Going Greek

Going Greek

Greek cuisine is composed of fairly simple foods with complex flavors. Greek cuisine has a long history. Many of the traditional recipes have remained virtually the same for hundreds of years. As you prepare your Greek meal, you can enjoy the delightful flavors and think through the years of Greek history that brought these recipes to your table. Many Greek dishes are made with lamb, but if lamb isn't your favorite it can be substituted for a less strongly flavored meat, like beef.

Souvlaki is a great Greek meat recipe which combines tender meat and grilled meat. If you want, you can mix the types of meat you use and can add onion and pepper wedges to your skewers as well. Also, you can cut your meat into larger or smaller chunks depending on how large or small you like your meat skewers.

Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, curshed
4 lbs pork/lamb/chicken cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the meat making sure to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours

2. Preheat grill to medium heat. Put meat onto kebab skewers.

3. Lightly brush grill with oil. Cook the meat for 10-15 minutes or until done, be sure to turn the skewers often to ensure the meat is cooked evenly.

This is a traditional Greek sauce which has a delightful mild flavor and is great paired with Souvlaki in a pita.

2 cups plain yogurt
1-2 cucumbers, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
3 cloves of peeled garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1. Blend in a food processor or blender, yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic. Blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Moussaka is a traditional Greek eggplant casserole which combines eggplant, lamb and bechamel sauce.

3 peeled medium eggplants, cut 1/4-1/2 inch thick lengthwise slices
1 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 lb. lean ground lamb
1 cup tomatoes
bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Ground black pepper to taste
3 egg whites
1/2 bread crumbs
3 egg yolks beaten
fresh nutmeg
Grated parmesan cheese

For the Bechamel Sauce
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 cup milk
2 small onions with 2 to 3 whole cloves punched into each
1 small bay leaf

1. Generously salt the eggplant slices with sea salt in a colander and allow to drain. Set aside and let the eggplant slices drain for 25-45 minutes.

2. Saute the chopped onion until golden in 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the ground lamb and brown slowly.

3. Add the tomatos, bay leaf, red wine, nutmeg and black pepper and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.

4. While the meat sauce is cooking, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and saute on both sides until browned. Drain the slices on a paper towel, so they don't get too oily.

5. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the cooled meat sauce with the bread crumbs.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the bechamel sauce. First melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Then stir the milk in slowly. Add the onions and bay leaf continue to cook and stir the sauce until it is thick and smooth. Put the sauce in the oven for 20 minutes to cook. Strain the sauce to remove the onion and bay leaf then top with some freshly grated nutmeg.

7. Beat the egg yolks then pour some of the hot bechamel sauce and add some freshly grated nutmeg.

8. Pour the egg yolks into the bechamel sauce and mix.

9. With the oven preheated to 350 degrees, place a layer of eggplant into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Then place a layer of meat sauce. Continue layering and end with a layer of eggplant. Pour the bechamel sauce over the casserole. Top with grated parmesan.

10. Bake the casserole, uncovered, until lightly browned and heated through. Remove from the oven and allow to set for 10-20 minutes. Slice and serve.