Easter is upon us and we have the good fortune of the Julian and Roman calendars colliding this year. As a teenager (and after I figured out the reason), I would have to explain to my Catholic and Anglican friends why we had a different date to theirs for Easter. The analogy I used was the Russian revolution and how, depending on the text was referred to as the October or November revolution because the Russians also had this split of Orthodox and Catholic religions. Get it??
You may be thinking I got to celebrate twice but that’s not really how it works when you’re a Greek. Remembering I went to a Catholic girl’s school, I made the now-famous observation that lent for my fellow students meant giving up a chocolate paddle pop. Back in Earlwood, I was living with my very religious grandmother Emerald. You know the type, black from head to toe, short and super cute. She would chastise my mother for not insisting we observe proper Orthodox lent and cleanse the body for 40 days prior to Easter Friday of all animal products. This would have rendered your correspondent vegan for over a month. I may have been young but I was way too greedy even then to make such sacrifices. Nowadays it’s just plain bad for business!
I do love the traditions however and look forward to the eating of the lamb offal soup and the breaking of the red eggs. This year I will have to prepare the soup in place of my mother; I am now the head cook of our conglomerate. Because of our loss it is required that our friends provide the red eggs to us. Given the symbolism of new life after the crucifixion, our focus is not on new life but one of loss and grief. It is for others to remind us to celebrate new life. Christopher’s Bakery in Surry Hills, Mascot and Kogarah make fabulous everything if you’re tempted toward the Greek Easter treats.
Suffice to say, I have prepared a menu for you to consider which covers all the basic food groups with particular attention on meat and milk.
- Roast porchetta with braised fennel
Pre-heat oven to 220ºC. Season the pork thoroughly with salt and pepper, then sear in your roasting pan on the stove top until golden all over. Roast at 25 minutes then drop to 180ºC for the remaining time. Nowslice fennel into 1/6’s leaving the root on. Warm a pan on the stove with extra virgin and sauté the fennel until a little colour develops. Deglaze with white wine and add to the oven. Cook until tender then remove and add a scattering of olives and chopped parsley. Serve.
- Slow roasted shoulder of pork with rosemary and garlic and smashed potatoes
Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. Place the joint into your baking dish and add enough liquid (stock, white wine, verjuice) to the bottom to come up about 1cm from the base. Cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes then drop temperature to 150ºC and cook for 4 hours. To prepare the potatoes, boil kipflers or new potatoes gently in water until cooked through. Drain and allow to cool a little. With the heel of your palm gently press on the spuds until you crack the surface. Warm a pan with extra virgin and butter and fry the potatoes. Add smashed garlic cloves and coriander seeds and cook until golden. Season and wait for the shoulder to join the party.
- Suckling pig with Greek bbq flavours – fresh and dried oregano, lemon and garlic. Serve with yoghurt and lemon dressing
I strongly encourage you to try conquering a whole pig. Your guests will never forget you. For the dressing put the yoghurt into a bowl and zest the lemons. Then squeeze the juice to taste. The dressing should taste tart and fresh. Whisk in some extra virgin and season. Should be loose enough to ‘dress’ the meat on your plate. Serve with ¼’d iceberg lettuce and use the same dressing.
- Lamb leg stuffed with rosemary and garlic
Roast as you would. I like to roast high and fast for this one. No foil so the fat renders away and colours.
- Grass fed t-bone steaks marinated in red wine, paprika and garlic – ready for the barbie
- Lime marinated organic chooks butterflied, bone in.
BBQ or pan roast
- Whole Sides Petuna Farm Ocean Trout FRESH – same as Tetsuya’s signature confit dish.
I love to use the belly for sashimi and roast or pan fry the rest (loin). I also make coulibec (Russian Fish Pie with the caviar as a garnish)
- 200gm Spanner Crab Meat FRESH, UNCOOKED – finally able to get some more.
- Celeriac remoulade salad
Slice the celeriac as fine as you can get it without losing a digit. Add chopped capers, aioli (thinned with a little warn water to make it looser for dressing) and chopped parsley.
- Beurre bosc pears with rocket and parmesan for salad
Finely slice the pears, use your peeler to make chards of cheese and add to rocket leaves. Extra virgin and salt only. NO PEPPER OR VINEGAR OR LEMON JUICE. TRUST ME THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO DRESS THIS ONE.
- Persimmons served straight up with orange scented crème fraiche
Cut fruit into half and zest and juice the orange into the crème fraiche to taste. Add alittle castor sugar only if you need more sweetness. Perfect individual portions.
- Honey roasted quince with farmhouse vanilla ice cream from Gundowring
Quinces are tedious to prepare but have a fragrance like no other. The Greeks consider the quince to be the fruit of fertility. Given the celebration of new life, do the maths!
Peel the quinces, quarter and cut away the seeds. Reserve these as this is where that ox blood colour comes from. Either add straight to a heavy based pan or wrap in muslin and add. Add half the weight of the fruit in castor sugar and a teaspoon of honey, half a cinnamon quill and a piece of lemon peel per quince. Cover with water so the pieces are swimming (pretend you are providing enough water to tadpoles). Roast in the oven at 150ºC until tender.