Posts tagged ‘Greek’

July 28, 2014

Grape Leaf Potato Salad

Grape Leaf Potato Salad

If you – like me – love potato salad but are tired of the same old spices and heavy mayonnaise base, then boy do I have the dish for you.

This potato salad was inspired by a jar of grape leaves that I’ve had sitting in my refrigerator ever since I made dolmas a few months ago. I’d been brainstorming different ways to incorporate the leaves into a new, creative dish when I finally thought up this potato salad for the Fourth of July.

The grape leaves are more subtle than you might imagine if stuffed dolmas are your point of reference, but they do impart a unique finish to this potato salad. Paired with robust oregano and finished off with a tangy dressing that’s just the right amount of creamy, the flavors are assertive without being overpowering.

The addition of cucumbers provides a wonderful crunch that is often missing from more traditional versions – or is otherwise filled by celery, which can overpower other more mild ingredients. The little bursts of refreshment make this the perfect dish for a hot summer days!

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May 19, 2014

Fennel Falafel with Simple Salad

Fennel Falafel

My girlfriend Maggie and I recently celebrated two years of dating by heading up to Vancouver, BC for a long weekend getaway. We had a blast stroll through downtown and Granville Island, biking around Stanley Park, and taking in all the beautiful scenery. It’s a really wonderful area, absolutely worth a trip if you haven’t visited already.

We kind of overdid it on the food though.

We had a ton of great food while we were there, from organic farm-to-table at Fable to sublimely good Indian food at Vij’s. But a decadent multi-course meal at Wildebeest – which specializes in some of the most succulent meat you’ll ever taste – left us both a little bit of a food hangover at the end of our trip.

So when I got back, I decide to do a week of vegetarian eating to balance things it. It was in interesting experience – not one I’ll likely repeat again soon – but it did broaden my repitoire of recipes – including this falafel dish.

Traditionally a Middle Eastern food, falafel is now found in many different regional cuisines, leading to many styles and interpretations. The version in this recipe is definitely less traditional and more Greek-inspired with the addition of fresh oregano and fennel. The pair gives these falafel a more refreshing and simple flavor profile than you would find at most restaurants.

Stacked atop a simple salad of tomato, cucumber and vinegar, this dish makes for a perfect light summer meal!

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February 22, 2012

Potato Keftedes

In traditional Greek cuisine Keftedes are made from ground meat, typically either lamb of beef. It’s combined with a couple finely diced vegetables, spiced, rolled into balls, and either seared or roasted as a shish kabob. This recipe takes the concept, along with many of the flavoring components, and applies it to potatoes rather than meat.

The ingredients are startlingly basic, but nonetheless create a robust flavor profile when combined against the relatively mundane backdrop that is the potato. The green onions, much milder than their burlier cousins, add a minor, pleasant kick to the mix. The tomatoes provide bursts of juicy sweetness. Finally, the paprika imparts a light smokiness while the other spices round out the palette. And although there are a variety of different tastes in play, none of them are so strong as to overwhelm the earthy potato base.

To me, the most intriguing element of this recipe is that its vegan. I take to doing the final frying in butter, because I think it tastes just a bit better, but it’s just as easy to sear the pancakes in a little bit of olive oil. I am no great backer of veganism, but a good cook is capable of making a dish for any audience.

Whether or not you’re look for a vegan recipe ace in the hole, I highly recommend keeping this card up your sleeve. When it comes down to it, it’s basically a Greek mashed potato pancake. You really can’t possibly go wrong.

Potato Keftedes

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 bundle of spring onions, green and white sections separated, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, finely diced and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil for a vegan recipe)

 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the potato until cooked through, between 60 and 90 minutes depending on the size.
  2. Remove the potato and allow it to cool before handling. Use a fork to scoop out the contents into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add all the other ingredients except the butter and combine until evenly mixed. The potato mixture should be cohesive enough to form patties that retain their shape, but not
  4. Add the butter to a pan and heat to medium-high. Fry the potato patties until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on either side. Remove from heat.
  5. To serve, plate the keftedes and sprinkle with the chopped green onion stem.
September 21, 2011

Beef Stifado Au Jus Reduction

I’ve been meaning to get some Greek food on this blog. No better way to start than with some Stifado.

Traditional Stifado is a Greek stew/soup that uses beef, lamb or rabbit and pairs it with pearl onions and occasionally tomatoes, depending on who you ask. This recipe is my modern take on the original. I changed up some of the ingredients to shift the focus onto the beef, but the biggest change is reducing the jus.

Instead of a stew-style dish that is served with a great deal of bread to sop up all the extra liquid (nothing wrong with that set up though) this dish brings all of the flavors together into a jus reduction that’s served on top of the beef.

This dish has some great flavors and textures you don’t often see in other food. The beef has a great exterior sear that creates a tasty crust and seals in the flavor. At the same time, the low and slow bake keeps every bite tender on the inside. The ingredients of the cooking stock – jus, red wine, vinegar, bay, thyme and cinnamon – come together to create an uncommonly delicious sauce that highlights the flavor of the beef perfectly.

This version of Stifado is hearty but not heavy, and makes the perfect dish as we start hitting the rainy days of late summer/early autumn (same thing in Seattle).

Beef Stifado Au Jus Reduction

  • 1 lb beef, sliced into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoons pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 275°F.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a large plate and toss until evenly distributed. Dredge each piece of beef until thoroughly coated. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture to make the reduction.
  3. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. In whatever size batches you can manage, add the beef to the skillet and sear each major side, approximately 30 seconds each side. As soon they’ve seared, remove the cubes to a spare plate.
  4. Deglaze the pan using 1 cup of chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the chicken stock, red wine, red wine vinegar, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a low simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat.
  5. In a large casserole dish, combine the seared beef, red wine-stock liquid and the remainder of the ingredients. Place the casserole dish in the oven for an hour and a half. After that time remove the dish, stir the contents, and place it back in the oven for another hour.
  6. Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Add 2 cups of the liquid to a small pot and raise to a boil. Once the liquid has reduced by half, add the remaining flour and continue to boil until it reduces by half again. Remove from heat. (The resulting reduction should have the consistency of slightly thin gravy)
  7. To serve, plate the beef and drizzle the reduction over the top.
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