Friday, March 30, 2012

A Tessa Kiros Favorites Roundup

Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, we have spent a very delicious six months with Tessa Kiros.  Tessa is definitely not as well-known as other chefs and cooks, but she deserves to be.  Her cookbooks are a work of art, abounding with recipes and stories.  Normally when I spend six months cooking and baking up a chef's or a cook's recipes I usually come across a few duds.  Not with Tessa.  This time around I can honestly say everything I tried was great.

It was really hard to narrow down my top Tessa recipes, but here are my favorites.  (Click on the recipe title to be directed to the original post).
First up is Tessa's Garides Saganaki (or simply Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes) from her Food From Many Greek Kitchens cookbook.  This dish is a must make, stays on your mind, fall in love type dish. I keep shrimp in my freezer and feta in my cheese drawer so that I can make it whenever I like.  I can tell you for sure that this recipe will make my top ten favorites list for the year.
 Second on the list are Tessa's Fried Risotto Balls (otherwise known as Arancini) from her Apples for Jam cookbook.  These puppies should come with a warning.  My goodness are they addictive. Crunchy, gooey, cheesy, with lots of garlic and tomato flavor.  These little fried balls are phenomenal. 
The next recipe on the list is Tessa's Risotto with Artichokes and Sausage.  I altered this recipe to suit our tastes simply by keeping both the artichokes and sausage out of the risotto until the very last minute (Tessa's recipe cooks them along in the risotto).  The result was easily my all-time favorite risotto recipe.  The risotto was nice and creamy, the sausage slightly crispy and caramelized, and the artichokes lent a brightness to an otherwise rich dish.  We gobbled it up!
Also making the cut are Tessa's Chicken Croquettes, along with her chicken broth and Pasta in Chicken Broth, all from her Apples For Jam cookbook.  It makes for such an amazing, comforting, family-pleasing meal.  If you're in the mood for some kitchen therapy, make these three recipes.  You won't be sorry.  You'll be rewarded with so many things.  Homemade chicken broth, crunchy and wildly flavorful chicken croquettes, and a comforting soup of pasta in chicken broth. Soul satisfying in more ways than one.
We are partial to pot roasts in my house.  It's one of our all-time favorites.  So, I may be a bit biased when I say that Tessa's Kokkinisto (otherwise known as Reddened) was one of our favorite dishes.  This pot roast is called reddened because it calls for red wine, red onion, and tomatoes.  The end result is so flavorful.  The tomatoes get all jammy and delicious and it's just wonderful served with pasta on the side.
Lastly is the best-looking most delicious tasting banana bread I've ever had.  Seriously now.  I made Tessa's banana bread and really didn't think I would post it, but it blew our minds with it's tender texture, it's spicy fragrance, and it's ultimate banana flavor.  This is THE banana bread recipe.

Tessa has six cookbooks:  Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook; Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes; Venezia: Food and Dreams; Twelve: A Tuscan Cookbook; Piri Piri Starfish: Portugal Found; and Food From Many Greek Kitchens
I have four of Tessa's cookbooks:  Twelve, Falling Cloudberries, Apples for Jam, and Food From Many Greek Kitchens.  I recommend all of them, but Apples for Jam was easily my favorite of the six.  I loved how the recipes were organized by color and also the fact that the recipes were so approachable.  My second favorite was Tessa's Food From Many Greek KitchensFood From Many Greek Kitchens is such a stunning book full of gorgeous pictures and loads of Greek recipes.  Buy one, buy them won't be sorry.

 The new chef for the next round of IHCC is Rick Bayless.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Baklava is something I've wanted to make for years.  For some reason it seemed somewhat intimidating to me so I just put it off.  Repeatedly.  Well, I finally got around to making it and let me tell was easy.  A little time consuming, but easy. 

In fact, making baklava is easy enough to be dangerous.  Dangerous because it is probably one of my top ten favorite things to eat of all time. All those flaky layers of phyllo dough dripping with a spicy honey flavored syrup and jam packed with nuts.  It's total heaven.  Messy, sticky, crispy, crunchy heaven. If I don't find someone to share it with I will totally eat the whole pan myself. 
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
by Tessa Kiros
Makes About 30 pieces

2 cups sugar
2 tablespoon honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
strip of lemon peel
2 or 3 small cinnamon sticks

1 cup walnuts, crushed but with some texture
1 cup pistachios, crushed but with some texture
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
22 sheets phyllo pastry
About 2/3 cup (1-1/4 sticks) butter, melted to golden brown (I had to use a tad more)*
30 or so whole cloves for decorating (optional, but I omitted)*

Preheat the oven to 350F.  To make the syrup, put the sugar, honey, lemon juice, lemon peel and cinnamon in a saucepan with 1 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring.  Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, then take off the heat and cool.

