Paphos re-born

 

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Nicosia

I have just returned from another trip to Cyprus spreading the word and distributing copies of Androula’s Kitchen to some new outlets. It’s now on sale at a traditional bakery and cafe based in an old watermill near Polis, an arts and crafts centre called Exhibit @Polis in the centre of town and in a centre called ‘The Place’ in old Paphos where it will sit very comfortably among the arts and crafts on display. This centre was opened last year in an old converted warehouse, it now houses many examples of traditional wares and demonstrations with  some of the artisans working on site on certain days. There is a display of the shadow puppets with a small theatre for occasional performances as well as a weaver, a potter and various other activities on display along with goods for sale like glass art, pottery, wine and some foodstuffs. Altogether a very attractive place to visit.It is right in the heart of the old town which when I visited  was in the grip of an upgrade in true Cypriot style. The roads and pavements torn up and no clear signs as to how you can access the shops just a sign to say ROAD CLOSED which was pretty obvious. I fear the shops will have lost a great deal of business from the passing tourists.When it is finished the area will be pedestrianised and should be a pleasing place to stroll around.

Next year, 2017  Paphos will be the city of culture so it is all systems go to get it ship shape. When it was first announced there was quite a bit of astonishment as the poor old town had seen a severe decline over recent years. Many of the traditional eateries have disappeared and shops lay empty and dusty while along the main road near the market many tourist cafes have sprung up. Paphos has two Malls on the outskirts which have played their part in taking businesses out of the old town, these mainly house the chains and clothes stores. The town gave an appearance of a shambles approaching from certain directions, with a jungle of hoardings and signs and odd extensions attached to some buildings but with a fresh approach the Mayor has been getting illegal hoardings and extensions removed with most of the businesses co-operating. This should make the whole town look neater and more coherent. I had often wondered at Cypriot planning regulations regarding buildings and  indeed if there was any city & town planning, as there are so many ugly buildings erected that do nothing to blend in with original existing buildings or add anything to the area. When I heard of the work to upgrade Paphos my immediate thoughts were that the municipality would be knocking down any old buildings and making everything the same as everywhere else i.e knocking any character out of the place. But after hearing a friend tell me that she was allowed to view an area under restoration, we were quietly hopeful that this may turn out well.This area was being reconstructed using old plans of how it was, creating a small friendly place including a bakery and cafe and an open air theatre.

Graffitti art in Paphos

There are some parts of Paphos that  have  attractive old buildings and I have noticed one or two have been renovated , if this was made a policy so as to give cohesiveness as they have done in Nicosia on the Green line , it would make a huge difference. In Nicosia many of the owners of old and in some cases derelict properties,were given an incentive to renovate which has resulted in a transformation of what was only a few years ago a run down area.This has encouraged young designers and artisan back into the newly renovated spaces, giving a good lively buzz. I was impressed by the refurbishment of the old power station in the back streets of Paphos which now houses the Cultural Centre which bodes well.

One of the saddest things that has happened with Paphos becoming such a tourist area, extending to Polis and beyond is that where the cafes and restaurants catered for the Cypriot local workers and families who love to eat out, they have now just set their sights on the tourist. Just a few years ago I remember having a great choice of eateries in the Polis area that did good local food at very good prices, sadly these have one by one disappeared. In the back streets of Paphos there is an area of workshops whose occupants, in some cases have been working there for many years,some their whole working lives, I hope these have also been given consideration in the up grade and not forced to vacate the area, taking with them the working heart of Paphos. This is a common problem not just in Cyprus, often the areas that house workshops and artists’ studios are by their nature in the cheaper end of town in old buildings, if the area gets “smartened up” it usually means the rents go up and out go the occupants.It also means much of the character goes with them.

