By Melpomeni Matthews
I was named after my beautiful “γιαγιά” (grandmother), Melpomeni, and I’m a second generation Greek, living in Melbourne. My father is from the Peloponnese and my mother from the Ionian island, Kefalonia, and both have always taught me to be proud of my identity and my Greek heritage. I’m the oldest of five, and married into a large Greek-Cypriot family, which means our family gatherings are always big and celebratory and involve lots and lots of food. I have two amazing children, who both love to cook with me at home! My family means everything to me and they’re the ultimate reason I love Greek food, cooking and sharing recipes.
Often we say Greeks “live to eat” and not “eat to live”. I realise that in fact we do both. I believe that the love you put on a plate is a true reflection of who you are. I hope to inspire as many home cooks as I can, as I believe cooking at home should be kept sacred and something children and the next generation should aspire to.
Palm Sunday Lunch
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Pascha, marks the beginning of Holy Week and the final week of Lent. Every year for as long as I can remember, this Sunday was of great importance to my family. With bay leaves and palm crosses in our hands at our local church we proclaim our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and our readiness and willingness to follow Him in every prayer and sacrament, in every act of love, kindness and mercy.
After liturgy my mother and I always put on a delicious seafood lunch at home for our family. The dish of the day, ‘Μπακαλιάρος με σκορδαλιά’, fried cod with a creamy garlic mash. Traditionally bakaliaros is used, which is a dry salted fillet of cod, as fresh fish wasn’t always easily accessible. However here in Australia you cannot beat a fresh piece of blue eye cod, one of the finest table fish caught in our southern waters. We have my father to thank for our constant supply of fresh fish to our home, as a fishmonger he always has access to the best.
For all those fasting, today is the day a glorious feast of fish awaits. This recipe is inspired by my family and to be able to use the wonderful organic Ladi Biosas Lemon Agrumato olive oil to complement this dish is an absolute delight. A product I have been very passionate about and thanks to the Grecian Purveyor for trusting me and finally bringing Ladi Biosas olive oil to life in Australia.
•800g fresh blue eye fillet skin off
•5 whole peeled potatoes
•4 whole garlic cloves
•1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling - Ladi Biosas Lemon Agrumato EVOO
•1 cup self raising flour + 1/2 cup for dusting
•1 cup water approximately
•Salt and pepper to season - Salt Odyssey Fleur De Sel Fine Sea Salt
•vegetable for frying
• lemon wedges to serve
1. Begin by placing the peeled potatoes in a pot of cold water with a good pinch of quality sea salt, bring to the boil and cook on medium heat until potatoes are cooked through.
2. While your potatoes are cooking, portion your cod fillet and season with salt and better. Set aside.
3. Add 1/2 cup of flour onto a plate and set aside. Add the 1 cup of flour to a mixing bowl and with a whisk add enough water to make a thick yet runny batter. Set aside.
4. Once your potatoes are cooked, drain and reserve a cup of the cooking water. (Alternatively if you are serving this with greens or wild greens, you can reserve some of this cooking liquid)
5. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic to a paste, add garlic to your potatoes and mash until no lumps are visible. Switch to a whisk and whisk in olive oil, salt and pepper and then some of the cooking water until a creamy mash is reached. Plate up in a heat proof dish cover and set aside to keep warm.
6. Heat around one inch vegetable oil in a frying pan and one by one add the fish portions to the flour, dust off and dip and coat in the batter then fry in the hot oil. Turn the fish to cook on both sides until crisp and golden.
7. Serve immediately onto a platter with lots of salt and fresh lemon wedges. The creamy mash to accompany the fish should be drizzled with some more extra virgin olive oil.