Trust me, there are days where all I want to do is go to a taverna and eat roasted lamb off the spit, a greek salad, and roasted lemon potatoes.
Other days I’m inspired to play with flavors, fusion, presentation, and ingredients of my home cuisine.
Years ago for a dinner party, I used kataifi (a dried pasta type pastry-the greek version of angel hair pasta)- that is usually used for a *divine* honey soaked dessert- I used it instead to wrap scallops in a light nest before baking. The result was a nice play in texture- the crispy kataifi offset the softly tender scallops, with a nice balsamic reduction.
(I have to admit though that one of my dinner party guests-yes, Jamie, you– did not like the kataifi and peeled it off to eat the scallops by themselves!) But everyone else liked it!
I’ll share a few of my past favorite experiments:
In this recipe I like to combine Greek and French cuisine:
POACHED SALMON IN OUZO-FENNEL SAUCE
I poach the salmon in a great greek white wine that i get from a local dealer that i love-use whichever greek wine you like! And infuse the cream sauce with greek flavors…
It makes 3-4 servings
here’s the recipe:
- 8 (3/4-inch-wide) slices center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 to 2 lb total), skinned
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups dry white greek wine of your choice
- 1 1/2 cups more of the Greek white wine
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fennel
- 2 teaspoons ouzo
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- a few tbs butter
Simmer wine with shallot in a 2-quart heavy saucepan until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Add cream and return to a simmer. Pour through fine sieve into another small heavy saucepan, pressing on and discarding shallot. Simmer sauce until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Stir together fennel and ouzo and whisk into sauce. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes, then stir in salt and pepper.
Butter bottom of a deep 12-inch heavy skillet and arrange salmon in it. Add 1 cup wine and enough water to just cover fish, then top with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper, buttered side down. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat, then reduce heat and poach at a bare simmer until salmon is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes from time heat is turned on. Transfer with a slotted spatula to plates.
While fish is poaching, bring sauce to a simmer over moderate heat. Swirl butter into the mix to thicken. Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve with salmon.
***OR for a healthier sauce-use greek yogurt mixed with lemon zest and chopped dill to top on each cut of salmon. easy and low calorie!
Instead of baklava,
BAKLAVA ICE CREAM
5 egg yolks
1 pint (500ml) milk
1/2 pint (250ml) double/heavy cream
2-3 tsp cinnamon (depending on how strong you want the cinammon flavor)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup honey
4oz ground toasted walnuts, or pistachios or a mix (i like the mix)-toast the nuts with a mix of some brown sugar and few tbs. of melted butter to make even better!
1 teaspoon vanilla or rose essence
Beat together the egg yolks and honey in mixing bowl.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point, then simmer. Whilst it’s simmering stir in the egg yolks/honey mixture. Continue to stir until it thickens.
Remove from the heat, strain and leave to cool.
Stir in the cream, the vanilla essence, and cinnamon and then transfer the whole mixture into an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When almost frozen, add the chopped nuts.
When serving, I recommend serving in phyllo cups, adding a caramelized rose petal, cinnamon stick or dash of cinnamon, or you can drizzle a homemade rose flavored caramel sauce. There’s always room for your own innovation and creativity.
I have a reservation at Koukoumavlos in Santorini for my upcoming vacation, where chef Nick Pouliasis is known for his wild combinations of flavors. He pushes Greek cuisine to the limit. I look forward to being inspired by his food, and of course enjoying it…:)
Greek haute and modern cuisine is becoming more and more popular, here in Greece of course, but also New York and San Francisco.
(Check out this review of gourmet greek restaurants in New York: http://www.kerasma.gr/default.asp?entryID=384&siteid=1&pageid=96&tablepageid=35&langid=2 )