Mix the walnuts, pistachios, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Have the phyllo sheets ready, covered by a dish cloth to prevent them from drying out.  Brush the base of an 8-1/2 x 12-inch baking dish with butter.  Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom and brush with butter.  Cover with another sheet, brush it with butter and continue in this way until you have a neat stack of 10 sheets lining the bottom of the dish.  Spread half the nut mixture over the phyllo, patting it down firmly and leveling the surface.  Cover with another 2 sheets of phyllo, buttering each one.  Scatter the rest of the nuts over evenly and press down gently.  Now lay down the last 10 sheets of phyllo, buttering each one, of course, and finishing with the last layer buttered.

Using a small sharp knife, cut diamonds on the diagonal of about 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 inches.  Cut all the way through the layers of phyllo, as this will make it easier to lift out the pieces when serving.  Flick just a little cold water over the top to prevent the layers from curling up.  Stud the enter of each diamond with a clove (if using).  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until gently golden on top.    Gently pour half the syrup all over the baklava.  Wait for it to be absorbed, then pour over the rest.  Leave to cool totally before serving.  Will keep, unrefrigerated, for at least a week, covered with a dish cloth.

*I used Athens brand phyllo sheets and there were exactly 2 rolls of 22 sheets phyllo each. 

Getting a Little Nutty, or Seedy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Everyday Cooking: Chicken Stir-Fry Lettuce Wraps

Can you believe this is the first time I've ever made any type of lettuce wrap?  What in the world was I waiting for?  I guess it took 90 degree heat in the middle of March.  Geez...I thought I'd have a few more months to shed some of that winter weight.  Summer clothes in March?  Torture.

Chicken Stir-Fry Lettuce Wraps.  Delicious.  Seriously flavorful.  Very filling.  Fun to make.  Family-approved.  I think I'll be wrapping all kinds of things in lettuce from now on. 

This recipe comes from Martha's Everyday Food Great Food Fast and I've had it bookmarked to make for years.  It's basically thin strips of chicken breast (could use chicken thighs, pork, tofu, etc.), thinly sliced onion, red pepper, and quite a bit of garlic.  Then the chicken mixture gets mixed with some soy sauce, some rice vinegar (for great tang), and a cornstarch slurry to thicken.  We loved these wraps as they were, but we thought it would be nice to add in some sliced water chestnuts and/or sprinkle some cashews on top for added crunch.  These are a definite make again recipe.

Note:  This are rather messy to eat with your hands.  You'll need lots of napkins.
 Chicken Stir-Fry Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4

 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally and thinly sliced
 coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to serve (optional)
3 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
12 to 16 Boston lettuce leaves (about 2 heads or one large head)

Note:  Sliced water chestnuts and/or cashews would also provide a nice crunch and be nice in these lettuce wraps.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat.  Add half the chicken; cook, stirring constantly, until opaque throughout, 2-4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with remaining chicken.

Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan, along with the onion and bell pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is tender and golden, about 4 minutes ( reduce the heat if browning too quickly).

Reduce the heat to medium; add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes to the pan; cook, stirring until fragrant 30 to 60 seconds.

Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch mixture; remove from the heat.  Add the chicken and any accumulated juices; toss to coat.  Serve in lettuce cups.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tuscan-Inspired Pork Loin with Crispy Potatoes and LOTS of Garlic

This Tuscan-Inspired Pork Loin is a recipe I discovered back before I started blogging.  It happens to be one of the first insanely delicious meals that ever came out of my kitchen. I can't believe I've never posted it before.  This is easily one of our favorite meals.  

