Friday, 26 August 2016

Wood Oven Week - Courgettes with Feta

It's the final post on wood oven week and I've saved my favourite dish til last.

Courgettes baked in loads of olive oil, herbs and spices. Variations of this dish seem to feature in every out door meal we cook (and some indoors!) - I will cook it on the barbecue, in the wood oven, on the stove top or in the conventional oven. I add chilli, sometimes it's mint, I often add lemon and have been known to include strips of smokey bacon - but the combination we have the most is with loads and loads of feta cheese.

And it's also probably no coincidence that the usual time we cook outside is when there is a glut of courgettes in the garden ..............

Recipe - enough for 2

for the courgettes....
4 small to medium courgettes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
Large pinch chilli flakes
Pinch ground black peppercorns

for the feta
100g Greek feta
1 red chilli - chopped and de-seeded
zest of a lime
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Juice of the lime to finish

First you need to prepare your feta to give it time to marinate before adding to the courgettes.

Cut the feta into cubes, pour over the olive oil and add the lime zest, chopped chilli, oregano, salt and pepper. Gently fold the herbs and spices in so all the feta is coated. Cover and set the dish to one side - do not put in the fridge it makes the olive oil cloudy and stops the flavours maturing.

Now cut up you courgettes into approx 5mm thick rings. Place in a heavy based - cast iron is best - oven dish. Pour over the olive oil and coat all the rings. Sprinkle over the dried chilli, salt and pepper and place in the oven

They will take about 20 minutes to cook - you want them very soft almost breaking apart before you add the feta. Give them a gentle stir every once in a while to stop sticking and to re-coat with the oil.

Once your courgettes have softened and coloured add the feta. Spoon the feta and oil over the courgettes making sure you evenly distribute the herbs and chilli. Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes so that the feta is firm and just coloured on the outside but soft and creamy in the middle.

Before serving remove from the heat and squeeze over the juice of a lime (or a lemon)

This dish can easily be cooked on the hob, on the barbecue and in a conventional oven (200C/Gas6) Just remember if the heat is coming from the base stir the courgettes more to stop them catching and burning.

Hope you all have a brilliant bank holiday weekend
Love Lizx

 Wood Oven Courgettes

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Wood Oven Week - Smoky Aubergines

As promised here's the next part of our wood oven meal. Today I'm going to focus on the aubergines.

This was a perfect way to cook them - they were so tender, soft and creamy to eat and tasted smoky and sweet. The addition of a few spices added depth to the flavours of the aubergine.

Obviously we cooked this in the wood oven but we have successfully cooked them this way on the barbecue and also in the conventional oven. If cooking on the barbecue cover with foil or a lid. In the conventional oven cook at 200C/Gas 6


Allow half a large aubergine per person

Spice Mix

1 teaspoon sea salt crystals
1 teaspoon All spice berries
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
black pepper

Juice of a lemon.

Olive oil for cooking

Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise and score three lines deep into the flesh. Score another three lines to form a diamond pattern.

I didn't salt and drain my aubergines because they were fresh and young but if you think yours maybe on the bitter side sprinkle the cut surface with salt and leave, face down, in a colander to drain for a couple of hours. Rinse the salt off and pat dry before continuing with the recipe.

Grind the allspice berries and a few peppercorns, in a pestle and mortar. Don't grind to a powder just break them up a bit. Add the chilli flakes and the the salt. Mix together and then sprinkle over the cut surface.

Pour a good amount of olive oil (approx 2 tablespoons) in a heavy based pan and lay the aubergine face down. Place in the oven, or on the barbecue, and leave them to cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until you see the skin start to blister.

Turn the aubergines over and continue to cook until the flesh has cooked right through, is a golden brown colour and has a soft texture.

Remove from the oven, squeeze over the lemon juice and serve.

They are excellent served with a bowl of tzatziki or just natural yogurt.

Have a great day
Love Lizx

 Smoky Aubergines

Monday, 22 August 2016

Wood Oven Week - Moroccan Lamb

As long as it hasn't been raining, we have tried to either light the barbecue or cook in the wood oven as much as possible this summer. We haven't found the time to get away to the sun so far this year - so instead we have tried to recreate that relaxed holiday feeling in the evenings when we are together at the weekends.

So for this week I have decided to feature a meal we had last weekend. The sun was out and we cooked a leg of lamb, aubergines and courgettes in the wood oven. It all worked brilliantly and reminded us of our holidays in Greece - the hot smells of the wood burning in the oven, bowls of olives on the table and lots of wine - we even managed a glass of Mastika to end the meal.........

So for today's post I'm going to concentrate on the leg of lamb part of the meal (I will deal with the aubergines, courgettes and any accompaniments later in the week) I call it Moroccan lamb because the marinade is very loosely based on a recipe I found in an old Moroccan cook book years ago -over time it has slowly changed and adapted, so it probably only now has a passing resemblance to the original recipe......

Recipe - enough for 1 whole leg of lamb

For the marinade

4 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley - make this a big bunch! it forms the base of the marinade
a teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, chilli powder, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander seeds, and peppercorns
half teaspoon allspice berries
a big pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey
juice and zest of 2 lemons
olive oil.

Fresh rosemary branches and a few fresh lavender spikes
Large leg of lamb

To prepare the marinade you will need a blender or mixer with a sharp blade. Place the garlic, parsley and lemon juice in the blender and whizz to form a paste. Grind up the peppercorns, allspice berries and coriander seeds in pestle and mortar. Add these to the blender along with all the rest of the spices.
Pour in your honey, lemon zest and salt - give it all another whizz to combine.
Add a little olive oil and you should now have a thick paste. If it's too thick add a little more olive oil. If it's too thin don't worry it will still be fine.

Place the leg of lamb on a backing tray, pat the skin with kitchen paper to dry it and rub all of the marinade into the skin - really coat it. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 or 3 hours - over night would be perfect.

Remove the lamb from the fridge about half an hour before cooking.

You can cook the lamb on a barbecue, in a wood oven or in a conventional over (200C/Gas 6)

If you are going to cook in an oven or wood oven make sure you use a heavy based pan - a cast iron skillet is perfect - Lay the rosemary and lavender in the pan, place the leg of lamb on top and then pour half a cup water into the base. Cover with foil and place in the oven for an hour.
After the hour is up remove the foil place back in for another 20-30 minutes to brown up the top.
We like our lamb pink so that cooking time is perfect - if you like yours 'less pink' leave it to cook a little longer before removing the foil.

If you would like to cook this on the barbecue, light the coals and leave until they have greyed. Dip the herbs in water and then on the grid followed by the lamb on top. Pop the barbecue lid on if you have one, if not cover the leg with a couple of layers of foil and leave to cook for similar timings to the oven. After an hour remove the foil, lift the lamb off the herbs and rotate the leg to get it browning on all sides.

Whichever way you decide to cook your leg of lamb, once your happy it's cooked to your liking remove from the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Have a very happy monday
Love Lizx