Tomato, Feta and Mint (or basil) salad


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A delicious side dish, salad, or appetizer, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and mint or basil pair amazingly well together.

I suppose this is one more Greek Week” dish, due to the feta cheese involved.

Ingredients:

  • Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

    IMG 1317 300x225   Tomato, Feta and Mint (or basil) salad

    Halved grape/cherry tomatoes

  • Feta cheese, cut into small cubes

    IMG 1318 300x225   Tomato, Feta and Mint (or basil) salad

    Feta cheese slices

  • Fresh mint or basil, chopped
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

Combine all ingredients and serve as a salad.

IMG 1328a 300x197   Tomato, Feta and Mint (or basil) salad

Tomato, Feta, Mint salad

Or, turn this into a cute appetizer by using toothpicks to spear a half a tomato, a small cube of feta, and a leaf of mint or basil.  Arrange on a tray for a beautiful and delicious finger food!

IMG 1328 300x225   Tomato, Feta and Mint (or basil) salad

Feta, Tomato, and Mint salad served with vegetable sweet potato curry

May 6, 2011
Food, Recipe

 
 

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)


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Last post for this impromptu “Greek Week” theme I have going on here.

As I was planning my grocery list for the Keftedes / meatballs, I realized that I was only one ingredient away from Dolmades (Dolmathes), or another Greek favorite–stuffed grape leaves.
You’ll notice I can’t decide how to spell certain Greek words in the Latin alphabet.  Sometimes I use ‘d’ and sometimes I use ‘th’.  This is because technically the Delta (uppercase Δ, lowercase δ; δέλτα)  is pronounced like ‘dth’ or the ‘th’ in then.  Check it out, if you care to learn something you might not have known.

Moving on to the recipe:

Ingredients:

IMG 1272 225x300   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

Grape Leaves

  • Grape leaves (I found a jar of these at Giant, so they are more ubiquitous than I expected). 1 jar or about 50leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped leek or onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh mint (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh fennel (or dill) (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (optional) or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1.5-2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • chicken broth / tomato sauce if you have it, for baking

Directions:

  • Remove rolls of grape leaves from jar and unroll.  This is tricky.  Rise it under cold or warm water while attempting to unroll to avoid tearing the leaves as much as possible.  Layer grape leaves in a dish of warm water to soften them so that you can roll them easily later.  Cut any long stems off  the leaves.

    IMG 1268 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Grape leaves soaking to soften

  • My recipe did not call for sauteing anything prior to baking it.  While these turned out decent, I’d be interested in finding out if they were better if you did saute the ingredients first to brown the meat and cook the onion/leek/garlic until translucent.  If you’d like to try this, at this stage, saute the garlic and leek in olive oil for a few minutes.  Optionally brown the meat with these items as well.
  • In a large bowl, mix together rice, leek/onion, garlic, mint, fennel/ dill, oregano, parsley (if using), salt and pepper. Add ground beef and mix thoroughly.
  • Lay grape leaves out one by one, with the rough edges up.  Spoon a large tablespoon of mixture onto each grape leaf and roll from the bottom up, tucking the sides in to hold in the mixture.  Wrap as tightly as possible and do not overfill.  Add grape leaves to a dutch oven or pressure cooker, packed tightly with the seams facing down, in layers.  Grape leaves will unroll when cooking if they are not packed extremely tightly(trust me). You can line the bottom of the pot with torn/unused grape leaves.
    IMG 1275 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Start rolling from the bottom

    IMG 1277 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Tuck the sides in to secure the mixture

    IMG 1278 300x236   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    rolled stuffed grape leaf

    Rolling these up was a lot of fun.  It felt like craft time.

  • On the Stovetop: Cover rolls with broth and lemon juice. Place a heavy plate that fits inside the pot upside down over the rolls as a weight to keep leaves from unrolling. One recipe suggested you place a clean rock or stone on top of the plate to secure the plate and the rolls. Cover pot and bring to slow simmer. Simmer gently about 75 to 90 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat when done. Let stand covered for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
  • In the Oven: Preheat the oven to 350.  Place rolls in a baking dish with the bottom lined with torn/reserved grape leaves.  Add rolls to the dish tightly in layers.  Cover with broth and lemon juice. Cover pan with aluminum foil that has been greased on the inside. Bake 75 to 90 minutes until both meat and rice are done. Let stand covered for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
  • In the Pressure Cooker: Line the bottom of the pot with reserved/torn grape leaves and pack the rolls tightly in layers into the pressure cooker.  **I covered the rolls with broth, here.  I didn’t weigh them down with anything other than more grape leaves and potatoes, but at least 20% were lost to unrolling (“lost” as in, I had to eat them before plating).  I believe you can do this with just 1-2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot, which prevents them from ‘swimming’ and coming unrolled.** Cook for approx 12 minutes at pressure.  Quick cool and remove. 

