Monday, 10 March 2014

Mediterranean Dinner Party

I invited friends to dinner on Thursday night.  Our first dinner guests - actually our first guests - since moving in six weeks ago.  Unbeknownst to me, my invitation coincided with the local power company's plan to replace all the electricity meters in the neighbourhood.  Of course it did.

'It will take two hours, tops' said the nice power company man as he came by to say the power would be turned off in ten minutes.  That was at 11am.  By 2pm they had discovered the power in our rental property was not earthed and they 'could not in good conscience' return power to the property while it was a death trap unsafe.  Fair enough.  They wrote us an official defect report and said we needed to get an electrician out to repair it asap.

We called the property manager to authorise/arrange an electrician only to find that our property manager no longer works for the company and they haven't allocated anyone new to her properties. Nice one.  We eventually got an electrician who couldn't find any earthing wires to the water pipes to be repaired and speculated that they were removed when the property was re-plumbed, sometime in the past, and most of the metal water pipes were replaced with plastic ones.  The issue became locating an appropriate pipe to run a new earthing wire to.  So the electrician had to call someone out to drill holes and climb around the roof so they could run the new earthing wire across the length of the house.  That was complete by 4.30pm.  But the power company employees finished work at 4.00pm so we needed to get an after hours team to inspect the repair, rescind the defect notice and turn the power back on.

The power was finally returned just after 6.30pm.  Our guests were due at 7.00pm.

Our friends are vegetarian and I had planned a Mediterranean menu - mostly Greek versions of dishes inspired by this cool book I took out from the library - A La Grecque: Our Greek Table.  I don't usually do much baking, but had intended to bake a fresh spinach and feta pie and bake some bread to go with dips and salads.

By the time our guests arrived, the amended menu was

  • Mediterranean dips - hummous, tzatsiki, melazanasalat (see below)
  • Toasted pita bread - Mr Duncan ran out for some from the supermarket, to substitute for the homemade turkish flat bread I had planned to make from my library book.  I'll have to take a photo of that recipe for future experiments.
  • Spanakopita (reheated from the freezer)
  • Sweet potato, feta and basil salad - The gas was still on but the ignition spark on the stove is electricity dependent.  Once I found some matches to light it, I was able to boil the sweet potato instead of roasting.
  • Fattoush salad

So it all worked out in the end but I was in such a flap I totally forgot to take any photos.

This is a simple mix of chopped cucumber, mint and garlic stirred into yoghurt that I've made for years, but I followed the library book recipe method and made it the Greek way by

  1. straining the yoghurt to make it thicker (don't forget to save the whey and use it for other things
  2. removing the seeds from the cucumber before slicing and draining the chopped cucumber, sprinkled with a little salt in a colander for a few minutes before mixing into the yoghurt.
  3. mixing a little extra virgin olive oil into the finished product
These changes made for a much thicker, luxurious texture which really complimented the pie (and also went well with some grilled lamb chops the next day).

This was Mr Duncan's favourite dip when we were in Greece.  It is made with grilled eggplant.  I threw it and the hummous together in the 30 minutes between the power coming back on and our guests arriving.


  • Eggplant
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Parsley

Slice the eggplant.  Place slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.  Grill under a high heat for approx 5 minutes either side until soft and slightly charred.

Mash eggplant in a bowl with remaining ingredients.  Blend until desired consistency reached.  If you like you can fold in some crumbled feta cheese.


  1. Yum, yum and yum. What a crazy day with no power. I have only had/made baba ganoush eggplant dip. Never had melazanasalata, but I'm sure I would devour it. I worked in a Mediterranean restaurant 10 years ago and this brings back the memories.

    1. My other melizanosalata recipe includes tahini, maybe baba ganoush and melizanosalata are basically the same thing - just with different names from different countries?

      Bringing you back good memories I hope!


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