I feel there is a gap in the market for some local producers to step in, I don’t mean traditional  either, I mean artisan. A good delicatessen type shop would be great selling all the best of local Cyprus produce , great olives and olive oil:an artisan bakery selling some organic breads using the old strain of wheat. I miss the bread of Cyprus that used to taste so good like many of their foods. An artisan cheese maker producing not just halloumi, anari and feta but some soft goats cheese, a hard sheep’s cheese or maybe even a blue cheese. In other European countries there are so many varieties of cheese produced. I love kefalotiri which is produced in Greece, but there is no reason why it could not be also produced in Cyprus. The major cheese producers in Cyprus seem to be  focused on exporting huge quantities of halloumi across the globe but in Cyprus there could be outlets for the small individual and specialist dairies.There is a growing interest in authenticity and quality, there is a definite place for it in Cyprus and more farmers should look towards growing organic which is not only where good health lies but profitability. Slowly I have seen more interest grow in this area in Cyprus and there have been several regular Farmer’s markets popping up over the island where small organic producers can sell there produce. Another need is for some organic chicken producers as much of the chicken sold has no flavour and no provenance, not long ago pork and chicken in Cyprus had a superb flavour, how are the farmers rearing their animals now? There is a wealth of old recipes that are mostly forgotten that in some small quarters are being revived by young enthusiastic chefs, I am looking forward to a renaissance in local cooking and the rejection of those ubiquitous oven chips that are creeping in. Vive la chip!!!

 

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Mellow Yellow

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I’ve just heard it on the news today uttered by a cardiologist in fact, that butter is good for you. Yay! At last is all I can say. For years I have firmly believed that butter, a natural product has got to be better for you than margarine, a mostly synthetic and wholly unnatural product. I haven’t cooked or eaten margarine or any made up spread for nearly 30 years and only use olive oil and butter. I have long been an advocate of a little of what you fancy does you good and I certainly haven’t fancied margarine. The scientists say that even cooking with sunflower oil, an oil I considered healthy, is bad for you as apparently when heated to high temperatures it changes it into something that is not healthy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33675975. These days trying to navigate your way to eating a healthy diet using the ‘scientific’ evidence is like a minefield and changes all the time. It used to be that butter and all saturated fat was ‘bad’ for you and sent you on a speedy road to a heart attack. Now saturated fat is man’s best friend even cooking with lard, apparently is better than cooking at high temperatures with sunflower oil; well  bring on the beef dripping sandwiches I say.

In the same conversation with the cardiologist, now wait for this bombshell, eating full fat cheese, milk and yoghurt is far better even for slimmers than semi skimmed and low fat.

If you stick to a diet that is a close to nature as possible you can’t go far wrong, that is the less man has had a hand in producing it the better; the more opportunity he has had to tinker with the produce or animal, add or subtract, mix and match the less you know what he has actually done. It seems to me quite often the results of scientific studies lay themselves open to misinterpretation depending on who is wanting the results and for what agenda. As I get older I listen to the latest finding with a good dose of scepticism.

The mediterranean diet as we all know is one of the healthiest, particularly including a great variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds into our diets, eat this and you can’t go far wrong.

Cookery Book Heaven

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Needless to say I love cookery books; it would be strange if I didn’t  as I have a large recipe section in my book ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ ( buy your copy on this site). So I was delighted to receive for Christmas ‘Jerusalem ‘by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.I have been a great lover of Ottolenghi recipes ever since my sister introduced me to them. Ottolenghi is an Israeli and Tamimi  a Palestinian  were both born in Jerusalem and now are working partners in London. His recipes have a great deal of depth of flavour as they usually include many herbs and spices.’Jerusalem’ is one of those books I love because it tells stories as well as giving you recipes and all accompanied by a rich array of fascinating photos of periphery subjects as well as mouthwatering food. It is a book born out of a sort of longing  for the food of his early years; most of us, if we are lucky, have fond memories of our mother’s cooking as we were growing up, I certainly do.

Another favourite author of mine is Claudia Roden, a fascinating writer who has a multicultural background, born in Cairo studied in Paris and moved to London.Both write about mediterranean food; Roden covers Egypt, Greece and the Lebanon in her book ‘Mediterranean Cooking’ which accompanied a BBC series many years ago; Ottolenghi and Tamimi mostly the  Lebanon. Many years ago I went to Granada on a dance holiday and part of the memorable experience was the variety of eating places we were taken to. My favourite apart from the vegetarian restaurant; yes they do exist in Spain; was the restaurant in the Arab quarter , the Albaysin, which served delicious Lebanese food.

