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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Briani (Mixed Vegetable Casserole)


Greeks do like their greens and my mother was no exception.  She would usually cook dandelion greens or broccoli and douse them with olive oil and lemon, to her that was ambrosia.  She also would make stuffed vegetables (yemista) when they were in season using eggplants, zucchini and large tomatoes.  In my research to find another dish to add to my blog I came across this vegetable casserole in which you can use most any combination of delicious in season vegetables.  Instead of using a lot of olive oil (I do love a good quality extra virgin olive oil but it's nice to have alternatives!)  


1 large can diced tomatoes (28-ounces)
4 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. dried oregano or 1/4 fresh
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil  (one recipe called for 1 cup)  I used an oil mister and used my favorite olive oil.

Vegetables -  carrots, eggplant, okra, squashes (zucchini or yellow varieties), potatoes, onions, string beans, fresh tomatoes - whatever tickles your fancy and is in season.


Preheat oven 350 degrees

First peel your garlic then dice to desired size,  the smaller you dice it the stronger the taste.  It is your preference.  Add it to the opened can of tomatoes.
Stir to incorporate
If you are going to use okra, you will need to prepare them by first cutting the tops off and rinsing them off, scrubbing light to remove fuzz.      Then dry them on a paper towel.
Put them in a bowl and cover with vinegar and let them soak for around 30 minutes, the greeks prefer red wine vinegar.  Before you use them, drain well.              

Begin slicing your vegetables as finely as you wish.  I recently purchased a mandoline which will slice all kinds of vegetables or fruits!  It's fabulous.   Today I did zucchini, onions, okra, yellow squash, eggplant and a large tomato from my garden. 
Spray or drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of the casserole.   Start with a layer of vegetables - I used onions first.  Drizzle or spray olive oil, grind salt and pepper, add the herbs and then the diced tomato and garlic mixture.  

Keep layering in that fashion until you use up your vegetables, finish with the diced tomatoes.  

Cover with lid or foil and bake in the over for 75 minutes, until vegetables are soft.  Take lid off and bake for another 10 minutes.    

Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature before serving.  It's great as a side dish or with a slice of crusty bread or rolls.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Keftedes (Greek Meatballs)

I remember when I was young my mother would make these meatballs for guests.  They are flavorful and great with catsup or a marinara sauce.  If you make them small, they are a perfect appetizer, roll them larger for a main dish.  My version is not fried mostly because I like the flavor better when you bake them in the oven.


1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
3 slices bread (optional)
1 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
large handful each fresh mint & parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preparation:   Heat oven to 375

Quarter the onion add it to a food processor along with the garlic cloves.  If you don't have a food processor, finely chop or mince the onion and garlic.  Add the herbs and pulse.

Put bread slices in a flat bowl and pour a little water to wet them.

You will need to squeeze the excess liquid before adding it to the meat.

I have also made these meatballs without bread for dietary reasons, they are tasty this way too.

In a large bowl with the ground meats:  1.) crumble the wet bread over it.  2.) add eggs 3.) add onion, herb, garlic mix 4.) salt & pepper.

Mix well.  Now you are ready to ROLL!

1 to 2 inch balls should suffice, smaller for appetizers and larger for a main dish.  Whichever you prefer.  Larger ones will take longer to bake.

There are two ways you can do this.  I prefer a large pan fitted with a rack.

You can also put parchment on the bottom of the pan and do it that way.

Brush or spray the meat balls with olive oil.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes and turn them halfway through the cooking process.  May sure they are nicely browned on the outsider.

We eat them with catsup drizzled over the tops or add them to a pasta dish with marinara.

Also try putting a few in a pita with lettuce leaves, tomato slices and a couple spoonfuls of Tzatziki     YUM!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Warm rich savory food is wonderful on a chilly winter night. Stifado is a meat and onion stew infused with cinnamon, clove, allspice and wine vinegar - it adds a tang to the rich sauce. Add some green vegetables and serve it over plain rice for a complete meal. As a child I remember my mother making this stew on cold evenings.

I've worked this recipe for those who want a healthier option, less fat with lots of flavor.


2 1/2 lbs. stewing meat Chuck steak works very well, cut into cubes.

Marinate: 3/4 cup red wine (something you enjoy drinking!)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp each ground allspice and clove 
2 cinnamon sticks (or 2 tsp ground)   
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1 to 2 cups cipolinne onions
1 to 2 cups shallots
1 to 2 cups pearl onions
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Thinly slice your garlic and measure out your spices. In a large bowl add cubed meat.
put the bay leaves, cinnamon, garlic, allspice, cloves, and salt/pepper. Pour the wine and vinegar over it and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let this marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight to allow the flavors into the meat.

Next step! Peel the shallots and cipolinne onions. If they are very large cut in half, otherwise leave them whole. Frozen pearl onions are wonderful and you can find them in most any market, no need to peel.
In a large pot heat the olive oil on high, add the onions and cook them until they are glistening, remove them into a bowl.
Meanwhile remove the meat from the marinade using tongs. You want to make sure you don't have the whole cloves and allspice berries in the meat. It might take some careful inspection. Reserve the marinade. Add the meat to the pot that you cooked the onions in and brown the meat.

Return the onions into the pot and then add the marinade by pouring it through a sieve. Put the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves in the pot. (Sometimes I'll add a little ground allspice and clove.) Add the vinegar and tomato paste and turn down the heat to simmer once it begins to boil. Loosely cover pot with lid. Cook for 2 to 3 hours until the meat is very tender. You might want a bit more salt, add to taste. Your house will smell amazing. Before serving remove the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Ladle into a bowl over plain rice if you like or just vegetables. Green beans are great with this dish. A good red wine is the perfect compliment to this stew. Enjoy!!