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Archive for the ‘Greek food’ Category

We eat a lot of salad around here with various permutations and combinations, but two have come to have names.  One we call “favorite salad #1.”  No, I have not posted about it yet.  You’ll just have to come back to find out about it.  (Grin.) Tonight I’m talking “Favorite salad #2.”  Favorite salad #2 is Mediterranean in influence, incorporating some things we grow and some things we buy.  Actually, this salad has a larger percentage of non-local products than we usually eat; maybe that’s what makes it name worthy.    The ingredients are sweet, tangy, salty, and ever so slightly bitter, making for a wonderful blend.  For each individual salad, layer the ingredients from top to bottom in roughly this order:

  • 1-2 cups mixed baby greens, big pieces gently torn, or in summer chard and/or mustard greens
  • optional if in season:  cucumber, quartered lengthwise and then sliced thinly–put on outside edge of greens
  • course grated carrot (a couple of tablespoons per salad)
  • 1-2 thinly sliced radishes
  • 1-3 dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon of feta cheese (goat cheese feta makes it really special)
  • a few sliced pitted kalamata olives
  • optional if in season:  halves or quarters of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons slivered or sliced almonds, toasted (325 degree F for 5-7 minutes)
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried black currants
  • optional:  chives, thin slices to garnish (I cut these with kitchen scissors straight over the salad)

You can serve this salad with a homemade oil and vinegar dressing or get even more non-local and try it with a store-bought Mediterranean-inspired dressing like Drew’s Lemon Goddess Tahini or Annie’s Goddess Dressing. Both of these are tahini-based dressings, the sesame paste featured in  hummus (chickpea dip). We like the salad with Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern food.  In the winter it may be a part of a big meal.  In the summer, it may be the meal all on its own (or maybe with some watermelon, mmmmmm).

Give it a try and let me know what you think!  Do you have a favorite salad combo?  We’d really like for you to share it with us.

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This week I ordered lamb from Conway Locally Grown, a regional variation on CSAs that I’ve blogged about here in the past.  We do not ordinarily eat red meat. As a matter of fact, I had been years and years without eating it until December 2009.  What happened then?  A friend who has an annual winter solstice party with homemade whole-grain pizza included lamb on the pizza.  He’d raised the lamb himself, so it had, as he put it, “zero carbon miles.”  I had to try it.  I admit it; it was way better than any red meat I’d ever had.  So when my father, who is visiting us for a week, wanted to try the lamb from Conway Locally Grown, I said “okay” and ordered it.  Thus we had a very Greek-inspired shepherd’s pie tonight, made almost entirely of local ingredients.

Serves 3-5

For the mashed-potato topping:

  • 4 medium potatoes (I used three big Yukon gold potatoes and one red potato)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of kefir or buttermilk (or yogurt mixed with a little milk)
  • 1-2 ounces Greek cheese, crumbled (I used a sheep and goat feta-type with Greek herbs)

For the meat and vegetable mixture:

  • several cloves of garlic (7 or 8 if you like a lot of garlic or if the cloves are small)
  • 8/10 pound ground lamb
  • 3 good-sized red peppers, sweet or hot (I used marconi and Hatch)
  • 1 pint home-canned tomatoes (yes, you can use a 14-ounce can of good store-bought tomatoes if you don’t have home canned ones)
  • 2 or 3 small carrots or half of one large
  • two sprigs fresh rosemary (about 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • three of four sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only (about 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 cup zucchini, preferably blanched or sauteed, drained thoroughly, and chopped roughly (I used some I had frozen)

Optional:  eggplant, sliced and sauteed. *See seasonal note.

Begin by dicing the potatoes and slicing three of the garlic cloves. Put the potatoes and garlic in a suitable pot and boil until the potatoes are tender.  I also salted the water with a “Greek” seasoning made here in the Ozarks called Cavender’s. When the potatoes and garlic are done cooking, pour off the water and then put the pot back on the stove briefly to cook off excess water.  You can turn off the potatoes at this point until the meat mixture is ready.

While the potatoes are boiling, crush or finely chop the rest of the garlic. Add it and the ground lamb to a heavy-bottomed pot (I used a 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven) and cook on medium until the meat is no longer pink. Meanwhile, remove the seeds from the peppers and cut the red peppers into half inch pieces.  If your peppers are fresh, add them to the meat mixture immediately.  I waited to put mine into the meat mixture until it was mostly cooked because my peppers were from our freezer, from 2009’s garden, and thus already soft.

When the meat is no longer pink, add the pint of tomatoes.  You can add the peppers soon thereafter if you have not done so already.  Add the rosemary and oregano. (Ours remarkably survived the frigid temperatures we’ve been having, probably because they are planted next to the porch on the south side of the house, with no chance of getting hit directly by the north winds.) Next cut the carrots in halves or quarters lengthwise and cut thin half-moon slices.  Add the carrots to the mix.  (The carrots came from our garden, protected in a cold frame.) If you have not pre-cooked the zucchini, add it now, sliced and then chopped casually.  My zucchini came from the garden via the freezer and thus had already been blanched, so I added it last. Simmer, uncovered, until the mixture has completely thickened.  If you have not added the zucchini, add it now, well drained first.  Fish out the whole rosemary sprigs.

As the meat mixture starts to get thick enough, you can finish the potatoes.  Add the 1-2 tablespoons of kefir or buttermilk (or yogurt/milk mixture) and mash the potatoes well.  Now stir in the 1-2 ounces of Greek cheese, like the sheep-goat feta blend I used.  You want to leave the cheese in chunks, so that diners get a burst of flavor every few bites.

Divide the meat mixture into individual greased casserole dishes or a single larger casserole dish. You could also leave the mixture in the Dutch oven, if you prepped the meat mixture in it.  Now spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture.

Broil until the tops are browned, about 5-15 minutes, depending on your oven.  Serve with a big salad with Mediterranean ingredients and enjoy!

*I did not use eggplant because we did not have any in the freezer, and it is not in season here.  Of course, it would be ideal for this recipe.

You may also be interested in a shepherd’s pot pie: https://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/shepherds-pot-pie-using-holiday-leftovers/

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Tonight as I gaze northwest, I can see distant lightening.  With the lightening will come rain and then much colder temperatures, after a few halcyon days of wonderful golden warmth.  I’m glad that I did not give up on my eggplant when temperatures first dipped back in October, because it has continued to yield bountifully.
Tonight eggplant drove supper, with contributions from cucumber, leek, chard, red pepper, radishes, and a few store-bought additions.  Tonight we went Greek.  Alas, I did not take pictures, but I can assure you that the whole meal was full of color and flavor.  In short, I fried up some falafel to serve in whole wheat pita with homemade baba ghanouj (roasted eggplant and garlic mixed with yogurt and tahini), homemade roasted red pepper and olive dip, tadziki (cucumber, dill, garlic, and yogurt with lemon zest), and radishes and fresh bell pepper to dip.  I served swiss chard sauteed with leek (both homegrown) and garnished with currants and red wine vinegar.

I will no doubt post details on my version of these dishes in the future.  In the meantime, let me know if you’d like any recipe sooner rather than later.

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