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I think out of all mediterranean food Lebanese is my favourite, it is of course a mixture of all the cultures that have passed through its regions over centuries much like Cyprus. With Cyprus it shares many dishes and through ‘Jerusalem’ I am learning even more similarities. Kibbeh, houmous, Mahulabieh, bourekia, these I knew  but there are so many other cross-overs it is fascinating. Just before Christmas, I was watching Rick Stein’s latest BBC series ‘Venice to Istanbul’ I was enticed into buying the book after watching Stein cook many of the recipes he picked up in Turkey, especially dishes using pearl barley which intrigued me as my only memory of pearl barley was when my mum cooked neck of lamb stew with dumplings and boy was that good. I was pleased to see in ‘Jerusalem ‘ a recipe for a pearl barley vegetarian risotto. I tried this on Sunday and it was as promised truly scrumptious. So if like me you love mediterranean food these are books I highly recommend and happy eating….I must stop buying books.

I Missed It!

This weekend has been a holiday time in Cyprus. The Saturday and Sunday saw many carnivals taking place around the country the biggest being in Limassol. For various reasons I sadly missed this gaiety and a great photo opportunity if ever there was one. Instead I was enjoying a glorious day and a seafood lunch at Latchi, I even wore my sunglasses for the first time but from what I hear a good time was had by all…. even me. On the Monday generally all Cypriots gather with their families and celebrate Green (or Clean) Monday the beginning of Lent. This is marked by eating a meal based on vegetables, salad and shellfish or octopus. Often picnics are taken out to the countryside on the Monday and kites are flown. I was greatly looking forward to seeing this but sadly the weather was very wet and cold, unusually so for this time of year and most were staying indoors in the warm. I saw one brave sole trying to fly his kite in very poor conditions but bravo for the spirit of the thing..

Today I have been helping my good friend Elena of Orexi fame in her kitchen bottling up some of her delicious preserves in readiness for the monthly event of The Farmers market at the herb garden at Pano Akourdalia which should be very busy as it usually is and a great social gathering in a beautiful spot. On my way home from a productive morning I decided to travel a different route taking the long way round and went through Kato Arodhes an adjacent village to the one  in which I am staying in so doing I passed some amazing scenery looking down to the sea with lush green everywhere. I thought I’d share the pictures.

Demanding but Delicious

My long prepared for demonstration and talk at West Dean College finally took place on Saturday and to say I was apprehensive in the days leading up to the final hour, was a bit of an understatement. I had made a trip to London paying  a visit to Tony’s Continental store in Finchley to gather some of the ingredients but I was  more worried about not giving value for money than what the food would taste like as I knew that would speak for itself. The recipes were all tried and tested and most of the dishes I cooked beforehand so just needed re-heating . I left the simple dishes for demonstrating. I wanted to give an idea of the unusual foods that Cyprus had to offer so colocassi of course was there although strictly speaking the taro can be found in a great many countries, trahana had to be included, mixed with some home made chicken stock and shamali made with semolina and yoghurt was for dessert. I took along some masticha and mahlep for the audience to see and smell as well as carob syrup and carob bean.

I started by making a simple village salad and sprinkled grilled halloumi on top also offering the fresh halloumi to taste. The halloumi was the real thing made with goat and sheep’s milk and kept in the brine, completely different to the flabby tasteless stuff our supermarkets offer up. Tsakisstes were there and so delicious. My friend Rosemary Moon was assisting and cooking up some koupes  while I chatted along about the different foods and cooking up some kieftedhes. It turned into quite a meze of flavours, the audience were invited to come and taste at intervals rather than leaving it all to taste at the end. Many came for seconds and even thirds, the colocassi and trahana as well as the tsakisstes proved to be a great hit. As an afterthought I had also made some skordalia to be eaten with the other things and wasn’t sure they would like it as it was so strong but this too disappeared.

My friend Lois came along to take some photos and shoot a bit of video and she wasn’t left out when it came to tasting the food.

The audience  all had some experience of Cyprus and apart from one man all had visited, or lived there, several had been in the British Forces, there were also a couple of people who were Cypriot and born in the UK, we had a full house. After a tea break I gave a slide show and talk about the crafts but it also ended up with photos of more food by request. I felt that most had come to re-visit happy memories of the food and island and there was a genuine love of this magical place. It seems that Cyprus touches people in their hearts. I found it a great pleasure to act in my humble way as an ambassador for this place and share my enthusiasm for the food and crafts.  I found I had to put quite a bit of time into the preparation of both the talk and the food but it was worth it. Now I have one under my belt I wouldn’t mind doing another one…. but not quite yet!!!

