By Kat Kallos
When Kat Kallos met her now husband at a New Year’s Eve party in Sydney, little did she know how much it would change her life - especially the culinary aspects! Kat’s mother in law was a phenomenal talent in the kitchen; creating all of the classic Greek favourites but also regional dishes from her home Island of Zakynthos. Regretting not recording the recipes of her own Grandmother’s, Kat was not going to miss the opportunity to record the recipes and stories of her mother in law Sophia. Starting out as a personal project to document her family’s recipes, Kat’s blog Mulberry and Pomegranate has become a widely read guide to the Mediterranean way of life.
Kat has always been a Philhellene and recognising that the first generation of Greek migrants to Australia are getting older, she is proud to be part of the efforts to keep the Greek cooking culture alive. Kat travels to Greece regularly and collects recipes from a variety of places: from fellow shoppers at the laiki (food market) to family, friends and neighbours. Kat is also a regular contributor to online and print media.
Greek Easter has always been a special time for Kat. About a month before she married her Greek husband, Kat had her first experience of Greek Easter. Along with her own parents, she joined her in-law’s to be and their extended family for the Good Friday and Holy Saturday services. It left a lasting impression, particularly the warmth extended by the Marrickville Greek community - the perfect way to bring families and cultures together ahead of a wedding.
At home, Greek Easter for Kat’s family has always involved an abundant table with plenty of happy, animated discussion and conviviality - especially when it comes to tsougrisma, the customary ‘game’ of cracking red dyed eggs.
BRAISED QUAILS WITH SAFFRON, HONEY AND SAGE
Quail is a great favourite among many Greek cooks and is particularly popular in the Peloponnese (where my father in law was born) and my mother in law’s stunning home island of Zakynthos. These small birds are savoured in many different ways: filled with rice and herbs before being roasted; wrapped in vines leaves and grilled; the feature ingredient in a rice pliaf or cooked in a light tomato sauce with plenty of Organic Kalamata olives and Organic Ladi Biosas Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
As Greek Easter falls during Autumn in Australia, game birds such as quail, ruby red grapes and violet flushed sage really come into their own: full-bodied food for cooler days and the Greek Easter table. The warming colour and flavour of Greek red saffron is particularly suited to these small birds. It may seem a richly flavoured dish with saffron, honey and sage, but it isn’t heavy - it is delicate and delicious, one to be savoured at a shared table with your closest family.
1 lemon, zested
1 small bunch fresh sage, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon of Salt Odyssey Fine Sea Salt Flakes
25g cultured butter
2 cups of chicken stock (preferably home made)
1 pinch of Greek Organic Red Saffron Threads
100ml white wine
200g seedless red grapes
(more sage leaves and extra virgin olive oil to serve)
- Halve the quails (cutting through the backbone and breastbone). Rinse the quails well and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
- Using a pestle and mortar, pound the lemon zest, sage, garlic and salt until it is bruised. Rub the marinate mixture into the quail halves and place them in a zip lock kitchen bag. Place the quails in the fridge and allow them to absorb the flavours over 3 hours.
- Just before you start to cook the quails, warm the chicken stock and add the saffron threads - allowing it to infuse for a good 10-15 minutes.
- To cook the little birds, heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to get a little frothy, add the quail skin side down and cook until the skin browns (around 2-3 minutes). Next add the warm saffron-infused chicken stock, white wine and saffron honey. Cover the frying pan with a lid, bring to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes (or until the quail is just cooked through).
- Remove the quail from the pan and put on a platter, covered with foil to keep warm. Leave the sauce in the pan and bring back to a simmer, allowing it to reduce by about half. Then, add the grapes (in their neat little bunches is fine) and simmer for just a few minutes until their skins start to split.
- Arrange some roasted potatoes on a platter and top with the halved quails and grapes. Drizzle over the sauce and scatter over the remaining sage leaves. Give the platter a final flourish with a drizzle of beautiful Greek extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
If you loved this dish as much as we do, then head to http://mulberrypomegranate.com for more recipes and not only, there's a plethora of information celebrating Greek cuisine, food culture, travel and so much more about Greece!