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

In the early '80s we visited Greece, several times staying and “dining” in the Plaka, Athens. I read in Gourmet about a restaurant where professionals would take their families on Sunday night. Okay. A simple but correct place. Our waiter heartily recommended “lemon eggplant”. i couldn’t find it on the menu and queried him but he just kept repeating "lemon eggplant. Who am I to argue. So what comes but Lamb and Eggplant, as delicious as he promised. So you too can enjoy Arni me Melitzanes.
We did. I used bone-in shoulder “stew meat”.

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CLASSIC TARAMOSALATA

Tarama - 150 grams
Day old bread - 1 thick slice of baguette drizzled with ice water and squeezed
1 small potato boiled and peeled
4 green scallions finely chopped
Extra virgin Greek Evoo (185 ml.)
2 Juiced lemons
1 pepperoncini

Combine the tarama, bread, scallions and the pepperoncini in a food processor or blender. PULSE on and off for 30 seconds. Slowly add the Greek Evoo and lemon juice and continue pulsing all all ingredients are well blended and creamy but thick. SERVE CHILLED AND GARNISHED WITH FRESH PARSLEY and kalamata olives …

greekmezzeTARAMOSALATA1934313_16402353745_6163_n

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Inspired by lambchop’s mention of skordalia in another topic, I made some last night. Roughly:

300g Yukon gold potatoes
1 small head of garlic
1/3 cup EVOO
salt and black pepper

Boil the potatoes for longer than you usually would, about a half hour, and drain them well. Peel the garlic; there’s no need to chop it. Use an immersion blender to mix until smooth. Normally, blades don’t work very well for potatoes, but in this case the mixture emulsified nicely. This was great on roasted salmon jowls and asparagus, but maybe a little too strong for many people. Next time, I think I’ll microwave the garlic for ten minutes or so before blending. I’ve done that before, and it softens some of the acrid bite.

ETA: if you do microwave the garlic, chop off the top of the head so that the cloves don’t explode. TMOT!

ETA++ You could also roast the garlic in the oven while the potatoes are boiling. Chop off the tops, wrap the bottoms in aluminum foil leaving the tops exposed, roast at 350F until browned.

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Hmm, I thought I’d delete my previous version. I still see it.

I went into Greek improv mode tonight. I made a Greek salad again with those phenomenal tomatoes and Persian cukes, oregano, black pepper. I added diced avocado and some mixed nuts, not quite Greek salad ingredients.

I dressed it all, with the skordalia. This tied it all together.

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My 2 go-to sites for Greek recipes the past 3 years have been MyGreekDish and the Akis Petrezikis site. Sometimes I look at both their recipes, then make something inspired by both.

The most recent Greek dish I’ve made is melitzanasalata, roasted egglant dip with olive oil, garlic , parsley, lemon and/or vinegar. I used vinegar and lemon this time.

I also bought a really amazing taramasalata available in Toronto. It’s called Better than Yia Yia’s (Better than Grandma’s).

Only available in the Toronto area .

https://www.betterthanyiayias.com/

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For me, summer is the best season for Greek and other Mediterranean dishes. I just figured out that the roasted zucchini (courgette) dish I made last night is actually a version of briam, or Greek roasted vegetables.

I do this in the oven when it’s cool enough, or outside on the grill over indirect heat in an oven-proof sauté pan.

We eat this as a meal in itself. Bread on the side to add substance. Lately we’ve been going cross-cultural with pan con tomate. Note to self: My readily available supermarket bread is disappointing for this. I need to either bake or buy better bread for an excellent version.

image

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I have prepared Classic Briam and I place a piece of parchment (papoillte paper) on a sheet pan and sprinkle the veggies on top with salt, black peppercorns grinded, Fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of Greek Evoo. I bake with balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes at 160 C degrees.

I use baguette or toasted in oven Pita from the Moroccan bakery.

Looks great !!! Really nice light dinner or tapa … (mezze) …

I use courgette or zucchine, red bell, green horn bells, red ripe tomatoes, aubergine, spring onion or leek and home made tomato sauce (simple marinara) with fresh tomato.

I have made with potato too but for summer, I keep it light.

I like your idea of the Feta on top !!!

Have a nice weekend.

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Such a flexible preparation, isn’t it? Fresh summer vegetables and nice olive oil are what make briam delicious for me.

Happy weekend!

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Strapatsada is a lesser known Greek tomato and egg dish .

Also, Santorini tomato keftedes.

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It is a healthy and lovely dish !!!

Have a great weekend.

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Sorry I missed this!

Soaked the gigantes in cold water for a full day. Pressure cooked but left a bite on them.

Sauce was garlic, onions, tomatoes, pinch or oregano and thyme, and some red pepper flakes (that added no flavor as it turned out).

I added the beans and pressure cooked a little bit more to tenderize.

Nice olive oil drizzled over on the plate.

I will not second guess myself again on (1) not adding salt until they’re almost done, and (2) not cooking with acid until almost done. I’m convinced those two things extended cooking time way more than it usually is.

But, tasty!

The pita was fun too.

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I tried making a pastitsio for the first time using a scaled down recipe from Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors which is a cookbook from Kokkari Estiatorio, a Greek restaurant in SF that I haven’t been to yet. Pastitsio is a bit like a Greek lasagne. Layers of pasta with a layer of seasoned ground beef, topped with a bechamel custard. I thought it came out pretty well!

And also a Greek salad.

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Welcome aboard Hungry Onion.

Looks like a lovely dish for a light lunch with a salad.

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I forgot to post a photo of the skordalia. Here it is, with salmon, asparagus, and mushrooms, all roasted in a baking sheet.

SkordaliaAsparagusSalmon

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“Lathera” is more of a technique than a dish. The word derives from “lathi”, which means oil. Lots of oil. Basically, you poach vegetables in olive oil and tomato.

We didn’t have this when I was growing up, probably because Mom didn’t like oily foods. In fact I first had it in a taverna in Greece. The classic version uses green beans and potatoes, and that’s what I made last night.

Start with the generic tomato sauce I posted in response 13 above, but when sauteeing the garlic and onions, use a full 1/3 cup of EVOO. For the quantity in that basic recipe, add 300g green beans and 300g diced potatoes. Put it on a low simmer for about half an hour.
Here’s the result, just about like that version I had in the Greek taverna:

You can use any vegetables you like. Here are some ideas to get you started: https://www.thegreekishlife.com/lathera

ETA: I forgot to mention that the tomato didn’t provide enough liquid for the long simmer. I added water, maybe 3/4 cup, and a tablespoon of tomato paste to compensate. Tomato paste is common in Greek recipes. To add liquid, Mom used to use bottled tomato juice, but I find it too salty.

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Hmmmm…

We call that fassoulakia. One of my favorites - with lots of garlic.

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Yup!

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Fasolakia Lathera? Fasolakia Lathera!

…or Zeytinyağlı Fasulye.

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I have no idea what any of that means but those beans look delicious.

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Opa! Very nice. Did you use fresh tomatoes? The sauce is really bright, and has just the right layer of olive oil on top.

Fasolakia are green beans in Greek. Lathera (lah there AH) means simmered in olive oil and tomato. Scroll up a couple of screens for my posts about it.

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