The weather’s suddenly changed to a cool-windy-cloudy-clear-air kind and just like Mary Poppins I feel as if there’s something in the wind for me, perhaps. It’s a weird feeling for this time of the year (the waiting for changes season=spring, eh?), but who knows. And there’s a new job, by the way, oh yeah. The search of the job has recently become some kind of leitmotif of my life. It seems I’m just better at baking : )
It just came to my mind some days ago (while listening to Pink Floyd, obviously) that the best things in our lives are those intangible precious diamonds like your favourite music, sunlight touching your skin (ok, quite tangible), endless sky, welcoming sea… There are myriads of them, and only you know for yourself just what brings you happiness. And it is up to you also to share these tiny little treasures with others. However egoistic and self-sufficient we might be, we need those sharing moments a lot.
And now to food. I almost forgot about this post as the draft moved down the list on my WordPress dashboard. But sitting on our balcony that has come back to life thanks to my Mom reminded me of my balcony in Ano Poli (Upper Town) of Thessaloniki… Greece for me is hugely related to particular smells, taste, colours and sounds. Surely any place has something different and special but the thing is, Greece makes all of these senses so acute and thus the memories of it are equally pronounced. Recently I’ve been catching food aromas in the streets here in St Petersburg similar to those in Greece, but just several times. And I thought of those vegetable dishes that the Greeks know very well how to make – they have super vegetables so why not? Just go to the market and avoid supermarkets in the big cities.
As we’re having our own zucchinis right now, I thought about making something baked with them, aubergines and feta, that you can eat with a nice slice of bread, dipping it in the sauce… The answer came at once – briam! And then, why not make a menu with a Greek and a Danish recipe, hm? A great combination of southern and northern cuisines, by the way. I’ve already had a ‘menu’ with bread and a Greek baked vegetable dish on my blog – Fried Flatbread and Beans a la Grecque. And here is a new one.
First – bread, to accompany your dish and to soak in all the extra juices from the extra juicy vegetables:
Mørke Rugboller (Whole Grain Rye Rolls) adapted from seitanismymotor.com will make 100% rye flat bread which is just so cooooool inside. This is a sourdough bread so be ready to make an overnight starter with your sourdough culture first. The rest will be quite easy although this is a 100% rye bread.
For the recipe please follow the link above, I’ll just tell you about my changes:
I used less cracked rye kernels, adding some wheat grains, the same with sunflower seeds, to which I added some pumpkin seeds. As for the malt, I used my rye malt, which I scalded with boiling water beforehand. When shaping the rolls, I made them larger and thus made a smaller number. As I had to stay away from home for some time, I put the rolls already baked and packed in a plastic bag in the freezer. When we defrosted them in the fridge they were just alright.
Result: chewy small rolls packed with seeds… and the flavour is great, cause these are truly amazing 100% rye rolls + malt + sourdough! Tsss, I’ve even tried this bread with some apple jam, wow, as with almost any rye bread the combination is just wohoo (well, for Russians at least, we do love it!)
And now – vegetables, to take the best from them this summer:
Μπριάμ (Briam) translated and adapted from bettyscuisine.blogspot.com. This traditional Greek recipe will make a nutritious (really!) and truly summer vegetarian dish fit for a crowd (for some more of Elizabeth’s wonderful recipes from the Greek cuisine see a selection of pies and the traditional rolls of Thessaloniki). As usual my notes are in italics.
- 3-4 medium aubergines *
- 3-4 potatoes
- 3-4 zucchinis
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped – I prefer my pepper fresh so I added… garlic instead
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes – I omitted these completely
- half a can of passata (crushed tomatoes) – mine was a small package and I used it whole
- 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped – I used coriander
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup of olive oil – I used much less… see further
Clean, peel and cut the first three vegetables and cut them into medium slices. Put them in a large pan, season with salt and pepper and mix everything well. Then add the chopped onions, pepper, tomatoes, parsley, crushed tomatoes, oil and 2 cups of water, mix everything again and bake at 180 ‘C for at least 1 1/2 hours. Mix the vegetables while they’re baking and add water if needed. In the end you should get cooked through vegetables with some thick sauce left.
What I did was to bake the dish under foil, switching on the fan-assisted option at times (and lowering the temperature). I had to add some extra water. It took me less time to bake. Plus I added some brine cheese and scattered oregano on top at the end of baking, leaving the dish uncovered in the oven for some time.
* If you want to make smaller portions, you can just reduce the amount of everything respectfully, just like I did, taking less vegetables and, well, almost less of everything else. Briam is initially quite a flexible recipe, you can add garlic, carrots, beans and more hot spices, as you wish. I remember eating briam in a hospitable taverna just outside the parking space on the posh island of Santorini (will surely make a post about that trip!), and it was super-hot.
Result: These are not your bland vegetables! Perfect with bread, green salad and salty brine cheese. Yes, the addition of cheese is actually quite traditional and it was a very good idea, I should tell you. Also, as a bonus you’ll get all those juices from the vegetables that you’ll be most happy to soak your bread in. And even if you cannot live on vegetables and need meat, no worries, briam can work as a side dish too but be aware of its nutritional value, especially if you pour that whole cup of olive oil there 😉 It’s not for nothing that people warned me that even if you’re vegetarian when in Greece you might gain weight just like that, easily! So if you’re skeptical about this vegetarian thing, try some Greek vegetarian dishes.
And the overall result of the improvised international menu – great : ) The combination Danish 100% rye bread + Greek 100% summer vegetables worked!
Eh, I have this soft spot for Greece, you see… maybe I just know it (or rather feel it) better than any other country apart from Russia. Just recalled this thing about the Greek mentality: It’s most common in Greece to ask you straight away, even if you know each other for 5 minutes, what is your marital status (especially the girls), whether you have kids and all sorts of questions apparently uncomfortable for other European nations…
And yes, it’s not the first time I’m sharing anything (delicious) Greek here, so you can find more Greek recipes here.