Chef Dean’s Blog from Lord Kitchener Psematismenos
by Chef Dean Simmons - Hello all from Lord Kitcheners,
Wow hasn’t 3 weeks flown by since my last blog, boy time really does fly. We are back now fully refreshed and raring to go. The team while we were away did an amazing job. Thanks Guys. To top it off we came back to 2 pieces of great news which I will share later.
Getting to Sicily couldn’t have been easier; a short flight to Malta, then a quick shoot across the Med and you're there.
Sicily itself is an amazing island, people are friendly, amazing scenery, and the food although very simple is so tasty. We ate out most of the time as it’s so cheap - a meal for 4 is €30 with wine. Am not going to go on about it, as you know my feelings on being over-charged here in Sunny Cyprus. It is amazing though that each country that you go to they are so much better at something than the last. That’s why we should learn from them and bring home their ideas, as it all helps you to grow.
Although I have visited Sicily many times, this time I looked harder at how food was sourced, served and cooked. I even helped Antonio the pizza chef at a local restaurant to throw some dough, (OK I did look a bit of a fool but great fun.) Something as simple has an Arancini Ball (leftover risotto rice rolled in a ball filled with mozzarella, pesto, ragu then deep fried) to a plate of locally caught fish pan-fried with a dash of wine and fresh herb, and job done!
This time of year, most villages are busy with their own Fiesta’s , a celebration of village, with the church being the centre point of the activities. It’s such a wonderful experience to see people dancing, eating and being merry, although it does help to understand the language!
So on our return there was only one thing to do on our first Saturday back “A taste of Sicily ” On Saturday we produced a 4 course taste of Sicily. Pina came as a Mafia boss ( Don Pina) The wine, the music all Sicilian. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and great night was had by all.
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So what was the good news Dean?
On our return we had our first review in the Sunday Mail, although very good it really only mentioned that we were great at Sunday lunches, bit of a problem as we are closed for Sundays until the 14th September (hot weather). We would have hoped that they would have spoken about the fresh fish we get from the UK.
A bigger piece of news is that I was told that we were named as the third best restaurant in Cyprus via TripAdviser.com. I know that we have had some great feedback from customers but this I had to see. On looking at the website I found that this was a bit untrue in fact we were voted top 2 wow what an achievement! All in 16 months!
A big thank you to all who took the time to write such great reviews.
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This week’s Recipe - there can only be one - Arancini
• 1 1/2 cups rice
• Half a packet of saffron (a few pistils, about 1/8 teaspoon)
• 1 cup grated Parmigiano (freshly grated, not from a can)
• 4 eggs
• 2/3 pound (300 g) ground beef
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 clove garlic
• 1/2 a small onion
• A packed quarter cup dried porcini
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 1/2 cup dry red wine
• 1/4 pound mozzarella or fresh, soft provolone (if you're in Sicily you will want to use canestrato fresco)
• 1 cup fresh peas, boiled
• Bread crumbs
• Salt and Pepper
• Oil for frying
• Organically grown orange leaves (optional, as garnish)
Begin by preparing the filling:
Finely slice the onion and mince the garlic, and sauté the mixture in the olive oil until it wilts. Stir in the ground meat, continue cooking until it is well browned, and then stir in the wine. While it's evaporating, dilute the tomato paste in a ladle of warm water and stir it in. Season the mixture to taste, and simmer it over a very low flame for a couple of hours, adding more warm water or broth as necessary to keep it from drying out. Towards the end of the cooking time, steep the dried mushrooms in boiling water for a few minutes and coarsely chop them. Stir them into the sauce too; cook it for 15 minutes more and it's done.
While the meat's cooking, simmer the peas until they're tender. Then remove them from the fire, drain them, and let them cool. Dice the mozzarella into half-inch cubes and combine it with the cool peas.
The other thing to do while the meat is cooking is prepare the rice: boil it in abundant, lightly salted water, and while it's cooking lightly beat two of the eggs. When the rice is done drain it. Transfer it into a bowl, let it cool slightly, and stir in the beaten eggs, grated cheese, and saffron. Let it finish cooling.
When everything else is ready, lightly beat the remaining eggs and season them with salt and pepper. Then, preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Next, make the first arancino by taking two small handfuls of rice and shaping them into hollow hemispheres Fill the hollows with some of the meat, and some of the peas, and mold the two halves together to obtain a smooth-sided rice ball about the size of a small orange (1.5 - 2 inches in diameter). Roll the arancino in flour, dredge it in the beaten egg, roll it well in the breadcrumbs, and fry it in abundant hot oil. While it's cooking begin with the next, and when the one that's frying has become a golden brown drain it on absorbent paper. When you have finished frying all your arancini, heat them through in the oven for five minutes, decorate them with the orange leaves if you choose to, and serve them piping hot.