Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Not So Big Fat Greek Dinner


Sometimes I get obsessive. Did I just say sometimes? When it comes to finding ingredients I always become obsessive. So, when I saw a recipe for Mastic ice cream while searching for recipes for my greek dinner I had to find mastic. I didn't even plan on making the ice cream but it became a quest to find mastic. Mastic is a resin from the pistachio tree. Anyhow, it was too easy to order it on line and not only that but my dinner was the next night. What did you say? I wasn't using it anyhow? Ok, this is true but I like to play these games like "what if I do want to make that ice cream?" So, I sweetly asked Dr Food to go to Arax market with me. No matter that it is 45 minutes from here. I needed Mastic damnit. This market is a dream. It has every middle eastern ingredient that you can think of. So, of course I had to pick up some cheeses and some sumac and some aleppo pepper, and some stuffed grape leaves and of course the fava beans couldn't be missed. At the end of the shopping I went up to the clerk and asked for mastic. I had my fingers crossed behind my back, my heart was thumping, my palms were sweaty.... and he shouts to the back of the store (I couldn't really tell what he said but it was the equivalent of "Hey Joe, get this strange white woman some mastic") and the nice man got me my mastic. It is now sitting on my counter like a prized medal that I won. No, I didn't use it for my dinner but who cares. I now have it if I ever NEED it.


We come home and it is time to start cooking and getting stuff ready. I asked Dr Food to go pick me some mint from the backyard. He went a little overboard but had a great way of fixing the dilemma (that is why HE is the Dr.)


Mojitos! Ok, it isn't Greek. It tasted perfect for the hot day. Sorry the picture is a little blury I had a sip or two before I took the picture.


We got the Kabobs going to refrigerate for a while so that they firm up. Meantime, I was toasting pita chips.



I made an eggplant dip to go with the chips. I cheated and although I had the eggplants, I bought roasted eggplant at Arax. It comes in a can and is very good. Dr. Food and I took a Lebanese cooking class and the teacher told us this trick that he used. I am all for fresh fresh fresh but it was hot hot hot and I didn't feel like cooking the eggplants on the grill outside in the heat or in the house that would heat up. Why am I going on the defensive? This is my blog and I can do what I want. What? You are arguing with me? Well, then I just won't invite YOU to dinner next time.


So, we were snacking for a while. The neighbors (waving to Kim and Denis and their visitors Jim and Hans) brought stuff to make this really tart lemony drink. It was adult lemonade that I chugged down while cooking.


Next I was making a Feta Tart from the new issue of Saveur. Luckily this issue was greek food. Coincidence? I think not.


This tart was very good but a bit salty. I loved it though.


Sorry about the rotten picture. I swear if I had a better camera and I actually knew how to take good pictures I would be FAMOUS. Shut up, I would be! People would flood my blog until the server went down. I would be asked to speak at all kinds of events. Foodbuzz would constantly feature me on their top 9 dishes... Ok, maybe not.


So while we were schmoozing the meat was grilling.


I threw together a terrific salad (well *I* liked it, it wasn't Dr. Foods "favorite"). It was much like the salad I made the other night. I liked both of these salads.


And the meat is done and it was time to eat.


All in all the dinner was good. I wouldn't say that it was memorable but it was good. Kim brought dessert that was really really good.


Um, the blog post I had the other day might have been a bit overstated. We didn't dance like monkeys or Zorba. We sort of sat around in air conditioning in a stupor. The stupor might have been from the incredible ice wine that Denis brought for after dinner.

Kofta Kebabs with Tzatziki
adapted from Food Network Kitchens Cookbook, Meredith Books, October 2003

4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1 pound ground beef chuck or lamb
3 tablespoons grated onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for brushing the grill
Tzatziki, recipe follows
Grilled flat bread

Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, parsley, and spices.

Line a pan with aluminum foil. Divide the meat mixture into 28 rough balls. Mold each piece around the pointed end of a skewer (if you use wooden ones, soak them in water for 15 minutes before threading them), making a 2-inch oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. Lay the skewers on the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare a grill. Brush the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki and flat bread.

Tzatziki: Yogurt Sauce (Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce)

2 cups plain whole milk yogurt or 1 cup Middle Eastern-style plain yogurt

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch

1/2 clove garlic

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled

If you're using plain whole milk yogurt, line a small sieve with a coffee filter. Put the yogurt in it, set it over a bowl, and refrigerate 12 hours. Discard the expressed liquid and put yogurt in the bowl.

Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub into the cucumber with your hands. Set aside 20 minutes, then squeeze the cucumbers to express as much liquid as possible.

Smash the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Stir the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint into the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

Greek Black-Eyed Peas Salad
Posted by Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook posted at Simply Recipes

You can substitute canned black-eyed peas for the dry peas. Use approximately two 15-ounce cans. Rinse thoroughly. Skip step 1 and step 3 in the method instructions.

2 cups dry black-eyed peas (I used canned)
1 package of feta cheese, about 7 ounces
1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, about 8 ounces
1 cup black olives, preferably Kalamata or oil-cured
1 finely chopped green onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1 large bunch of spinach, about 1 pound, washed, chopped
Zest and juice of a lemon

1 Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make the water taste like the sea. Turn the heat down to low and add the black-eyed peas. Let them cook slowly, uncovered, until they are done, anywhere from half and hour to an hour, depending on how old the peas are. Don’t let the water simmer.
2 Add the spinach to a large bowl. Crumble the feta cheese into the bowl and add all the other ingredients except the lemon juice. Mix well.
3 When the black-eyed peas are done, pour them into a colander and spray them with cold water to stop the cooking. Pick through and discard any loose skins or mashed peas; you’ll find a few, but hopefully not many.
4 Add the black-eyed peas to the salad, mix well and serve. Squirt some lemon juice over each serving before you take them to the table.

Serves 8-10

Eggplant and Parsley Dip (Melintzanosalata)
SAUVER Magazine Issue #131

2 lbs. eggplant (about 2 large eggplants) (I used a large can of roasted eggplant)
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cored and

 roughly chopped
1 jalapeƱo, stemmed, seeded, and

 roughly chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,

 to taste
Toasted pita, for serving

1. Build a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Grill eggplants, turning, until charred and soft, 18–20 minutes. Let cool. Peel eggplants; scoop out seeds. Chop eggplants; drain in strainer for 30 minutes.

2. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers; cook for 10 minutes. Add jalapeƱos and continue cooking until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl of food processor along with reserved eggplant, remaining oil, parsley, vinegar, and garlic. Process until slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Chill to meld flavors. Serve with pita. 


  1. Wow looks pretty big to me...I love this dip, and the feta :)

  2. oooooooh..I wanna come to your house. This all looks so good! I love Greek food and there is no place to get it around here.
    Mastic gum is a tough catch around here. I did see some at a kitchen supply store in Napa once. My orange blossom ice cream uses mastic. You are a lucky girl. It all looks tasty to me that tart especially. Maybe we ought to do a joint party at the same time in two different places???

  3. This all looks so delicious! That feta tart sounds right up my alley.

  4. Kathy, that would be so much fun. We should do it!!

  5. I love this Greek meal!

    " know when I was your age, we didn't have food..."


  6. I love this Greek meal!

    " know when I was your age, we didn't have food..."