The things you miss away from home are unexpected.
It’s not only about family and friends and loved ones, it’s not only about the places you grew up at, your school yard, the familiar park around the corner with the dry flowerbeds and the high, dusty trees.
It’s the way the light falls through the kitchen windows in the afternoons and how the roses swing in the breeze out in the balcony. It’s the smell of the neighbourhood cooking in the mornings, windows open and low voices chatting. It’s about cats that lie eternally on the car tops or chase each other playfully. It’s the sound of your parents talking over coffee in the mornings, having always an argument about something trivial, keeping their voices down not to wake you up. It’s how you run answer the doorbell and hang around the hall till your brother comes upstairs and you jump up to hug him. How your stereo still has the same radio frequencies memorised as 15 years ago. And yes, it’s about flavours too, flavours that chase you everywhere you go, but only really taste how they are supposed to when you are there, sitting among them and fighting over the last piece of whatever was baked today.
I have been living abroad for years now. It took me years to discover small tricks to imitate those flavours of my Greek home, wherever I was. Number one is olive oil: extra virgin, cold-pressed, Greek. Number two is oregano: bought from my favourite spices store back home, packed carefully among clothes in suitcases, squeezed between other favourite spices (hint: cinnamon! cumin!). Don’t take me wrong. Olive oil or oregano from other places can taste wonderful – it’s just that they don’t taste the same as they do home. Once I have these 2 basics, I am good to go.
Still, I always choose summer vegetables from sunny, dry, warm countries; tomatoes, peppers, egg-plants. If not Greek, Italian, Spanish, Turkish or Moroccan peppers will work fine, as they did in this super-spicy, extra-peppery oregano feta bread! It’s spicy, with an extra kick from the chilly flakes on top, pillowy from the olive-oil, and oozing with half-melted, salty feta, paired with oregano! Try it for a taste of Greece, beyond the classic feta pie, the famous tiropita (repeat after me: “teh-ro-pi-ta” – shortest survival language tip when in holidays in GR). Acknowledge how red pepper, feta and oregano were meant to be together. For ever. And ever.
Make the bread!
- 125 ml lukewarm milk
- 7 grams dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 big pinch of salt
- 3 cups flour (all purposes)
- 1 egg
- 100 ml olive oil
- 100 ml lukewarm water
- In a cup mix together milk, yeast, sugar and let proof for 15′
- In a bowl whisk together flour and salt. Make a well in the middle.
- Pour yeast mixture, egg, olive-oil and water in the flour well.
- Knead for around 15′, or until the dough is smooth and not sticky. Add 1 tablespoon of extra flour if needed – I didn’t have to.
- Let proof in warm place for an hour or till doubled in size.
- 200 grams feta cheese
- 1 red horn pepper, cut in rings
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (or hot if you are brave!)
- 1 tablespoon oregan
- some fresh trimmed pepper
- Punch down the dough and roll it out in a rectangle, bit less than 1 cm thick, around 40×15 cm. Dust it with the paprika and the oregan.
- Crubble the feta with your fingers and scatter. Trim the pepper above it.
- Arrange the pepper rings on the top or the feta. Roll up the dough and form a round bread. Let proof for 15′ on a lined baking sheet.
Bake it and attack!
- eggwash: 1 egg white lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
- 1 tablespoon chilly flakes scaterred on top
- Gently brush bread with eggwash and scatter the chilly flakes on top.
- Bake at 180 ºC/ 356 ºF for around 40 mins, or until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when you flip it and tap it.
- Let it rest for 5-10 mins. Assemble your friends or family when you cut it in pieces. Have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Try it with fried eggs & cherry tomatoes! Make it again the next day 😉