Our friends Jean and Ian are arriving from the UK this evening, and will be staying with us for a couple of nights until the apartment they have rented is ready for them on Monday. In fact they have just called en route from the airport to say that they were slightly delayed by the police having to board the plane when they got to Dalaman, to arrest someone who had apparently sampled a little too much duty-free – unfortunately he didn’t just go for the usual old-fashioned drunk and disorderly behaviour, but decided to throw in a bit of indecent exposure to boot. I’m really not sure if I am ready for the gory details – I might have to get the brandy out for Jean’s arrival. I guess that’s what happens when you travel with Easyjet…
We are going through a little Greek phase at the minute. The Turkish and Greek harbour authorities had a little spat last week and it was eventually announced that all ferry services between the two countries would be suspended from last Thursday onwards. Our enterprising local ferry company immediately arranged a final evening trip across to Kastellorizo, the little island across from our harbour, so a group of us went across for dinner.
Despite having visited the island many times, it never ceases to strike me how different the two places are, even though they are just 20 minutes from each other. The architecture is so similar to our old merchant houses on this side of the water, but the people, the language, the atmosphere and the food are worlds apart. Not better, just very different.
We went to our usual haunt, the Athena Fish Tavern, where we were looked after handsomely by the somewhat eccentric owner, Vangelis. Local Greek wine served in a tin jug, the freshest of fish, delicious Greek salad with real Feta, and octopus with pretty much everything. Yum.
Happily, as we are planning a couple of days away on Kastellorizo next weekend with Jean and Ian, our respective harbour authorities have reached an agreement, and it has been announced that the ferries will run normally, so we will get another fix in a few days.
In the meantime, I had to turn my attention to tomorrow’s breakfast – there will no doubt be demands for granola and posh toast, so I’ve made a batch of our favourite cranberry and salted almond granola and a couple of loaves of rye and oatmeal quick bread. This is gorgeous warm from the oven, it toasts beautifully and will keep in the freezer for ages if there is any left over (yeah, right). It is delicious served with marmalade or jam – or Marmite if your name is Robin. It only has a few ingredients, takes just a few minutes to mix up and bakes in about half an hour, so it really is a very quick affair.
The oatmeal gives it a lovely crumbly texture and the mix of flours provides an interesting flavour – but by all means use whatever flour you have on hand, it just needs to add up to 500g. Literally any type is fine, though I don’t think it would be much cop with just plain white – it definitely needs something fairly substantial going on. We can’t get oatmeal here, so I just bunged some normal porridge oats in the food processor and whizzed them up until they had the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Now, excuse me while I get that brandy…
Rye & oatmeal quick bread
(Makes 2 loaves – one for now, one for the freezer, but halve the recipe if you wish)
You will need a baking sheet, lined with non-stick paper
150g rye flour
150g wholemeal flour
100g plain white flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
200ml milk (or you can replace the yoghurt and milk with buttermilk if you can get it)
4 tablespoons molasses or honey (I used grape molasses – pekmez here)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
A little extra flour for the bench, doesn’t matter which sort
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Put the flours, salt and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and give it all a good mix to make sure all the dry ingredients are combined.
Measure the yoghurt and milk (or buttermilk) with the molasses (or honey) and vegetable oil in a jug, and stir until mixed. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled, that is just the acid from the yoghurt reacting with the milk.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix. Stir with a table knife until just combined.
The dough will be quite soft and a bit craggy – the knife should be able to stand up in the dough – if it is too soft, add a tablespoon more flour and give it another stir.
Tip some flour onto the worktop and tip out the dough onto the flour (it is also a good idea to dusty your hands with flour, as the dough is quite sticky). Knead for a few seconds until the dough is smooth and cut into two.
Shape into two torpedo shaped loaves, place on the prepared tin and slash each loaf two or three times with a sharp knife.
Bake for 25 minutes, then turn the loaves over and return to the oven for a further five minutes so that the bottoms can crisp up. The loaves should sound hollow if you knock the bottom with your knuckle. If you think the loaves are still a little soft, give them another five minutes in the oven. Place on a rack to cool.