Let’s Talk Food

 

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I know it may seem like a long way ahead but I’ve been thinking, on and off, about my debut as a cookery demonstrator in February. Yes, the world has gone topsy turvy. I can cook of course but I do not consider myself in any way as ‘a cook’  if you see what I mean. I still have to read recipes when cooking cakes, I measure most things instead of judging by eye. I like to try out new things and as regular readers will know I love a good cake recipe. It was only when I stopped regular work a few years ago that I really had the time to think properly about cooking and when I was researching for the book I tried out a lot more recipes. Like most things you become more confident and knowledgeable with practice.

I was asked to do a small demonstration and talk on food  and crafts relating to my book by a local private college that runs short and long courses on food and art & craft subjects. The college, West Dean, is run by the Edward James Foundation and my path has led there on more than one occasion over the years for many different reasons. I of course have done a few courses on rare occasions but I have also worked there. For many years I used to give a lecture to the furniture restoration students about painted furniture restoration once a year, more recently I did a concentrated 3 day session with the post-graduates. When the renowned interior decorator David Mlinaric was engaged to give the dining room and surrounding areas a makeover in the 1980’s they asked me to work with him on the stencilled frieze that ran around the walls. I have even worked part time as a kitchen assistant, so now I find it a little ironic that I’ve been asked to do this talk.

As it’s only half a day and the first half is only one and a half hours long I’m going to have to find a few things that are quick and possibly take some things that are already prepared. While I’ve been pondering, I always wanted to try making skordalia. Although I’ve never eaten this in Cyprus  it is eaten with salted cod in Lent and sounds delicious. It is a dip made with stale bread soaked in water to soften, olive oil and garlic pounded with salt. You can add nuts, almonds or walnuts and also it can be  made with mashed potato. I made some today used stale bread and pine nuts,  if you like fresh pesto you’ll love this.

I think this may be one thing I can take and a melitzanasalada  which is another dip made with aubergines. I also want to make some keftedhes. These are those tasty little meatballs that pop up everywhere especially at weddings and parties. Of course I’m tempted to make a cake and the one that is so popular in Cyprus, Shamali. I’ve even made a video of this, check out the recipes page on the drop down menu under food.

Jam and Cake

9872832793_9ebac4e0d3_zOut of all the squash family, marrows are my least favourite vegetable but they are great for one thing and that’s making fabulous marrow and ginger jam, I have fond memories of my mum making this.  As we had a spare marrow growing in the community garden that hadn’t run away with itself and turned into a giant, I decided to make some yesterday. Last year was my first attempt and to be honest it is always on the runny side. The recipe suggests you sprinkle some sugar on the marrow and leave overnight. This acts the same as salt as it de-gorges all the water leaving you with a lot of liquid and shrivelled pieces of marrow. So when you make the jam it seems to consist mostly of syrup but what a delicious syrup with that ginger and lemon tang!

Last year I found a new use for it as well. When we had an open day to raise some money for the garden, I cooked my mum’s ginger parkin, (well actually it was my grannie’s recipe). This I turned into my recipe by substituting carob syrup for some of the golden syrup, much healthier. I had this idea last year when I’d finished it that I could adapt it even more by pricking the surface and pouring the marrow and ginger syrup over it when warm, sort of a nod to the many cakes you find in Cyprus which have a syrup over them. I guess this is how all recipes evolve by developing a basic great idea and making it your own. I have to say the result was very rich and added another depth to the taste.A lovely cake to use as pudding with ice cream. I am very partial to a bit of ginger nice and warming on the chilly nights.

