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Monday, 22-May-2017 21:03:22 EDT
recipe: greek-style meal plan
by SHEILA QUINN
FOOD & DRINK

CULINARY TRAVELS: GREECE

A few weeks ago, an epiphany struck – and, thus, a new series of 'Food & Drink' for SayItCanada has begun. This is the first of hopefully several future entries. We're going 'Greek-style' with this one!

Grilled pork, chicken, prawns, and veggies

As some of my readers may be quite aware by now, I absolutely hate to cook. Simply deciding what to make my family for dinner increases my chances of developing a migraine and an ulcer in an instant. I can't stand it, to make a decision that inevitably results in trapping me in the kitchen for an extended period of time? Oh, no... just no-no-no-no! So one night, I asked my children where they 'would like to go' the following day... They were thrilled at the prospect of going somewhere – anywhere! Sure, I laughed at them, and then explained what I had meant, "What cultural food would you like for tomorrow night's dinner?"

"Turkey! Do they eat turkey in Turkey?" one piped up, quickly followed by, "Russia!"

And then, "Syria!"

Seriously, they were not helpful! It was almost as if they had no idea what cultural foods I have made for them their entire lives, like – you know – the Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Greek, Mexican, Spanish, and French dishes? Something like that? I mean, what the heck do they eat in Syria?

Syria. I wasn't amused then but I can allow mysef to laugh about it now. Ya... Syria.

Well, I guess that one's reserved for some online research – along with Turkey – because I can honestly say that my interest has been piqued... but Russia? Yech! Don't get me wrong, I've had the occasional rendevouz with beautiful, gorgeous Vodka – but boiled cabbage? Umm, no thanks! Anything boiled is just not for me!

So that night we decided on adapting several Greek dishes and settled on Roasted Mini Potatoes and Cauliflower with Curry, an assortment of Kebabs, Lemon Fried Rice, Greek Salad, and a sampling of store-bought flatbread dipping sauces. This entry (and associated recipes) is a lot more in-depth than my usual ones so it is best to reserve this meal plan for the weekend... You know who you are!

The great news about this exercise with my children is that I am finally able to age-appropriately involve them in the process of making dinner – and they seem to be somewhat enjoying it! I will fully admit that the inspiration for these 'travels' came to me from Michelle Mah, a good friend of mine and SayItCanada Columnist who blogs her family's traditional dishes – new and old – for her children to discover when they get older. Michelle has become a great Asian cuisine resource for my own family's culinary adventures! Don't forget to check her out!

So let's get started. The recipes below are listed in order of 'time required' with one exception: marinading the kebabs is best done from the night before if you can be that organized... and we're also including a recipe for Tzatziki if you are feeling extra adventurous.

The suggested dishes are for an entire meal plan that you are welcome to adopt or modify yourself. Please enjoy!

GREEK-STYLE MEAL PLAN

  • TRACY'S TZATZIKI FLATBREAD DIP:
  • 750ml plain yogurt
  • 500ml sour cream
  • 1 english cucumber
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed preferred
  • coffee filters
  • small and medium-sized metal sieves
  • ROASTED MINI POTATOES AND CAULIFLOWER WITH CURRY:
  • 1pkg mini potatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4Tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp curry powder
  • chives
  • LEMON FRIED RICE:
  • 1/4lb butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed preferred
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • KEBABS:
  • 2 pork hearts, cut in square chunks
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut in square chunks
  • 10-20 prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced
  • 4-6 small tomatoes
  • skewers
  • KEBAB GRILLING SAUCE:
  • 1/2lb butter, melted
  • 1Tbsp garlic powder or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • (or use your favourite Greek grilling sauce)
  • GREEK SALAD:
  • 1/2 head romaine or iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 3 tomatoes, cut in quarters or 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 10-20 black olives
  • 6Tbsp olive oil
  • 2Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

If you're so inclined, begin preparing the Tzatziki first thing in the morning or the night before – but if you intend to serve store-bought Tzatziki, skip these seven steps that were shared with us by one of our readers, Tracy Graham-Urwin.

