Sunday, February 20, 2011


The week of Greek food was awesome to make...and eat. We made spanakopita (spinach rolls/pies), Greek salad, Artichokes with Egg and Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono), Bean Soup (Fasoulatha), Baked Shrimp (Garithes Sganaki), Afelia with Pourgouri Pilafi (Fried Pork with Coriander and Pilaf of cracked wheat).

The spanakopita is awesome to make but a little difficult if you work with if you have dry or old phyllo dough. I made triangles and a roll from the phyllo dough I was supplied with for the recipe. You start by wilting spinach in a pan with sauteed onion; once soft add chopped leeks, green onions and cook until all is soft. Cool the mixture and squeeze out as much moisture as possible; then combine with chopped fresh dill, chopped flat leaf parsley, nutmeg, feta cheese and one beaten egg. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and place to the side while you butter the phyllo dough. Brush lightly the top sheet of four phyllo sheets with olive oil. Flip the sheet over and brush the other side; pick up both sheets and flip over again until all are brushed with olive oil. To make the triangles cut a long strip from top to bottom of the phyllo dough; about 3 to 4 inches wide and the dough should be long from right to left when you cut the strips. Place a little of the mixture onto the bottom of the strip and fold over from right to left into a triangle; continue to fold over itself as a triangle much like a paper football. Brush the outside of the triangles with olive oil and place on a parchment paper lined pan. Bake the triangles in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 30 minutes. I added the squeeze of half a lemon (minus the pits) to the mixture after it was combined to add another dimension.

The Greek salad is made with Romaine lettuce cut into strips (wide chiffonade) and then topped with diced tomato, red onion slices, kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumber (skinned), green bell pepper and fresh dill. To make the dressing combine 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1 mashed garlic clove (garlic paste made with a dash of sea salt), fresh oregano, salt, pepper and a 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk the ingredients together, pour over salad and toss well.

The Artichokes can turn grey on you so make sure you keep them in water at all times. Cut out the heart from the choke and cook in boiling salted water with lemon juice and olive oil until tender. To make the avgolemono sauce use half stock and half artichoke water. Add slurry to the boiling stock until thickened and bubbling; gradually pour thickened hot stock to a beaten egg until well combined (like hollandaise) and return the beaten egg mixture to the heat and cook the egg. The mixture should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon; DO NOT BOIL. Remove from the heat, continue stirring and correct the seasoning. Serve the sauce immediately with the cooked artichokes; sprinkle with chopped dill and parsley. The bean soup is a Greek version on Minestrone; it starts with sauteing celery, carrots and onion for about 3-4 minutes. Add chopped garlic, tomatoes and tomato paste; combine white beans which are simmering in water or stock. Bring the combination to a boil and cook until soft or desired tenderness. Stir in chopped parsley, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. You can thicken the soup by crushing some of the white beans and stirring the soup.

The baked shrimp was very easy to make and was very good! Start by cleaning the shrimp of veins and shells; place them in a non-reactive container and add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. While the shrimp are marinating in the lemon juice prepare the mix-ins. Mince pepperoncini, garlic cloves, green onions, parsley, oregano and dice concasse tomato. Saute diced onion until transparent; add pepperoncini and garlic until aroma of garlic is reached. Next ass green onion and tomato cook for about 5 minutes; add white wine and bring to a bubble. Add about half of the chopped parsley and oregano to the mixture, stir and add the shrimp. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp and add crumbed feta cheese on top. Place in a preheated oven around 450 degrees or salamander; cook until cheese is soft or melted. Be careful to not overcook the shrimp. Sprinkle the finished product with remaining parsley and oregano; serve with warm crusty bread.

John made the pork and it starts by combining cubed pork with red wine, salt and 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds, cinnamon stick and fresh pepper...lots of pepper! Marinate the meat as long as possible and drain the pork; while reserving the marinade. Pat dry the pork before you move on as to not burn your arm hair. Heat oil in a pan and add pork...saute stirring frequently until browned and just cooked through. Discard most of the fat from the marinade and add remaining toasted coriander seeds along with the marinade (minus the cinnamon stick) to a pan. Reduce the mixture until about 1/4 cup and add the pork; toss to coat and serve with the pilaf. The pilaf is made by sauteing onion until transparent; stir in broken vermicelli and cook until the pasta absorbs the oil. Add stock and bring to a boil; then add the cracked wheat and bring a boil again. Simmer until all the moisture is absorbed and season to taste.

Overall the menu was great and the shrimp was a knockout hit! I loved making this menu and I hope some of you enjoy making what I described. The spanakopita is killer; but like I mentioned remember to stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the mixture before you add it to the phyllo dough.

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