Masterchef Champion joins artists for Easter collaboration at The Stables at 94
MasterChef’s 2019 champion, Irini Tzortzoglou, recently used The Stables at 94 as the venue for her Greek Easter-themed photo shoot.
With the additional help of ceramics from Miles-Moore Ceramics, glassware from Nettle + Tansy, photography by Victoria Sedgwick and flowers by Victoria Williams, the event was a great success, helping to beat the lockdown blues and promote local talent.
The joyful collaboration provided the perfect setting for Irini and her Greek Easter feast. From sumptuous savouries to delicious sweets, the culinary expertise that led to her MasterChef victory was on show throughout. Combining the traditional Easter soup of magiritsa with a selection of savoury muffins, tastebuds were already tingling before the introduction of best end neck of lamb, accompanied by vegetables in filo parcels.
All of this was joined by an array of differently flavoured tsoureki – the much-loved sweet Easter bread – and a bread and butter pudding with some of that tsoureki inside. Of course, no Easter feast would be complete without Easter eggs, and Irini’s was no exception. Cracked to symbolise the fact that “Christ is risen”, her eggs were dyed naturally using red onion skins to signify the blood He shed for the salvation of humankind.
Those who would like to try Irini’s recipes for themselves, including the Easter tsoureki and kleftiko-style lamb, can find them listed below:
4 pieces of lamb rump, 170g each
1 courgette, approx. 200g, washed, trimmed and cut in small cubes
1 sweet potato, approx. 250g, peeled and cut in small cubes
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in small cubes
100g frozen peas
6 small plumb tomatoes, cut in half
3 tbp extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juice and zest
1 preserved whole lemon, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
4 small sprigs of rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 1900C.
2. Wash and pat dry the lamb. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Bring a large frying pan to a high heat. Add olive oil and brown the lamb all round, adding 25g of butter too and basting the meat with. Transfer to a dish and keep to the side
4. Add the chopped vegetables to the same frying pan, apart from the halved tomatoes, season and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add 50g of butter, toss the vegetables to flavour and transfer to a bowl. Last, brown the tomato halves on the cut side and add to the vegetables too.
5. Cut four pieces of baking parchment large enough to make parcels of each piece of lamb and a quarter of the vegetables and lay them on a baking sheet. In the centre of each piece of paper, place a quarter of the vegetables, sprinkle with a pinch of dried oregano and a little lemon zest and juice, close the parcels making a pleat all along the middle and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. At the end of this time, add the lamb to each parcel placing a piece of preserved lemon over the lamb and a sprig of rosemary, a sprinkling of pepper and salt and close again. Cook for 15-20 minutes more (depending on how cooked you want your lamb) and take out of the oven.
6. Leave each parcel to rest for 5 minutes and serve.
Ingredients (makes 4 tsourekia):
200g condensed milk
275g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150ml sunflower oil
150ml melted butter, plus extra for kneading
100g fresh yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1.4-1.5kg strong flour
1 tsp masticha tears, ground into powder
1 tsp mahlepi
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ orange, juice and zest
1 egg white for brushing
2-3 tbsp almond flakes
1. In a medium sized pan melt over low heat the sugar and the condensed milk stirring continuously. Add the beaten eggs, sunflower oil and vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate everything together. Leave until tepid before using.
2. In a large bowl if kneading by hand, or the bowl of your standing mixer, put 400ml tepid water and melt the fresh yeast by whisking it thoroughly. Add the contents of the saucepan to the yeast and all the remaining ingredients apart from the flour. Whisk to mix well.
3. Start adding the flour gradually mixing with your hands continuously. You should aim for a dough that is soft and pliable, perhaps even a little sticky. The way to deal with that and help with the texture of the dough is to grease your hands with a little melted butter and continue kneading. By hand, knead for around 10 minutes for a glossy and stringy dough, in the mixer you will need less kneading time, around 6-7 minutes on medium speed.
4. Put the dough in a slightly greased large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and put in your oven which should be preheated at 50 0C. Leave the dough in the oven for 2-3 hours until it doubles in volume.
5. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch out the air from it and roll into a thick sausage shape. Cut into 4 equal size pieces and roll again each one into a sausage shape. Cut each again in three or four. I use four strands to make my plats but you can make them with only three.
6. You may leave your plats straight or join their two ends to form a round ‘koulouri’ shape. Put the tsourekia onto lined baking tins and leave to rise again. Do not put them anywhere where the temperature is over 40 degrees as the dough will spread and the tsourekia will end up being flat.
7. When the tsourekia have risen, beat the egg white to loosen and brush them. Sprinkle with almond flakes or other things you like such as poppy seeds, sesame, etc.
8. Preheat the oven to 180 0C and bake the tsourekia for 25-30 minutes. Place a shallow tin with some boiling water on the bottom of the oven for even fluffier tsourekia.
9. If you make smaller or bigger tsourekia, you will need to adjust the baking time.
Irini said ‘Collaboration in these challenging times lifts us up. Working together not only makes us smile, but also provides inspiration, meaning and hope for our future as creatives and artists, which is what this event was all about. Information about the artists involved in the event can be found below.