GETTING THE GRILLING IN BEFORE THE CHILLING – SQUEEZING OUT EVERY BIT OF THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER

With Labor Day a week away, I thought I would repost a few grilling recipes this week. I love summer food. Everything goes on the grill, from meats and veggies to potatoes and even some fruits like pineapple and peaches. … Continue reading

KEFTETHES & TZATZIKI SAUCE, AND AN EXCERPT FROM EVANTHIA’S GIFT

IMG_2227

Twitter Banner-3

IN THIS CHAPTER OF EVANTHIA’S GIFT, ANASTACIA IS VENTING TO HER MOTHER ABOUT HER JOB, AND NOT BEING OFFERED THE POSITION SHE WAS TRAINED FOR.

Anastacia added spices to the chopped meat as Yiayiá grated onions into a bowl.

“I wouldn’t know about these things. I never worked. My work was my children. That was enough for me.” She added the onions to the meat mixture, the strong odor wafting up and causing tears to well in the corners of her eyes. Ignoring the sting, Yiayiá added two eggs and dug her hands into the meat, mixing the ingredients thoroughly. She walked to the sink, washed her hands and turned around to face her daughter.

“Ana,” she said hesitaantly, worried to bring up the subject. “I spoke to Irini, right before your babá and I came to see you. She asked about her niece.”

Ana gave her mother a hard, stern look. “Mamá, we’ve been over this. I know you want to fix everything — make all the problems disappear as if there weren’t any to begin with. But that is not possible. Do you really think she cares about Sophia? She only cares about one person, herself and how to get what she wants. I understand that she’s your daughter, and that you hope that she will somehow become a better person, but she won’t. You are always making excuses for her. She’s the younger one. She has always been different from you. She doesn’t mean what she says. I won’t hear it anymore.”

“She came from me too. She’s my child. What can I do but love her and hope?”

“I’m sorry, Mamá. I am. I know this is hard on you, but she is not welcome here. She needs to pay for her actions.”

“The past is past. Start fresh. It is no good to have hate in your heart,” her mother cried.

“I don’t want to hate her. But I am angry and hurt. She will never change. I begged you and Babá not to let her stay in the States. You know she needs to be watched closely and Uncle Tasso had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to let her stay. Babá can’t even control her himself.”

Yiayiá knew her daughter would not change her mind and she couldn’t blame her. Ana was a kind and giving person, loved by all who knew her. She never uttered a harsh word to a soul, even if they treated her unfairly, but Irini had pushed her too far. Anastacia cut her sister out of her life, plain and simple. It was self-preservation. Aside from their difference of opinion over Irini, Ana and Yiayiá treasured the time they spent together and would miss each other terribly when she returned to Greece. They continued to roll and fry the keftethes in silence, both of them too stubborn for further conversation.

Keftethes

1 pound chopped meat

1 egg

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, grated

4 slices of white bread, dampened in water (no crust)

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons of fresh

¼ cup of fresh mint or basil or combination of both

Splash of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Form each ball to the size of a golf ball. Roll in flour and press down gently. Fry in a combination of half vegetable oil and half olive oil until brown on each side. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

2 cups Greek yogurt                                                3 large cloves garlic, crushed

4 Tbs. white wine vinegar                                    2 Tbs. fresh dill or 1Tbs. dried

3 Tbs. olive oil                                                            salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp. paprika                                                            1 tsp. sugar

2 cucumbers- peeled, cored from seeds and finely grated. Press through strainer to dry. The cucumber will make the sauce loose and runny if you skip this step.

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Chill before serving. Serve with souvlaki or keftethes. It also makes a refreshing dip. Make this a day ahead and the flavors will intensify.

SOUVLAKI & TZATZIKI SAUCE

IMG_2973

Summer can never come quick enough for me. With the first warm weekend, I couldn’t get the patio furniture out fast enough and I had the grill fired up and ready for a long-awaited season of backyard cooking. I’m looking forward to sharing all my favorite grilling recipes!

Souvlaki marinade

 4 pounds of lamb, pork tenderloin, chicken, or beef

1 cup olive oil

4 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano, or 3 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil or ¼ cup shredded fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill

Zest and juice of 3 lemons

¼ cup Dijon mustard

½ tsp. black pepper

* Please note- all measurements on herbs are estimated and up to your personal taste. If you like the flavor of one over another, add more or less, or delete the one you don’t like.

