Provided by the Parpas family and served at Christos Greek Restaurant.
Tomato-Basil with Feta Soup
Serve this fresh, herb-scented soup as a first course or light lunch with a bowl of olives and toasted pita bread on the side. Serves 4 to 6
1 c. onions, chopped 1 bay leaf 3 cloves garlic ½ tsp. salt ¼ c. olive oil 6 ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, and diced small 3 c. chicken stock 1 c. crumbled feta cheese ½ c. fresh basil leaves, torn 2 c. tomato sauce freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a deep saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until transparent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bay leaf, garlic, and salt, and continue cooking another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring mix to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove the saucepan from the stove. Remove the bay leaf. Purée the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the saucepan. Stir in the feta cheese, basil, and tomato sauce, and season with the black pepper.
Provided by Alkis Arambadjis and served at It’s Greek to Me
Arni Psito (Garlic-studded Roast Leg of Lamb)
Lamb is served throughout Greece in the spring, roasted over an open fire, on a spit, or in a hot oven. Here, the slivers of garlic stud the meat that has been rubbed with plenty of oil and seasoned with strong Greek oregano, salt, and pepper, then doused with lemon juice. Greek lamb is most often cooked medium to well done; seldom is it served rare. Add cubed potatoes to the roasting pan 30 to 45 minutes before the lamb has finished cooking. They will absorb the flavors and brown in the meat’s juices. Serves 6
1 5-to-6 lb. leg of lamb 1 large head of garlic, split into cloves ½ c. olive oil 1 Tbsp. Greek oregano, dried 2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper 2 lemons ½ to 1 c. chicken, beef, or vegetable stock 8 to 10 Yukon gold potatoes
Trim off any excess fat or tough skin from the lamb, and pierce the meat in a dozen places with the point of a sharp knife. Cut the garlic cloves into ¼-inch slivers and insert into the lamb where it’s been pierced. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper and rub over the lamb. (This may be done a day ahead; just make sure the lamb is covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.)
Set the lamb on a rack over a roasting pan and squeeze the juice of 1½ lemons over the meat. Cover with foil and roast in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 1 hour. Remove the foil, add the potatoes (cut into halves or quarters, depending on size) to the pan, and toss with the juices. Continue roasting another 25 to 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare.
Place the lamb and the potatoes onto a platter. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice into the pan along with enough stock to create a thick sauce out of the remaining pieces. Set the pan on top of the stove and over high heat, reduce the liquid to a thick glaze. Allow the lamb to stand at least 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the potatoes. Drizzle glaze over all.
Briami Mystras (Greek Vegetable Casserole)
“This is especially good if you’re watching calories and want something filling and healthy,” notes Denise Arambadjis. “In the summer, we raid the garden and throw everything into the pot.” Serves 6
2 medium eggplants (about ¾ lb.), trimmed and cut into 1-½-inch cubes sea salt extra virgin olive oil 2 green bell peppers, seeded, deveined,and cut into ¼-inch strips 1 large onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 6 large ripe tomatoes, diced 3 Tbsp. Greek oregano, dried ⅓ c. fresh parsley, chopped, and a bit more for garnish freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 lb. new potatoes, cut ¼-inch thick 1 lb. zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices ¼ c. dry white wine 1 c. lightly toasted bread crumbs 2 oz. kasseri cheese, grated 1 large lemon
Toss the eggplant cubes with about 1 Tbsp. sea salt and set aside in a colander to “sweat” for 30 minutes.
Heat 4 Tbsp. olive oil in a large heavy skillet, and sauté the peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl; wipe the skillet clean.
Dry the eggplant with paper towels. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in the skillet over medium heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Drain between layers of paper towels.
Arrange the potatoes in the bottom of a deep 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the cooked eggplant and zucchini slices on top of the potatoes. Spoon the tomato mixture evenly overall, drizzle with a little more olive oil and the white wine. Cover and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until the potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle the bread crumbs and cheese over the vegetables. Using the back of a spoon, gently press down.