Here is the recipe:-

CAROB CAKE

75 grams hazelnuts finely ground

200 grams medium to fine oatmeal

200 grams self-raising wholemeal flour

225 grams unsalted butter

225 grams dark Barbados or muscovado sugar

2 eggs

4 generous tablespoons of carob syrup

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

Melt the butter gently over low heat together with the sugar and when dissolved add the carob syrup taking off the heat. Beat the eggs. Sift the flour into a bowl add the oatmeal, baking powder and nuts. Pour in the butter mixture and mix thoroughly then add the eggs, mix well. Pour into a greased tin 22cm square and bake in a heated oven mark 4 gas or 180° centigrade for about 45 −50 mins until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. While still hot warm prick the surface all over with a toothpick and pour over the syrup.

One of the many recipes to be found in ‘Androula’s Kitchen-Cyprus on a Plate’

Two varieties of ginger as sold in Haikou, Hai...

Two varieties of ginger as sold in Haikou, Hainan, China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucky Dip

 

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As it’s one of those rainy summer Saturdays, my plans have had to be slightly altered and instead of my trip down to the community garden I have been catching up on a few jobs at home. One of them was to do my weekly bread making; I was looking forward to having a few slices for my lunch with some lovely cheese I bought yesterday. I was getting hungry and the bread still had to bake and cool for half an hour so what to eat?

Last night I experimented a bit for my dinner. I grilled a herring and to accompany it I cooked leek and cabbage tossed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. I steamed some sliced potatoes with sliced carrots ;all the vegetables were from the garden. When they were cooked I tossed them in butter and olive oil, salt & pepper, a few capers and a dash of lime pickle sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves. I had some of this potato left over so I heated it up with a little olive oil in a skillet and added a few slices of apple until the potato had crispy edges and the apple was soft. I grilled a sausage, slicing it down the middle finishing it off by crisping it up with the potatoes.

Last Night I had reduced down some beefsteak tomatoes with garlic, salt & pepper so I put a few teaspoons of this on the bottom of the dish and placed the sausage and potato on top. I have to say this was tasty. I can’t show you a picture as I scoffed the lot sharpish as I was hungry but I can tell you it looked very pretty. The tomatoes were red and orange, the potato had golden edges speckled through with orange carrot and green coriander. I have been watching Celebrity Masterchef the last couple of weeks and I think it’s starting to affect me!!!

Pitta Bread

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The weather is lovely at the moment and we have a lot of salad produce coming from the garden so what better way to enjoy it for lunch than making a delicious salad filling for a pitta? I make my own bread once a week so instead of making a large loaf I used one-third of the dough to make a few pittas.

When I first experimented with making these. I was thrilled to discover that the dough spontaneously separates in the middle when cooked in the skillet.

I use for making the dough, one-third each of strong bread flour, spelt flour and kamut flour with salt, sugar yeast and water accordingly. For my loaf I use 8 ozs of each flour with 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of quick yeast and 426 ml. of tepid water. Mix all the ingredients together and mix into a soft dough, kneading for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put in a bowl brushed generously with olive oil and leave  in a warm place to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size then knead again and leave for a further 45 minutes.

To make the pittas, tear a piece the size of a tennis ball from the dough and roll it out on a floured board into the required shape, an oblong or circle, about 3 mm thick. Heat a skillet to very hot and place the pittas on it to cook making sure they don’t burn. These generally take about 3 mins on a medium to high heat each side. You can also grill them. Turn over and cook on the other side when the dough will bubble up and separate.

These can be stored in the fridge in a polythene bag until needed and re-heated under the grill. Great fun.

Pittas are great toasted and used for all those dips like:- humous, tsaziki, skordalia, ect.

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A Fruity Little Number

My Good friend Gill just can’t seem to get enough of this Revani recipe….

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Getting something new is always exciting, even when it is a new oven.  Yesterday I was the lucky recipient of a shiny new oven to replace my old one which had blown the main oven element for about the 5th time, and lets face it, there are only so many times when a repair  is the better option and this was not one of them.

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My shiny new oven

Once my husband had installed it, the question was “what to cook in it?”  Normally I would have just made the evening meal, but we had a substantial lunch out, so my new oven sat gleaming for a bit longer.  Today I decided I couldn’t wait any longer so I decided to make a cake.  Now a nice new oven  should really be christened with a special cake, and what could be more special than a Revani, recipe courtesy of my…

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Beans

As I haven’t posted any food posts for a while I thought I would offer one up. It’s a very simple one but doesn’t lack taste for all that, surprisingly tasty in fact considering there are very few ingredients.

