Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recipe: Briam


"Briam" (Bree-Am) is a delicious traditional Greek potato and vegetable bake. I had this dish loads of times when i went to Crete a few years ago, and completely fell in love with it. It's the simplicity of Greek food that i adore so much. I got a traditional Cretan cookery book, and most of the recipes have a few ingredients, cooked simply, and all of which usually(even the desserts) contain lashing of good olive oil! Traditionally you would crumble a type of mild goat's cheese called "Mizithra" over the top once it's come out of the oven, but I can't find it anywhere in England, so I use Feta, which seems to me to be the closest alternative to it.

Briam (serves 4)

550g courgettes, halved and sliced
550g potatoes, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
4 large ripe tomatoes, 2 squished up, 2 sliced into wedges
1 red onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
200ml vegetable stock
60ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
50g feta cheese, crumbled

1. Heat to 180C. Mix all the ingredients together well in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into a large baking/roasting dish, and smooth over as much as possible.
2. Put into the oven for 55 minutes. Every 15 minutes with a spoon, “pat down” the vegetables as much as possible. This is to make sure the potato cooks. You should not stir the mixture; otherwise it will break down too much.
3. Once the potato is cooked, and the dish looks well roasted, take out of the oven and crumble over the feta cheese and some extra chopped fresh parsley. Serve!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Mel!

    Great post - this is one of those dishes that I frequently cook for supper and it is nice to put a name to it! My version started off life as a "potato and courgette bake" from a recipe book then, after a very siliar dish turned up as part of a mezze once, I started playing around with additional herbs, spices etc in an attempt to recreate what had been served. My version is very similar to yours but it is nice to see a recipe fromally written and with a name so now I know what I am serving!

    Cheers!

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  2. Thanks scots wife,

    I mean, essentially it is just some form of vegetable/potato bake, but this is just what they call that kinda dish in Greece. I love making Mezzes- theres something lovely and very social about having a meal with loads of cold and hot dishes around the table, for people to help themselves to.

    I should have a go at cooking more greek food really. I would love to perfect a recipe for "Gigantes Bake", which is like a tomatoey butterbean bake they make in Crete that is just TO DIE for. It is often hard to replicate meditteranean dishes perfectly though, because they have such juicy delicious red tomatoes growing out there.

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  3. Cheers - my original bake was just potatoes, courgettes and a tin of chopped toms but the addition of the garlic and cumin really lifts the dish to another level even withou the cheese.

    I also love Gigantes Plaki and make it either as a lunch for one, part of a mezze or as a side for lamb dishes. My parents live in Cyprus and I spent a lot of time there growing up so am very influenced by this style of cooking. The recipe I use was torn out of a magazine but I think it might be this one

    http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/12229/gigantes-plaki

    I do however use a bit more cinnamon and parsley than advised and a little dash of lemon juice to lift the flavours and to make it perfect (for me) - but that could just be my preference for Cypriot rather than Greek food, which is slightly closer to it's Middle Eastern roots?

    Meant to say, I used to like reading your posts on the bbc site but rarely visit there nowadays, prefer to read food blogs instead!

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