Sunday, April 25, 2010

Long time ago: Greek Dinner for Columbae

I was recently going through some very old posts at a different web journal. I came across this collection of recipes, and I do not think I have posted the here. The following is from May 14, 2005.

At a recent bookstore sale, I picked up two vegetarian cookbooks, each for $6 (one normally goes for $13, the other for $28). The cheaper one looks especially like a keeper: called Vegetarian's A to Z Guide to Fruits & Vegetables, it provides a number of simple but yummy-looking recipes for each vegetable (the veggies are alphabetized by name), as well as nutrition information for each recipe and discussion of the vegetable's properties, time of year, location, storage, etc. I can imagine living near a local organic farm and subscribing to a weekly produce box that would provide me with seasonal produce with, at any given time, a small selection. In such a situation, a book like this would be a lifesaver: we're eating cucumbers for a week? Fine, let's see what we can do with cucumbers. The farmers decide to grow Batavian endive? We can look that up too.

In theory, Columbae would opperate that way, and we do try to keep to local seasonal produce. That said, I've been looking forward to preparing a traditional (well, with vegan modificaitons) Greek feast tomorrow, and although we did get baby spinach from the local organic supplier, I wanted celery, cucumber, grapes, all of which are seasonal in mid- to late summer. Our produce manager, however, is currently my most favoritest person in the world: she got me a couple heads of celery, a big box of grapes, and a big box of cucumbers, all conventional. So I'll have to wash everything, and the cucumbers are probably waxed, which is a shame, because the skins are the healthiest part, but still.

I have filo dough, which I need to remember to move to the fridge tonight to defrost, and I have my veggies and recipes. I need to soak the beans, too, and look up the spices suggested for apple rather than pear filling for the desert (pears aren't in season, whereas we have a hella lot of apples, but apples aren't as delicate, so require more spicing). I don't get olives --- dry goods and dairy came through for me with the feta but not with everything --- but oh, well. It will be good.

Soup: Fassolada me Spanaki Serves 6-8

Soak for 4 hrs, drain, boil, and drain
  • 1.5 cup dried cannellini
or open
  • 2 cans beans

In a large saucepan on medium heat, saute in plenty of olive oil for 30 minutes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced

Add, and bring to poin, cover, and simmer
  • 4 sprigs celery leaves (optional)
  • 2 large cloves garlid, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dried thyme (and/or greek oregano)
  • 1/2 a medium bunch of fresh parsely, coarsely chopped
  • the beans, if used dried
  • 8 cups water or light vegetable stock
  • 1 large can diced tomatos (or skin and dice three large tomatoes and let sit salted 15 minutes)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste diluted in 3 Tbsp water
  • 8 oz spinach, cut in thin ribbons

Simmer perhaps 20-30 minutes, adding the tomato paste and spinach in the last 5-10 minutes. Stir in
  • another 1/2 bunch of parsely
  • a little more oil

Serve hot, with
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
sprinkled over each bowl.

Bulgari Pilafi Serves 4

Heat gently in large saucepan
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
and saute until translucent
  • 1 large onion

Break up with fingers into roughly 2-inch pieces
    1/4 cup thin spaghetti, vermicelli, or angel's hair
and add to onion. Continue stirring until pasta is pale golden and arromatic, 2-3 minutes.
Soak for a few minutes to enlarge, then rinse in a fine sieve under running water
  • 2 1/4 cup coarse bulgar, picked clean
and add to pan, stirring, and add
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock (scale sublinearly)

Cover and simmer gently 7-8 minutes, until mixture looks almost dry. Cover with cloth, replace lid, and let stand off heat at least 10-15 minutes, or up to 1 hr.

Spanakopita Fills 13x15 lasagna pan, enough for 8 people as a main course

Make sure to have left the filo dough out to defrost to room temp 5 hrs before use.
Chop into uniform 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion
and saute until clead. Add
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 2 lbs fresh or frozen spinach
and saute until limp.
Mash to chunks less than 1/2 inch
  • 16 oz firm water-packed tofu (frozen and defrosted if you have time)
and add to pan, along with
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tpsp oregano
Remove from heat and drain excess water. Let cool slightly.
Preheat oven 350°F, oil a large lasagna pan, and get ready to work with filo dough: as the dough will dry quickly, don't open the package until everything is ready. Have 3-4 people working. Each sheet should be lightly oiled (so keep a brush and a bowl of oil handy) after it's placed in the the pan, and someone should keep a clean, barely moist towel over the unused dough. Anyhoo, when ready, cut open
  • 1 pound filo dough
and place individual oiled sheets, with edges hanging over edge of pan, in varying directions. Use a third of the dough (roughly 6 sheets), then fill in half the spinach, then a third of the dough, then the other half spinach, then the last third of the dough. Fold edges over or in, make sever slashes through the top of the pastry to the filling, and bake 45 minutes to 1 hr, until golden brown.

Apple filo strudel makes 3 rolls (?)

Preheat oven 350°F.
Wash, peel, core, and dice
  • 10 medium apples
to get about 14 cups. Mix in
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 cups walnuts, chopped or cuised
  • 2-3 Tpsb white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar

Prepare to work with filo dough (see above), and stack 4 sheets, individually oiled. Spoon some filling along one long edge, leaving a 2-inch boarder. Fold filo dough over filling, tuck in ends, and roll up. Brush with canola oil. Place rolls seam-side down on greased baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Slice into 1.5 inch pieces half way through roll. Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Greek Salad

We will be using
  • mixed greens
  • celery
  • onion
  • shredded carrot
  • grapes
  • feta on the side

Traditionally a summer salad would also include
  • kalamata olives or possibly capers
  • tomato
  • possibly bell pepper
whereas winter salads are normally cabbage-based. Dressing is always olive oil mixed with lemon juice; one would normally place slices of feta on top of the salad, sprinkle everything with dried oregano, and then pour the oild and lemon juice on top, but I'm going to use crumbled feta and mix the oregano into the dressing. Grapes wouldn't normally be in the salad, but I don't get olives, and it will be yummy.

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