    IMG 1280 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Grape leaves before cooking-NOT packed tightly enough

  • Serve hot or cold with Tzatziki!

    IMG 1308 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

    Tzatziki served with Dolmades (grape leaves), Keftedes (meatballs), and Zucchini Fritters

You can make a lot of these and freeze some for future quick meals!

IMG 1285 300x225   Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades/Dolmathes)

Dolmades!

May 5, 2011
Food, Recipe

 
 

Keftedes (Greek meatballs with mint)


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Greek Week continues!

I had a hankering for Keftedes, which is probably in part related to the overgrowth of mint in my yard. I rarely crave meat, but I wanted to have these again.

Unfortunately, the keftedes I desired call for ground lamb and beef combined, yet the local Giant had no ground lamb nor were they allowed to grind it “as per health regulations” :(.

Instead I settled for sirloin steak, which I had the butcher grind for me (once).   I wanted something lean, as there is nothing more disgusting than biting into a bit of gristle or fat in a piece of sausage or a meatball.. ew.. there was hardly a trace of fat on these.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 slices white bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup (almond, or other) milk
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 cups minced leek (or onion if you dare)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 eggs

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

Moisten the bread pieces in milk. Set aside while you prepare the rest.

Add minced garlic and leek, mint, salt, and pepper to the ground beef in a large bowl

Add the moistened bread and eggs to the mixture and combine with your hands to make sure it is evenly blended.

Form mixture into 1.5″ balls and place on a cookie tray or baking dish.  (Another option is to dredge meatballs in flour / or not, just smash them flatter,  and fry them completely or partially.  Baking is healthier, but you get a tad more flavor by frying them.)

Bake for approx 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.  Some fat dripped out, so you might want to bake these on a roasting pan or tray to make them even healthier.  I just pulled the meatballs off without any of the fat around them.

Add more mint for more flavor!

 

May 4, 2011
Food, Recipe

 
 

Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)


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I was craving Keftedes (Greek meatballs, which have fresh mint in them) for some reason.  As I was seeking out a recipe I came across a recipe for zucchini ‘keftedes’, or zucchini fritters.  This delicious vegetarian option contains feta (a brined cured Greek sheep’s/goat’s milk cheese), fresh mint, and fresh dill or fennel.  Dill and fennel are in the same herb family, so feel free to substitute and interchange the two.  The recipe called for dill.  I had fennel, so I used the tops off those.  I was VERY pleased.

Ingredients:

  • 1 med-large zuccini
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup minced leek
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh fennel (the feathery top part–or dill)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fine grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs–probably could sub for your own bread crumb mixture)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Tzatziki for dipping 🙂

How to prepare:

IMG 1254 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Grated Zucchini

Grate the zucchini, using the larger holes on the grater.  You will need to get the moisture out before making the fritters, as zucchini carries a lot of water.  You might know this if you’ve ever tried to make zucchini bread and it’s turned out sloppy and too moist.

The recipe called for grating it onto a clean kitchen towel, which I did.  It then said to sprinkle the coarse salt over the zucchini and let it sit for 30 min-1 hr.  I didn’t wait, and this still worked.  Wring the kitchen towel out as much and as firmly as you can, many times, to squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the zucchini.

Put the zucchini in a medium bowl and add minced leek, garlic, mint, fennel or dill, lemon peel, and black pepper.

IMG 1274 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Use Fennel in place of dill if you have it! delicious

*To chop your fresh herbs, consider getting one of these nifty tools — herb scissors! A very welcome gift from my mom (www.beachdazed.com).  They have four blades and reduce waste on fresh herbs by allowing you to chop them quickly and easily right into your mixing bowl. I loved having these for all the mint/fennel recipes I made this day.

IMG 1258 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Chopping the herbs with herb scissors





Stir in panko and egg, then the feta.
 