First I should warn you.  This recipe is definitely a meal for the garlic lover(s).  There are three cloves of garlic rubbed over the pork roast and then there is an entire head of garlic that roasts alongside the potatoes.  It's pure garlic heaven!  The result is the most wonderful and tender pork, but the star of this dish is really the potatoes.  Oh my gosh are these potatoes succulent and luscious (I totally stand over the pan and inhale a few before serving).  Er, did I just say that out loud?
Speaking of the potatoes, you will want to cram as many as you can into your pan.  Don't follow the recipe below, which tells you to use only 2 potatoes.  Instead, measure your pan and fit as many potatoes as your pan will hold.  Believe me.  I cram them in there each and every time and everyone still ends up fighting over them.


Tuscan-Inspired Pork Loin with Crispy Potatoes and LOTS of Garlic
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookbook by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough
Serves 6

2 large baking potatoes (use as many potatoes as will fit your pan)
1 whole head of garlic, plus 3 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or sage
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
One 2 to 2-1/2 pound boneless center cut pork loin, trimmed
freshly ground black pepper

Take your pork loin out of the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature while doing prep work. 

Cut the potatoes into 2-inch pieces (you can peel them, but the skin will get crunchy as they roast.) Place in a large bowl and cover with water by 2 inches.  Set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes so the potatoes lose some starch.  See note above***:  Don't simply make this recipe as followed with only 2 potatoes.  You will end up wishing you made more of them.  Instead, squeeze as many potatoes as will fit in your pan.  I use a 10" cast iron skillet and I can fit about 1-1/2 pounds red baby potatoes.

Meanwhile, position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F.  Mix 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary or sage, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), and salt in a large bowl; rub this mixture all over the tied pork loin.

Drain the potatoes and blot dry with paper towels.  Place in a 12 - 14-inch oven-safe skillet (preferably cast iron).  Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over the potatoes and set over medium-heat.  

Once the potatoes start to sizzle, cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn translucent at their edges and brown a bit.  about 5 minutes.

Break up the garlic cloves from the whole head (do not peel) and sprinkle them among the potatoes; add the remaining rosemary or sage, sprinkling it among the potatoes.

Nestle the pork loin in the middle of the skillet.  Place in the oven and roast until the meat has browned, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 155F, about 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the loin once or twice and tossing the potatoes occasionally.  Grind some black pepper over the roast just before serving.

For A Pan Sauce:
Remove the pork from the roasting pan when done and toss the potatoes and garlic cloves before serving.  If you'd like to make a gravy, place cast-iron pan over medium heat, pour in 1/4 cup chicken broth or white wine, and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in the pan.  Skim the sauce for any fat, then reduce by half, about 1 minute.
This recipe comes from The Ultimate Cookbook by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough, which came out back in 2007.  It is more of a tome (the size of Mark Bittman's books) than a cookbook.  There are no pictures, but there are 900 recipes packed inside and I never get tired of browsing through this book for new ideas.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Crostini with Asparagus

This has been a wild week.  You know those weeks where you're on the run every minute and barely have time to think?  Yep, it's been a week like that.  The good news is that we received the most wonderful news about my 5 year old son, Jackson.  When Jackson was 6 months old he was diagnosed with severe food allergies: wheat, eggs, soy, beef, pork, turkey, and any kind of legume (peanuts, tree nuts, green beans, lima beans, kidney name it).  At first it was daunting and overwhelming, but soon we adjusted and made the best of it.  Every year we would go back for allergy testing and every year Jackson's allergies would get worse.  When he was three, the doctor told me not to bother coming back the following year.  No point paying a ton of money for testing when the results were so disappointing all the time.

This Tuesday we got in the car and headed to the allergist for our first appointment in two years.  It felt like a necessary evil and I really wasn't expecting any improvement.  Imagine my surprise when the doctor told me that Jackson SHOULD be able to start eating wheat, eggs, and soybeans!!   It was really the most pleasant surprise and although I'm not really a crybaby, I did cry right there in the doctor's office.  Tears and all.   I was absolutely elated.  It felt like a miracle.  A huge relief.  A sign of hope.
Right now we are introducing wheat to Jackson like you would to a baby.  Small bites here and there.  He has had some allergic reactions but they are much less severe than before which gives us hope that he can overcome the allergy.  And, if nothing else, we know that the wheat, egg, and soybean allergies WILL eventually go away.  So, this week was a lesson in hope.  Just when you think there is none.  It's a beautiful thing.  

