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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yemista





My mom was born and grew up in Patras, Greece. She was the middle child of five daughters and they lived with their Mother, Father and Yia Yia Euphrosene. My Papu, Christos Karakitsos, was the chantor or psaltis at Agios Andreas Greek Orthodox Church and taught voice from his home. She remembers her Yia Yia in the kitchen cooking the family dinners. Here is a picture of my Great Grandmother, Euphrosene and my mother on her lap.

In the summer months they would stuff summer vegetables with meat and rice and take them to the local bakery to bake in the oven. People didn't have ovens in their homes in those times. This dish is not only delicious but very pleasing to the eyes. This is one of the recipes my mother passed down to me from her early years in Greece.






Ingredients:

A variety of summer vegetables - Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Squash, and Eggplants
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/2 cup rice
1 large yellow onion
1 head garlic
a few red potatoes 3 or 4 depending on size
3 to 4 cups chicken broth
1 small can tomato paste
fresh mint and parsley (1/4 to 1/3 cup each)
salt and pepper to taste (I use around 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper)
olive oil

Assembly:

First you wash your vegetables very well. Cut the tops off the vegetables and scoop out the tomatoes, eggplant and squash (put this into a bowl to use later.) Remove seeds from inside bell peppers. Salt inside of vegetables. Save the tops to cover the vegetables!





Here you seen my Mom scooping out the eggplant with a spoon. Sometimes you need a small knife to start the zucchini or squash since they are a little firmer.






Once your vegetables are cleaned out and salted, drizzle them with a little olive oil. These are all ready to be stuffed - set aside as you prepare the meat mixture.

Dice the onion
Peel garlic and finely mince or mash.







In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add onions. Cook the onions until they glisten. Next you add the meat and brown slightly. Remember those vegetables you scooped out, add the insides of the tomatoes, squash, eggplant and the garlic, cook this a bit. Salt and pepper to taste and add a bunch of chopped parley and mint.


Once all the ingredients are cooked, add the rice and tomato paste.

Mix well before adding the chicken broth to the pot.







The rice will absorb the broth and once it thickens you are ready to stuff the vegetables with the mixture. Time for the fun part!

Preheat your oven to 350. Stuff each of the vegetables with the meat and rice mixture and place the tops to cover them. Cut red potatoes into wedges and fit them around the vegetables. If there is leftover meat mixture fill in the empty spaces with it and add a little water or broth to the pan before putting into the oven.






Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the vegetables are cooked well. This is definitely wonderful to serve to guests or have at parties, a real crowd pleaser.


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