Posts Tagged ‘greek’

Spaghetti with Sicilian Meatballs

January 13, 2013

IMG_9502When we were in Italy, what struck me most is that there truly isn’t “Italian” food. Rather, their food is identified by the region you are in. Spaghetti and clams in the Italian Riviera. Boar in Tuscany. Pizza in Naples. That is why I was so intrigued when I saw a recipe for Sicilian meatballs in Bon Appetit.

The food of Sicily has a Greek and sometimes African influence, making it have more olives, capers and currants than you would find in the “boot.” So when looking at the meatball recipe, at first glance it seemed very traditional. Sausage meat (which was an interesting twist on the typical beef, veal, pork combo), breadcrumbs in milk, garlic, onion, etc. Yet, then they add pine nuts and currants to make it have a bit of nutty sweetness. They are baked, and then smothered in a traditional Italian red sauce.

This dish has that same warm, comforting result as typical Italian meatballs, but they do have an interesting sweetness to them that makes them have a “hmm, what’s that?” factor. It is a great alternative to a typical bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and will be making its way to our dinner table as a great Sicilian (not Italian!) dish!

SPAGHETTI WITH SICILIAN MEATBALLS
Serves 4-6

Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Meatballs:
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons dried currants

1 pound spaghetti

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices and 2 tablespoons basil; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with fork, about 1 hour. Mix in 2 tablespoons basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.

For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil baking sheet. Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage, pine nuts and currants; blend well. Using wet hands, form mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add to sauce.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Mound in dish. Bring sauce and meatballs to simmer. Mix with and spoon over spaghetti.

Pork Kebabs (Souvlaki Hirino) and Feta Tart (Alevropita)

August 28, 2010

As if I don’t read enough foodie magazines, I saw the magazine Saveur the other day in Fresh Market and was intrigued. The whole issue was featuring Greek food, and since I love ethnic food, I thought I would pay the $5 to see what it was all about. And, of course, as of last week I now have a 2 year subscription to this fantastic magazine!

I tried this recipe combo first as part something I thought I could easily do, and part something I was scared of. The kebabs looked easy enough as long as I remembered to marinate in advance. And I know how to grill pork. And kebabs are a breeze. But, the feta tart looked a bit scary. It was an egg batter that you pour into a hot pan and bake. Now don’t get me wrong, the recipe itself didn’t look too challenging, but the thought that I would make my own bread did scare me a bit.

I can honestly say this was the best meal we have had in weeks. The pork had a great flavor (and the oregano made it very Greek!) and the feta tart was amazing (and the perfect complement to the pork)! Definitely a wow dish, and it was surprisingly so easy! Don’t be alarmed that the batter spreads really thin, it ends up forming a great, crispy crust.

Thanks to Saveur for giving me a great, new Greek menu. If these recipes are any indication, I will be blogging many more from this magazine!

PORK KEBABS (SOUVLAKI HIRINO)
Serves 2-4

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup red wine
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. dried mint
1 tbsp. dried oregano
8 cloves garlic, smashed and minced into a paste
1 bay leaf, finely crumbled
1 lb. trimmed pork shoulder, cut into 1 1⁄4″ cubes
4  9″ wooden skewers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, wine, lemon juice, mint, oregano, garlic, and bay leaf; add pork and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Meanwhile, soak skewers in water.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, arrange an oven rack 4″ below the broiler element and set oven to broil.) Thread about 4 pieces of pork onto each skewer so that pork pieces just touch each other. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the grill (or, covering exposed ends of skewers with foil, put skewers on a rack set over a foil-lined baking sheet). Cook, turning often, until cooked through and slightly charred, about 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

FETA TART (ALEVROPITA)
Serves 4-8

6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. vodka
1 egg
1 1⁄4 cups flour, sifted
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄8 tsp. baking powder
10 oz. feta, crumbled
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

Heat oven to 500°. Put an 18″ x 13″ x 1″ rimmed baking sheet into oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 2 tbsp. oil, vodka, egg, and 1 cup water in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and whisk until smooth.

Brush remaining oil over bottom of hot pan and add batter, smoothing batter with a rubber spatula to coat the bottom evenly, if necessary. Distribute cheese evenly over batter, and dot with butter. Bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown and crunchy, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Pistachio Baklava with Orange-Cardamom Syrup

July 26, 2010

I have always had a fear of phyllo. It is thin, breakable and who REALLY knows how to use it?! No good could come of it, and it would only set me up for failure.

Although I realized this weekend, good CAN come of phyllo – baklava! My motto for cooking and baking is that the worst thing that can happen is take out, so I thought this Sunday I would attempt to make my first batch of baklava.

I will warn you, it isn’t a quick batch of cookies, hands on time was well over an hour, plus an hour of baking and an hour of cooling. But, it was one of those accomplishments I will remember – when I cut the diamonds, cooked it until it was golden and poured the syrup over top…it smelled of spicy goodness and I realized “my goodness, I just made baklava.”

So don’t be afraid, it can be done. Just a few tips: keep your phyllo moist with a wet paper towel while you work. Also, don’t worry if it breaks – just put it together best you can because when it bakes and is cut it really doesn’t matter. Last tip – be patient! The phyllo consists of 30 layers in this recipe and takes some time to assemble.

But, the result is probably the most amazing baklava I have ever had. The orange and cardamom with pistachio and cinnamon warms you inside and out, and the sugary syrup makes you feel like a kid. I will definitely be making this again.

Thanks to Bon Appetit for this recipe and the corresponding article that chronicles how Molly Wizenberg got over her “fear of phyllo.” It inspired me, so I hope it inspires you too!

PISTACHIO BAKLAVA WITH ORANGE-CARDAMOM SYRUP
Makes about 30

1 3/4 cups plus 8 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
12 ounces shelled pistachios, toasted (scant 3 cups)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
30 14×9-inch sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed (from one 16-ounce package)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Simmer 1 3/4 cups sugar and orange juice in saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil over medium heat until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Add cardamom. Cool syrup.

Place nuts and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, process until most of nuts are finely ground (the largest pieces should be the size of small peas). Mix nuts, 6 tablespoons sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with some of melted butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet on bottom of dish. Brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat 9 more times with phyllo and melted butter. Sprinkle half of pistachio mixture (about 1 1/2 cups) evenly over phyllo. Place 1 phyllo sheet over nuts; brush lightly with butter. Repeat 9 more times with phyllo sheets and melted butter. Sprinkle remaining pistachio mixture evenly over. Place 1 phyllo sheet atop nuts; brush with butter. Repeat 9 more times with phyllo sheets and melted butter.

Using sharp knife, cut diagonally through top phyllo layer from top left corner to bottom right corner. Cut top layer of phyllo into 1-inch-wide rows parallel to both sides of first cut. Turn pan and cut rows about 2 1/4 inches wide, forming diamond pattern.

Bake baklava until golden brown and crisp, 50 to 55 minutes. Drizzle syrup evenly over hot baklava. Cool in pan on rack. Recut baklava along lines all the way through layers. DO AHEAD Baklava can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Sift powdered sugar over, if desired.


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