Today on the blog a little Greek cooking inspiration and a few tips and tricks that I've been happy to learn recently from an absolute expert!
Last week I very luckily had the opportunity to go along to The Real Greek in Windsor and partake in a little Greek cooking with the lovely Tonia Buxton.
Tonia is a passionate Greek Gourmet Cook, Writer of many books including her own cookbook Tonia's Greek Kitchen as well as being the Presenter of the award winning Discovery Channel shows My Greek Kitchen and My Cypriot Kitchen.
So I eagerly went along in anticipation of learning some new skills and having a fun mornings cooking and meeting new people. With that in mind - we let the cooking commence!
We were shown how to make delicious Greek lamb patties - tray bake style, fresh zesty hummus and our own delightful Greek inspired sundaes!
The lamb patties came first and involved getting our hands stuck in, mixing the mince with Greek yogurt and a host of other gorgeous, yet simple, ingredients. We had a choice of flavourings and my cooking partner Marie and I went for cumin. In went a very large dash (or two) of the aromatic spice and in dismay we thought maybe we'd overdone it and put too much in - we were wrong. Upon cooking and tasting the cumin was very prominent but made it so, so delicious that it was spot on. I shall definitely be splashing this in, in high doses when cooking with lamb in the future!
The lamb was baked with chunks of courgettes, onion and unwaxed lemon wedges. The lemon was a revelation giving a sharp citrusy taste that cut deliciously through the richness of the lamb - another top tip I will be putting into practice.
Next up the hummus and because we were unable to use processors as they were being used in the kitchen for the afternoon restaurant service we went for it the old fashioned way. Mashing our chickpeas to make a somewhat rustic but hugely tasty dip with lashings of lemon juice and garlic finished off with a generous splash of paprika. Mwah!
Once the chopping, mashing, mixing and spicing was done, the lamb sent to the oven and the hummus set to chill, it was time to get experimental and creative as we put together our own Greek inspired sundaes.
Bring on the unique flavours of rose water and traditional Greek spoon sweets like cherries and the very unusual but absolutely delicious bergamot. Chopped and mixed with honey, Greek yoghurt, meringue, fresh apricots, strawberries and basically anything else that you could possibly think of and might want to include. Queue a session of drizzling, meringue smashing and strawberry slicing plus a lot of sticky fingers!
Once all of the invention was complete we sat down to enjoy the delights of the mornings labour (if you can call lots of laughter, a few glasses of rose and general merriment hard-work?!) The Real Greek staff provided us with a multitude of extra dishes to enjoy with our creations. Salads, potatoes, dips, aubergines and much, much more. We ate until we felt fit to burst, had a glorious time getting to know each other and learning more about Greek food and culture from Tonia, including a little coffee cup reading a la Greek style!
It was a fantastic morning and I feel lucky to have had the chance to take part. Tonia and her team, the restaurant staff and the other bloggers and Windsor locals taking part were all wonderful. Lots was learnt, A LOT was delightfully consumed and there was a lot of fun and laughter.
I recommend checking out Tonia's cookbook as well, it's full of great, simple and delicious recipes and I for one can't wait to learn more about the wonders of Greek food and it's fascinating history. Opa!