IMG 1262 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Mixing all the ingredients together

Mix, and then form into 2″ patties, and place on a baking sheet that you can place in the refrigerator to chill.

IMG 1263 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Zucchini friters made, ready to chill for an hour

IMG 1265 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Zucchini fritters before cooking

Chill fritters at least one hour . I chilled them for 3.
Add 1/4 ” of grapeseed oil (has a high smoke point, so it’s good for frying, plus it’s healthier than many other oils) to a nonstick frying pan, and heat.

IMG 1286 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Frying zucchini fritters in grapeseed oil

 

Add the zucchini fritters and fry for several minutes on each side until light golden brown.  Check to make sure they aren’t sticking shortly after adding these to the pan.

Place fritters on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb some of the oil.
Serve with tzatziki, greek yogurt, and fennel or dill garnish.

These turned out so DELICIOUS I think I will make these again, but in a much bigger batch.  I got 14 fritters out of this batch.

IMG 1291 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Finished zucchini fritters! YUM!

May 3, 2011
Food, Kitchen Gadgets, Recipe

 
 

The Best of Summer Cocktails: Fresh-Mint Mojitos


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Mojitos are a quintessential summer cocktailSweet, flavorful, and refreshing, these cocktails are often mixed poorly by bartenders who lack access to fresh ingredients like mint and lime.  Simple syrups, sour mix, and inadequately-muddled mint can turn a good cocktail into a sugary mess.  Learn how to make your own and keep this recipe in your back pocket for summer cookouts.

enjoying mojitos 300x244   The Best of Summer Cocktails: Fresh Mint Mojitos

Enjoying mojitos on the porch

There are a lot of ways to make Mojitos.

If you want a good mojito, it’s not about fancy rum.  It’s about using fresh mint and a little elbow grease.

Here is my tried-and-tested fresh-mint Mojito recipe that has everyone claiming “you didn’t put enough rum in mine” until 5 minutes after they’ve gulped down their first glass.  Most folks don’t make it past two…

Mojito making supplies 300x225   The Best of Summer Cocktails: Fresh Mint Mojitos

Mojito-making supplies: White rum, Fresh Mint, Lime, and Sprite

 

Ingredients (per glass 8-12 oz glass):

2-3 3″ or longer mint springs with decent-sized leaves (or one long one, obviously.  The more mint, really, the better)
1/3 tsp sugar
1/2 lime, juicedronricorumsilver175   The Best of Summer Cocktails: Fresh Mint Mojitos
1 part (4 oz?) sprite, or sierra mist, or some other lemon-lime soda
1 part (2+ shots worth, as you dare) white rum

I use none other than Ronrico..silver Caribbean rum–just $15.99 at my local liquor store for 1.75L.  Before you judge, try it You’ll go through a lot if you make these Mojitos so you might as well save a few dollars!

  • Use a muddler or mortar & pestle if you have one, or if not, a mug and something to mash the mint with (the handle of a crab mallet has served me well on many occasions).  Add 1/3 tsp sugar and a little squirt of lime to the mint and muddle until thoroughly bruised.
  • Fill a glass with ice (crushed ice is preferable)
  • Fill glass to 1/2 full with rum. Depending on how your ice is arrayed in the glass you’ll get more/less alcohol, so scale according to preference.
  • Juice the rest of the 1/2 a lime into the glass with a citrus juicer.
  • Top with Sprite or other lemon-lime soda
how to make a mojito 300x225   The Best of Summer Cocktails: Fresh Mint Mojitos

How To make a Mojito: Muddle the mint with a little sugar and lime juice

 

Tips:

Mojito 225x300   The Best of Summer Cocktails: Fresh Mint Mojitos

MMM mojito

  • After muddling, some of the mint/lime/sugar flavor may be stuck in the container you bruised it in.  Add a splash of soda to that container before pouring the mint mixture into your glass to help transfer more of it.
  • You can twist a Mojito recipe by adding a little muddled cucumber to make it even more refreshing.
  • Add a dash of Chambord or other berry liqueur to sweeten the drink and add a little color
  • The mint is delicious to eat.  But have a friend check your teeth regularly…

Virgin Mojitos:

This drink works out to be delicious even without alcohol.  Substitute club soda, tonic, fizzy mineral water/seltzer, or a combination of all three (depending on how sweet you like your drink).

Enjoy!

 

 

April 26, 2011
Drink, Recipe