Category Archives: Greek & Middle Eastern
If you should get invited to a Spanish ‘tapas’ party, this makes a perfect dish to bring. Okay, in English we might say appetizer, in French hors d’oeuvres ??? No matter it was another great find on Pinterest. It was also quick to prepare.
Baked Feta Cheese with Olives and Lemons
- one block of sheep’s milk feta (sold in the brine) about 10-14 ounces
- 1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 large lemon
- 1 – 2 cups mixed olives* (recipe calls for whole and pitted) see below
- a few sundried tomatoes chopped
- 3 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- a few coarse grindings of black pepper
- Set oven to 350F
- Put the feta in a gratin dish or other small ovenproof dish that you will also serve out of.
- Pour the olive oil into the dish, followed by the lemon juice. Arrange the olives* (I would suggest using ONLY sliced olives as they whole ones fall off when you lay them on the cheese when serving) around the cheese, with the rosemary. I quarter the squeezed lemon half and throw that in as well. Sprinkle the red and black pepper over all. I also added some slices of sundried tomatoes.
- Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. I loosely laid a sheet of foil over mine. You can finish under the broiler if you like for a little charring effect.
- Serve hot with toasted bread
In the process of cleaning out our freezer and realized I had 500 gm of ground lamb. What to do? I have always liked moussaka in a Greek restaurant, but never made it at home. Good old Pinterest to the rescue, for what appeared to be an easy recipe and without the potatoes on top….less calories. The recipe looks complicated, but I decided to prepare the ground lamb ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the complete dish. It gave me time to prepare the eggplant while I was cleaning up from the lamb prep. The dish turned out perfectly, with our guests taking home this recipe! The photo below is from the Pinterest pinner…we got so carried away enjoying the dish that I forgot a photo. Check out Sniff It Out on Pinterest for more tantalizing recipes!
About 500g of lean minced (ground) lamb
2 Aubergines (Eggplants) medium to large in size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
3 fl oz. (75 ml) red wine or more
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the yogurt topping for the Greek Moussaka – I used a large CorningWare casserole dish and ended up doubling the yogurt in order to cover the top.
150ml Greek yogurt (double if necessary)
1 medium egg, beaten
50g feta cheese or more
25g freshly grated parmesan or more
- Preparing the Aubergines
Leave the skins on and slice the Aubergines into approximately 10mm thick slices.
Put the slices into a colander and sprinkle them with about 1 level dessertspoon of salt. Stand the colander on a plate to catch the water which comes out of the Aubergines and put another plate on top of the aubergine slices.
You now need to weigh this plate down with something heavy (I find that a couple of tins of soup works quite well) and leave them for about an hour to let the juice come out.
After an hour, squeeze out any of the excess juice from the aubergines and dry them well in a clean cloth.
Spread the aubergine slices on a baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them tossing them around to get a good coating.
Put the baking sheet in a pre heated oven (around 200 degrees) and roast the aubergines for 30 minutes or until they are browning at the edges.
I usually roast the eggplant simply because the baking tray is much bigger than the frying pan and I can get the slices done all in one go, but, if you would rather sauté the eggplant to use in the moussaka you can do that too.
- Preparing the lamb for the Moussaka recipe (I did this step first)
Because the mince can have quite a lot of fat come out of it I usually dry fry the mince until it is nicely browned then remove it from the pan and put it to one side then discard any of the fat which has come out of it before using it to make the moussaka.
Then heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions, garlic and thyme gently, without colouring, for about 10 minutes.
Stir the minced lamb back in and add the parsley, cinnamon, tomato purée and red wine and stir to combine the ingredients. Season the mixture well and cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Prepare the topping for the Greek Moussaka recipe
It’s true that Moussaka isn’t the most healthy dish on the planet, that’s why I prefer a yogurt topping for my moussaka recipe because it is a bit lighter than others I have tried but that is purely my preference. Mix the yogurt with half of the cheeses and the beaten egg and season with ground pepper.
- Putting everything together for the Greek Moussaka!
Line the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of aubergine, then spoon over some of the meat mixture. Build the layers of the moussaka up until all the meat and aubergine has been used.
Cover with the topping mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF for about 1 hour until golden and bubbling.
Let the Moussaka stand for about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving and this will ensure that it keeps its shape when you serve it.
This is a great recipe for lamb lovers! If you are not into lamb then use beef… The sauce is incredible! I plated this dish with the saffroned rice over which I put the lamb and lots of sauce. For a complete meal, steam some great snow peas. Use any leftover sauce over some pasta for another meal the next day. So…what to serve for dessert? How about a wonderful strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream??? Watch for this recipe NEXT WEEK….
Persian Saffron Lamb, Slow cooker Style
• 2 – 3 pound boneless leg of lamb, or an equal amount of lamb shanks cut in cubes.
• 1 onion
• 2 Tablespoons butter, ghee, or neutral cooking oil of choice
• 2-3 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.
• 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon coriander seed
• 2 Tablespoons saffron water (boil 1/4 cup water to the temperature you’d use to make tea. Add a pinch, approx. 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads to the water. Save the remaining water to add to whatever rice you choose to cook. I prefer Jasmine rice.
• 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole (6 to 8 cloves)
• 2 15 oz. cans chopped Roma tomatoes
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Remove fat from lamb using a sharp knife.
2. Chop onion into half moons. In a large Dutch oven. cooking pot, or skillet, heat fat over a medium heat and add onion, stirring often.
3. Allow onion to cook about five minutes. As it cooks, salt and pepper the outside of the meat. Remove onion from the pan. Place meat in the pot and sear it for 2-3 minutes per side…enough to get a nice crust on it. Remove meat from the pan and place, carefully, on a heat-safe surface.
4. Place onion back in the pan and add all spices EXCEPT saffron. Stir often, and cook for about 30 seconds, or until you begin to catch the scent of the spices. Put onion into slow cooker immediately.
5. Add the whole garlic cloves.
6. To the slow cooker, add the lamb, canned tomatoes, saffron water, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper (you can always adjust salt and pepper later).
7. Cook on high setting for 30 minutes. Stir. Cook an additional 2.5 to 3 hours.. Once the meat is done, taste sauce, adjust seasoning accordingly, serve over saffroned rice, and enjoy!
As my wife and I had Greek neighbours, we often had Greek food with them or at the ethnic festivals each summer. Across the border from us in Detroit there was Greektown with wonderful restaurants (before the casinos moved in)…nothing like flaming cheese and OPA followed by this great soup!
From Wikipedia…Avgolemono or egg-lemon (from Greek: αυγολέμονο or αβγολέμονο), is a family of Mediterranean sauces and soups made with egg and lemon juice mixed with broth, heated until they thicken. In Arabic, it is called tarbiya or beida bi-lemoune ‘egg with lemon’; and in Turkish terbiye. In Sephardic Jewish cuisine, it is called agristada or salsa blanco, and in Italian cuisine, bagna brusca, brodettato, or brodo brusco. It is also widely used in Balkan cuisine.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons shredded carrots
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons chicken soup base
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cooked white rice
1/4 cup diced, cooked chicken meat
4 slices lemon
2 egg yolks
1. In a large pot, combine the chicken broth, lemon juice, carrots, onions, celery, soup base, and white pepper. Bring to a boil on high, then simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Blend the butter and the flour together. Then gradually add it to the soup mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.
3. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until light in color. Gradually add some of the hot soup to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return the egg mixture to the soup pot and heat through. Add the rice and chicken. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.