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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.

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Shrimp with Rice (Garides Pilafi)

This is a wonderful one-pot meal that is easy and extravagant at the same time.  You can choose to peel the shrimp before cooking, or leave them with their shells on to be removed when you are actually eating this dish.

We’ve found that the shells add that much more flavor to this recipe.  Keep a supply of napkins handy because it does get messy.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. shrimp, rinsed and cleaned
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red pepper or pimento, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 tsp. oregano
2 cups long grain rice
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Brown the onions and garlic until translucent.

2. Add the celery, red pepper and mushrooms and cook it all together until the vegetables have softened.

3. Pour in the tomatoes and spices and cook for 10 minutes then add the rice and shrimp. Give it all a good stir and let it simmer for 15 minutes. You’ll have to keep an eye on it, and add water as necessary until it is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your preference.

4. A few minutes before it is done , fold in the feta cheese.

Christmas Day Meal 2010

This holiday season, join us as we offer you a Christmas Day meal that you won’t forget!  Smoked prime rib ($15.95), turkey ($12.95) or ham ($11.95) and your choice of three sides.

PRIMARY SELECTIONS:

Smoked Prime Rib au jus.  This prime piece of meat gets a lot of attention because of its high class, but “loved by everyone” status.  It deserves respect and honorable mention.  Raised by a local farmer and smoked in-house. $15.95

Smoked Turkey, Wild Rice Stuffing with pine nuts & almonds, Turkey Gravy. The turkey is marinated overnight in salt, pepper and fresh spices.  Then we go “wild” and stuff it with long list of Opa! ingredients: bread, rice, sage, onions, celery, carrots, love spices, sea salt, turkey broth, garlic, scallions, dry cranberries, roasted almonds and pine nuts. $12.95

Smoked Ham with Pineapple & Cherry Glaze. We take a boneless piece of ham and cure it for 7 days.  Then it gets smoked in our “backyard” and gets dressed up in a special holiday outfit: pineapple and cherry glaze.  Cherries and pineapples are roasted for 15 minutes, along with tarragon, love spices, ham bone-broth, sea salt and brown sugar.  $11.95

SIDES:

Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes.  An hour before the turkey is done, we pop in these lovelies and cook them in turkey juice & fresh rosemary.  They’re related to Dina’s potatoes and only come out to visit Nashville twice a year.

Cranberry Sauce. One of the necessary items that likes to hang out from Thanksgiving until the New Year.  It’s a sassy sauce!

Green Beans. Country style steamed green beans with apple smoked bacon. YUM!

Sweet Potato Casserole. Good times never tasted so good!  Step 1: Peel potatoes in kitchen.  Step 2: slice ’em, roast ’em and mash ’em.  Step 3: add nutmeg, salt, pepper & nutmeg.  Step 4: top ’em with brown sugar, a little molasses & bake for another 30 minutes. Step 5: Enjoy!

Macaroni & Cheese. This is definitely a mackin’ side dish.  It’s prepared with half-and-half and four cheeses (cheddar, american, provolone and parmesan)! Baked in the oven til perfection.

SWEETS:

Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie & Homemade Dark Chocolate Cake

athens xmas

Special Hours of Operation: Christmas Eve open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Christmas Day open all day and night starting at 9 a.m.

Recipe of the Week: Greek Stuffed Cabbage

Recipe Tips

The Stuffing. You’ll notice as you read over this recipe that the stuffing is very easy to make and it’s only a matter of throwing ingredients together.  You may even make the stuffing the day before you take on the rolling part of the recipe.  Make sure to keep the meat and rice separate, but mix everything else together (with the rice).  By doing this, you can simply sit at your kitchen table the next day and roll up the mixture.

The Cooking Pot. Always choose a pot that has a flat bottom and a good fitting lid.  The opening of the pot should be wide enough so than an oven proof plate can be set into it.  Prepare the pot by lining the bottom with two or three layers of prepared cabbage leaves and whatever else the recipe calls for.  Since you can’t stir anything, lining the bottom will save the cabbage rolls from scorching during cooking time.

