Something about the Greek Islands has always called to me. Greece is so different from any other country in the Balkan region and holds an air of mystery.
My song pick for this entry is “Greek Song” by Rufus Wainwright. Oddly it’s the song I get stuck in my head and have to sing loudly every time I go grocery shopping, just as I enter the freezer aisles. Never fails. No idea why.
Last week I held a dinner party that coincided perfectly with Greek Orthodox Easter. See menu below.
Grecian Metaxa Sours
Mix 1 part Metaxa Greek Brandy with 3 parts lemonade and serve over ice. Add a bit of ginger ale if you are feeling spicy!
I set out a huge selection of mixed olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and red peppers in various marinades. Some of those I made myself, as well as a dish of garbanzo beans roasted in garlic and paprika.
Spinach artichoke dip, fresh cut veggies, pita chips, tzatziki, wheat crackers, tomato jam, cheeses, fruit, beet chips, dates, cookies, brownies, half a dozen types of hummus, and even more items brought by guests were served.
μεζέδες- Small Plate
For a “Meze” small plate course, I made Keftedes with ground turkey, spinach, feta, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, mint, garlic, and oregano. I baked them until brown then served them with pita, mixed greens, red onions, and tzatziki.
For my tzatziki, I used two cups of strained plain Greek yogurt, one super large diced cucumber (press out water before mixing), fresh dill, oregano, lemon juice, and loads of black pepper.
εντράδα – Main Courses
ορζέ με κοτόπουλο – Orzo with Chicken
For this creamy pasta dish, I marinated chicken in lemon juice and garlic overnight. I sauteed the chicken and added sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, goat cheese, olive oil, garlic, butter, green onion, dill, oregano, parsley, and fresh lemon juice. All of this was folded into boiled orzo pasta then baked.
*Note- I saute my herbs and spices in oil separately on low heat before adding them to meat/pasta or anything else. It just makes the flavours much more intense than baking them freshly picked or straight from a jar.
μουσακάς – Moussaka
There are so many variations of Moussaka that I felt pretty liberated making this batch. I diced two zucchini, a large eggplant, a carton of baby bella mushrooms, and a yellow onion. I fried 1.5 pounds of grass-fed beef in paprika and garlic then added the veggies. For the sauce I used sundried-pesto rosa (conveniently found at Aldi) with heavy whipping cream, garlic, basil, paprika, black pepper, and loads of parmesean/feta.
Many types come with a savoury custard layer on top, but I opted out so that it could also be eaten inside a pita instead of strictly as a casserole.
καρυδόπιτα – Karidopita
For dessert, I baked a subtly sweet cake with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, minimal brown sugar, cocoa, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecans. As it cooled, I poured honey alllllll over it and let it soak in.
All of the leftover hummus, olives, veggies, and tzatziki can be used to make one hell of a turkey burger the next day… Opa!