Cut meat in 1½-inch cubes and marinate overnight. I often marinate the lamb or beef for two day, but the chicken and pork should not be marinated for more than one day. I choose to make the cubes smaller than usual. Since I am alternating veggies and meat on the same skewer I don’t want the veggies to burn and for the meat to not be cooked through. If you want larger cubes of meat I suggest making separate veggie skewers. I use onions and peppers. Mushrooms and cherry tomatoes are a nice addition as well. Do not marinate the veggies until the last minute. Grill and enjoy!

* For extra moistness and flavor, make a little extra marinade and reserve. When the souvlaki comes off the grill, baste with the reserve.

 Tzatziki Sauce

 2 cups Greek yogurt*

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 large cucumbers

* Opt for the fresh dill if you can.

** Prep- Peel and core the cucumbers from the seeds, and finely grate. Press through a mesh strainer to expel the water. The cucumber will make the sauce loose and runny if you skip this step.

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Chill before serving. Serve with souvlaki. Tzatziki also makes a refreshing dip. Prepare it a day ahead and the flavors will intensify.

*Greek yogurt is thicker than other yogurts. If you use any other yogurt, you must strain before making sauce.

 IMG_2971

Keftethes & Tzatziki Sauce

IMG_2227

A few weeks ago I had written about my recent trip to the local Farmer’s Market. I came home with fresh pastas, cheese, bread and of course locally grown vegetables. As I also mentioned, I purchased Greek yogurt packed in terracotta pots. Today, it seems, every company claims to have a Greek yogurt product, but few even come close to what you would be served in Europe. But Kalypso Greek yogurt, sold at Farmer’s Markets, is the real deal. The true test was giving a pot of the plain yogurt for my dad to try. He would always say that none of the yogurts in the supermarket were like the ones he had in Greece. “Just because they say it’s Greek doesn’t make it Greek,” he would say. But when he tried the Kalypso, he said, “ This is like what I ate in Greece.”

So what is the difference between the various yogurts? A few things. Regular yogurt is looser and very watery. Greek yogurt is thicker and shouldn’t need to be drained. I suggest the Fage brand if you buy it from the supermarket. Real authentic Greek yogurt is very thick. Scoop the Kalypso out with a spoon and turn it upside down—the yogurt will stay on the spoon. Also, all natural ingredients must be used. No preservatives—no hormone and antibiotic infested milk. It does make a difference. Kalypso has taken pains to not only make the recipe authentic, but to also package their product in a manner that keeps with tradition. Each serving comes in a reusable terracotta pot. No worries about plastic leaching, or the taste of plastic tainting the freshness of the yogurt. If you don’t have a Farmer’s Market nearby, you can go on to kalypso.com to find the nearest market to purchase their product.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve gained a collection of these little clay pots. There are so many things I can think of to do with them. They are great to fill with salsa or dip and put out with chips. A mini herb garden on my windowsill in the winter would be an ideal use. Or insert a citronella votive candle inside and scatter around the patio tables. I have an idea for Thanksgiving that will be perfect for the terracotta pots—you’ll have to wait until then to find out what it is.

In the meantime…here is a recipe for Keftethes (Greek meatballs) and Tzatziki Sauce (yogurt-cucumber sauce)

Keftethes

1 pound chopped meat

1 egg

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, grated

4 slices of white bread, dampened in water (no crust)

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons fresh

2 tablespoons of dried mint or basil or combination of both, or 1/4 cup of fresh mint or basil

Splash of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

* Use fresh herbs whenever possible. The difference in taste is noticeable.

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Form each ball to the size of a golf ball. Roll in flour and press down gently. Fry in a combination of vegetable oil and olive oil until brown on each side. Serve with tzatziki sauce on the side. The meatballs can be served warm or cold.

Tzatziki Sauce

 2 cups Greek yogurt*

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 large cucumbers

* Opt for the fresh dill if you can.

** Prep- Peel and core the cucumbers from the seeds, and finely grate. Press through a mesh strainer to expel the water. The cucumber will make the sauce loose and runny if you skip this step.

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Chill before serving. Serve with  keftethes or souvlaki. Tzatziki also makes a refreshing dip. Prepare it a day ahead and the flavors will intensify.

*Greek yogurt is thicker than other yogurts. If you use any other yogurt, you must strain before making sauce.

*Preferably Kalypso brand Greek yogurt

IMG_2218