Greek Holiday Gyros

There are a whole load of foods that I’m pretty sure aren’t worth the trouble of cooking at home, though I suspect this list varies depending on where you live. I’m fairly certain I won’t be making  a sour dough loaf in my kitchen, now I’ve discovered the the flour pot bakery. But all bets are off when you consider the costs of eating abroad, but are dreaming of the lazy Mediterranean street food wonder that is gyros.

Maybe we’d sampled a bit too much of the local Ouzo on our Villa Plus holiday,  perhaps it was mild sun stroke, but we’re both pretty sure that discovering gyros made by a little old lady in Crete was a holiday food sensation. Sure you can get gyros anywhere, but this little old lady made fresh flatbread like it was as easy as tying your shoelace. It was soft, stuffed with fresh tzatziki and enough red onion to shake a stick at.

Flatbread dough

Flatbread

Flat breads – makes 4
175g self raising flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g natural yoghurt

Tzatziki
175g plain yoghurt
1 large cucumber
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Squeeze of a lemon
Handful of fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Everything else
2 chicken breasts
2 large tomatoes
1 red onion
Two white potatoes
Olive oil

Slice your potatoes into chips before mixing together in a baking tray with olive oil and salt. Place in the oven at 200 °F and leave to bake. Squeeze one half of the lemon and a glug of olive oil over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper, then leave to the side to marinade.

Mix the flat bread ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with your hands. Tip the mix onto a floured work surface and knead for a minute or two. It’s not like a normal bread recipe, so you only have to knead enough to bring it together. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a plate.

Chips

If you’re in Greece then the likelihood of needing to make your own tzatziki will be fairly limited. However, I’m down Brighton….so erm, will be making my own. Grate the cucumber and squeeze with your hands until all the excess liquid has gone. Then combine with the lemon juice, cucumber, chopped mint, yoghurt and crushed garlic. Season to taste. Slice the onion and tomato, then set aside to use later

Back to the flat breads. Place the dough onto a floured surface and divide and roll into 6 separate balls. With your hands, pat and flatten, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a circle, roughly 3mm thick.  Place your griddle pan on a high heat, then once smoking hot, cook each flatbread for 1 to 2 minutes each side, or until they puff up.

In the same griddle pan place the chicken skin side down and cook for 3 minutes. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven with the chips without ever turning the chicken. After 12 minutes take the chicken out of the oven, turn them over and leave to rest.  Remove the chips from the oven and pat dry on kitchen towel.

Tzatziki recipe

Fresh tzatziki

To assemble take one flat bread and fill with sliced chicken, chips, sliced tomato and sliced red onion. Dollop a generous amount of tzatziki on top and fold in the edges. And it is exactly what  you should make this weekend. Stuff these flat breads with whatever meat you fancy on the BBQ to get you dreaming of long lazy summer holidays

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Gingerella Poached Pears

I’ve come to think that discovering the moment for a perfectly ripe pear is something of a dark art. Miss the magic few minutes they’re just right and you’ll be wondering if it’s okay to spit or enjoy the apple like crunch. That was until the lovely people at Karma Cola got me onto a recipe that poaches them in ‘Gingerella’ ginger ale until they’re just perfect. It’s an Allegra recipe for Fairtrade week and ensures you’ll never have a crunchy pear again

Poached PearsWhat you’ll need
3 pears – I prefer the shorter fatter ones for this, but just make sure they’re not too ripe as they’ll fall apart in the cooking
1 vanilla pod or a couple of drops of vanilla essence
1 piece star anise
A couple of nuggets stem ginger, sliced
1 bottle Faitrade Gingerella ginger ale
1 lime
60g chocolate – milk or dark…your call

Peel the pears, then quarter and core. Choose a pan that can hold all the pear quarters in a single layer, then pour in the Gingerella. As it comes up to a simmer chuck in the vanilla, star anise, stem ginger and ginger wine if you’re heading that way.

Lay in the pear pieces and simmer then gently, uncovered for 12-20 mins (it’s a wide window as pears can be anything from rock hard so juicilicious) until a knife meets just a little resistance when you stick it in. Once ready, lift them out with a slotted spoon onto kitchen roll and leave to cool.

