GREEK - Summer 2021 (Jul-Sept) Cuisine of the Quarter

We had a close race this quarter, with GREEK eking out a win over BBQ. Lucky for me, I’ve got a garden full of oregano and tomatoes, and I’m not afraid to use them! Looking forward to exploring this marvelous cuisine with all of you HOs.

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Phenomenal news and definitely one of our faves …

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This has @Lambchop’s name written all over it!

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:joy_cat::joy::rofl: - you are too funny! From the looks of that spread above, you will out Greek me easily!

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What a great community! I’m going to find some Greek "barbecue " . And Turkish, because history.

First up; Kebabs!

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A fun Greek Restaurant … Not the best but enjoyable … The best Greek cuisine we had outside of Greece was in Bucharest, Romania, which has an enormous Greek Community.

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Truly lovely …

Enjoy and have a healthy summer.

I ate an olive last night however it’s origin is unknown.

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The market this week has some phenomenal tomatoes, identified by a friend as Oxhearts.

So, of course, I made Greek salad, with Persian cucumbers, feta, oregano and EVOO. I forgot to get olives, though.

Persian cukes are fairly new around here. They’re great in salads because they have thin skin and few seeds.

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What would be considered Greek cuisine? I’m new to the CotQ, so I don’t know the rules. I mostly improvise my Greek-ish dishes, from family hand-downs. I do make some of the standards like pastitsio, but here’s an improv example, where I used my generic Greek-ish tomato sauce.

This week, the Mexican market had some nice looking shrimp at a good price, so I decided to simmer them in the tomato sauce. This dish would be saganaki, but I don’t have a sagana, the pan that it’s traditionally cooked in. I started by browning some fake slices of loukaniko sausage, fake because I didn’t read the package ingredients and it isn’t made with lamb. After I got some good maillard-effect brown bits, I added garlic, then a can of diced tomatoes that I whooshed briefly with the immersion blender. Spiced it up with oregano, black pepper, small touches of cinnamon and red pepper flakes. I simmered it for just 15 minutes, because I like the bright flavors of tomato that hasn’t been cooked for a long time. I added the shrimp, some halved cherry tomatoes, the sausage slices, and feta, and simmered just until the shrimp was cooked through. Served over brown rice, since after all, I live in Berkeley.

I’ve never used feta in a heated sauce; it was from a recipe I have for saganaki. It said that the feta would just begin to melt as the shrimp cooked. Instead, it dissolved completely, which really messed up the color of the dish.

ETA: I originally posted a photo, but I deleted it because it really didn’t do justice to how delicious this turned out.

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No rules! :wink: Seriously, though, COTQ is just a thread to focus on any aspect of a particular cuisine, whether that be restaurant food, traditional home cooking, American-ized versions of classics, fusion with other cuisines, sources for specialty ingredients, etc. Your improvisation sounds delicious and very Greek. Bummer about the “fake” loukaniko, though - one of my favorite sausages!

I would think that “family hand-down” recipes" trump anything any of us might recreate from a book. And it’s my sense that grandmas, regardless of ethnicity, tweak classic recipes to their family tastes and to available produce.

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OK, then! Here’s my family-tested generic tomato simmering sauce. With it, you can make

  • the saganaki I outlined above, a quick simmer so you don’t overcook the shrimp
  • gigantes, the large broad beans. Watch the liquid level as they cook!
  • rovithia, chick peas. Same warning.
  • keftedakia, meatballs of lamb, with pork or beef as you like, with chopped onion and
    parsley. Brown them in a pan or broiler before a quick simmer in the sauce.
  • youvetsi, slow-cooked lamb chunks. Brown the lamb and simmer until very, very
    tender. Increase the liquid, because you’re going to boil orzo pasta in it at the end.
  • macaronada, with lots of ground lamb and/or beef, to make a Greek-style bolognese for
    pasta (macaronia!). Try to find kefalotiri, casseri or myzithra cheese for grating.

I’ll make some of these over the coming months and post the results.

Here are the rough proportions for the sauce. Multiply as necessary.

small can of diced or chopped tomatoes, or 2 cups diced fresh Romas
several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small onion
1/2 tsp dried oregano, or a few sprigs of fresh
scant 1/8 tsp cinnamon
scant 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
a few cranks of black pepper
salt to taste
2 tbsp red wine

Saute the onion until slightly cooked. Add the garlic and continue sauteing. Add the tomatoes, seasonings and red wine. Simmer briefly, maybe for 15 minutes. Then add the proteins and continue to simmer.

Opa!

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@ernie_in_berkeley - firstly, your Greek salad is beautiful, and I can imagine the Persian cukes being stellar in that usage. Also I’m so happy I saw the picture of your Greek shrimp dish before you removed it!! Was thinking to myself how beautiful and appetizing it looked! Am sure it tasted even better.

I look forward to your future contributions, and will add some of my own, as soon as the cooking doldrums depart. Unfortunately, it does happen…

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Thanks! I’ll see if I can get a better picture of the shrimp. I froze some of it, and other things I will prepare in the Greek-ish tomato sauce will come.

I recognize some distinct types of Greek cooked foods in my life. First, there’s grilled and roasted items. Fish, chicken, lamb, kebabs, over a flame, leg of lamb in the oven. Veggies too–our backyard shish-kebabs had alternating pieces of lamb, tomato, bell pepper, onion, and sometimes mushrooms, and I’ve done eggplant, zucchini, and not-Greek Anaheim chilies. The meat kebabs are marinated, in wine and herbs and olive oil but also in yogurt.

Then there’s the indoor dishes. including the tomato-based simmers, but also yorvatlakia, a complex dish of meatballs with rice in a chicken broth with avgolemono, and avgolemono soup itself with shredded chicken and rice or noodles. My yiayia made stuffed tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and squash flowers with a mix of ground meat, rice, pine nuts and something else I can’t remember, baked until the top was toasty brown. And, of course, pastitsio and moussaka.

But there’s also the uncooked dishes. The salad that everyone knows (xhoriatiki, “village” salad). A meze (appetizer) plate of feta and other cheese, olives, pepperoncinis, maybe taramosalata (a spread of carp roe with EVOO and smooshed bread, aka Greek caviar), roasted red peppers, all with some good bread and wine, sitting in the shade late on a summer afternoon.

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I always think I’m not a big fan of Greek food because I don’t like some of the “biggies” - cucumbers, eggplant, dill, feta…

BUT. Then I see pics of souvlaki and meatballs and grilled fish and various pies (spinach, meat, egg, and so on) and I’m immediately thinking about how I can eat them ASAP!

I have gigantes beans soaking… I think that’s where I’ll start.

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I’m finally cooking something for COTQ! Woot!

I had soaked gigantes beans yesterday, so made those in a tomato-garlic-onion sauce.

I usually have trouble with these beans (vs all others) - either they split or they don’t tenderize or the skin bursts and so on. And I cook a lot of beans, and have no problems the rest of the time. Sigh. Anyway, today’s method worked, thankfully.

Started with a simple tomato-onion salad like my favorite Greek restaurant does. I don’t like feta, but I have fresh ricotta, so I put a big plop of that in the middle (sorry, started Greek but went a bit rogue there).

I also made pita for the first time today - thought it would be fun to try a new to me recipe for COTQ. I have a new toaster oven and I’m still getting used to it (this was only the second thing I’ve made in it) so they dried out a bit - but I got a PUFF! So exciting.

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Horta ( with Salisbury Steak on the side).

Okay, not exactly.

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Some nice Greek Lunch On The Cape …

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Tell us about the gigantes. They look divine!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold