Rock Cakes

Rock CakesAny Brits reading this blog will be familiar with rock cakes—and I have to admit the first time I heard of them, many years ago, I didn’t think they sounded particularly appetizing. And indeed, they can turn into the consistency of rock if you leave them in a tin and forget about them for a few days. They are also sometimes called rock buns and are apparently a favorite with children, who traditionally have them with their “tea,” or evening meal, my online research tells me. They are also, allegedly, Harry Potter’s favorite tea time treat. The recipe became popular in WWII, when it was an economical treat usually made with oatmeal rather than flour, as it was more readily available.

Rock Cakes
Makes approximately 15

2 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces softened butter
1 cup currants
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°C/180°F.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the currants, eggs and milk, mixing to form a stiff batter.

3. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto a well-greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown in color–about 15 minutes.

4. Cool them on a cooling rack.
Tasty Tuesdays on

Kalitsounia Pies

The pies before they are baked

The pies before they are baked

This will be my final Greek recipe for Tasty Tuesday—it’s allowing me to pretend it’s still summer, if only for a few moments (it has been cold and very, very wet here, though the sun has just decided to make an appearance).

These are small pies made with Mizithra cheese, or, if you have no idea where to find this Greek cheese, ricotta or feta. They’re lovely little things, perfect for an appetizer or snack.

Kalitsounia Pies
(Sorry, I’m not sure how many this makes, other than quite a few)

For the dough:                                                                             For the filling:

1.5 pounds white flour                                                               1 kilogram/2 pounds mizithra, feta or 1/2 cup olive oil                                                                                ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons vinegar                                                                 2 eggs
warm water (as much as needed)                                             a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon salt                                                                             a handful of fresh mint leaves,                                                                                                                       chopped

Note: in the dough recipe our cooking instructor used, she put in 1/4 cup of raki, a very hard liquor made from grape seeds and skins—not something many people having sitting around in their kitchen, I’d imagine, so I’m providing the same alternate, non-raki recipe she did.

  1. Put flour in a large bowl. Make an indentation in the middle of the flour and add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and some water. Add more water until you have the consistency of bread dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.
  2. Cut the dough into 2 balls. Place the balls in a pan and cover with a wet cloth, and allow to sit for two hours.
  3. While the dough is rising, mix the filling ingredients together.
  4. Roll out the dough until it is very thin. Cut into large rounds (we cut around a tea saucer), then place a little of the filling in the middle and fold each edge in while allowing a little of the cheese to remain uncovered in the middle.
  5. Fry in hot olive oil. When the pies are browned on both sides, take them out and put them on kitchen paper to drain.

You can also bake the pies in the oven at180°C/350°F. Place some wax paper in a baking pan, beat 1 egg in a bowl and brush each pie with the egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until they are golden brown in color.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Green Beans With Lamb


Table for 10 under the open sky, Vamos, Crete


Old mill stones used for pressing olives into oil, Vamos, Crete

Well then. It’s been quiet over here again—we’ve been busy with back to school and activities and laundry and well, all the stuff. Now that everyone’s settled, more or less, back into their autumn schedules, I’m going to get back to regular blogging (ok, let’s cross our fingers there, folks).

This recipe is another one we learned to make during our cooking lesson in Crete, and though I’m not much of a lamb lover, it was pretty tasty. This one is easy to make and you can leave it to cook while you get on with other things, like writing blog posts.

I might share one more Greek recipe with you next week, or I might go back to my regular programming of traditional British recipes. Leave a comment below, if you wish, and tell me if you have an opinion one way or another.

On with the recipe (not sure how many servings it makes, other than lots):

Green Beans with Lamb
1 kg/2.25 lbs leg of lamb, cut into bite-size pieces
1 kg /2.25 lbs green beans, fresh or frozen
1 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, grated
4 fresh tomatoes, grated, or 2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute lamb and onions in olive oil for about 10 minutes.

2. Add carrots, salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Add the tomato sauce and the water. Let it cook for about 40 minutes.

