Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yiota's Summer Menu

What a treat it is to present this menu. It comes from Yiota in Greece and is full of the flavours of summer.
There are four menu choices each day in a YamDaisy Cafe. They must reflect the seasons, the everyday needs of the clients for delicious nourishing food, and of the chef(s) who need to be able to cook them up in a small (but well equipped) kitchen. Read more about the idea of the YamDaisy Cafe and it's menus here.

Yiota's Menu
Soup: Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
Main 1: Chicken and Diced Vegetables Gratin
Main 2: Vegetarian Pastitsio
Fruit Dessert: Cherry Pie

In Yiota's email she wrote:
'So here's what I thought of: because summer vegetables are at their best here, I've used them in both main dishes; zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, carrots, mushrooms, green beans - you choose...  Cherries are also in season and I love, love, love them!'

Potato Soup with Fresh Thyme
O yum, this is one I love, and if the weather is very hot it can be served ice cold.
Here is how I make it:
Mince 3 finely chopped leeks and one finely chopped onion and saute in 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add 3 peeled and diced potatoes and 4 cups of stock.
(I used a vegetable stock flavoured with thyme)

When the potatoes are cooked, puree briefly and season with salt and pepper.
Add 1 cup of milk, cream, or a mixture of both and reheat without boiling.
I garnished mine with some thyme. It is winter here as I write, but in Summer I would sprinkle a few tender thyme leaves and maybe some chopped chives too.
The toast is made with buckwheat and oats and was a lovely accompaniment.

Chicken and Diced Vegetable Gratin
I avoided flooding Yiota with millions of emails asking about this dish, and so instead I had a real adventure with it. The only gratin I know is made with sliced potatoes, and certainly no chicken. Not only that, I have such trouble cooking it as whenever I try the potatoes never get soft!
I googled away and realised what a big number of bakes come under the name 'gratin', and remembered a friends suggestion to cover the dish with foil for part of the baking time to help the vegetables cook.
I struggled most to imagine how to include chicken (some of you know I am an old vegetarian, only recently learning to cook chicken), so I was glad to find this recipe:
I played around with it a lot!
I started with 2 chicken thigh fillets that I browned in a mixture of butter and olive oil and then cut them into bite sized pieces. For vegetables I had carrots, butternut pumpkin (squash), heart of celery and a potato. I diced them up and added them to the chicken in the dish.

I followed the recipe for the dairy mixture (except I had no pimento) and no crumb topping. I was feeling VERY pleased with myself!

So in to the oven it went with the foil covering for the first 20 minutes. And when I got it out:

sadly.... it had curdled.

I blame the lemon juice! But maybe covering it brought the temperature up too high. I would use ordinary cream instead of sour cream next time too. It broke my heart that it curdled but I did taste it and was delighted that the chicken came through beautifully: tender little morsels among the veggies.

It is definitely one to try again and get right! Then I would serve it with green leaves and tomato salad.

The second part of this menu will be up very soon, before the cherries have finished!
Jump to it here


  1. aaahhhhh...this all looks so good...
    i think i will try the soup first...but everything looks wonderful...


  2. The soup sounds lovely, like an updated vichyssoise....yum.

  3. It was so good to hear from you again. The soup looks wonderful and though you were disappointed the chicken casserole looks delicious. Sour cream will curdle if it boils. Was your oven that hot? I hope the day treats you well. Blessings...Mary

  4. Oh! Can I come for dinner? Everything looks fabulous ;-)