s community (and much more), for their official launch. And yes, they chose me to be one of the 24 other bloggers participating. How cool is that!

If you would like to see the rest of the dinners please follow this link.

THE VENUE

So here we are in Athens, Greece, eating strictly cold dishes for lunch made especially for hot weather. The weather, though, had other plans: after a month of blazing heat, with temperatures of 35 oC (95 F) the only cold, wet and miserable day happens to be the day of my lunch! We did try to sit outside (our veranda is quite sheltered) and everyone was very polite about it, but in the end we had to move inside. Ah, well…

SOME BACKGROUND

When I submitted my proposal to Foodbuzz, I actually had to think about what we eat in Greece during so many hot months and the truth is that is it rarely something cold. It might be something in room-temperature and it is very often vegetable or fish-based, but if you ever come to Greece and eat at a taverna for lunch, you will notice that most people are not lunching on anything very light: fries, stuffed vegetables, salad, fried kalamari, a pork chop.

ouzo and Cretan raki
Drinks: ouzo and Cretan raki

THE FOOD

I brought together the menu, keeping in mind that the dishes needed to be good companions for ouzo or tsipouro/raki (the Greek grappa), which is great to drink in hot temperatures. I bought ouzo and some tsipouro from Northern Greece (but without aniseed), but then N. and K. arrived with an unexpected present from Crete: a 1.5lt coke bottle filled with fragrant home made raki (“tsipouro” as it is called in Crete)!

I used local ingredients, tried to make things taste as clear and light as possible (I don’t like my guests to feel heavy after a meal), and drew my inspiration from traditional Greek mezedes, but with a more mediterranean flair. I basically cooked, as I always do, to suit my own taste. You see, I find the same old recipes a bit boring and I like to try out new things when I have friends over. They are my guinea pigs so to speak!

And yes, I even made the bread…

THE VERDICT

All the dishes went down really well with my friends. Even the vitello tonnato, a strange combination for Greek tastebuds (fish and meat TOGETHER, what were you thinking?) was recieved with equal amounts of pleasure as the rest of the more tradional-tasting items. Only the aubergine salad was not appreciated by E., who very frankly told me that “it is so bland, it tastes of nothing”. That’s why I love her though: she never lies to me! Having said that, the others liked it a lot. Especially K. who is sensitive to garlic (and my mother who tried it the next day and isn’t fond of garlic either).

As you can imagine we had a great time and everyone linguered until dusk.The food, the drink and the good company, the sense that similar dinners were happening around the globe, with completely different concepts and ideas, made us all giddy and escited. Thank you FOODBUZZ for giving me and my friends such a great opportunity!

THE MENU

Aperitif bites

Mini rusks with two toppings: manouri cheese topped with roasted red peppers and soft xinomizithra cheese topped with olive and sun dried tomato tapenade

First course meze

Aubergine salad with walnuts

Cherry tomatoes with marinated anchovies and wild rocket

“Sfouggato”: Greek tortilla with courgettes, cheese and fresh mint

Main Dishes

Octopus marinated in mustard and olive oil

Vitello Tonnato: veal with a tuna and caper sauce

Simple green salad with rocket and cherry tomatoes

Dessert

Honey, anthotiro and pine nut tartlets

Watermelon sorbet

RECIPES AFTER THE JUMP

ΣΗΜΕΙΩΣΗ: λόγω του μεγέθους αυτού το ποστ θα εμφανιστεί στα Ελληνικά σύντομα…

THE RECIPES

Mini rusks with manouri and roasted red peppers

Mini rusks with manouri and roast peppers
Mini rusks with manouri and roast red pepper

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 150 g nice goats cheese (1 or two varieties)
  • mini rusks or good quality bread, lightly toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. To roast the peppers: place peppers whole under a hot grill and roast them, turning them frequently,  until their skin is black all over, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Put the peppers in a plastic bag, close it and let them cool a little. Peel the thick skin and discard seed and stems.
  3. Slice each pepper into strips.
  4. Spread each rusk with the cheese and place a strip of pepper on top.

Mini rusks with xinomizithra (sour fresh goat’s cheese from Crete) and olive and sundried tomato tapenade

Mini rusks with goats cheese and an olive-sun dried tomato tapenade
Mini rusks with goats cheese and an olive-sun dried tomato tapenade

INGREDIENS

  • 150g soft goat’s cheese
  • rusks or toasted bread

tapenade

  • 1 cup green olives, pitted
  • 3-4 sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make the tapenade: whizz all ingredients together into a smooth paste
  2. Spread cheese on each rusk and top with 1/2 tsp of tapenade.