Rolling the Cabbage Leaves. Parts of the cabbage leaves, especially near the core, may be tough.  Use a knife to cut away any hard stem parts to make the rolling easier for you.  The finished rolls will be 2 to 3 inches in width and up to an inch in thickness.  Put about a tablespoon of the stuffing mixture into the center of the leaf.  Fold in each side over the stuffing, then fold up the bottom so it resembles an envelope, then roll it up.  For some people, it’s easier if they fold up the bottom of the leaf first and then fold in the sides, proceeding to roll them up.  Use whichever technique is easiest for you and be patient, as it takes time and practice to learn how to roll these babies up.

Cooking the Cabbage Rolls. The rolls should be arranged side by side in the prepared pot.  You want a tight fit so that they don’t unravel when cooking.  Once a layer of rolls has been formed, begin a new layer right on top of them.  For odd corners and spaces, you can add a stuffed tomato or green pepper.  When you have rolled up and arranged all the rolls, you will need to place an inverted oven proof dish over the rolls to weigh them down.  Again, this is done so they don’t unravel while cooking.

Unlike stuffed grape leaves, cabbage rolls may initially be boiled and then simmered the rest of the time.  The force of a heated boil will tear apart the grape leaves and give you a pot of vine leaf and pilaf goo instead of delicate little rolls.

Remember to check on the amount of liquid that in the pot periodically during cooking time.  Even though the layer of leaves is on the bottom, protecting the rolls, they can still burn and give the rolls a terrible taste.  If the stock has been absorbed or evaporated, then you’ll have to add more.  Don’t soak them in liquid, just add a cup or two of stock at a time.  Let them simmer again until the juice is absorbed before adding any more.

Serving Cabbage Rolls. Let the rolls cool down considerably before serving them. Remember to be gentle when removing them from the pot, and use a tablespoon instead of a fork because it keeps the rolls from breaking.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 pounds of ground beef
2 whole eggs
3/4 cups of short-grain rice
3 stalks of fresh dill
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced in thick rounds
2 stalks of celery
chicken stock
2 heads of cabbage

Avgolemono Egg-Lemon Sauce Ingredients:

5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of water
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of corn starch

Preparation:

1.  Combine the ground beef, two whole eggs, rice, dill, onions and mix thoroughly. Form into round pieces that look like mini meat loaf.

2.  In a large soup pot, bring salted water to boil. Remove the core of the cabbage and dip the cabbage head in boiling water.  Remove when the outer leaves turn bright green (should take approximately 7 minutes).

3.  Using the large outer leaves, place the meat mixture in the leaf and roll.

4.  Line the bottom of a pot with the carrot slices, remaining onion, celery leaves, and the smaller cabbage leaves that were too small for rolling. Lay the stuffed cabbage rolls, folded side down, stacked in snugly packed layers. Place an inverted plate on top to hold them down when cooking.

5.  Add chicken stock and place lid on top.  Bring to a boil. When boil is reached, turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

6.  A few minutes before the cabbage is done, make the avgolemono sauce:

7.  Whisk the egg yolks and a tablespoon of water. Stir in 1/2 cup of liquid from the pot, lemon juice, and corn starch, whisking until smooth. Remove cabbage pot and carefully remove the plate.  Pour in the egg-lemon sauce.

8.  Hold the sides or handles of the pot and gently shake to distribute the sauce.

9.  Serve warm with  sauce over the cabbage.

All dressed up and saucy…

Surprised by the simplicity of the marinades & sauces? You don’t need a lot of ingredients for authentic Greek cooking to taste good.  There are recipes that call for sauces that may seem more complicated to make, but those dishes would be incomplete without the extra effort.  Chicken soup would not be the same without its Avgolemono nor would Mousaka be as delicious without the Bechamel sauce.

In the old days, these sauces were made by using a mortar and pestle….aka the village food processor.  The ingredients were grinded together by hand until they became very smooth and creamy.  We don’t think anyone would object with the modern day food processor or blender to get the same results.