My cousin Androula cooked this one evening and I liked it so much I’ve cooked it a few times at home.

1 cup of Cannelini beans soaked for a few hours then cooked in clean water for half an hour. Cut up a couple of sticks of celery and slice a couple of carrots.

Cook these with the cannelini beans in some more water adding salt and pepper for a further half an hour. Serve with a little olive oil sprinkled on top.  It sounds boring but believe me it is incredibly tasty and satisfying.

You could add chicken stock and other ingredients to make a tasty soup and I was tempted to make more of it but as it tastes so good this simply why add anything else?

Signing or Talking?

Before I made my visit to Cyprus I arranged with the lovely Inga of Inga’s Veggie Heaven fame, to do a small book signing event at her cafe. Inga very kindly notified people and posted on Facebook as I did . I wasn’t sure how it would turn out as it’s an unusual event for Cyprus and this part of Lefkosia where the cafe is situated, doesn’t have a very heavy footfall of passers-by or tourists, the clientelle knows of the cafe and makes a special journey to frequent it.

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But I liked the place as it’s situated on the corner of a small craft centre with workshops scattered around a courtyard, also the food is delicious. It is open mainly for lunch and I arrived at 1pm so that I could enjoy a relaxed meal before the ‘crowds’ arrived!

I started with a refreshing glass of chilled home-made lemonade and a chunk of home-made bread served with houmous. For my main meal I ate a fragrant plate of vegetarian lasagna and delicious fresh salad. The whole cafe has a gorgeous aroma of bread, herbs and general deliciousness that I wish I could bottle and take home with me.

Needless to say we were not rushed off our feet with the onslaught but I will say that quality is better than quantity. I spent a delightful few hours chatting to Inga and her Italian second in command Itale, a friend of Inga’s turned up to buy a book and have it signed and stayed to chat with us. Then an American man wandered in with a cleverly designed fold up bike to sit and have lunch and straightaway bought two copies of the book. Inga’s had been recommended to him some time ago and he had promised himself a visit at some point then he was told about the book signing and decided Tuesday would be the day. He lingered over his meal savouring the food and reading the book, occasionally joining in the conversation. He will certainly return with his wife who is a vegan.

Tuesday was a day of visits and I passed by some of the places that stock the book to say hello, my last being Mouflon bookshop, where I was given further information to follow-up and told the good news that they had sold all the copies of ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ that they had in stock and needed some more. So I ended up feeling fulfilled and content.

 

Sssh shamali -It’s a Good Thing

 

Don’t forget you can order your copy of ‘Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate’ on this site at a very special price just click on the Home Page and follow the links. Why not buy it for a friend for Christmas? Read the reviews by clicking on the menu bar.

Well my video debut has arrived and I’m on You Tube!!!! I have been fiddling with the iMovie programme on my lap top and it has been both ffs fun and frustrating. I am constantly amazed at how sophisticated computers are these days and what you can do with them.

My first foray into movie making was making two videos about the cake shamali, I chose this subject because this recipe on the website is the most looked at post. The first shorter video is taken from some interviews my friends and I recorded in December. Rosemary Moon is a well known food writer who lives in my village and was the instigator and driving force behind our community garden, she offered, very kindly to help me make some videos by asking me questions to help the information flow forth as I was having a great deal of difficulty talking straight to camera on my own. It has taken me all this time to get to grips with the technology and find the time to fiddle. Here is the first one:-

On Sunday my friend Karen gamely agreed to help me shoot the second video of me making the cake, which I’m quite pleased with, the cake turned out OK as well so quite a successful day all in all.

Last week saw me make the bold decision to  visit  Cyprus in April for promotional purposes. About ten days or so ago I received an email from the principle of Larnaka Art College, Michael Paraskos. I had sent his father Stass Paraskos ,the founder of the college, a copy of the book as a token of good will as I had used a lot of images of the college in Lemba which, although started as the main art college is now just used for the summer school.

