bread · Greek recipe · muffins · pies

Mediterranean Flavours

What is your childhood aroma? I mean, that very flavour that each time brings memories from your childhood years? There is something from my childhood in… roasting garlic on aubergines, wonderful! Strangely enough, although this is what my Mom used to make as a kind of a delicacy, fried slices of aubergines with garlic, I somehow associate the smell and the taste with something Soviet… But the flavour is definitely far from what a Soviet table could offer you, non of those zesty things were there usually, but something more bland and very rarely seasoned beyond the regular sol i perets (salt & pepper). And what is ironic is that the WERE aubergines in the shops back then and it was quite a common vegetable for the South of Russia mostly, but however this dish, this almost Mediterranean flavour (without knowing back then what this Mediterranean looks like at all=) suddenly appearing at our table during the summer months, that was something from another planet!

I guess garlic has a power to bring out the flavours hidden in the aubergines, there’s something magical going on when these two unite on a hot pan. I can always tell their presence in the dish by this flavour they produce together.

Mom says she learned the recipe for fried slices of aubergines with garlic from her fellow students at the Uni back then when the recipes were shared from one person to another… just like now but without any sophisticated technology involved=) She rarely makes them now, but the flavour remains as one of the most recognizable for me. In this post, though, I won’t tell you the family secret, let’s discover some recipes found on the web (another epoch, eh?) to bring some Mediterranean Flavours to your table.

Also look here on how to use your courgettes (zucchini) and aubergines. Now, let’s begin our party with this tart:

This is Τάρτα λαχανικών με ψωμένιο φύλλο πίτας (Vegetable and Feta Tart on a Bready ‘Phyllo’ Crust) adapted from foodjunkie.eu.

The dough will be enough for two large pies, so you might freeze one of the parts (which I did), to use it later. I’m sure such dough will be wonderful for a pizza too!

What I’ve changed in the dough recipe, was to add some whole wheat flour, use even less olive oil and substitute lemon juice with… tomato juice =) This made the dough a little bit pink but I think that there was not any tomato flavour added though.

As for the filling (look below how distinct the layers are!),

…I used only one courgette instead of 2, omitted bell peppers and – again – used my combination of different cheeses to make up for the lack of real feta being sold in every shop around=) This time I came across the Armenian white brined cheese Chanakh (a very salty spongy thing, closer to brinza), which I mixed with some French combi cheese and added some milk. Here are these two cheeses, the Armenian one is below the spreadable combi cheese:

And if you happen to have some feta and quite a lot of it, or a similar cheese (I did a weird combination of cottage cheese, French combi and brined cheese), you can try this recipe of Πίτα με ανθότυρο (Anthotyro Pie) from bettyscuisine.blogspot.com– it’s in Greek but you know how to translate online, don’t you – which is really nice, producing a fluffy pie which was eaten at once without any chance of being photographed=)) So instead here’s another shot of Vegetable and Feta Tart:

I like how the cheese layer got springy to the touch and made a sort of a casing for the vegetables. Be sure to add enough herbs and salt if your cheese is not very salty (I was afraid to make a salt overdose with that very salty Chanah cheese I used but somehow avoided it), because the vegetables need this very something to brighten them up (my failure to do that was with recently tried Caramelized Vegetable Muffins from breadandoil.blogspot.com which I think need less flour and more flavour as far as my family tastes go). I added some tzatziki seasoning, herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning and sprinkled some dried rosemary on top (see below). Ah, yes, I also opted for just 2 large eggs instead of the required 4.

Still need more Mediterranean flavours?

Here’s for you then the recipe for Everything Bread which you will find at fakeginger.com will make a very nice flavourful bread packed with seeds. Try combining your favourite seeds and herbs to create your take on Mediterranean flavours!

My combination was the following: anise seeds instead of caraway seeds, less black pepper, no dried minced onions (as I have no such thing) but I did add some whole wheat flour. As for the topping, I also omitted dried minced garlic & onion, pepper and caraway seeds, leaving just poppy seeds and sesame.

By the way, we’ve grown addicted to basil, we even grew our own although it did not last long, so now we’re buying it – in pots if we’re lucky. Just LOOOOVE the flavour, it’s so accentuated and so much Mediterranean! We use basil in salads, in soups and even in tzatziki which I made with strange but thick enough Finnish yogurt (and of course I forgot to use the tzatziki seasoning in tzatziki!). And don’t throw away the cucumber juice left from grating and squeezing the cucumbers, as you can always use it for cleaning your face, makes a very nice pleasing effect on the skin!

Going to try another Mediterranean recipe tonight as I just picked 2 baby courgettes at our dacha – Scarpaccia Toscana from dajana-bakerscorner.blogspot.com.

UPD: this no-crust pie is wonderful! I added some paprika-stuffed olives and used other cheeses (brinza + suluguni) and herbs (thyme + basil + spring onions), but of course the original recipe is even more worthy of recommending as it is so sophisticated and yet simple =) I know, I just cannot keep myself from changing a recipe at least a tiny bit! So here’s the result (got the chance to make a photo before a single piece remained):

Post dedicated for those who always dream away listening to Vangelis’ album Voices – about flying somewhere over an island in the Aegean sea…

G.

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