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Mar 23, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Greek’

By the Book: À la Grecque, Our Greek Table by Pam Talimanidis

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016



Thus far in our By the Book challenge, the selected Greek cookbooks have produced delicious Mediterranean dishes, but they were surprisingly lax in their instruction. À la Grecque had its confusing moments, but considering the vagaries of the previous cookbooks, it was downright educational.

This recipe called for saffron, which I always regarded as an unnecessary luxury in my kitchen. But once I bit the bullet and purchased a half-gram from Penzey’s (only $9), I learned a little goes a long way. A wee pinch turned the onion-based sauce a lovely golden hue – and I still have plenty of those delicate red threads to make paella.

Once browned, it only took 20 minutes of braising for the chicken to cook through. The meat fell from the bone when I served it the next day; though to be fair, a rest overnight likely contributed to that tenderness. A quick note: This dish must be served over a base of rice or couscous, which will absorb the salty, schmaltzy sauce.

Skill level: Easy. Most dishes require 10 ingredients or less, and nothing is too difficult to track down.
This book is for: Semi-skilled home cooks who want a taste of Greece without leaving home
Other recipes to try: Mussels with rice and dill, slow-cooked beef with braised eggplant
The verdict: While last week’s lamb shanks were downright decadent, olives and lemon zest brightened up this multidimensional chicken dish. À La Grecque takes the win.




Braised Chicken with Green Olives, Lemon and Saffron
4 servings

1 lemon
1 1.6 kg. (3½ lb.) free-range chicken
125 ml (4 oz.) extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
20 threads saffron*
200 g. (7 oz.) green olives, pitted and sliced
500 ml (17 oz.) chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper

• Use a vegetable peeler to peel fine strips of zest from the lemon. Slice the zest into thin julienne strips. Place them in a small saucepan and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Add a teaspoon of salt and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well and reserve the zest.
• Joint the chicken into thighs, drumsticks and wings and cut each breast in half, keeping it on the bone.
• Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry the chicken pieces in batches over a high heat until the skin is crisp and golden. As each batch is browned, transfer to a bowl. If the chicken has a lot of fat, drain some of it away.
• Add the onions to the pan and saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften and turn a light golden brown. Add the garlic, saffron and olives and stir. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan and add the reserved lemon zest and chicken stock.
• Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with couscous or Saffron Pilaf.

*Saffron can be found at Penzey’s Spices

Reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books

By the Book: “The Islands of Greece” by Rebecca Seal

Friday, September 30th, 2016



The Islands of Greece: Recipes from Across the Greek Seas is a travelogue of recipes collected by Rebecca Seal. The book offers a wide range of dishes with varying degrees of difficulty and indulgence. Torn between frying cheese in philo dough and making a salad, I opted for Volcanic Lamb with Egg and Lemon Sauce – solely because of the name.

The recipe was incredibly simple and clear, but lacked a few necessary details and had some practical problems. It instructed me to soften onions gently in a wide pan (Over what heat? Until translucent?), then increase the heat (to what?) and brown the lamb. I ended up removing the onions mid-lamb searing so the onions wouldn’t burn. I also used a lot more than five tablespoons water to deglaze the pan. Otherwise, the recipe went off without a hitch. Don’t be afraid to place a Dutch oven full of lamb in the oven without even a little wine to bask in; the shanks produced their own braising liquid of pure savory, fatty goodness. This hands-off recipe produced the richest dish I’ve ever made with a show-stopping silky egg sauce, a pop of fresh thyme and extremely little effort.

Skill level: Intermediate. The recipes are simple, but require some cooking common sense.
This book is for: Cooks who want a culinary tour of Greece from their home kitchens.
Other recipes to try: Cheese pies from Alonissos, chickpea fritters, chicken baked in yoghurt
The Verdict: The Kokkari steak was a tender treat, but it couldn’t beat the miles-deep richness of these roasted lamb shanks.




Volcanic Lamb with Egg & Lemon Sauce
4 servings

1 sliced onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 lamb shanks, weighing 300 g. to 400 g. (10.5 to 14 oz. each)
6 sprigs thyme, plus more to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 g. (14 oz.) baby new potatoes, in their skins
A little butter

1 egg
Juices from the lamb
1 Tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste

• Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celsius (275 degrees Fahrenheit, Gas 1).
• For the lamb, soften the onion gently in a wide pan with the olive oil. Increase the heat and add the lamb, browning the shanks thoroughly on all sides. Deglaze the pan with 4 to 5 tablespoons water, scraping up any bits that have stuck. Tip the whole lot into an ovenproof dish with a tight-fitting lid and add the thyme, salt and pepper. Place the lid on the dish and put into the oven. Cook 3 hours, or until the meat is falling from the bone.
• Just before the lamb comes out of the oven, boil the new potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and dry on paper towels then saute gently in the butter over a medium-low heat, until lightly browned all over.
• When the lamb is cooked, spoon off most of the juices from the dish, leaving just enough so the meat doesn’t dry out. Keep it somewhere warm, with the lid on.
• Make the sauce. Beat the egg until creamy. Very slowly drizzle in the hot pan juices, whisking constantly to ensure the egg doesn’t cook and make the sauce lumpy, then add the lemon juice. Pour it all into a clean pan and warm over a very, very gentle heat, but do not bring anywhere close to boiling. If you feel there isn’t enough sauce, add a little stock or even water. You can also add more lemon juice, to taste. Remove from the heat and serve with the lamb, onions and potatoes, scattered with a few thyme leaves.


