Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tuesday's Time To ... Switch Our Menu!

Here in our small corner of the world, we are having a heatwave just now.  Compared with many countries, England never really has what you could call properly hot weather.  Our weather is generally on the cool side, even during the summer, which is probably why we seem to get so excited whenever there is any sort of weather extreme.  We've had a lot of cold, very rainy weather recently, so it has been quite exciting to see the sunshine, and yesterday and today have been very warm indeed.  In our small apartment (we call it a "flat" although as it has an upstairs as well as a downstairs) it quickly gets unpleasantly hot inside - the huge windows and lack of any sort of barrier between us and the sun, being so high up, means that it becomes almost greenhouse-like, and coupled with the absence of air conditioning (in England only very wealthy families have air con in their homes - it isn't usually necessary, in our climate, so it is considered a great luxury to have something so little-used but expensive to install and run) it can really get quite uncomfortable.

You can share my concern then, when yesterday evening I checked the menu plan for today and saw that we were supposed to be having pea and ham soup for our evening meal today!  Eeek!  I hadn't looked ahead at the weather forecast when I made our menu plan last week, so it didn't occur to me that hot, thick soup would not be very welcome for tea today!  After all, just this time last week, it was pouring with rain, thundering and extremely cool for the time of year.  I had no idea the weather would turn so dramatically in such a short period of time!   Yes, even the best and most organised menu planners sometimes get it wrong! 

With this in mind, I asked Papa Bear if he would mind me getting a few extra items from the shops today, to enable me to make something different than the meal I had planned on the menu.  I very rarely do this - and could quite easily have thought of something different using foodstuffs in our cupboards, but I had an idea that I wanted to surprise everyone with today!  I am writing this before we eat tonight, but by the time it is posted, we will have had our evening meal, and hopefully the surprise will have been a very welcome one!

You see, when we went out for our family party on Saturday evening, we enjoyed a wonderful meal.  We went to a restaurant about 30 miles from where we live, where many family members were gathered to share in a special occasion for two of our relatives who had an anniversary that day.  It was a joyous occasion and we all had a lovely time.  The meal was mostly a buffet style, with lots of lovely salads, meats, cheeses and other dishes to enjoy.  And one of these dishes that we all particularly liked was a Greek-style feta cheese salad.  Papa Bear and Cubby particularly liked it, and both went back for second - and third helpings!  (No one minded, as there was plenty of it to go around).  They could not get enough of it, and before we had got home, they were both requesting eagerly that I should make this dish for them to enjoy again.  So today, as a special surprise, given the unexpected weather, I decided to try to re-create the dish, and serve it for tea instead of the soup I had planned!  I thought it would be a good dish to try today because it would go well with the herbed oatmeal bread that I was originally intending to serve with the soup.  Papa Bear agreed that I could get the necessary ingredients for our alternative meal (I didn't say exactly what they were, but I think he has a pretty good idea!) so this morning I found a recipe, did my shopping, and in a wee while, I shall be putting together this delicious salad ...

You will need (the recipe states this is for 4 people, but please see my note below) ...

8 large beefsteak tomatoes, at room temperature (i.e. not straight out of the fridge - tomatoes taste much nicer if they are eaten this way, and not icy cold)
1 red onion, cut into fine rings
6 tablespoons olive oil (I shall use light garlic infused oil as I already have this)
1 lemon, squeezed
1 bunch parsley (I am using flat leaf)
1 bunch mint
200 g (1 pack) Feta cheese
about 20 olives

1.  Simply get a large salad bowl (I use a deep glass casserole dish when we have a salad!) and mix all the ingredients gently together.  Season and leave to let the flavours develop for about 20 minutes before serving. 

I would think you could add other ingredients to this salad, such as cucumber, some lettuce leaves (Romaine or Little Gem would be good) or even some anchovies if you like them.  I am going to serve this with warm home-baked herbed oatmeal bread, a Taste of Home recipe that I have shared previously.  Because I know how much my menfolk enjoyed this dish on Saturday, and because I also know that Papa Bear can easily eat a salad of this quantity on his own (he will have been working hard in this hot sun, all day long), I have actually trebled these ingredients, to keep everyone's tummies full.  But even if you don't have a hungry family like mine, I am sure it would be possible to keep leftovers quite happily for a day or two in the fridge - if they last that long!

I hope the family enjoy this - I'll let everyone know tomorrow!