Sliced Ginger Gingerella

By this point the poaching liquor should be pretty reduced – you want to end up with about 4 tablespoons, so simmer it down or add a bit of hot water accordingly. Meanwhile melt the chocolate in whatever way you fancy (microwave or in a bowl over steaming water).

Use a fork to spear one of the cooled pear pieces at a time and dip the fat end of it into the chocolate, taking care not to make a big old mess, and leave to set a little then do the same with the rest.

Cut the lime into 6 wedges – squeeze two into the pan to finish off the sauce (have a quick taste as you warm it through) and have one for each of the plates.

Poached Pears and Chocolate

A challenger to the humble burger

American comfort food is everywhere at the moment. You can’t walk through Brighton without stumbling over a sesame seeded burger bap or slow cooked rack of ribs. Hell even Greggs now sell pulled pork. The competition is tough. There are trail blazers out there like Troll’s Pantry or my personal favourite Meat Liquor, but you’ll often find a bunch of over priced under achievers mixed amongst them. The £12.95 George and Payne cheese burger oddly seasoned with raisins springs to mind. Personally, any burger priced above a tenner needs to be pretty damn epic.

Every now and then there are whispers about something off the beaten track. A challenger to these over priced pub burgers and right now it’s Likkle Bickle. A husband and wife team who are bringing Caribbean street food to the seaside and food hacking the humble burger in the process. Meet the Ribwich. A lovely soft brioche bun stuffed with short rib beef slowly braised in rum and finished with scotch bonnet chutney. Served up with crunchy plantain chips. Now this is the future.

This is some to the best street food I’ve had and I urge you to seek Likkel Bickle out.

Tuesday Night Pancakes

So Tuesday is a bit of an odd day of the week for eating in our house. It sits neatly between ‘I’m only eating healthy stuff Monday’ and ‘I’ve given into the bag of office Haribo Wednesday’. However, once a year good old shrove Tuesday rolls into town with its offerings of guilt free fluffy pancakes.

It’s not a greatly planned event in our home, but more blind panic when we realise we have an excuse for pancakes on a Tuesday. Anna normally goes ice cream and banana, but I prefer a little lemon, sugar and cinnamon….erm, with some ice cream on the side. However, this year we wanted to make more of a meal of it. Forget those flimsy thin pancakes. We want thick old American ones dripping in maple syrup. Banoffee Pancakes seemed like a good shout, but hot toffee sauce just seems like we’re pushing our luck a little for a Tuesday. So we’re going back to a recipe we found ages ago, which is probably more like breakfast, but hey what’s not good without bacon right?

So here they are. Tuesday night pancakes that should actually be for Saturday morning recipe. The recipe name probably needs a little work.

What you’ll need
240g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda and another teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 large egg with a pinch of salt
500ml buttermilk or 500ml milk with two teaspoons of lemon juice if you can’t find any
2 tablespoons of melted butter
150g jumbo porridge oats
Rashers of streaky bacon. Personally I think if it’s not smoked it can’t be bacon
Fresh fruit and maple syrup to finish

Mix all you dry ingredients together in a bowl and separately whisk the egg and buttermilk. Then stir and combine the mixture together.  Allegra McEvady recommends making the batter the night before and keeping it in the fridge…it seems to make the pancakes a little bit more magic.

When you’re ready to get breakfast going, fold in the oats and melted butter. The trick is to do this with as little stirring as possible, it doesn’t matter if you have streaks of the melted butter left. Grease up a thick based frying pan or griddle if you want it to look fancy. A medium heat should do as you don’t want to burn them, but make sure the pan is hot.

Now each pancake should be about 4 tablespoons worth if you’re looking to be accurate. I found a soup ladle worked just as well. They’re ready to flip over when big bubbles start to appear on the top and around the edges, should be around 2-3 minutes. Then time for the flip, they’re fairly thick so be careful if you’re showboating and not using a spatula. Same amount of time for the other side or when they’re lovely and golden-brown. Serve straight away, with grilled crispy bacon, fresh fruit and a generous amount of maple syrup. Now that’s what I call a Tuesday night dinner!

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