Reprinted with permission from Hardie Grand Books

By the Book: Cyprus: A Culinary Journey by Marianne Salentin-Träger

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016



I picked up Cyprus: A Culinary Journey by Marianne Salentin-Träger, and I was immediately blown away by the photography. Even though not technically a Greek cookbook – the island of Cyprus is further east, off the coast of Turkey – the recipes are definitely of influenced by Greek cuisine.

Despite beautiful photos, the recipe for Meatballs with Oven Chips required less illustration and more instruction. Since there was no temperature guidance or size suggestions to prepare the meatballs, I ruined the first two batches over too high heat, burning the outside and leaving the interiors raw. I finally settled on medium-low heat, which resulted in tender, flavorful insides and crisp exteriors. Likewise, I kicked the heat up to 400 degrees to cook the potato wedges after nearly 45 minutes at 340 degrees (the only temperature indicated in the recipe) produced soft, baked wedges, not crisp chips.

While the end result tasted wonderful, a third of the recipe ended up in the trash thanks to vague instruction. Unless you have experience making meatballs or other Greek dishes, skip this book.

Skill level: Intermediate to advanced with poor recipe instruction.
This book is for: Adventurous, experienced cooks looking for a taste of Cyprus
Other recipes to try: Baklava rolls with walnuts, Oven Omelette, Banana Cake
The verdict: Last week’s rib-eye takes the win.




Meatballs with Oven Chips
A recipe by Franz Keller
4 servings

600 g. (about 1 1/3 lbs.) raw lean beef from the haunch, freshly ground at the butcher’s (ground round)
4 shallots
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 medium organic eggs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 to 6 Tbsp. breadcrumbs, softened with a little milk
3 leaves of wild sage
Salt, pepper
A few drops chile oil

Serve with 20 leaves wild sage
8 medium potatoes (deep-fried or oven-baked)
Olive oil (not virgin)

• Mix the ground beef with the other ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Form into meatballs and fry in olive oil until done.
• Peel the potatoes and cut into wedges. Deep-fry the wedges in normal (not native) olive oil over a medium heat, like chips. Deep-fry the remaining sage leaves in oil, too.
• Alternatively (and easier than deep-frying), put the potato wedges on a baking tray, sprinkle with some olive oil, season with salt and bake until crispy in a fan-assisted oven at 170 degrees Celsius (340 degrees Fahrenheit) for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
• Serve the meatballs with the potato wedges and sage. Sprinkle everything with freshly ground sea salt!


Recipe printed with permission from C&C Publishing

The Scoop: Dados Cafe to serve up authentic Greek fare in St. Louis Hills

Thursday, October 15th, 2015



St. Louis Hills residents will have a new place to grab a gyro when Dados Cafe opens in early November at 5425 Hampton Ave., as first reported by St. Louis Magazine.

Owner Gus Botonis has spent years working in the restaurant industry as a server at The Chase Park Plaza and at a cafeteria his parents owned on Washington Avenue, but this will be his first ownership venture. “It’s a great location,” Botonis said. “We’re looking to attract people who want authentic Greek food.”

That food will be cooked up by native Greek and 30-year culinary veteran, Nick Avouris. In addition to traditional fare like gyros and baklava, Dados’ menu will offer American dishes like hamburgers and salads.

The restaurant will seat 30 inside and eight to 10 outside, but Botonis plans to expand seating in the future.



The Scoop: The big food truck scene is getting fatter

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

American, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern. With all of the food trucks rolling on the streets of St. Louis these days, it appears we have every cuisine covered. Not quite, but with two more mobile food operations coming soon to a curb near you, this city is that much closer to claiming that global fare on the go has arrived.

Feed Me, a food truck slated to enter the scene by the end of this week, will specialize in banh mi sandwiches, the king among Vietnamese street fare. Look also for summer rolls with peanut sauce and, in the near future, Vietnamese coffee. The other truck soon to hit the streets, My Big Fat Greek Truck, is expected to start roaming roads beginning the first week of April and will feature Greek eats including gyros, spanakopita (baked phyllo dough filled with spinach and feta cheese) and Greek-style doughnuts called glyka.

You can stay posted on the whereabouts of the Feed Me and My Big Fat Greek Truck on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @FeedMeTruck and @GreekTruckSTL.



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