Tag Archives: greek

Daring Cooks: Mezze

My husband and I are fortunate enough to have good friends that live just a few miles from us. Lately, we’ve been enjoying one another’s company by cooking together. We wanted to have a “Greek night” together, so it was perfect that the Daring Cooks challenge for February was to create a mezze. Michele of Veggie Num Nums was our host for this month’s challenge, and what a great job she did! A mezze is perfect food for a crowd – everyone can pick at every component of the meal, munch, and customize as they please. We were required to create pita breads and hummus, and we could add any additional recipes we chose. I went with falafel and cucumber raita, (two recipes Michele also shared with us) baba ganoush, and lamb kofte with muhammara. It was a feast!

Unfortunately, my gluten-free pitas did not turn out as beautifully as hoped. They were edible, but the texture was so different from what I remember from wheat pitas. Even more unfortunate – I saved the recipe I created on my hard drive. That very same hard drive that went “kaput” that night. So I did my best to re-create my steps below – but follow this recipe at your own risk! It was touchy even if I’ve documented it correctly, and could use some tweaking. I did eat my pitas, however, dipping in baba ganoush and hummus. Yum.

Everything else, however, was delicious. I’d never cooked dried chickpeas before (yes, I realize that might be weird.). Honestly, I’m not much of a chickpea fan (except in hummus), so if I buy them at all, I opt for the canned variety. Soaking and cooking from dried is MUCH better! The peas are much more tender, but not at all mushy. And they blended beautifully in the hummus, which was silky smooth. My personal favorite of the night, however, was the baba ganoush. I’ve made that baba ganoush several times over the past few months, and I fall more in love with it each time. With a large plate of baby carrots, I could finish off a bowl of it by myself. It’s that good. My second favorite was the muhammara that went with the meatballs. I could envision using that on other cuts of meat – muhammara-glazed skirt steak, maybe? It was so easy to make, I definitely need to consider future uses for it.

Overall, this was a great Daring Cooks challenge. We enjoyed preparing everything, and finished the evening with a considerable amount of Wii playing with the kids, chatting, and a bit of foosball and air hockey. Definitely a night worthy of repeating.

Gluten-Free Pita Bread, adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

(this recipe may not be exact – the recipe I created was lost)

1 T dry yeast

2 1/4 c warm water (110-115 degrees F)

1 t agave nectar

2 c quinoa flour

2 c amaranth flour

2 c tapioca starch

1 t gelatine

1 t xanthan gum

1 T kosher salt

2 T olive oil

In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, and agave nectar. Stir to combine and allow to sit for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, gelatine, and xanthan gum. Add the flour mixture, a cup at a time, to the water/yeast mixture, stirring with each addition. Add in the salt and olive oil and stir or knead thoroughly until well-mixed. The dough should be somewhat sticky but firm. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 2 hours. With wet hands, gently punch down the dough and separate into about 8 rounds, placing each on parchment-lined baking sheets, flattening into circles, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the pitas, one baking sheet at a time, on the lower rack in the oven. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until no longer gummy in the center. Repeat with remaining pitas. Wrap in foil to keep soft. If desired, toast on a dry skillet for a few minutes before serving.

Makes about 9 pitas.

Red Pepper Hummus, adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

1.5 c dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking)

2 – 2.5 lemons, juiced

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

a big pinch of salt

4 T tahini (sesame paste)

1/3 c jarred red peppers

Drain and boil the chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.

Puree the beans in a food processor (or mash by hand), adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to puree in food processor until incorporated. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Cucumber Raita, adapted from The Indian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm

1 t cumin seeds

2 c plain yogurt

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

fresh cilantro

fresh mint

1 cucumber, peeled and seeds removed

paprika, just a pinch, to use as garnish

Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small frying pan. Crush with mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

In a bowl, stir yogurt along with cumin, garlic, cilantro and mint. Stir in cucumber and sprinkle with paprika. Chill before serving.

 

Gluten-Free Falafel, adapted from Joan Nathan and Epicurious.com

1 c dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or well drained canned chickpeas)

1/2 large onion, roughly chopped

2 T fresh parsley

2 T fresh cilantro

1 t kosher salt

1 t chile powder (not “chili” powder – you want the kind that only has chiles in it)

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 t ground cumin

1 t baking powder

4 T sweet rice flour

1 egg, beaten

canola oil for frying

Place the drained chickpeas and the onions in the food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, chile powder, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. You want it to look like crumbs. Sprinkle in the baking powder and flour and pulse and stir. Add the egg and stir in. You want the falafel to form into a ball and no longer stick to your hands – if it does, add a bit more flour. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for several hours, covered.

Form the falafel mixture into balls about the size of walnuts. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees and fry each ball for about a minute, or just until golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve with cucumber raita.

Baba Ganoush, adapted from David Lebovitz

3 eggplants

1/2 c tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 t kosher salt

3 T lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, mashed

1/8 t chile powder

1/8 t cumin powder

1/4 t smoked paprika

a half-bunch of flat-leaf parsley

Preheat broiler of oven (or grill). Prick each eggplant with a fork several times. Char the outside of the eggplants all over under the broiler or on the grill until they look wilted, turning every few minutes.

Turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Place eggplants on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes. The eggplants should be completely soft.

Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and with a spoon, scrape out the pulp. Puree in a food processor, along with the remaining ingredients, until smooth. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with carrots and celery (as I did) or with gluten-free pitas.

Lamb Kofte with Muhammara, adapted from Bon Appetit

For the kofte:

2 lbs ground lamb

1/2 c minced fresh mint leaves

1/4 c finely minced onion

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 T paprika

1 t ground cumin

2 t ground coriander

1 1/2 t kosher salt

1 t black pepper

1/2 t cayenne pepper

2 T olive oil, divided

2 large onions, sliced

For the muhammara:

1/2 c finely chopped jarred red peppers

1/2 c pomegranate juice

2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large bowl, mix the lamb, mint, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Form into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and keep warm. Add the second tablespoon of oil to skillet. Working in batches, saute the meatballs until just cooked through, 8 minutes. Keep warm. Reserve skillet when meatballs are cooked.

Add red peppers to skillet and stir for 1 minutes. Add pomegranate juice and bring to a simmer, scraping up browned bites. Cook until reduced to 2/3 c, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl.

Serve meatballs and onions in pitas with muhammara sauce spooned over.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Lamb, Main Dishes, Side Dishes

Kids in the Kitchen: Swordfish Souvlaki

Brandan, the ever-adventurous one, was determined to make something with swordfish. Not that he (or any of us, for that matter) have eaten swordfish before – he just wanted to try it. Since the country he chose was Greece, we found a recipe for swordfish souvlaki. With the mixture of fresh flavors and the ease of the grill, we figured this was a winner.

The preparation time was pretty straightforward. The fish only takes 15 minutes to marinate, so the whole dish came together rather quickly. Brandan loved the tzatziki dip and kept “testing” it as he was preparing it. (He actually asked if he could drink it as a smoothie!) Not that I blame him – I’ve loved tzatziki since I was a little girl. Brandan and I enjoyed the meal quite a lot – the swordfish was nice and lightly lemony, and paired well with the tomatoes and tzatziki. The rest of the family, however, was not so fond of the dish. (Of course, those are our “picky” eaters, and so I was not too surprised. They did try everything though – kudos for that.)

To make my portion gluten-free, I simply used one of Udi’s personal size pizza crusts instead of pita bread. Of course, the fish was quite tasty sans bread – so you could just as easily eat it with rice. (side note: If you can find Udi’s products in your area, I encourage you to try them! They have some of the most excellent sandwich bread. It’s not cheap though, so it’s a “treat” for me. I found it at Whole Foods.)

Swordfish Souvlaki, adapted from Gourmet magazine

2 lbs skinless swordfish steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 T lemon juice

1 t dried oregano, crumbled

1/2 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

1 large cucumber, peeled

8 oz plain low-fat yogurt

1 1/2 t fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/2 t chopped garlic, mashed into a paste with 1/2 t salt

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 small red onion, cut into slivers

1/4 c flat-leaf parsley, chopped

6 gluten-free pita breads, Udi’s pizza crusts, or omit

4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water 1 hour

If using pita breads or Udi’s pizza crusts, wrap in foil and place in a warm oven (200 degrees). Preheat grill.

In a bowl, toss swordfish with lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper and marinate, chilled, for 15 minutes.

Grate the cucumber. Wrap in a kitchen towel and squeeze to extract liquid. In a small bowl, stir together cucumber, yogurt, mint, garlic paste, and salt and pepper to taste. In another bowl combine tomatoes, onion, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Thread fish on skewers, and grill on oiled grates, turning once, until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove fish from skewers.

Divide fish among pitas/pizza crusts and drizzle cucumber-yogurt mixture over. Top with tomato mixture and roll pitas into cones. If omitting pitas, top rice with fish, drizzle cucumber-yogurt mixture and top with tomato mixture.)

Serves 6.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Seafood

Avgolemono (Greek Lemon and Egg Soup)

food-993So now that you’ve made Angel Food Cake, what do you do with all those leftover egg yolks, exactly? Well, I wondered the same thing. A really dense omelet? Nah. Ice cream? Well, for the past few days it has been 35-40 degrees and raining, so I’m not exactly craving ice cream. I got to searching, and this soup was a perfect, easy solution. Not to mention it was something that was very inexpensive, and I had all of the ingredients at home already. Sounds like the winner!

I have never tried this soup prior to creating it here at home, although I had heard of it and could imagine the creamy feel of it in my mouth. After reading a bit about it, many also add cooked chicken to this soup, and some make it with whole eggs rather than just egg yolks. But the core ingredients are the same…chicken broth, eggs, and lemon. It’s a tasty, simple dish that’s perfect as a first course, or as I did, an accompaniment to a big salad.

This recipe is based off a recipe from Barbara Kafta’s “Soup: A Way of Life.” I found it through epicurious.com, although a book entirely devoted to soup sounds intriguing…I might just have to seek that out!

6 c chicken stock

1 c orzo

12 egg yolks

2/3 c fresh lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley

 

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Stir in the orzo and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a large bowl.

When the rice is tender, slowly ladle half of the hot broth into the yolks to temper them, whisking constantly. (this is done to prevent curdling of the eggs) Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the broth and place over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, just long enough to thicken the soup. Do not boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle fresh parsley over and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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Filed under Eggs, Gluten-Free, Soups