Since I'm on a feel good streak this week I decided to make something with asparagus.  I think we all have foods that make us feel good and for me one of them is asparagus.  I loved this crostini made with scrambled eggs, parmesan cheese, lots of black pepper, and of course, pretty spears of green asparagus.  This makes for a wonderful breakfast but would also be gorgeous for a nice spring brunch.     
Crostini with Asparagus
Adapted from Twelve 
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 6

12 thin-stemmed asparagus
4 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 thick, large slices white country-style bread, halved
1 tablespoon butter

Rinse the asparagus well to get rid of any sand.  Trim away the woody ends.  Tie them up into a neat bundle with kitchen string, and boil the asparagus in lightly salted water for about 10 inutes, or until tender - but not too soft - testing the spear to check for readiness.  Drain and cut off about 1/3 of the end of each asparagus and chop (reserve for eggs).

Whip the eggs lightly in a bowl with the milk, season with salt and add the Parmesan cheese and the chopped asparagus.  Grill the bread slices on both sides and put 2 slices onto each individual serving plate.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the eggs.  Cook on a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon to scramble them for a couple of minutes, leaving them slightly creamy.  Spoon the eggs over the bread slices, top with the asparagus spears and add some black pepper.  Serve immediately. 
Theme:  Go Green!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cookbook Review: Joy The Baker Cookbook (Joy The Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-off)

Joy The Baker Cookbook
100 Simple and Comforting Recipes
246 Pages

I was both excited and thankful when Heather of girlichef asked me to be a part of the Joy The Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-off.  When this gem of a cookbook arrived in the mail I quickly found a quiet spot and spent over an hour going through it.  I marveled at how pretty it was.  I drooled over all the beautifully photographed goodies.  I laughed out loud as I read Joy's stories.  I bookmarked nearly everything.  I'm dead serious.  I bookmarked way more than I normally do.  I literally want to make everything in this book (bring on the elastic pants). 

I've learned to take note when fellow bloggers write cookbooks.  I was lucky enough to be part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-off and instantly fell in love with the The Homesick Texan cookbook, which by the way, really has become a favorite. I feel the same way about Joy Wilson's Joy The Baker Cookbook.  Joy's cookbook is so well-loved in my home that it's yet to make it's way to my cookbook shelves.  I keep it out on my kitchen counter.  I look through it on the couch.  I take it with me in the car when I'm waiting in the carpool lane.  Heck, I even take it to bed with me.  My point is, when I have any down time at all...this book is almost always in my hands.  And when I don't have down time I think of this book and anticipate the next recipe I'd like to try.     

Here's a glimpse of what I made during the Joy The Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-offTen recipes down, 90 more to go...ha ha.

First up, and oh so promising, were Joy's Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  These brownies really are the ultimate brownie.  Completely intense with chocolate flavor. 
 Next up were the Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Biscuits, which I quickly dubbed as California Biscuits simply because my husband has an aversion to goat cheese.  Can I just tell you that I don't think I did these biscuits justice on my initial post?  I really grew to LOVE and OBSESS over these biscuits.  They were so darn easy and had the best texture.  I really enjoyed them served warm with a little extra goat cheese and a fried egg.  Love these biscuits and will make them often.
For blogger's choice week I really wanted to show that Joy's book included some rather savory options, so I made three snacks.  First up, and because I love mustard, I made Joy's Honey-Mustard Roasted Cashews.  They were all buttery and sticky.  Total deliciousness.
Surprisingly, the favorite of the two nut recipes happened to be these Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds.  When Joy says these nuts are crunchy, she really means it.  These nuts have a big crunch to them and what I really love is that they are the perfect mix of sweet and salty.  Perfect for when you're having those cravings.
For my popcorn eating family, I made Joy's recipe for Perfect Kettle Corn.  I will warn you that this recipe requires some hefty shaking to get all the mixture evenly distributed into the popcorn but it is so worth it, especially if you like making homemade popcorn as we do.
Here are the recipes that I've made and not posted.  Joy's Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins.  These muffins are literally bursting with blueberries.  They turned out beautifully moist with lots and lots of crumb topping.  A damn fine blueberry muffin for sure.
These Cheddar Chive and Jalapeno Biscuits have been so popular during the cook-off and I simply had to make them.  They turned out so pretty and were extremely cheesy.  We enjoyed them with dinner and also made them into egg biscuits for breakfast. 
My Mom and I were in the mood for a dainty and girly dinner one night.  We chose Joy's Zucchini and Potato Pancakes and enjoyed them with a little crumbled feta cheese on top.  These made for a crunchy and delightful dinner, along with a side salad.
For breakfast this morning I made Joy's Baked Coffee Cake French Toast, served with lots of sliced strawberries on top.  Talk about good eatin'.  I'll be posting this recipe soon.
Also made, but not shown here, was Joy's Single Girl Melty Chocolate Cake which was probably my favorite all-time recipe in Joy's new book.  Picture a chocolate molten cake for one that's made in mere minutes.  It's so easy and delicious it will become dangerous.  Dangerous, I tell ya.


