I have lost count of the times I have studied a menu being totally lost as to what to order. Eventually deciding on something in a half hearted fashion, only to be disappointed with my choices even before the plate has arrived. That fateful moment when you spy what the next table ordered.
In the Persian world there was a word which alas is missing from English, ‘Maza’ meaning to taste or to relish. The opportunity to try a little and savour the flavours; or not as the case maybe.
As cultures clash, so do customs and ingredients combine so we have Meze popular in Middle Eastern and further western tables. The Greeks and Turks maybe historically enemies but their philosophy, education, and more importantly to me, their culinary customs have produced something very unique and delicious.
This post is one of many focusing upon the Meze & Tapas traditions, written from the perspective of the Slimming World member. Regular readers will know I am following the diet. What they don’t know is as a dividend of the awful COVID19 pandemic, my solo virtual membership has increased in scope to include organised meetings and talks, and the wonderful support I get from our facebook group. This is for predominantly my SW chums, but feel free to continue reading on.
My LatestSupper was a Meze meander through kitchen cupboards whilst keeping a close eye on the SYN factor and keeping as authentic to the culture as possible.
The menu itself being a buffet if not banquet, allowed me the option of preparing a selection of meals which negated a dessert. Should we feel the need later for a sweet then fresh fruit was available.
Paying Homage in full into my good friend & expert chef, Nikos Mouzakitis, whom aided by his mother’s cookbook, brought to our shores here in Burry Port, a flavour of the Aegean that we would have to travel many a mile along the M4 corridor to find elsewhere, I prepared a Meze Evening.
On offer, was
*Lemon Hummus, *Dolmades, Baked Feta, Greek Salad, Spetzsofai, chicken Souvlaki, whole meal pita breads, & fries.
Lemon Hummus – SYN Free
Blitzed chickpeas, 3 tbsp fat free Greek yogurt, large clove of garlic, chopped coriander, 2 tsp cumin and lemon juice (if using real lemons add some zest). Add salt to taste.
Dolmades – SYN Free
Dolmades are tasty parcels of rice wrapped in vine leaves, You can buy these at a good Greek Deli or some supermarkets. The SW recipe is easy providing you can source the leaves.
Baked Feta – SYN Central
This one is SYN-Tastic and the ‘goto’ dish for Mrs TheLatestSupper. Feta is per 50g is 7 SYNs making the average 200g block 28 SYNs. Have the reduce fat version and save 8 SYNs. Of course if you deduct allocation of Health A then a further 13 SYNs comes off.
That’s the numbers, and here is the truth, I reserved 45g from a 200g block for me ‘Greek Salad’ and use up one portion of Healthy A. In an earthenware dish I grilled the cheese with a crushed clove of garlic, red onion and green pepper slices and a fine drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Greek Salad – 5 SYNs (if using HeA)
To me a Greek Salad has 3 must have ingredients, Feta, olives and oil. The green stuff helps and as we know tomatoes, sugar snap peas, rocket etc are all ‘Speed Foods’ which help the entire weight loss process.
Olives are 1.5SYNs per 8 and I love olives so I used double quantities and drizzled a further 2SYNs or 1 tsp of oil over the plate. The Feta was 45g diced reserved from the block used to bake.
Spetzofia from SYN Free
A traditional dish of sausages served in a spicy tomato sauce laced with onions and peppers.I love this warming, filling dish. It’s works equally well on a hot summer’s day or in the darkest depressing winter evenings.
For mine I served a scaled back version. Slicing the sausages almost butterflying them, I browned them over a hot skillet. In a sauce pan, I added passata, smoked paprika, salt and oregano, and reduced to a thick stock. When the sausages were cooked I transferred to the sauce.
It is the sausages that count to the SYNs which is pretty obvious so depending upon your preference, this could be free food!
Chicken Souvlaki – SYN free
“Souvlaki” translates as skewer. So I cheated! Normally. I would dice chicken breasts (one per diner) and marinade in a mix of sage, rosemary, oregano & lemon, Skewer then grill, barbecue or bake. As I was pressed for time I just put the meet on the skillet and seared. Makes for a really juicy flavour packed chicken. Pork works too and Halloumi.
Whole meal Pita Breads – Health Extra B or 7 SYNs per 60g bread
Most home bakers use a recipe – and thats the way it should be. I for a long time have wondered if there was a fool proof way of getting to 2 servings, when the recipe says “serves 12” other than dividing by 6. The answer is – google “Bakers Percent”. I wanted to have 6 x 60g portions of dough after proving. Not 5 and a bit, or 3 massive etc., but exactly 6 equal portions.
Back engineering I used 214g whole meal bread flour, 140g water, 5g salt and 1.5g yeast. Mixed everything in a bowl and covered to prove for about 2 hours. On a floured surface I knocked back the dough and cut it into 6 equally portions. As prove of concept (nice little IT term there), I decided to weigh each mini ball of dough. Give or take 1 or 2 grams, each rolled in at 60g approx. BARGAIN!
Next I rolled them with a pin to make a rudimentary oval shape and allowed them to rest for another 30 minutes. Then I used a roti press – alternatively a dry heavy frying pan over medium heat – to hob bake the breads.
Air Fries – SYN Free
My favourite way to have potatoes! I sliced potatoes with their skins on, parboiled by use of a microwave steamer for 20 minutes, then air fired at 200C for 15 minutes. No oil at all.
The Total meal deal
In my buffet, I had a salad with oil and double olives, the sausage dish, 2 pita breads, fries, some hummus, and dolmades. Washed down with a tasty 0% lager (Lidl) giving me a total of 15.5 SYNs for everything!
* denotes Slimming World recipe
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