I’m pleased to say he liked the book and has asked me to give a talk on both the book and my work at their Friday lectures held every Friday afternoon in term time at the Larnaka college. I thought this would be a great opportunity to promote it and hopefully sell a few copies! Surprisingly I found that the lectures are linked to the local U3A group which is a great connection as I belong to my local group in Chichester and can see another promotional opportunity to write an article about meeting them and hopefully get it accepted in the U3A magazine. I’m such a publicity tart these days!!! There is also offer of a free table at a Craft Fair that is being held at the college on my first Sunday there. So a cornucopia of opportunity could await.

While I’m out there I’m hoping to link up with people I have made acquaintance with on the internet as well as visit the book shops who have stocked the book. I also want to gather even more information, food for more blogs and who knows another book in the future. Ambitious, I think at this stage as I have to concentrate on selling this one first. I can but dream.

Don’t forget you can order your copy of ‘Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate’ on this site at a very special price just click on the Home Page and follow the links. Why not buy it for a friend for Christmas? Read the reviews by clicking on the menu bar.

Carob – The Black Gold of Cyprus

 

My first visit to Cyprus was in the exceptionally hot month of August when the temperature reaches the dizzying realms of over 100f as it was then or 40c in new money, in the shade. Unused to these extreme temperatures I needless to say caught sunstroke. If you do find yourself out and about in the midday sun, one of your best plans of action is to find yourself a nice shady tree to sit under until the sun has passed its zenith. The best trees for this purpose are the carob, with their broad, evergreen leaves. If you’re driving, park the car in its welcome shade and enjoy the breeze as it rustles the leaves, just the sound has a cooling effect.

There were at one time over two million carob trees in Cyprus ( who counted?) the fruits of the carob were the main export of the island, gaining the description ‘Black Gold’ through the fortunes it manifested. The carob tree has been cultivated for thousands of years, the pods are harvested to produce a variety of products, mainly carob syrup which is a treacle like substance lending a sweetness to whatever it’s added. I love carob syrup and add it to cakes and put it on my porridge in the morning. It is extremely nutritious too and contains more calcium than milk and has a very low-fat content. Carob powder, the ground bean, is used as a healthy substitute for cocoa in making  a simulated chocolate.

The  beans or pods when sucked taste a lot like liquorice and are shaped like a large flat brown pea when ripe, indeed they are part of the pea family. They can grow up to 49 feet wow, the trees that is not the pods!

Carobs hanging of a carob tree(Ceratonia siliq...

Carobs hanging of a carob tree(Ceratonia siliqua), Mallorca. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sadly, partly due to labour intensive harvesting, carob production has declined sharply. The only surviving traditional carob factory is a family run business in Anogyra in the Limassol district, well worth a visit if you’re in the area as they have a very interesting museum there.

There’s gold in them thar trees.

In Androula’s Kitchen the book there is a yummy recipe for Carob cake. You can buy it here:-

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Pourgouri Pilaffi with Chorizo

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Tomato slices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A dish that I cook a lot and is a bit like comfort food to me, is pourgouri pilaffi. It is very simple to make and can be adapted by adding different ingredients when the mood takes me.

The basic recipe requires:-

I onion diced

1 tablespoon  sun dried tomato paste or 1 large fresh tomato grated or half a small tin tomatoes

a handful of orzo pasta or vermicelli

200 g of bulghur wheat

Olive oil 1 tablespoon

salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onion in the oil until soft then add the orzo or vermicelli and cook until turning brown then add the tomatoes and soften them down if fresh and add the seasoning. Put in the bulghur wheat and mix the tomato paste with 568 ml  of hot, boiled water  and also add that to the mix, giving it all a good stir. Put on a lid and leaving the heat on low, cook for 10 mins. Turn the heat off and leaving the lid on leave the pilaffi for a further 10 mins until the moisture is absorbed and the pourgouri is fluffy. Serve as an accompaniment to afelia or similar.

I like to eat it as a meal in itself with some vegetables on the side and I add  sliced bacon to the mix after cooking the onion and fry until it is turning brown before adding the tomato. Yesterday I decided to also add a bit of chopped chorizo  and it certainly made a delicious meal with my plate of green beans, courgette and chard as a side dish. Very inter-continental.

The recipe for pourgouri pilaffi and more delicious recipes can be found in my book ‘Androula’s Kitchen – Cyprus on a Plate’ due to released in October. Check out some sample pages on The Book page