A Nomad in my Kitchen!
My Big Fat Greek Tomato, Olive and Caper Tart
I consider myself to be a bit of a nomad, not so much in the real “hunter gatherer” sense, but I have moved and lived all over the world, and have called at least four or five countries home over the last few years……too many years to make public here! I was born in South Africa and then after a brief “excursion” to England, we lived in Hong Kong for the next nine or so years, with more brief stays in the mother country. I then lived in the USA (PA) for a few years, Scotland for a short spell, before moving to and running a restaurant in Cyprus. Today finds me sharing my time between SW France and North Yorkshire in England, quite happily I may add! My nomadic lifestyle has always been interesting and has provided me with exciting experiences as well as a wealth of International recipes. I am just as happy cooking traditional British recipes in my kitchen as well as French daubes, Asian dumplings, Cypriot kebabs and African curries. My basic store cupboard comprises a plethora of ingredients, such as Marmite, Ras el Hanout, Miso, Cape Malay Curry Powder, Dried Ancho Chillies, Mushroom Ketchup and numerous other “essential must-haves”.
I am fascinated with regional ingredients, they provide the basis of all my recipe ideas and creations, and whenever I travel I always have to leave some space in my suitcase for some local foodies specialities. So, when I was asked if I would like a special hamper sent to me by the innovative folks at Kitchen Nomad, I was pleased to accept! Kitchen Nomad is a brilliant idea, where monthly boxes are sent out (with recipe cards), and each month will feature a different country or region; so, my June box was all about GREECE, and contained some lovely (high quality) Greek products. My box, which you can see above and below, comprised:
Dukkah Spice Mix
A nutty spice mix to enjoy very simply: just dip some bread in a little olive oil and then into the spice mix…delicious! Originally from Egypt, this is the Greek version adapted for you from the Real Greek Restaurant.
Vine Leaves in Brine
Leaves are not a usual ingredient in many cuisines, but – as well as tasting delicious – they are excellent for blood circulation and are a wonderful anti-inflammatory.
Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This award-winning extra virgin olive oil has a robust herbaceous flavour and a peppery aftertaste. The name ‘Kalamata’ refers to the area where the oil is produced (southern Greece) not the variety of olive used to produce it, which is a common misconception.
The buds are hand-picked, pickled in salt, and then drained. Intense flavour is developed as mustard oil is released from each caper bud. Capers are very versatile, use them in salads, as a pizza topping or even simply cooked with fish!
Kalamata Black Olives
An almond-shaped, plump, dark purple olive from a tree distinguished from the common olive by the size of its leaves, which grow to twice the size of other olive varieties. They are named after the city of Kalamata in Peloponnese, southern Greece.
Orzo is a form of short-cut macaroni, shaped like a large grain of rice. These little grains are perfect to soak up the juice of a stew or eaten simply with the sauce of your choice.
Organic Tomato Sauce
Produced on a family farm in the small village of Ilias in central Greece, only tomatoes grown from Heirloom seeds, the sauce has a wonderful ‘old-fashioned’ tomato flavour.
Cassia bark is so much more subtle than strong cinnamon quills or sticks. Add it to your recipes while cooking and you will be converted. Best used for infusions and cooking where it can be removed after the flavour is dispersed.
Dried Greek Figs
These beautiful sweet dried figs are great eaten as a snack and dig into a beautiful figs & walnut recipe.
Although I was tempted with all of the recipes, the recipe I decided to make in the end was the simple (and also light) Tart with Black Olives and Capers. The recipe is shared below, but I DID tweak it a bit, by using filo pastry instead of puff pastry and also adding a few char-grilled aubergines that I had left over from a barbecue. This recipe would be perfect as a main course served with salad, as we enjoyed it, or, it could be cut into smaller slices and be served as a starter. I used the olive oil, olives and capers from the box, and then added my own beautifully ripe vine tomatoes, as well as some fresh oregano as a final herbal flourish.
I was really pleased with this tart, it was perfect for a light lunch on an extremely hot day; we ate it outside under the shade of an apple tree, although I am sure an olive tree would have been more fitting! The quality of the olive oil, olives and capers (as well as the rest of the ingredients) were “top drawer” and the combination was an excellent choice for Kitchen Nomad’s June box. I plan to make the Dolmades next, as well as having a go at the Fig & Walnut Bake, which sounds divine. You can read more about Kitchen Nomad and their innovative box scheme here: How it Works. A BIG thanks to them for sending me a box to review and I can’t wait to see what they have to offer in the coming months! Karen
(Taken from the recipe card and website of Kitchen Nomad, and tweaked by me!)
You can buy ‘Tonia’s Greek Kitchen’ from her website…www.toniabuxton.co.uk
This recipe is from Tonia Buxton…
Recipe pictures courtesy of Vanessa Courtier…www.vanessacourtier.com
16 Kalamata olives
2 tbsp of capers, rinsed and drained
4 tbsp of Kalamata olive oil
1 sheet of puff pastry (works with any kind of pastry) I used filo pastry
4 large vine tomatoes
6 large slices of char-grilled aubergines (optional)
1 tsp of caster sugar
Salt & pepper
Fresh basil or rosemary to garnish, I used fresh oregano
Pre-heat the oven to 1800C/ Gas 4. Place the dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet and crimp along the edges to form a shallow rim. (If using filo, place the sheets in a tray or dish, and drizzle olive oil in between each layer)
(If using aubergines, lay these on the pastry before adding the tomatoes) Thinly slice the tomatoes then overlap the slices along the length of the dough to make 3 rows (look at the picture). Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the tomatoes followed by a little drizzle of olive oil. Scatter on the olives which you can either leave whole or roughly chopped (as you prefer), and finally the capers. Season to taste.
Bake for around 20-30 minutes or until the pastry edges are nicely browned, forming crisp handles. Hold back from eating it straight away and leave to cool for a few minutes – the tomatoes will be blisteringly hot… then garnish with torn fresh herbs before cutting into slices. Now devour!
Disclaimer: I was sent a Kitchen Nomad Box to review; I was not paid or asked to write a review on my site; I chose to share my views here as I believe my readers will be interested in this service. All opinions are my own. Karen S Burns-Booth