GREEK DINNER AROUND THE AROUND EVENT – BOOK RELEASE- SPANAKOPITA

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Happy New Year Everyone! I hope this post finds all of you well. Regrettably, my last post was several months ago, but I hope this gave you a chance to scroll back and look at some of my past posts and recipes—especially my newer followers.

Let me catch you up on what has been keeping me away. Like most people, the holidays kept me very busy—Baking, decorating and shopping. In addition the second book in The Gift Saga was about to be published and I was inundated with details and decisions.

I’m happy to announce the continuation of Evanthia’s Gift is now available on kindle and in print and is titled Waiting For Aegina. Just as I had in Evanthia’s Gift, I added recipes between some of the chapters—spanakopita, stuffed peppers, eggplant dip and Loukoumathes.

Today is a social media event day, which celebrates Greek food and culture. If you #GreekDinner you can find posts by Greeks from all over the world sharing a meal, a story, their blog, business, or books. You can go to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see how I celebrated and what I cooked for this event.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe with you, so here is one for Spanakopita.

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Spanakopita

2 pounds fresh spinach

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 finely sliced scallions

1 medium onion, diced

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup loosely packed fresh parsley and mint combination, chopped

¼ cup fresh dill, chopped

2 pounds imported Greek feta cheese, crumbled

¼ cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Pepper to taste

A dash or two of nutmeg

1 pound packaged phyllo

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350°

Sauté the scallions and onion until tender. Normally, what most people do, and what I’d always watched my mother do, was to sauté the spinach, and then squeeze out the excess liquid. This is where I decided to cheat a bit. I saved myself the aggravation of all that pressing and draining and it paid off! It was a risk, but it was worth the try.

In a huge bowl, toss the spinach, sautéed scallions & onions, parsley, mint, dill, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, eggs and the feta together. The spinach is going to melt down when it cooks in the oven and, by not sautéing it beforehand, it won’t wilt down as much.

Grease a large baking pan and lay 8-10 phyllo leaves down, brushing each layer with butter. Spread the filling over the buttered pastry leaves. Lay another 8-10 leaves on top, brushing each leaf with butter. Tuck in any overhanging phyllo edges. Score the spanakopita with a sharp knife into square pieces. Pour any remaining butter evenly over the top. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until golden.

 

 

 

 

 

VALENTINE’S WEEK TREATS!

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I never let an occasion pass without doing something to commemorate it. Most of the time, food is involved in some way. Valentine’s Day is the day to show your love for the ones you care for. We naturally think of romantic love, but the love for your children, extended family and friends may also be displayed. Each year, I make a special Valentine’s dinner. Something a bit more elaborate than the average meal, but I place my main focus on creating a mouth-watering dessert. More times than not, chocolate is involved.

I’ve made chocolate soufflés, chocolate lava cakes and chocolate truffles. But some of my favorite recipes use no chocolate at all.

Heart shaped Linzer tart cookies filled with dark cherry preserves is a favorite amongst the family and friends I deliver them to. I sometimes dip one corner in chocolate and garnish them with nonpareils. I packaged each cookie in a cellophane bag and tie it with a pink ribbon.

Red velvet cupcakes are another crowd-pleaser. No need to wait for Valentine’s Day, though. I get requests for these all year long.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 ½ cups flour

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ vegetable or canola oil

1 ounce red food

1 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cocoa

1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350º F. Sift flour, cocoa and baking soda together. In a large bowl, beat sugar and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix oil, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to egg mixture until combined.  Add the flour and Greek yogurt, alternating dry and wet ingredients, starting with the flour. Pour batter into paper cupcake liners. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on baking rack.

Cream cheese frosting

1 cup unsalted butter

2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 pounds confectioner’s sugar

1 vanilla bean (optional)

Cream softened butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla. If using the vanilla bean, slice the bean longwise and scrape out beans. Mix well into frosting. Fill a pastry bag to frost cupcakes then have fin decorating. Simple sprinkles or chocolate shavings are perfect.

GREEK DINNER AROUND THE WORLD – 2016

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On Friday, January 15th 2016, I participated in an event that was taking place around the globe amongst chefs, bloggers and authors. Greek Dinners Around The World. The purpose was to share and promote Greek food, culture and tradition, and to widen a network of individuals who do so.

Through this event, I’ve met, via social media, many interesting people—authors like myself who are either Greek or have written a book where Greece or Greek culture is the focus. Chefs and food bloggers and magazine publishers from the US, Greece, the UK, Australia, Canada and dozens of other countries participated, sharing their menus and photos.

Three years ago, Keri Douglas of 9 Muses News came up with this concept, and what a brilliant idea it was. This was the first year I was involved, but I hope to do it again.

Coming out of the holidays, I hadn’t planned what I was going to do until five days before. I was still taking down Christmas decorations, trying to arrange some additional promotions for my book, Evanthia’s Gift, attempting to take some time to work on the second book in the saga, and I do actually have a day job. I wrote a very ambitious menu, and prepared almost everything I’d planned on. But in the end, I had more food than my guests could eat.

I wasn’t even sure of my guest list. Only several days before, I made some calls, and my two sisters and the few friends I phoned were more than happy to attend.

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The menu

Meze

Greek cheese – kasseri, manouri, feta

Pastrourma (aged and spiced cured meat, sliced very thin)

Tiropita

Greek salad (the real Greek salad. No lettuce)

I wanted to make saganaki (my favorite) but time ran out. And I forgot to put the dolmathes on the table. No one noticed. Everyone was busy chatting and drinking wine and beer.

I bought two Greek table wines, and two dessert wines, along with Mythos beer. My non- alcoholic drink was visinatha (another favorite).

Dinner

Leg of lamb, stuffed with garlic and roasted potatoes

Chicken baked with lemon, garlic, olive oil and oregano

Youvarlakia in avgolemono

Youvarlakia in red sauce

Pastitsio

Green peas with onions and cinnamon

(I wanted to make spanakopita, but never got to it. In my defense, I cooked everything that day.)

Dessert

Revani

Kadaifi

(I never got to the galakteboureko)

 

Eleni, my daughter made delicious frappes for everyone, and by midnight, our evening was over.

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If you would like to see what others did for Greek Dinners Around The World, go to 9musesnews.com.

Greek Dinners Around the World – A Social Media Event

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Tonight, Friday January 15, 2016, I am participating in an exciting event. Chefs, bloggers and authors from around the globe will be sharing meals, books and culture, all revolving around Greek heritage and tradition.

The event is called Greek Dinners Around The World and the host for this event it Keri Douglas who runs the website 9 Muses News. This is Keri’s third year running this event and my first year joining in.

I will spend the day cooking and baking, and later, I will be hosting family and friends to join me in a Greek feast. Like the rest of the participants around the world, I will be posting pictures on all my social media sites and following up with a blog post on this site.

For more information on the event and the others participating, go to http://9musesnews.com/ or use the #GreekDinner on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Since you all can’t be with me, it might be a good time to try one of my recipes, crack open a bottle of Greek wine and we can virtually toast one another! Or you can simply crack open the bottle of wine, download my book, Evanthia’s Gift and pretend you are part of that big Greek family! Either way, enjoy your weekend.

Kali orexi! Good appetite!

Effie