I'm so thankful to Hyperion for sponsoring this event, and also to Heather at girlichef, for hosting.I'd also like to thank my fellow bloggers.  It sure was fun cooking and baking along with you in this cook-off.  I loved seeing the posts pop up here and there and thoroughly enjoyed reading through all of them.  Joy The Baker's new cookbook is definitely one of my favorite cookbooks at the moment.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Everyday Cooking: Quick Chickpea Curry

I am a huge fan of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food publications.  There is just something about that little Everyday Food magazine, as well as the Everyday Food cookbooks that appeal to me on so many levels.  I chalk it up to the gorgeous photography and family-pleasing recipes.  Of course, the overall ease of the recipes is a bonus too. 

I recently added the newest cookbook, Everyday Food Light, to my collection and couldn't be more pleased with it.  The cookbook is loaded with lots of gorgeous light food that I can't wait to try. 
After seeing so many versions of chickpea curries online lately, this recipe for Quick Chickpea Curry really appealed to me. This recipe comes together with pantry ingredients and is no fuss at all.  I added a bit more garlic than called for just because I like lots of garlic.  I also added quite a bit of black pepper to spice things up, but other than that I left the recipe as is.  I was tempted to serve it over rice, but after tasting it I enjoyed it so much I ate it all on it's own.

Quick Chickpea Curry
Slightly Adapted from Everyday Food Light
Serves 4

"Why it's light -- Because lots of Indian food entrees use high-fat ghee (clarified butter) or coconut milk as the cooking liquid, they can contain more fat and calories than you might think.  For this vegetarian curry, chickpeas and spices are simmered simply in water, yet the results are still delicious.  Serve with rice or warm whole-wheat pits, if desired."

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves (depending on your preference for garlic, minced)
1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably Madras
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
pinch of ground cloves (I omitted this as I do not care for cloves)
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drain
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 cups water
coarse salt and ground pepper (quite a bit of ground pepper)
chopped cilantro and lemon wedges for serving (optional)

In a large large skillet or pot, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until dark brown around edges, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic, curry cinnamon, and cloves (I omitted the cloves); cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add chickpeas, ketchup, and the water; season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes.

Uncover and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring, until sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Serve topped with cilantro, with lemon wedges alongside, if desired.

Per serving: 285 calories; 5.5g fat; 12.8g protein; 46.8 carbs; 9.7g fiber

There are so many Everyday Food recipes that I'd like to try.  I'm hoping to drag out one of my Everyday Food books or magazines once a week and cook from it, but then again, when it comes to food and recipes I have commitment issues. 

 This post is being submitted to My Legume Love Affair hosted by girlichef through March 31st.
For a host line-up visit HERE.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Garides Saganaki (Shrimp with Feta and Tomato)

This is one of those recipes that you make, devour, and then think of little else until you make it again. In the past my favorite way to enjoy shrimp was simply with garlic and butter.  After eating this dish I will tell you that this recipe is every bit as good as a simple dish of shrimp with garlic and butter, if not better.  For me, it is perfection! Shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, a little bit of green onion, and lots of feta cheese, both melted into the sauce and sprinkled on top.  Tangy, salty, garlicky, and tender.  I just love this dish.

In Greece this dish is served as an appetizer, commonly referred to as mezze, but in my home it's more like a main dish.  My Mom and I loved this so much we devoured it all.  Thank God no one else was around.  Things become rather messy and unladylike.

If you enjoy shrimp I highly recommend this recipe.

