Sunday, 3 February 2008

Lemon Potatoes (Πατάτες Λεμονάτες)

Life usually goes ho-hum for us here in the little Mediterranean summer resort town that we live in. We wake up in the mornings and have breakfast, then set off for work or school. When we come home, we talk about how our day went over lunch, start doing our homework, and then rest a little. In the evenings, we usually watch the telly (as we call 'the box' in New Zealand), or potter around on the computer. Our machines do all the heavy work for us - washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner. We live in suburbia bliss, where nothing out of the ordinary rarely happens, a kind of Wisteria Lane in the Mediterranean.

That was until last Wednesday. Our 83-year-old yiayia fell down and broke her femur. Not only did her bone shatter; so did our inner peace. Shopping for food, once a pleasurable experience using all five senses, has lost its appeal. Our fridge is looking decidedly bare. The freezer has reached its lowest contents-vs-capacity precentage. We barely have enough time to spare between taking thechildren to school and hospital visits. It's been very hard on her only child, since her care rests mainly on him. He hasn't been able to work or rest peacefully, let alone eat. Under normal circumstances, he lives to eat. Now I have to remind him that he has to eat to live. He's lost his appetite from worry. It's time to start making comfort food, the sort of food that doesn't require too much effort to eat, that keeps you on your feet in difficult times. Lemon potatoes - a favorite from my mother's New Zealand kitchen - does just that.

Take a baking tin or a pyrex dish, and peel as many potatoes as will fit into it. I used five large potatoes, cut into quarters which I then cut into halves, in this pyrex dish, which incidentally came free with 4 pots of Greek strained yoghurt. Have ready the juice of two large lemons to pour over as soon as the potatoes are peeled, cut and washed to avoid their browning, as is coomon for potatoes. Pour half a cup of olive oil over them, and add salt, ground pepper and oregano. Mix them well in this mixture, and then pour in half a glass of water. Cook them in a hot oven; test to see if they are done by inserting a knife into the thickest one in the dish. If the potato is soft, the knife will easily cut into the potato. Roast them till the potatoes take on a golden brown colour, and the edges have melted into the oil and lemon sauce.

This dish goes well with a salad and some roast meat.

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Cretan boureki
Leek and potato soup
Fennel soup
Potato fritters
Potato salad