We went through my Greek cookbook and she found a couple of things that were familiar, as well as some neither of us had made before.
This is a favorite dish of M's that her grandmother makes when they go to Greece. Though it's hard to match a yia-yia-caliber dish, Madaline did a pretty good job... judging from our lack of leftovers.
For 4 servings, you will need:
2 baby eggplants
1/2lb ground beef
1 small onion
tomato sauce (about 8 oz?)
8oz mozzarella, (or whatever cheese you prefer), plus a little parmesan
Start by scooping out the eggplants. Chop the innards and set aside. Drizzle the eggplant skins with a generous amount of olive oil and broil until the skin is tender.
Sautee about 1/2lb ground beef with about 3/4c chopped onion and some minced garlic, about 2 cloves. Add chopped eggplant meat to the pan. Mix in 1/3-1/2 the tomato sauce.
Fill each "shoe" with the eggplant mixture. Top with tomato sauce and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 350.
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Now this part was a pain in my butt... stuffed grape leaves. I didn't follow the recipe exactly(what else is new?). I sauteed about half a pound of ground beef, half a chopped onion, and 1c cooked rice. I added a little bit of fresh dill, s+p, lemon juice and dried oregano.
Then, I rinsed and blotted dry the grape leaves, and stuffed them!
After they are stuffed, put them close together in a warm pan, add water and boil, covered. The recipe I was (not)following told me to weigh them down with a plate. I realized why I shouldn't have ignored that step when about half of them came apart in the pan. Live and learn. (Should I change the name of the blog to Live and Learn??) No matter, we couldn't have eaten that many anyway. Ugly as they were, they were pretty good for my first try, if I do say so myself.
Cucumber and Greek Yogurt
We needed something to balanced out the crazy stuffed grape leaves, so M suggested we whip up some tzaziki. This was pretty easy, but I left out one step which turned out to be kind of important. Drain 2c greek yogurt over cheesecloth!! Do it! Unless you want double the tzaziki, do it. Roughly chop two skinned, seeded cucumbers. BLot those dry as well. Cucumber contain a lot of water. Mince a few cloves of garlic. Chop a tablespoon or so of fresh dill. Mix together and serve cold with grape leaves and/or pita bread.
Madaline made this Feta with a kick by mixing lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and 1 jalepeno (seeds removed & roughly chopped) to 8 ounces of feta cheese. She pulsed it a few times in the food processor and served it with marinated olives and pita bread.
And here's the finished meal...
|little shoes, baked to perfection.|
|one of these things is not like the other... (hint: it isn't the cell phone)|
And there you have it. I now have a whole new respect for Yia Yias everywhere. Done correctly, greek food is definitely an all-day undertaking. And well worth it.
Saturday night we dragged our tired and/or pregnant asses to The Beehive. I went for my birthday a couple years ago and enjoyed it. But last night, it was at least 2 years better. There was an adorable jazz band playing, and we got a table right by the stage. It was very romantic. We started with Moroccan Cigars, then Madaline got these truffled potatoes with fontina cheese and caramelized onions... holy crow. And I had seared Ahi sliders and a three bean salad with feta. And finally, we saved (and made) room for dessert: a thick chocolate mousse with whipped cream and crumbled pralines on top. Unfortunately, were far too busy stuffing our faces to take pictures. But trust in me when I say this: go to The Beehive. You will be glad you did.
And Sunday morning, we braved the monsoon and swam over to Uncommon Grounds for some of their world famous breakfast...
I had eggs benedict, Madaline got the lemon ricotta pancakes (todiefor). And then, as quickly as she arrived, she was gone. Like Mary Poppins. What a delicious visit it was!