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Monday, 17 February 2014

Rabbits and Spices


Rabbits and Spices 











Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour.
William Cowper






My spice rack in Australia 


My spice rack in Australia, made by Takis and hung on the back of the pantry door. And I have to admit that, like so many women, I find it hard to throw out something I might want to use one day!

The Greek Spice Rack

Allspice/Bahari
A common ingredient of béchamel sauce, also used in stews and meat sauces.
Aniseed/ Glickanisso
Widely used in ancient Greece. Today it is mainly used in biscuits and cakes, and as flavouring for ouzo and sausages.
Cinnamon/Kanella
Cinnamon finds it way into many Greek sauces and stews, pastries and cookies. It is always sprinkled over rice pudding and Lukamadas
Cloves/Garifalla
Whole clovers are added to stews and sauces, ground cloves are added to breads, biscuits and sweets.
Cumin/Kimino
Cumin is added to meat dishes like stifado and  meatballs.
Fennel/Marathos
Thee seeds are added to sausage mixes, pickles, breads and some fish and pork stews.
Mahlepi
This is made from the dried seeds of wild cherry, boiled and then pounded. It is used in Middle Eastern cooking. In Greece it is used in festive breads and some cakes.
Masticha
The resinous sap collected from the pistacia lentiscus tree that grows on the island of Chios. It is used to flavour sweets, breads and ice breams.
Nutmeg/Moschhokarido
Like allspice, it is used in béchamel, stews and sauces and in some sweets.
Saffron/Krokos
Highly prized by the ancient Greeks, both as a food spice and dye for colouring cloth. It is grown in Greece and exported, though not widely used. However it is required for some biscuits and cake recipes.
Sesame Seeds/Soussami
These seeds are mostly sprinkled over breads, pies and biscuits.  A sesame sweet is offered at weddings. Tahini, a sesame paste, is used to make hummus, and a Lenten fasting soup.

Using Spices













Many Lemians shoot and eat rabbits, and the following recipe is well known.  Stifado is a spicy, long baked, stew, with the addition of many onion which mask the strong flavour of the rabbit. The final result is delicious!

A Stifado Story
One of our neighbours told us this story. He had a bronchial cough that seemed to just hang on. He went to the hospital doctor who ex-rayed his chest. While doing this he could hear the doctor chuckling. He asked what was the matter and it was explained to him his chest was OK, it would clear up soon, but he was amused as he had some shot gun pellets in his stomach. Not to worry the doctor said, it would eventually pass through. The doctor then asked him what he had recently eaten and he admitted he’d been to a local taverna and eaten Siffado the previous evening. Ah, the doctor said, locally shot rabbits! That’s your problem!

Stifado













When a man's stomach is full it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor.
Euripides (BC 480-406) Greek poet

Stifado  Recipe


1 kg of rabbit pieces (or stewing beef - chuck or brisket) This can be marinated overnight in the red wine and vinegar plus spices.

750 grams small onions, peeled. You want the onions to remain whole during the long cooking so don’t chop off the root end too close.

Plus
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
 2 tsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
half nutmeg, grated
4 whole cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
400 tomato pieces
2 tbsp tomato paste
100 ml red wine
1 tbsp white sugar
sea salt and pepper
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley.


Heat the oven to 150C Divide the meat into 4-8 pieces and coat lightly with the flour.

Heat the butter and oil in a large ovenproof casserole and brown the meat on all sides, a few pieces at a time. When browned, return all the meat to the pan, add the bay leaves, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cumin, tossing well for a minute or two.

Add onions, vinegar, tomato pieces and tomato paste, wine, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and enough water or stock to cover the meat.

Bring to the boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2-3 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally. Scatter with parsley and serve with small noodles or orzo (rice shaped pasta).


Hummus


One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) British novelist and essayist


















Hummus is one of the more popular Middle Eastern dips. Served with fresh or toasted pita bread, hummus makes for a great snack or appetizer. Tahini is an important part of the hummus recipe and cannot be substituted.
Ingredients:
1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation:
Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional). Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.
Takis’s hummus uses dried chickpeas. This takes much longer to prepare than using tinned peas, but has a very smooth taste. The chickpeas are soaked overnight then cooked until soft. He then lets them cool and (with me helping) takes off the outer skins. After this the process is much the same as above.
The most dangerous food to eat is a wedding cake. Proverb


Walnut Cake 
another good Lenten cake, without olive oil, and dairy products

The most dangerous food to eat is a wedding cake. Proverb













150 grams   light vegetable oil

175 grams   sugar
90 grams     roughly chopped walnuts
40 grams     raisins
40 grams     sultanas
300 grams   water
85 grams     brandy
5 grams       ground cinnamon
350 grams   plain flour
20 grams     baking powder
10 grams     bicarbonate soda
finely grated zest of one lemon.

Preheat the oven to 170C
Beat the oil with the sugar, add water, then the soda diluted with the brandy.
Add the lemon zest, sultanas, raisins and walnut pieces.
Shift in the flour with the baking powder and the ground cinnamon.
Mix well with the rest of the ingredients.

Bake in an oiled tin for 1 hour.
When cool top with icing sugar and cinnamon, or with melted chocolate.

Rabbits in Australia

Rabbits were introduced into Australia by the early colonialists and soon multiplied. They became pests that threatened pastoral properties, competing with sheep for the pastures.

The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia, formerly known as the Rabbit Proof Fence, was constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits and other agricultural pests from the east out of Western Australian pastoral areas. There are three fences in Western Australia: the original fence crosses the state from north to south, another fence is smaller and further west, and the third fence is smaller still and runs east–west. The fences took six years to build. When completed in 1907, the rabbit-proof fence (including all three fences) stretched 2,023 miles (3,256 km). The cost to build the fences at the time was about £167 per mile ($250/km) and when it was completed in 1907, the 1,139-mile (1,833 km) first fence was the longest unbroken fence in the world.


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