I don’t know about you but I have a mum who doesn’t like to sit down. Up at the early hours of dawn she’s already washed the floors, put up the lunches, done the washing and this is all done before the clocks have even struck 7a.m. What can I say, she likes to keep busy but more than that it’s keeping on top of things. I think I’ve inherited this from her to an extent in that I do like to keep busy and find I can only fully relax when I’ve done a lot with my day. Therefore to celebrate Mother’s Day I wanted to do something special and decided I would cook for her.
I’ve always remembered her saying she enjoys Greek and Mediterranean food after her first proper holiday in Cyprus a few years back where it was all you can eat every night and she absolutely loved it. One of her best friends was married to a Greek man too and she picked up some lovely recipes from them especially Greek potatoes! We always have these on a special occasion in our house because they are delicious but not the healthiest potatoes for you as you have to soak them in quite a lot of vegetable oil, however every now and then doesn’t hurt!
I absolutely love Greek food too and discovered some of the most delicious dishes on a holiday with Craig to Kefalonia last year. Not only was the scenery breath-taking and the people so friendly and accommodating but the food was something else. Kefalonia pie, Moussaka, beef stifado, I was completely in my element and would easily go back simply just for the food.
Therefore with this in mind I decided to go for a Mediterranean theme for dinner tonight and chose to make tzatziki with pitta to start followed by Griddled chicken, quinoa Greek salad and rosemary potatoes to follow.
For the tzatziki I followed Nigel Slater’s recipe and was pleasantly surprised at how simple it was to make. All you need is:
Yogurt (preferably goat’s or sheep’s, strained) I couldn’t get this so used Greek natural yoghurt
2 Crushed garlic
Dill or mint
A little salt
1) Peel a cucumber, cut it in half and remove the seeds.
2) Finely chop it and leave it in a colander with a little salt until it has given up some of its juice. (I grated it which worked also but might try chopping next time as was very wet)
3) Pat the cucumber dry with kitchen towels then fold into a little olive oil and 250g yogurt.
4) Season with a crushed clove of garlic, chopped mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The Tzatziki turned out delicious, a creamy flavour with a bit of a kick to it from the mint which worked deliciously with toasted pitta. I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean dips such as hummus, tzatziki and taramasalata- the trouble is you can end up eating the whole pot!
For dinner I made Griddled chicken with quinoa Greek salad. My mum isn’t a lover of beef or lamb so when searching for other meat related Greek recipes I found my search a little limited. To be fair I probably didn’t’ look in enough recipe books as was short on time but this is something I will look into. I remember actually having an incredible pork gyro in Kefalonia- a deliciously seasoned kebab, so that might just be my next recipe.
Another reservation I had with the recipe was that I knew my mum would probably enjoy it and be willing to try but wasn’t too sure if my dad and brother would like it as much as normally if left to their own devices they will eat steak and in my brother’s case, a domino’s pizza. With this in mind I decided to bake some roasted cube potatoes with rosemary on the side which worked well in adding extra flavour and a different form of carbs to the plate. One tip with the potatoes- when a recipe says 20-30mins, I’d give it at least 35 in order to get that extra crispiness.
Here is the recipe:
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
600g chicken mini fillets
1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
300g vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
handful pitted black kalamata olives
1 red onion, finely sliced
100g feta cheese, crumbled
small bunch mint leaves, chopped
juice and zest ½ lemon
For the potatoes:
1 kg Maris Piper potatoes
3-5 fresh rosemary sprigs
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
1) Preheat the oven to 200°C (~390° Fahrenheit). Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Place on a baking tray.
2) Pluck off the rosemary from the stem and scatter over the potatoes. Follow with a generous amount of olive oil and season with coarse sea salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Mix up the potatoes so that they are all covered in the seasoning.
3) Bake in the oven for 35-40 mins. Check every ten minutes and shuffle tray around so the potatoes move about.
4) Meanwhile Cook the quinoa following the pack instructions, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.
5) Mix the butter, chilli and garlic into a paste. Heat a hot gridlle pan with 2 tsp oil, Toss the chicken fillets in and cook for 3-4 mins each side or until cooked through. Whilst cooking, with a spoon put a dollop of the paste onto each fillet and let melt in.
6) Next, tip the tomatoes, olives, onion, feta and mint into a bowl. Toss in the cooked quinoa. Stir through the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and season well.
7) Serve with the chicken fillets on top and rosemary potatoes on side. Drizzle any remaining juices from the pan on top.
This was my first time making Quinoa and it really is a fantastic substitute for rice. My mum described it as a sort of sweet rice, like a rice pudding. The great thing with quinoa is you can have it with savoury or sweet ingredients and you can add so many different flavours to it.
The meal was fairly simple to make, had a variety of flavours was colourful and enjoyed by all. It was a lovely feeling to create something new and for my mum to have had the opportunity to just relax and not have to worry about cooking. The only downside to the dish was all the washing up. Take a tip from your mothers and wash up as you go along. I know I’ll keep that in mind for next time!
Happy Mother’s Day! x