Tracy's Tzatziki Flatbread Dip

Drain the liquid from your yogurt and sour cream through a metal sieve lined with coffee filters. Make sure that your bowl is deep enough so that the liquid does not come into contact with the bottom of the sieve while draining.

Store in fridge for about six hours, stirring occasionally throughout for even draining.

Wash, cut, and remove the seeds from your cucumber. Grate 3/4 of the cucumber with a standard cheese grater. Strain the grated cucumber separately from the yogurt and sour cream with another smaller metal sieve. It helps to speed the process if you squeeze the moisture out with your hands first, then add a dash of salt to further remove the moisture from the cucumber.

Store in fridge while it drains.

Mince your garlic cloves.

Combine all ingredients and stir. Add lemon juice. Stir.

Refridgerate until you're ready to serve. FYI, the longer this dipping sauce is in the fridge, the more potent it becomes! Enjoy!

–––

If you're not making the Tzatziki from scratch, start here. Wash and cut all vegetables listed in the ingredients section – this will save you so much time! Try to keep in mind what you are going to fry, roast, and skewer for the barbeque / grilling. Divide each of the vegetables in separate bowls according to the various dishes listed above.

Do the same for the meat / seafood – rinse (seafood) and cut up meat for skewring.

 

Roasted Mini Potatoes and Cauliflower With Curry

The roasted potatoes take the absolute longest so start with them while your Tzatziki is in the fridge... Boil a pot of water before you do anything else!

Preheat oven to 450F.

Wash mini potatoes and slice them in half. Add to boiled pot of water for 10-15mins. Test for tenderness with a fork.

While the potatoes are boiling, wash and slice cauliflower head like you would slice a loaf of bread.

When the mini potatoes are ready, drain and add to a roasting pan with cauliflower, olive oil, curry, and chives. Mix well.

Roast for 15-20mins or until the potatoes are golden crispy. Flip every five minutes for optimal results.

 

Lemon Fried Rice

While the potato dish is roasting in the oven, melt butter on low heat in a large skillet.

Add chopped onion and stir until the onion bits are translucent over medium heat.

Add rice. Stir over high heat until rice becomes a semi-golden colour and is fully coated by the butter.

Center the rice in the pan and slowly add chicken stock and lemon juice to its center to prevent splattering and splatter-burns. Stir quickly.

Cover and simmer for 10mins. Stir to prevent sticking and burning. Then cover and simmer for another 10mins.

Turn off heat, uncover, stir, and let it stand for 5mins. Transfer to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

 

Kebabs

While the rice is simmering, heat your barbeque / grill accordingly.

Skewer vegetables and meat. Make sure that the skewers contain 'like' items as each take different times to cook: pork skewers, chicken skewers, prawn skewers, and veggie skewers.

Combine all ingredients for the grilling sauce or use your favourite. Brush sauce on each kebab liberally and reapply as needed.

Place the pork and chicken skewers on the grill first and turn until the grilling sauce crystallizes to prevent 'sticking' on the grill. Turn every few minutes for 15-20mins.

Repeat with prawn skewers turning every few minutes for 10mins then repeat with veggie skewers turning every few minutes to desired consistency.

 

Greek Salad

Combine all washed and cut ingredients into a salad bowl.

Add the dressing and toss gently.

Crumble feta cheese on top.

Serve immediately.

–––

So there you have it... A Greek-style dinner to be enjoyed by everyone in the family over the weekend. If you're feeling extra fancy, serve with warm Greek Flatbread, Tzatziki, and Hummus as well.

Leftovers are great (with the exception of the salad, so don't make too much!) and ideal for lunch the following day at work or school.

Other culinary travels coming up: Japanese, Mexican, and Italian.

 


Sheila Quinn
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