Delicious Mediterranean Calamari (Fried Squid)

Calamari is a surprisingly easy meal to prepare. In this video Eva shows us how to properly clean and cook the squid. Calamari is wonderful as an entree or as side dish and is amazing with home-made tzatziki. Be sure to fry the squid right before you serve the meal, as it best eaten immediately.

1 box of frozen squid
Enough flour to dip the squid
Vegetable oil for frying
Fresh lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper

Allow the squid to defrost. Clean and cut the squid into small pieces or rings. Cut off the tentacles and body, and be sure to discard the backbone, ink sac, sand sac, and innards. Wash squid thoroughly and place on a strainer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the fridge for a few minutes. Dip the squid in flour and shake off excess. Heat a large frying pan with vegetable oil. Fry the squid in small batches and cook until golden, turning over. Place calamari on a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and serve with tzatziki sauce.

Next time on Thursday for Dinner: Spanakorizo (Spinach & Rice)

Greek Village Salad Recipe (Xoriatiki)

Greek salad (or village salad) is one of the most common dishes found throughout Greece.  These salads are a great way of using your garden tomatoes, especially in late August when they are so plentiful.  To make a truly great salad you really should invest in a good quality olive oil.  Sprinkle this wonderful salad with feta cheese and oregano and you’ll experience a truly authentic Greek experience!

4 tomatoes cut in wedges
½ cucumber sliced
½ red onion thinly sliced
A large slice of feta cheese
A handful of kalamata olives
About 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
Season with dried oregano, salt and pepper (to taste)

Cut the vegetables and place in medium bowl.  Add the thinly sliced feta cheese and olives.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with oregano, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Enjoy!

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Greek Style Rice Pudding (Rizogalo)

Rizogalo is one of my favourite desserts. When making rizogalo, you can’t stray too far away from the kitchen, as this dish requires constant stirring otherwise the milk will burn. You may add raisins if you like, although Eva prefers this recipe without the raisins. Rizogalo can be served either warm or cold. This recipe provides 8 servings.

1 cup of Italian rice (washed and strained well)
4 cups of milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
1 tsp of cornstarch
Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of rice and turn the heat to medium-low. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the water has evaporated.

Add 4 cups of milk and continue to stir (in the video Eva added 3 cups of milk but later added another cup of milk). Turn the heat up and add the sugar and stir. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks. Once the liquid has come to a boil, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer. Allow the liquid to reduce, stirring often. This may take between 30 to 45 minutes.

To thicken the pudding, add 1 tsp of cornstarch (diluted with water). Continue to stir and allow it to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.

To serve, pour the pudding into individual cups and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Enjoy!

Baked Eggplant (Melitzanes) Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan makes a wonderful vegetarian side dish. Rather than fry the eggplant, Eva prefers to bake them in the oven with a little olive oil for about 20 minutes. It is delicious and a much healthier alternative to the traditional recipe.

To prepare the eggplant:
4 eggplants (Eva uses the long slender eggplant, but you could use the larger type if you prefer)
Salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
About 1 cup of mozzarella cheese (shredded)
About ½ a cup of parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs

To prepare the sauce:
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup of tomato juice
½ teaspoon of basil

Clean the eggplants well and cut them in ¼ inch slices. Salt the sliced eggplant and allow the bitter juices to sweat out. Wash the eggplant under running water and drain them well. Place the sliced eggplants on a pan and brush each piece with olive oil. Bake the eggplant in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 cup of tomato juice. Turn the heat to low and allow the sauce to thicken (about 10 minutes). When the sauce is just about finished add the basil.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble the dish, begin by putting a small amount of sauce on the bottom of your pan. Spread a layer of eggplants on the sauce, and add another small spoonful of sauce. Add a handful of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle some parmesan cheese. Add another small spoonful of sauce on the cheese. Repeat until you have used up all of the eggplant slices. Add the remaining tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Allow the dish to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Green Beans w/ Potatoes, Wine, Tomatos & Onions (Fasolakia me Patates)

Green Beans with Potatoes or ‘Fasolakia me Patates’ in Greek is a vegetarian village classic Eva (and other Greeks) grew up with. As with many of Eva’s dishes, this recipe requires only a few simple ingredients and makes a great meal or side dish. Keep in mind the length of time the beans need to cook depends on not only your beans, but also how soft (or crunchy) you want them, so be sure to sample them as this delicious dish is cooking.

