Going Greek

David and I are big fans of Greek food, so we decided to give it a shot.  We got three different cookbooks out of the library.  A couple were disappointing, but we liked The Glorious Foods of Greece, by Diane Kochilas.  The organization was a little challenging, but we liked the emphasis on different regional dishes.  An awful lot of the recipes called for phyllo, which we both are scared of.  We’ll have to have a phyllo class sometime.

We did, however, make some good phyllo free dishes.

Dolmades filled with rice, raisins, and nuts.  Grade:  C-

The bad grade is all our fault. You are not supposed to have to spit out the unchewable leaves when eating dolmades.  It does not lead to a fine dining experience.  See, we have a big beautiful grapevine, and it seemed ridiculous to buy grape leaves in a jar, so we picked our own.  Every source we looked at suggested a different length of cooking time, so we averaged them and blanched our grape leaves for exactly five minutes.  I didn’t notice until far, far too late that these were instructions for young, fresh, naive spring leaves.  Our leaves were elderly, tough, cynical September leaves.  While the filling came out well, the leaves mocked our chewing attempts.  We’ll have to try again in the spring.

Beef smothered with onions, raisins, and paprika  Grade:  B

Janet is a vegetarian so most of the dishes we try are meatless.  However, David rebelled and demanded a meatatarian dish.  An awful lot of the Greek recipes we found called for rabbit or goat, which we discovered are not available at most grocery store in San Diego.  This stew was one of the few beef dishes.  The recipe told us to bring it to a boil, cover with a tight lid, and cook for about 40 minutes until the liquid was mostly evaporated.  I guess our lid works better than Greek lids, because after 40 minutes our stew looked like this:
We had to cook it for another half hour with the lid off to get it to the proper thickness.  The meatatarians that ate it all agreed – decent beef stew, but not anything amazing.

Greek Style Green Beans – Grade A

This dish was everybody’s favorite of the meal.  What they didn’t know was that I made up the recipe.  Hah!  Take that, cookbooks!  We had some great green beans, but I couldn’t find a Greek recipe for them, so I extrapolated from some other veggie recipes and came up with this.  I will post the recipe separately.  It was easy and delicious.

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