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Around the World Part 3; Cyprus Kleftiko, Spanakopita, Garden Salad, & Cardamom Orange & Walnut Syrup Sponge with Greek Yogurt & Honey

I've sort of fell into the routine of going with alphabetical order. I'm a bit like that, I need a pattern to follow, when there is too much choice and at least this way I don't feel overwhelmed by the amount of amazing foods that I'd like to blog about.

That said if I get to a week and there isn't a Country where I fancy the food, then I'll skip it. So this week is Cyprus. I had a few friends coming for dinner last night and my friend Maria is a veggie so this seemed the perfect night to make this Cypriot feast (my lot don't think dinner's a dinner without the obligatory meat dish). 

Everyone enjoyed all the dishes and as usual I had a little look on the internet plus a look through my books and decided what i'd like to make. Then I had a play to get what I thought would be great flavour and textures.
I know this is traditionally made with filo pastry but when I went into the supermarket they didn't have any, so I was just about to pay and go onto another supermarket when I thought I'd try it with puff pastry and I have to say it worked really well.

1 Pkt of puff pastry (I had the ready rolled stuff)
1 red onion very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of a lemon
200g spinach
A handful of basil leaves
100g feta
Pinch of salt

In a saute pan add a glug of olive oil and gently fry the red onion, once it begins to soften grate in the garlic cloves, then pop in the spinach, once the spinach has wilted squeeze over the juice of the lemon, it will sizzle, give a good stir and then tip into a sieve to remove all the excess moisture.
Cut the pastry into 4 equal pieces and spread the spinach equally over, tear up the basil leaves and equally distribute with the feta between the 4 pastries, roll up into long cylinders, put onto a baking tray and pop into the fridge for an hour to firm. Once firm, score diamonds onto the tops and brush with an egg-wash, bake in a hot oven 220 for about 12- 16 minutes or until golden.
When I was looking for foods to blog about this week, this is what sold Cyprus for me. I love lamb and with these Mediterranean flavours I knew I'd be on to a winner. I used 2 pieces of shoulder of lamb, probably about 1kg each.

2kg Lamb
1 tbsp Oregano
2 large sprigs of fresh Rosemary
A good glug of olive oil
2 lemons

In a large roasting dish cover the bottom with some olive oil, 1 tbsp dried oregano, the zest of 2 lemons and the juice of 1. Put in the lamb and give a really good rub, chop up the other lemon into quarters and add to the Lamb along with the rosemary sprigs, now cover with a clean tea towel and leave for a couple of hours.
Take off the tea towel cover with parchment paper and cook at 210 for about 90 mins (depending on the size of your joint) then remove and put onto a wire rack that will fit into the tray, pop back into the oven to crisp (about 30 mins) and reduce the meat juices, pour some of the meat juices over the meat, leave to stand on a board for about 15 minutes before carving.

Garden Salad
For my Garden salad I just used a bag of spinach and lambs lettuce, a red pepper chopped into cubes, some room temp tomatoes quartered, I blanched some of those really slim asparagus tips, a handful of mixed Olives, a red onion chopped finely, some cubed feta, then I just put into a large salad bowl poured over a glug of good olive oil and the juice of half a lemon and gave a good mix just before serving.
Walnut, Orange and Cardamom Syrup Sponge
I wanted to do a dessert but as I was making pastry with the main I wanted to make something different. I love cardamon, walnuts and orange so this seemed to be the one. I have little pots of flavoured sugars and cardamon is one of them.

100g semolina
100g walnuts
150g soft light brown sugar
80g S/R flour
2 tsp baking powder
Zest of 2 oranges
170g olive oil
4 eggs
for the syrup
50g cardamon sugar
Juice of 2 oranges
2 tbsp runny honey

In a food processor blitz the walnuts and semolina to a fine dust. Add the sugar and orange zest, pour in the oil the add the eggs, then the flour and baking powder. Pour into a lined 24x24 tin. Bake at 170 for 25-35 mins. While your cake is baking, in a small sauce pan, mix together the orange juice, sugar and honey, bring to the boil and keep on the heat until reduced by half, then pour over the cooked sponge and leave in the tin to cool completely, serve with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. 

I hope you'll enjoy our blog to Cyprus as much as me and mine did. Jo X