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Today’s locally roasted lamb comes with

Today’s locally roasted lamb comes with artichokes, celery, carrots and onions. Heartier than soup and warmer than a fall rainy day :) http://ow.ly/i/3JNg8

New opa! radio ad

That’s right.  We now have a radio ad.  Makes you want to learn a Greek dance without throwing plates on the floor, right? (well, that’s what we’re hoping for….along with your desire to eat more Greek-American food). Click here to listen.

Baked Eggplant with Cheese

Ingredients:

2 lbs. eggplant, the smaller the better
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 onions, chopped
4 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
pinch thyme
pinch oregano
salt and pepper
grated Greek kefalotiri or parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Wash the eggplant, cut off the tops and make a lengthwise slit down one side on each.  In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil, and add the eggplant.  Boil them until tender, 5-15 minutes, depending on their size.  Remove them to a strainer to drain.

2.  Heat the oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the garlic and onions and fry until translucent.  Add the tomato, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and salt and pepper.  Cook the sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes until it thickens.

3.  Take an eggplant and open it like an envelope.  Sprinkle the insides generously with cheese.  Spoon some tomato sauce over it and press the eggplant together again.  Lay it in an ovenproof pan. Continue for the rest of the eggplants.  When you’re finished stuffing them, pour the unused sauce over the eggplants and sprinkle with more cheese.  Bake in the oven at 350°F for 25 to 35 minutes.

Sweet Macedonian Semolina Halva

The name may confuse you into thinking store bought ground sesame seed halva, but this an entirely different recipe.  Each is delicious in their own way.

Ingredients:

2 cups olive oil
2 lbs. coarse semolina flour
2 cups honey (or sugar)
1 cup chopped blanched almonds
8 cups water
ground cinnamon

Directions:

1.  Prepare a medium size bundt form by lining it with butter and wax paper.

2.  Heat the oil in a deep skillet.  Add the semolina and fry it until begins to turn golden brown.

3.  In a separate pot, heat the water with the honey (or sugar).  Boil it until it begins to get syrupy.  Using a ladle, spoon the hot liquid into the semolina mixture while whisking all the time.  Keep stirring until all the syrup has been incorporated and add the almonds.

4.  Pour the halva into the prepared form and set it aside to cool.  Turn the halva out on a platter and peel away the wax paper.  Sprinkle it with cinnamon and serve.

Okra with Potatoes

A fantastic vegetarian dish that has all the flavor of the Greek Islands.  This dish can be served with a tomato and feta salad and a side of bread.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. fresh or frozen okra.  If using fresh okra, below you’ll find some tips about how to clean and prepare this vegetable
vinegar
1 cup olive oil
3 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
2 lbs. potatoes, pared and cut into large chunks
vegetable stock

Directions:

1.  If using fresh okra, sprinkle them with a bit of salt and vinegar.  Then toss together.  After a few minutes, rinse them and spread on a tray to air dry.

2.  Pour the oil into a large pot, add the onions and garlic and fry until translucent.

3.  Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and bay leaf and simmer together for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the okra and potatoes, and enough stock to cover it.  Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

Enjoy!

P.S. – here are a few tips on how to prepare fresh okra:

You have to be very gentle when handling okra.  If you break the pods and any seeds come out, they will turn your soup “glutinous” (slimy) when you cook them.

Fill a large bowl, half full with water – about 2 quarts, and pour 1 cup of plain vinegar.  Begin by rinsing them.  If you’re leery about this step, simply rinse them under running water in a colander.  Lay out a large kitchen towel, and spread the rinsed okra on it to dry as you’re working.

Take an okra in one hand and paring knife in the other.  You want to peel off the outer layer of the cap.  Don’t cut straight across or you’ll cut into the pod.  Cut it on a diagonal, round and round, so it looks like the okra has a little pointed hat.  Use a few okra as practice pieces, it really isn’t difficult at all.  Put the cleaned okra into the vinegar water and proceed with the next one.  When you’re done with all the okra, strain them from the vinegar water.  You can use them right away in a recipe or put them in a air tight bag and freeze them for later use.

Greek Beef Soup

Made with simple ingredients, Greek beef soup (kréas me kritharaki soupa) tastes wonderful!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. beef, cut into one inch chunks and a bone or two for rich stock
2 cups orzo or another small macaroni of your choice
1 bay leaf
2 cups freshly chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a large pot, cover the meat with water.  Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Stew the meat gently for an hour. You want the meat to be tender, so cook it longer if needed, adding more liquid as it evaporates.  If you’re in a hurry, try using a pressure cooker to make the stock.  Use medium pressure for 20 minutes and your meat should be tender.

2.  When the meat is almost done, remove the bone and add the orzo, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom and scorch.  When the orzo is done so is the soup.  Serve it hot with some grated parmesan cheese on the side.

Honey Macaroons: Melomakarouna

Melomakárouna are crumbly cookies made with nuts and dipped in homemade syrup.  Along with kourabiedes, they are very popular cookies that can be found during the Christmas season.  Although not on the Athens Family Restaurant menu, these cookies can be made for you by special order.  Call us at least 48 hours ahead of time and we’ll make a fresh batch for you to take home.

Ingredients:
Cookies:

2 cups oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
grated rind of one orange
1/2 cup filtered water
1 tbs. honey
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tbs. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3 to 4 lbs. of flour

Syrup:

1 cup honey
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Directions:

1.  Mix the oil with the sugar in a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients except the flour.  Mix it well and begin adding in the flour, a cup full at a time, working it with your hands until you have a soft cookie dough that you can handle.

2.  Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Take a walnut sized piece of dough and shape it into an oblong oval.  Some ladies press the cookie on an upside down dish that has cut-glass designs for a more elaborate surface.  put the cookie on a greased cookie sheet.  Proceed with the rest of the dough.

3.  Bake the cookies 10 to 15 minutes, until they are golden brown.  While the cookies are baking, make your syrup.  Mix together the syrup ingredients in a sauce pan and boil it for 10 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and set it close to your work area along with a platter or pan for the cookies to go into.

4.  As the cookies finish baking, using a spatula or slotted spoon, dip the cookies into the syrup for 30 seconds and then set them in your pan or platter and sprinkle them with chopped nuts.  Continue with all the cookies.  When the bottom of one pan has been completely filled with cookies, start another pan so all the cookies remain in single layers.

5.  Once the cookies have cooled off completely, they can be arranged in muffin papers, sprinkling them with more nuts if desired.

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