23 Nov What happened at our Greek-Scottish St Andrew’s Day
Hilary wanted a Greek twist to her St Andrews Day celebration. Here’s what happened when she tried out Valia’s Hand Picked recipes for a Saturday evening supper in November.
My thoughts about St Andrew’s Day are to make it a bit like an American Thanksgiving dinner and to celebrate it every year with family and friends – whoever is around! My son and fiancée were visiting at the weekend, so although we’re ahead of the game we decided to get on with creating this new family tradition. Four of us all spent time studying at St Andrews University (some very recently, some of us slightly longer ago!), so there are lots of different reasons to celebrate our national saint – not to mention the fact that it’s November and we need a good warming dinner to cut through the mist and gloom.
So what happened when we attempted Valia’s menu? Well, for starters I had a really enjoyable afternoon in the kitchen! The time consuming element was the boureki, but it was also entirely worthwhile and good fun to be making something totally different.
For the boureki I made the olive oil shortcrust in the food processor. Perhaps not that authentic, but it worked extremely well. I missed out the raki because I didn’t have any, but would love to know what a shot of raki does to shortcrust. Next time! I also used it with a slicing tool to finely slice the courgettes and potatoes for the filling. I found enough mint in the garden and went with the feta/ricotta mix for the cheese. The results were delicious. The crust was crisp and shiny and the veggies were still al dente. We think we’ll try longer cooking next time and maybe smaller quantities. We served small chunks with the main course and then enjoyed it for lunch the next day. We thought warm was good, rather than room temperature – maybe it’s a climate thing!While I was in pastry making mode I also did a “granny’s apple pie”. We ate this the next day, but I just felt this needed to feature in the “thanksgiving” aspect of the celebration as it’s a dish that my Mum has always made and has mythical status in the family. Mine doesn’t quite match up to Mum’s, but I keep practising!
Then came the lamb. I used lamb steaks and our feeling was that either we should have gone for shorter cooking – as you would with a beef steak – or slower cooking, to get a real melt in the mouth “stew”, which I suspect is what the dish deserves. The flavouring was lovely but I wanted more cinnamon and more orange.The dill salad is the perfect accompaniment to smoked salmon and is on my dinner party menu for ever hereafter! I did cranachan my usual way, but will definitely try Valia’s variation – the Greek yoghurt sounds like a lovely twist.
We served prosecco, Arran beer, Irn bru and tomato juice before dinner! White wine was picpoul de pinet and with the main we had a Languedoc red, both as a toast to Paris.
We had such a good time cooking and eating these dishes. Can’t wait come on a cooking holiday in Greece and try some more of Valia’s fabulous recipes.