It's been a cold and blustery day here in Christchurch. Clear skies and sunshine at times, but the wind chill was brrrrrrr. We even had a patch of hail around 2pm. I broke out my ski jacket for the first time this autumn, so was nice and toastie when I did venture out to meet a fellow coach for coffee around 4.
I'm on a bread-making kick at the moment, which started on Easter Thursday. My mother had decided that this year we would make our Hot Cross Buns, rather than buy them, so I had a trawl through her cook-books for a recipe. The one I found made enough for a loaf of bread, a dozen or more buns and a tray of bread rolls. I enjoyed the process so much, that I made another batch, this time wholemeal, on Sunday. Come lunchtime today, there was just the heel of the loaf left.
When I was cooking in Crete, at least twice a week it was my job to make the Greek Salad for Lunch. We usually chopped up Tomato and Cucumber, added green olives and feta and sprinkled over oregano. You can find a similar Greek Salad on the menu of any restaurant in Crete. Another dish: Dakos is also common. It uses hard baked barley rusks, topped by tomato and feta. I ate a third variant at Dimitri's Raki Making party in Sakturia where the traditional Greek salad ingredients were put in a bowl on top of bread. The juice of the tomato and cucumber and oil seeps through the bread - delicious! There may have been eggs in the Sakturia salad also - but my memory is hazy. Drinking fresh hot raki will do that for you!
Anyway, today I had a bit of a sore throat, a need for vitamin C, and some good, very ripe, tomatoes along with the remnants of the bread from Sunday. With the Sakturian salad as my inspiration, I went to work. The heel of the loaf, cut into cubes was the base, followed by tomato, cucumber, a few black olives, oregano, and some finely diced red onion. I discovered some mandarin-infused olive oil in the back of the cupboard. Tossed together, left for half an hour for the bread to soften, it was divine!
Tonight, as darkness fell, and still needing Vitamin C, it was time for more tomatoes. I turned to an old favourite, and made my classic pasta sauce. This one had 3 large carrots, 2 onions, a half a yellow chili and about a pound (450g) of Topside Mince, along with 2 tins of tomatoes and a mini tin of tomato paste. I cooked it in the large Non-Stick wok for an hour(with a lid), and there was enough for 6 servings. Served on mini lasagne pasta, with cauliflower and beans it was the perfect food for a cold day. And, as a bonus, there are another 4 servings of sauce chilling in the fridge before being frozen to provide instant food in the weeks ahead. Mmmm.... Autumn has much to look forward to.