Aubergine salad with walnuts

Aubergine Salad with walnuts
Aubergine salad with walnuts

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large aubergines, or three smaller ones
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 60g  walnuts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp strained yoghurt (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Grill the aubergines skin on, from all sides, until the skin has charred and the flesh is soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Place them in a bowl with cold water and peel the skin. Remove seeds and squeeze the flesh to remove all water.
  3. In a blender process aubergine flesh together with peppers, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, sugar and olive oil. If you want it creamier, mix in the yoghurt. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until thoroughly chilled.
  4. Just before serving drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle the parsley on top.

Cherry tomatoes with marinated anchovies and wild rocket

Cherry tomatoes with marinated anchovies and wild rocket
Cherry tomatoes with marinated anchovies and wild rocket

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g marinated anchovies (these are traditional Greek “sushi”, where the fillets of fresh anchovies are marinated the day before with lemon juice and olive oil)
  • 400g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch wild rocket (arugula)
  • toothpicks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Carefully wrap a small piece of rocket and 1 anchovy fillet around a cherry tomato and hold them together with a toothpick.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes neatly on a plate and refrigerate until needed.

“Sfouggato”: greek tortilla with courgettes, cheese and fresh mint

Greek tortilla with courgettes, feta and fresh mint
Sfouggato: Greek tortilla with courgettes, cheese and fresh mint

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg courgettes, finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, finely sliced
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup grated graviera cheese (or cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 4-5 large leaves of mint, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil, salt pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large and deep skillet sautee the potatoes until soft but not coloured, about 15 minutes. Put them on kitchen paper to dry.
  2. Do the same with the courgettes and spring onions over medium-high heat, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. In a large bowl beat the eggs and then add the mint, cheese and the vegetables.
  4. In the same skillet heat some more olive oil and pour the omelette. Cook (patiently) over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Every now and then check whether the bottom is ready, by slightly lifting the side.
  5. When there is virtually no liquid left on the surface of the omelette, turn it over to cook the other side. To do this, place a flat lid or plate over the pan, carefully invert both so that the omelette is on the lid or plate. Check whether it is ready and flip the omelette using a plate.
  6. Either serve immediately, or refrigirate until needed.
  7. To serve, sprinkle some spring onion (the green part only) and cut into wedges.

Octopus marinated in mustard and olive oil

Octopus marinated in mustard and olive oil
Octopus marinated in mustard and olive oil

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large octopus 1.5kg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 60ml red wine vinegar
  • chopped parsley to serve

marinade

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash the octopus well, remove the eyes, cut out the beak ,and clean the head. It is best to freeze the octopus a couple of days before to tenderize it. If you use frozen, let it thaw in the fridge before use.
  2. Put the octopus in a deep pan with a little water and the bay leaves and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until it turns red.
  3. Pour the vinegar and herbs into the pot, cover with the lid and simmer for another hour, or until the octopus is tender. From time to time check to see whether it needs  a little water so that it will not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. When the octopus is tender, remove it from the pot and put it under running water to clean it from the loose skin.
  5. Cut each tendril diagonally into small pieces and mix with the marinade. Cover with cling film and put it in the fridge overnight.
  6. Before serving you can make a dressing similar to the marinade with 1tbsp of olive oil, a dash of lemon juice and 1 tsp of mustard.
  7. Pour it over the octopus mix well, arrange the fresh parsley on top and serve.

Vitello Tonnato: veal tenderloin with a tuna and caper sauce

Vitello Tonnato

INGREDIENTS for 6-8 people

  • 1 veal or beef tenderloin, approx 1.5 kg
  • 1 bunch celery greens
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1tbsp dried oregano and 1 dried thyme or a bouquet garni

Dressing

  • 1 can of good quality tuna steak in oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 100ml ready-made good quality mayonnaise (I opted out from making my own mayo, as raw egg yolks are very sensitive to heat)
  • 2tbsp capers
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oillemon wedges, chopped parsley and capers for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot bring the wine, celery, onion, carrots, herbs and enough water to almost cover the veal to a boil and add the meat.
  2. Let the meat boil for about 30 minutes and then let it stand in the liquid for a couple of hours. That way the meat retains its juices.
  3. Meanwhile make the sauce: whizz together the tuna, capers and anchovies with the mayonnaise until you get a smooth paste.
    Very slowly add the lemon juice and oil and continue whizzing until you get a nice consistency.
  4. Cut the meat as thinly as possible.
  5. Brush a platter with some olive oil and place the pieces of meat on it, overlapping them slighly.
  6. Spread some of the sauce over them and repeat if necessary with a second layer. Put the rest of the sauce in a sauce boat.
  7. Place lemon wedges on top of the meat (the lemony scent will permeate the meat giving it a very fresh aroma), cover with cling film and let it marinate overnight.
  8. To serve: just sprinkle with chopped capers and parsley.