Flat green beans
2 medium sized potatoes
1 cup crushed tomato or tomato juice
1 medium sized onion
1/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 table spoon of salt
Pinch of pepper
1/2 cup of white wine

Cut the edges off the green beans and slice each down the middle leaving the ends still connected. If your green beans are narrow, there’s no need to slit them down the middle. In a separate bowl, peel the potatoes and chop them into fours. Chop the onion and fill a cup with either crushed tomato or tomato juice.

Preheat a large pot on the oven at a high temperature. Once sufficiently heated add 1/2 cup of olive oil. Allow the oil to heat up and add the chopped onion. Saute the onions slowly till they receive a light brown color. Once ready, add the beans to the pot. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium and allow the beans to cook for roughly 5 minutes.

At this point add a table spoon of salt, a pinch of pepper and 1/3 cup of water. The water is necessary to allow the beans to precook before we add the tomato juice. Cover the pot and allow the beans to cook for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. During this time stir the beans periodically until the water has completely evaporated.

At this point add 1/2 cup of white wine, the potatoes and the crushed tomato (or tomato juice). Work the ingredients together and cover the pot. Turn the heat on the stove to low and cook the beans till they become soft. This should take approximately 20 minutes. That said, periodically come back stir the contents and test to see how the beans are coming along. When the dish is ready all the juice should have evaporated with only the oil remaining.

Enjoy!

Puff Pastry Spinach & Cheese Pie (Spanakopita) (Lahanopita)

Spanakopita makes a wonderful side dish at a family meal and it also makes a perfect appetizer for parties. In this video, Eva shows us her take on the traditional Greek dish. Instead of using phyllo, Eva uses puff pastry, which you can find in the frozen section of your local grocery store. It is a lot easier to use and makes a delicious spanakopita.

1 package of frozen spinach
1 cup of chopped green onions
½ cup of chopped red onions
½ cup of chopped dill
½ cup of chopped parsley
1 cup of feta cheese
1 cup of ricotta cheese
Pepper to taste
3 eggs
1 package of puff pastry
Flour to work the dough
1/3 cup of butter melted
About 2 tablespoons of milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Allow the frozen spinach to defrost and squeeze out all the excess water. Coarsely chop the spinach and place it in a large bowl. Finely chop the green onions, red onions, dill, and parsley and add this to the spinach. Add the feta cheese, ricotta cheese, and eggs to the mixture and season with freshly ground pepper. Using your hands, mix all of the ingredients together.

Allow the puff pastry to defrost and separate it into two equal parts. Flatten the pastry with a rolling pin (the same way you would with pizza dough) to fit the size of a medium size pan. Butter the pan and lay out half of the puff pastry on the pan. Brush some melted butter on the dough and add the spinach mixture on top.

With your fingers, lightly dampen the top edge of the pan with a little water.

Place the second half of the puff pastry on top of the spinach and cheese mixture. Fold in the edges. Use a fork to help you fold in the edges. Butter the top layer with butter and brush a little bit of milk on top as well.

Cut the dough into squares (but don’t push your knife all the way down, just pierce the top layer).
Allow it to bake in the oven for 1 hour. Afterward allow the spanakopita to cool for a few minutes before you serve.

Enjoy!

Greek Souvlaki (Souvlakia) (Shish-Kebabs)

Souvlaki has become the quintessential Greek dish. You may prepare souvlaki with pork tenderloin, chicken breast, lamb, as well as pork shoulder. It is wonderful in a pita, or served with a side of rice, Greek salad, and tzatziki sauce. If you are planning to serve this dish, be sure to marinate the meat at least 24 hours before you start the barbecue.

2 to 4 pounds of pork tenderloin (depending on the number of people)
1 clove of garlic
½ cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of oregano
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
½ cup of wine
wooden skewers

Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and place in a bowl. Combine the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, lemon juice, and wine together in a small bowl and mix well. Pour this mixture over the meat, making sure that all of the meat is equally coated. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Skewer the meat, placing about 4 to 5 pieces of meat per skewer. Fire up the barbecue! Once you’ve placed the souvlakia on the grill, lower the heat to medium and allow the meat to cook, turning the meat over periodically. Allow the souvlakia to cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked to taste.

Enjoy!