4. Add the beans, mix well and cook for about 30 more minutes.

Tip: You may add a spoon of sugar in the sauce, if you like.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters

Uncooked zucchini fritters

Uncooked zucchini fritters

This is another recipe we made at our Greek cooking class in Crete a few weeks ago. It seems especially appropriate for me to post in August, as I know much of my family back home will currently be experiencing a glut of zucchini from their vegetable gardens. These are a tasty addition to any cook’s zucchini recipe repertoire and earned two thumbs up from three members of my family. The fourth member of my family, well, we’re just happy when we can get him to eat something green.

As a bonus for those of you with too many zucchini, (Mom, Dad? Sisters?) you can freeze these uncooked, and for those of you who would prefer not to fry the fritters, you can also bake them in the oven.

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters
Serves 10

5 medium zucchinis, grated
1/2 Tablespoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup feta cheese, grated
3-4 cups bread crumbs
1 cup onion, grated
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
olive oil for frying (about 1 cup)

1.Place grated zucchini in a colander. Add 1/2 Tablespoon salt, mix and let drain for 30 minutes, then squeeze out the extra liquid with your hands.

2. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, 2 eggs, both cheeses, 1 cup bread crumbs, onion, mint, parsley and pepper. Mix well. Add more bread crumbs until mixture can be formed into balls.

3. Beat 2 eggs in a small bowl.

4. In another bowl, add 1 cup of bread crumbs.

5. Heat 1 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan.

6. Form balls of zucchini mixture, dip each ball in the beaten egg, then coat with bread crumbs, and fry. Drain on paper towels.

Frying the fritters

Frying the fritters


Bake in the oven at 180°C/350°F. Form zucchini fritters like a medium-size burger, brush with beaten egg and dredge in bread crumbs. Bake for about 45 minutes.

To freeze:
Form into patties and put uncooked fritters onto a lightly floured tray. Leave in freezer for a day and then put them in a plastic bag for long-term storage.
To cook:
Defrost for 20 minutes and then fry them in olive oil.

Tasty Tuesday

Rice stuffing for the grape leaves

Rice stuffing for the grape leaves

Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday! As I mentioned in my last post, my family just spent a 10-day holiday on the island of Crete, where we were lucky enough to enjoy a four-hour traditional Greek cooking class in the town of Vamos. The class was held in an outdoor kitchen area on the site of an old olive press on a steamy hot day (they were all steamy hot days—and though we sweated through them, we enjoyed them). So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on the Greek recipes we made, rather than my usual focus on traditional English recipes, starting with my favorite, Grape Leaves with Rice.

These are easier to make than I ever would’ve thought and this was my new favorite during our stay, the one I hoped every restaurant would serve. Most of them did, though the taverna in our village served a variation: zucchini (courgette) blossoms stuffed with rice. Grape leaves were out-of-season when we were there, but the grape leaves we used had been harvested earlier and stored in the refrigerator in salted water, then rinsed off when ready to use. I need to find a source for grape leaves in the UK—we’ve only been back a few days and I haven’t had a chance to do that yet. These can be eaten hot or cold.

Grape Leaves with Rice

8 ounces fresh or canned grape leaves
1 cup grated onions
1/2 cup fresh chopped dill
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white rice
2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Wash the grape leaves. If using fresh, boil them in water with salt for 5 minutes. If canned just wash them well.

2. Mix the onions, dill, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, rice, mint, salt and pepper in a bowl.

3. Wrap each grape leaf around a spoonful of the onion/rice mixture. (Note: fold up the bottom of the grape leaf first, then fold in the sides, and roll up.)

Making stuffed grape leaves

Making stuffed grape leaves

4. Place layers of finished grape leaves in a large pot. Add two cups of water and two tablespoons of olive oil with a little salt. Cover leaves with a plate and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and serve warm grape leaves with yogurt or sour cream.

And now that we’re home and I’ve flicked through our photos, I realize that I was too busy eating stuffed grape leaves to take any pictures of the finished product. So you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you they looked good, too.

Tasty Tuesdays on