Sunday, March 11, 2007

Saganaki Martini

First off it's a big congratulations to Anna from Morsels and Musings who was married last weekend and is graciously hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging. I do hope some nice person got her that ice cream maker!

This week I'll be handling what really should be called a fruit - Cucumbers!

cucumberĀ© by haalo

By definition Cucumbers are fruit because their seeds are on the inside and when you start thinking about it, there's quite a lot of vegetables that are really fruit.

The main nutrient a cucumber offers is water - it's that refreshing characteristic that makes it very popular in summer. It also has Vitamin A, B6, C and K along with Copper, dietary Fibre, Folate, Magnesium, Manganese, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium and Thiamine.

I'll be using cucumbers to make a recipe from one of my favourite local chefs, George Calombaris. A dish that you can enjoy at his restaurant The Press Club and now thanks to a great feature in the recent Gourmet Traveller I can make it at home!

George has a reputation of putting a unique spin on classic dishes and this Saganaki Martini is a perfect example of that.

In this martini, Gin in used as an accent to a herb flavoured tomato broth - Olives present themselves in the form of Candied Olives. Now you might be wondering about candied olives but all I can say is you should have an open mind and give them a go. The saganaki is presented as a skewer of grilled haloumi - served with the martini, it contains all the classical Greek elements but in a stunningly unique experience.

saganaki martiniĀ© by haalo

Saganaki Martini
[Serves 4]

10 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
5 leaves basil
5 leaves mint
Gin, to taste

Candied Olives:
100 grams Kalamata olives, pits removed, finely chopped
50 grams caster sugar

2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded, diced very finely
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced very finely
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
200 grams haloumi, cut into 1cm cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil

Make the Martini:
Place the tomatoes, garlic, basil and mint in a blender and process until smooth. Strain using a fine sieve - don't press on the mixture, let it happen naturally. It will take a few hours to give you the required 500mls/2 cups of liquid.

Throw away the remaining solids and then add Gin to taste. Place this in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.

Make the Candied Olives:
Preheat the oven to 60°C.
Place the finely chopped olives on a baking paper lined tray and sprinkle with the caster sugar. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the olives are dried.

Prepare the Haloumi:
Slice the cheese into 1cm cubes and dust with a little flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the cheese over a medium heat - browning all sides. When cooked thread onto skewers.

Assemble the dish:
Divide the diced Roma tomatoes, cucumber, candied olives and chives amongst four martini glasses, then pour over with the chilled martini mixture. Add the haloumi skewers and serve immediately.

saganaki martiniĀ© by haalo

I hope you'll agree, it's a wonderful way to begin a meal.


  1. haalo, you've beat me to it again!

    i was really attracted to this recipe from gourmet traveller too.

    george calombaris seems like such an inventive chef and i’ve already made his greek salad smoothies as an oyster accompaniment. i’m heading to Melbourne soon for my interlude dinner and i’ve put the press club down as another “must visit” while i’m there. i just can’t get over how fun and inventive calombaris’ recipes are!!!

    p.s. no ice cream maker but enough $$$ to buy myself one!!! hey, jonas got an xbox 360, i get an ice cream maker :)

  2. Very inventive and interesting recipe. I really love the saganaki that gets lit on fire, but haven't had the courage to do it myself! This sounds a bit safer, and more unusual.

  3. Haalo, this is so impressive! Really like the way you present it. :)

  4. What a delicious looking cocktail!

    I wonder if you could tell me where you found those little bamboo cocktail picks? I have been looking for them everywhere.

    I'm located in Sydney, so anything in Australia is good.

    Thanks so much!


  5. Yes, saw this in GT and was intrigued - will definitely make it after seeing this!

  6. Thanks Anna - I wasn't a big fan of George when he cooked at Reserve but he certainly hit the balance with The Press Club. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time there.

    Thanks Kalyn - saganaki is wonderful you should give it a go!

    Thanks Anh!

    Thanks Kell - The Essential Ingredient stocks those skewers here in Melbourne - their Sydney store should have them or at least be able to get them for you.

    Thanks Julia - having eaten all the dishes in the issue at the restaurant itself, I can honestly say that everyone of those recipes is a winner, you can't go wrong making any of them.

  7. This looks wonderful and an idea I will borrow, I am sure. I am curious most about Haloumi. What kind of cheese is it and what would you substitute?

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks Pookah - I wrote a bit about haloumi here. It shouldn't be too difficult to find authentic Haloumi - just search out a good deli or cheese shop. You could try Kefalotiri but I think it would be best to use the Haloumi - it has a whole textural element that you don't really want to lose.

  9. Yum! Pour me one! :)

  10. What a great idea!! So you make me have three starters for the weekend party, and the kids just go without gin. :))

  11. Haalo, this is perfect! It has all my favorites in one dish. Very clever idea.

  12. Thanks Y - i'll have one chilling for you!

    Hi Helene - sounds like a great idea!

    Thanks Sara - George is a pretty clever guy.


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