OPA!!! Now grab a dish and smash it to the ground- or not- regardless it is a time to celebrate my review of Vefa’s Kitchen by Vefa Alexiadou. Vefa is the Julia Child of Greece. She has written dozens of cookbooks dedicated to different areas of Greece. Luckily, she came out with encyclopedia of Greek Recipes.
Now I’m a huge fan of Greek food ever since I tried Blue Mediterranean that was next door to the Rice Pudding place I worked at in high school (yes I worked at a place that served rice pudding and it was awesome). I would honestly eat at this place once a week maybe more and typically I would get free food which is probably why they went out of business. I also like going to the Salt Lake City Greek Festival and getting traditional dishes. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know good Greek food and was so excited to try some homemade traditional Greek food. Blondie helped every step of the way, laughing of course because we had a few funny experiences.
Greek Dinner Menu
Meatballs from Asia Minor
Let me tell you the dinner was yummy. The Saffron Pilaf was so good! I would, however, recommend using chicken stock not vegetable. I feel chicken stock would add so much more flavor.
Now the so called meatballs were more like hamburger size patties. They were huge! Delicious, but not what I thought. You could even put two slices of pita bread and have a Greek Burger or switch out the meat for grounded lamb. If the size of the meatballs is overwhelming then just make the meatballs smaller. The meatballs had the essence of what Greek cuisine is with the flavoring of mint, cayenne pepper, feta cheese, and tomato paste.
Now for the serious question was it a hit??? Well it depends on who you asked. If you ask Blondies husband, he loved the dinner but the little ones mainly loved the pita bread.
-6 Tablespoons Butter
-21/4 Cups Long-Grain Rice
-5 Cups Vegetable or Meat Stock
-Salt and Pepper
-10 Saffron threads, Crushed
-Finely chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese to Garnish
Melt the butter in a pan over high heat. When it begins to brown, add the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until it turns opaque. Pour in 4 cups of the stock, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and small holes appear on the surface. Stir the saffron into the remaining stock, add it to the rice, and stir gently. Place a clean dish towel over the top of pan, replace the lid, and with finely chopped parsley and grated cheese.
Stuffed Meatballs from Asia Minor
-1 1/4 Cups Dried Bread Crumbs
-1 Cup Milk
-9 oz ground pork
-1 1/2lb ground Beef
-1 large onion, grated
-4 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
-1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
-1 teaspoon paprika
-1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint or 1 teaspoon dried mint
-Salt and pepper
-olive oil, and brushing
For the Filling:
-4 oz feta chees
-1/2 cup tomato paste
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Put the bread crumbs into a large bowl, pour in the milk, and let soak for 15 minutes, until the liquid had been absorbed. Add the ground pork, ground beef, onion, parsley, oregano, paprika, egg, and mint, season with salt and pepper, and knead until smooth and thoroughly combined. Cover with Plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Divide the mixture into 12 pieces, shape them into large oval patties, and flatten slightly. Crumble feta cheese and combine with ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Put 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of 6 patties and cover them with the remaining 6 patties, pressing the edges firmly together to enclose the filing. Brush patties with oil and fry in a nonstick pan for 5-8 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. Alternatively, cook under a preheated broiler grill for 5-6 minutes on each side serve immediately.
Here is the end product on a dish sorry its not plated super well.
I really love this cook book and not just for the vibrant cover but for the amazing recipes. The dinner was a success! Be sure to check back next week when I write about one of my favorite desserts, Baklava.