Continue baking until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Slice and squeeze the lemon juice over the vegetables and sprinkle with a little more chopped parsley just before serving hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Provided by Greg Tirokomos of Bill’s Imported Foods
Kourabiethes (Greek Shortbread Cookies)
No festive table is complete without a large platter of these clove-scented, snowy shortbreads piled high. Their flavor actually ripens, and they taste better with age. Store at room temperature in an airtight container with confectioners’ sugar sprinkled over each layer. Dust with more sugar before serving. Makes about 6 dozen cookies
1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature ½ c. sugar, superfine 1 tsp. vanilla extract 2 egg yolks 2 Tbsp. brandy 3 to 3-½ c. all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking powder 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 72 cloves 3 Tbsp. rosewater 2 c. confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in vanilla, egg yolks, and brandy. Sift in 2 c. of the flour and baking powder and beat together. If the dough is too sticky, add enough flour to make a soft dough. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (this may be done a day ahead).
Lightly brush two baking sheets with the melted butter and dust with flour. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls or crescents and set 2-inches apart on the baking sheets. Press a clove into each of the cookie. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven until the shortbreads are very firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.
Sprinkle the shortcakes with the rosewater and liberally dust with the confectioners’ sugar.
Provided by the Parpas family and served at Christos Greek Restaurant
“This is the classic spinach and cheese pie served throughout Greece,” says Gus Parpas. It makes a lovely appetizer or light lunch. Phyllo can be tricky to work with. Be sure to keep it covered with a damp towel and plastic wrap as directed. Tears are easily patched with leftover scraps and lots of melted butter. Makes about 18 to 24 phyllo packets
1 lb. fresh spinach ¼ c. virgin olive oil ½ c. yellow onions, finely chopped ½ c. green onions, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped 1 c. feta cheese, crumbled ¼ c. ricotta cheese 2 eggs, lightly beaten ½ c. (1 stick) butter, melted 6 sheets phyllo dough Salt and pepper, to taste
Wash and stem the spinach. Drain thoroughly. Cut into ¼-inch lengths. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, and add the onions, garlic, and dill. Sauté until the onions are lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until all moisture has evaporated and the spinach is limp. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Turn the mixture into a medium-sized bowl and allow it to cool. Add the feta, ricotta cheese, and eggs and mix together thoroughly (using your hands).
To assemble, measure out 4-ounce balls from the spinach mix and set aside. On a flat work surface, unroll the phyllo dough, and remove one sheet. Cover remainder with a damp towel and a sheet of plastic wrap. Brush the single phyllo sheet with melted butter, working from the edge toward the center. Layer two more sheets of phyllo over the first, lightly buttering each one as you go. Remember, always keep the remaining sheets covered. Cut your stack into two halves. The idea is to make a packet over the ball of spinach mix. Set a ball of the spinach mix in the center of each phyllo half, two inches from the edge closest to you. Fold the 2-inch flap over the ball of spinach; then fold in the sides and tightly roll the ball away from you. Brush the roll lightly with the butter and place it seam-side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Continue to fill the phyllo with the spinach mix until complete. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Provided by Alkis Arambadjis and served at It’s Greek to Me
Avgolemono (Greek Egg-Lemon Soup)
Arambadjis remembers his mother making this soup to lift spirits, soothe sore muscles, and to cure colds. Add more chicken and you’ll have a rich stew. Serves 4
6 c. chicken stock 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks 1 celery stick, cut into chunks ½ c. long-grain white rice 2 eggs 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed, or to taste 2 c. skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste parsley leaves, minced for garnish (optional)
In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, cooking the carrot and celery until tender, about 10 minutes. Then remove and discard the carrot and celery. Stir in the rice and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cooked, about 20 minutes. Put the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk until blended; whisk in the lemon juice. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the hot stock until emulsified. Pour concoction back into the soup, stirring until the soup is slightly thickened (keep it over very low heat, do not bring to a boil). Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with parsley.
Provided by Anna Christoforides, chef and owner of Gardens of Salonica
Anna’s Spring Pork with Lemon and Escarole
This pairs pork in a creamy egg-lemon sauce with leafy escarole with its slightly bitter edge. Serve this just as is (sans rice or pasta) using crusty bread to mop up the juices. Serves 4 to 6
3 lbs. pork shoulder roast, cut into 3-ounce pieces ⅔ c. extra virgin olive oil 3 c. white wine 2 lbs. escarole 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and rinsed, white parts only, cut in 2-inch lengths 4 eggs ½ c. lemon juice 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped salt and freshly ground white pepper (about 1 tsp. each)
In a heavy, large saucepan or Dutch oven, sear the pork in the oil over medium-high heat until it is very brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer until the meat is meltingly tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the escarole and scallions and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice (you should have equal amounts of each). Whisk in ½ c. of the braising liquid, then return this to the pork and stir lightly to combine. Serve immediately garnished with the dill.