Honey, anthotiro, and pine nut tartlets

Honey, anthotiro and pine nut tart

INGREDIENTS for 6-7 small tartlets

pastry

  • 150g all purpose flour
  • 110g cold butter
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water or milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • seeds of 1 vanilla pod

filling

  • 300g anthotiro
  • 100g sugar
  • 80g honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g pine nuts
  • seeds of 1 vanilla pod

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 oC.
  2. For the crust: sift flour and combine with sugar, salt and vanilla. Cut butter into small pieces and rub into the flour using your fingers until the texture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water/ milk and knead gently.
  3. Take small pieces of dough, flatten them between your palms and cover 1 large 25 cm tart tin or 6-7 individual 10cm tins. Try to make it as thin as possible.
  4. Pierce the bottom of the tart with a fork.  Cover the pastry case with aluminium foil, then fill with baking beans or rice.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and beans and bake for another 15 minutes until the pastry case is golden in colour.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 150 oC.
  7. In the meantime make the filling: whisk the eggs with the sugar, salt and vanilla. While whisking, slowly add the honey. Make sure it has been well-incorporated. Whisk in the cheese.
  8. Pour cheese filling into the crusts and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
  9. Bake tartlets for 15-20 minutes until the filling has barely set.
  10. Refrigerate until needed.

Watermelon Sorbet

Watermelon Sorbet
Watermelon Sorbet

INGREDIENTS

  • 600g watermelon pulp
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g water
  • 60ml vodka

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil. Remove after 2 minutes.
  2. Whizz together pulp, vodka  and sugar syrup.
  3. Let mixture cool down in the fridge overnight until thoroughly chilled.
  4. Churn in an ice cream machine. Put in the freezer until needed.
  5. Before serving let sorbet stand in room temperature until it is scoopable.

33 comments

  1. All the dishes were delicious, especially the vitello tonnato and the octopus! Had it been a hot day this would have made an incredible light yet filling lunch, not that it was in any way lacking on a cold, rainy day either. And I just had those few little pieces of octopus I managed to go home with as a mid-morning snack and they were glorious! Thank you very very much!

  2. Bravo Ioanna on being a prat of 24=24=24 and representing Greece proudly and with distinction. The “spread” of food is top notch and I wish I was there to experience your philoxenia.

    I also like your taste in Ouzo (Mbambatzim)!

  3. Your meal looks absolutely stunning! It looks like you had as much fun making yours as I did making mine. That veal sounds absolutely delicious and I always love ouzo!

  4. FoodJunkie, what a wonderful spread! This could have been my table… the food is so similar to the one we cook here!!!! So Mediterranean, of course.
    Delicious dishes :D. My stomach also reacts so bad with garlic… but I can’t helped and eat it 😀
    So glad I met you ;D (Peter from Kalofagas already told me about you ;D)

  5. I love how you stayed true to your culture foods.. Salut to you and congratulations on a beautiful display and gorgeous looking food, you went all out and this is exactly what I was hoping to see with 24, 24, 24!! Ciao! 🙂

  6. Oh how wonderful…I love the Mediterranean feel & flavours. Truly gorgeous! Am glad there was happy mingling of food & friends! Congrats on being part of the 24!!

  7. Once again everything was absolutely perfect…
    I’ve never tasted before such delicious Octopus and pine nut tartlets!
    Thank you very very much for this wonderful meal Ioanna…
    Congratulations!!!

  8. The Menu looks awesome and so are your breathtaking pictures, I am glad I visited your site, thanks to foodbuzz we are introduced to so many authentic food and cultures.

    Congratulations being on 24-24-24!

  9. Bonjour tout d’abord bravo pour votre site que j’ai parcouru avec plaisir. cet article a retenu tout mon attention car je le trouve bien r�dig� et tres int�ressant. d’habitude je ne commente pas les sites mais aujourd’hui je prends quelques instants pour le faire. Je vous contacterais pour faire un �change de lien avec mon propre site. En esp�rant vous lire bientot.

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