Garden Frolics

After a festival weekend a couple of weeks ago, last weekend I had garden centred frolic. The community garden I belong to has a couple of open afternoons a year where we all bake a few cakes, open the garden to the public and invite them to have a cup of tea and a slice for a small donation. We have a tom bola and sometimes a raffle to add to the jollity and usually we get a good turnout which boosts our funds to pay for any new equipment and materials we might need.

Last weekend as it was men’s finals at Wimbledon on the Sunday we made it an open morning so as not to clash. The weather was perfect and all available umbrellas and gazebo’s from member’s gardens were brought into service. I donated a couple of copies of ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ for the tombola and made my version of Revani that’s written in the cake section, for the cake stall.  My good friend Gill of Paisley Pedlar fame has raved about this cake often and seems to find any excuse to make it, in fact she bought a new oven recently and the first thing she baked in it was Revani tis Sonia now that’s dedication! I also made some fig slices, I was looking for a very quick recipe using dates and found one online but realised I only had figs in my cupboard so these were duly substituted and I have to say they were a winner.

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The copies of the book were duly signed for the lucky winners. If you want a chance to win a copy, a lucky draw is ongoing at the moment on the Eugreeka website http://www.eugreeka.com/cyprus-on-a-plate it’s open to any one until 18th July and the winner will be announced in the newsletter out on the 19th July.

The same weekend, one of the member’s had a milestone birthday, it seems to be the year for them , and invited a few of our members to a birthday bash in her garden, and very lovely it was too.

I love it when the weather is lovely down at the garden and at the moment it is thriving and we are busy harvesting soft fruits, broad beans, spinach and chard, cauliflowers and cabbages, as well as digging up shallots, onions and garlic to dry off for storing. We also have masses of salad stuff on the go. I was recently delighted to find a community garden has been set up on the outskirts of Lefkosia in Kaimakli and it has been founded on the same principles as our own Tangmere garden: community and friendship and learning how to grow your own good food to live healthily.http://collectivebahce.wordpress.com/the-community-garden/

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A Fruity Little Number

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

paisleypedlar

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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I’m addicted………to cake Cyprus on a Plate

Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes

Image by The Style PA via Flickr

Some people have this relationship with chocolate, they can’t live without it, they get sort of addicted and suffer withdrawal symptoms if they go without. Me, I love cake. Don’t get me wrong I like a bit of chocolate but I can live without it for loooong spells but cake is my downfall, my nemesis.

This love is born from an early age, my mum was too good a cook you see. She liked cakes as well.

When writing Androula’s Kitchen of course I had to research cakes. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. So I knuckled down. The trouble is a lot of the cakes they cook in Cyprus are pretty sweet and have a sugar syrup poured over them. I like cake but not usually the very sweet kind. my preferences are the dense variety like fruit cake or a light lemon drizzle, it’s that lemony, zesty, zing that is just delicious, or cakes made with ground nuts and egg whites stiffly beaten. A good Victoria Sponge is hard to beat as long as it has fresh cream and homemade jam in the middle, butter cream is too sickly I find and of course I love a bit carrot cake with a yoghurty topping, I’m sure this should count as one our five a day portions of fruit and veg no?

There are a few cakes they make in Cyprus that are nearer my kind of cake. One is called Revani which is found all over the mediterranean. The twist though is it uses semolina as well as flour and this is also a characteristic of some cakes made in Greece. This gives the cake a denser feel and has a coarser texture. Also as there was no dairy-farming on Cyprus until recently, butter was replaced by sunflower oil traditionally and this is still used in cake making today sometimes.

Another cake which also uses semolina is called Shamili in Cyprus, this is even more unusual as it is made with Yoghurt. In Greece they also have a version of this and not surprisingly it is called Yoghurt cake. Both Revani and Shamili have a syrup poured over them after cooking but the amount of sugar in the cake is adjusted to allow for this so making it no more sweet than a normal cake. I have a theory that the syrup method was used originally as a way of keeping the cake moist in such a hot climate. But we probably will never know who first thought of the idea.