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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.

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Recipe of the week: Pastitsada

This recipe sounds like the popular Pastitsio and it uses the same noodles, but it’s very different from the casserole dish.  The pasta is served on a platter and is covered in a sweet, chunky meat sauce.  Best served with grated cheese and a green salad.

Ingredients:

1 lb. pastitsio noodles (penne macaroni may be used as a substitute)

Sauce:

1 1/2 cup olive oil
2 chopped onions
2 minced garlic cloves
2 lbs. beef, cut into one inch chunks
1 cup dry, white wine
2 cups beef stock
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 tsp. sugar
salt

Directions:

1.  Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onions, garlic and meat together.

2.  Add the wine and stock and cover the skillet. Let the meat simmer for one hour so it becomes tender.  Stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for another 40 minutes, adding more stock as needed.

3.  Once the sauce is complete, REMOVE the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cloves.

4.  Cook your pasta and drain it.  Toss the hot pasta with some sauce and put it on your serving platter.  Sprinkle it generously with grated cheese.  Top it off with the meat and remaining sauce.  It’s ready to be served.

Enjoy!

Lenten Spaghetti

This is the Greek version of Napolitan sauce.  Not only is this easy to prepare but it also makes a nice change even for those who like meat.  Using the cinnamon will give your sauce a sweet taste.  For a more savory and spicier version, you can add the spices liberally and a bit of dry hot peppers.

Ingredients:
1 cup olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 clove mashed garlic
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
cinnamon (optional)

1 lb. cooked pasta of your choice

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.  Pour in the tomatoes and broth and once it comes to a boil, lower the heat.  Add your spices and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick.  That’s it.  Simple and quick.  Pour the sauce over your favorite pasta and you have a wonderful meatless dish.

Traditional Greek Cheese Pie (tiropita)

The cheese pies that are served in open-air markets are very popular in Greece and simple to make.  This recipe can be made as individual pies or as a large pan pie that can be cut into serving size pieces.  Pastry dough can be substituted for the phyllo.

Ingredients:

phyllo pastry sheets
melted butter

Filling:

2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 cup grated Greek kefalotiri or parmesan cheese
1 tbs. dried spearmint leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
5 eggs beaten
1 cup milk

Directions:

1.  Generously butter a medium sized, oblong baking dish.  Spread a sheet of phyllo in it and brush it with butter.  Lay another sheet of phyllo over it, and again, brush it with butter.  Continue this for 5 to 6 sheets.

2. Mix all the filling ingredients together and spread it over the buttered phyllo layers.  Top it off with more phyllo and butter layers for 5 to 6 sheets.

3.  Brush the top of your pie with butter and score it into squares.  Bake it in a preheated oven at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes.  The top crust will brown easily.  If you think it’s cooking too fast, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Remove the foil to brown the top just before it’s ready.

Poached meatballs

Youvarlákia are simply boiled meatballs.  They take almost no time at all to make and can be served with any side dish that you like.  These little bundles are so popular that there is also a recipe for poached meatball soup.

Ingredients:

2 cups chicken stock
flour
egg lemon sauce

Meatballs:
1 – 1/2 lbs. ground beef, pork or lamb
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 chopped onion
3 tbs. chopped parsley
1 tsp. cumin (optional)
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs, kneading it with your hands.  Form the mixture into balls 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.  In a sauce pan, bring the stock to a boil.  Roll the meat balls in flour and drop them gently into the boiling stock.  Simmer them for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

2.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs from the stock and set them on a platter.  Follow the recipe directions for making the egg-lemon sauce, using the stock that the meatballs were cooked in.  Spoon the sauce over the meatballs and serve.

Custard style rice pudding

This recipe makes a thick and sweet style of rice pudding.  You my use the raisins and the lemon peel in it as it gives it so much more flavor.  Rice pudding makes skin on the surface as it cools.  To avoid this, wrap each bowl with a piece of cling film while it’s warm and let it cool down while covered.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
2 cups water
3 – 1/2 cups milk
1 – 1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs. corn flour diluted in 1/2 cup milk
2 egg yolks beaten with 2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup raisins soaked in warm water overnight (optional)
grated rind of 1 lemon (optional)
powdered cinnamon

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan bring the rice and the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the milk.  Simmer and stir the mixture until it begins to thicken, being careful that it doesn’t scorch.  Add the sugar, the milk and corn flour mixture and quickly stir in the eggs and vanilla.

2.  Cook the mixture for another two minutes while constantly stirring.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the raisins and lemon rind – if you’re using them.

3.  Fill small bowls with the rice pudding, sprinkling cinnamon over the top.  Let them cool then refrigerate.

Seven seed bread

This multi-textured bread is a favorite on the islands.  It’s served for breakfast with butter and jam as well as an accompaniment to any Greek meal.

Ingredients:

1 envelope granulated yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 lb. whole wheat flour
1 lb. white flour
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. whole oats
3 tbs. white sesame seeds
3 tbs. sun flower seeds
3 tbs. wheat germ
2 tbs. linseeds
1 tbs. black sesame seeds
1 tbs. poppy seeds
1 cup butter milk
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

1.  Dilute the yeast in the warm water.  Put the flours in a large bowl and mix in the sugar, salt, and oats.

2.  In a separate bowl, toss together all the seeds.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast and the butter milk.  With your hands, incorporate the mixture, using only enough warm water to make it a soft dough.  Knead the mixture until it’s smooth and elastic.  Sprinkle in the seeds and add the oil.  Knead the dough again until it’s all incorporated.  Cover the dough with a towel and set it aside in a warm place to rise.

3.  Punch down the dough and form it into a large round or oblong loaf or smaller loaves and buns.  Grease the cookie sheets and lay the loaves on them.  Wrap the cookie sheets in towels and set them aside for the second rising.

4.  Preheat your oven to 375°F.  When the loaves have almost doubled, bake them for 30 minutes to one hour, depending on teh size of your loaves.