Garides Saganaki 
(Shrimp with Feta & Tomato)
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
Serves 6-8 as a mezze/appetizer
Serves 2-4 as a main course

About 15 medium raw shrimp
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 green onions, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
4-1/2 ounces feta, crumbled

Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails intact, and devein them using a toothpick.  Heat the oil in a wide nonstick pan that has a lid and saute the onion on medium-low heat until softened.  Add the garlic and fry until it smells good, then add the tomatoes, half the parsley and some salt and pepper.  Put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Add the shrimp to the pan and turn through to cover all of them with sauce.  Simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes.  Scatter the feta in, put the lid back on and cook until the feta just softens, about 5 minutes, rocking the pan once or twice.  Serve with a good grind of pepper and the remaining parsley scattered on top, and some lovely Greek bread.

Theme: Mezze Madness

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lemonato with Patates Fournou Lemonates

Friday was literally a day of terror here in Kentucky.  Weather forecasters painted a very grim picture for the entire state of Kentucky, especially those of us who live in the central part of the state.  The threat of large tornadoes was imminent.  It was no longer a matter of "if" we had a tornado.  It was a matter of where and when.  A for sure thing. 

Schools across Kentucky dismissed the children at noon.  It was a chaotic scene up at the school with parents in a panic and children crying.  Then as the hours wore on everything across the state closed early, including the shopping mall.  Nothing was open.  Everyone was on lockdown.  It was eerie. We just sat and waited.  Like sitting ducks.  Sitting ducks without a basement.  

As the storm approached I felt numb.  In a way you have to make your peace with it all.  We watched as the storm parted and went directly north and directly south of us.  Tornadoes hit all over the state of Kentucky that day, but our entire city was spared.  A few cracks of thunder, a few lightning bolts, and a few minutes of large hail.  No damage.  The relief I felt when the storm was over was unreal.  I thought for sure we were going to lose everything that day.  We all have a tendency to take life for granted, but after hiding out in a tiny coat closet with your small children and a few favorite belongings it really opens your eyes. My heart goes out to all the people who lost everything, including their lives.  I watch the coverage and I think "that could've easily been me and my family."

The events of this week called for a special and comforting Sunday dinner, a twist on the traditional pot roast and mashed potatoes.  This Greek pot roast is called Lemonato, or Lemoned, because it calls for the juice of one lemon near the end of cooking.  I was a little scared to add the juice of an entire lemon to a pot roast, but the flavor of the lemon wasn't really pronounced.  The addition of the lemon did, however, add a bright and vibrant flavor to the dish.  We really enjoyed it.  I served this roast alongside Patates Fournou Lemonates, otherwise known as Roast Lemon Potatoes. This was a delicious and comforting Sunday dinner. 

(Lemoned Beef)
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens 
by Tessa Kiros 2 tablespoons
Serves About 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2-1/2 pounds beef roast (chuck roast/shoulder roast), sliced lengthwise into thin steaks 
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 small onion
juice of 1 large lemon

Note: Cut the roast into long slices, across the grain.  My roast was almost 3 pounds and I got 4 thick 2-3 inch slices

Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven, or a pot where the meat will fit compactly.  Brown the beef, sprinkling the done side with salt and pepper as you go.  Add the garlic and onion, saute for a moment to make lightly golden, then add 1 cup of water and put the lid on.  Simmer over very low heat for about 2 hours, turning it over a few times and adding 1/2 cup water and the lemon juice 15 minutes before the end.  It should be soft, with a good amount of lemony sauce.  Add a little extra water if needed.  Remove the onion and garlic (I left mine in).  Take off the heat and let rest in the pot, still covered, for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Patates Fournou Lemonates
(Roast Lemon Potatoes)
Adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
Serves 6

2 pounds 10 ounces potatoes, peeled and rinsed
Juice of 1 large lemon
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Halve the potatoes lengthwise then cut each half into 2 or 3 wedges, depending on the size of your potatoes.  Spread them in an 8-1/2 x 12-inch nonstick baking dish.  Splash the lemon juice and olive oil over them, and add salt and pepper generously.  Crush the oregano between your fingers, letting it fall over the potatoes.  

Turn the potatoes to coat them well with everything.  Drizzle 2 cups of water down the sides of the dish and give it a shufffle.

Roast until the potatoes are tender and melting and a bit golden here and there with still a bit of sauce in the dish, about 1-1/2 hours, turning and basting them every 20 minutes or so.  Add more salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Note:  I roasted my potatoes for a total of 2 hours and then broiled them at the end to get a little extra color.

Theme: Fight Scurvy--Eat More Citrus!