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Posts Tagged ‘orange vinaigrette recipe’

Today is a special day here in Greece. It marks the 1821 uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Every March 25th, when I was a little girl, I dressed up in traditional costumes like the one below and said Greek poems and danced in our Church! But I’m not posting the pictures my parents have of me…no way 🙂

This day we also celebrate the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary-when she was informed by Archangel Gabriel that she would conceive and bear Christ.

This celebratory day falls during Lent, when we are supposed to be fasting from meat, fish, and dairy. Not everybody chooses to fast all of these food items, but for those that do- today is the exception!

The traditional meal is Fried Salt Cod, Skordalia (a very garlicky garlic potato mash- that is an understatement), Boiled Beets with vinegar, Tarama (Carp Roe smooth spread made with bread and lemon juice and oil), and some type of Sautéed Greens.

At the market yesterday, everyone was picking through the huge selection of beets and cod and I was excited usually one of my family members hosts on this day (and it’s always great!), but this year I wanted to try it myself in my own way.

Now I love traditional cooking as a means of connecting with my heritage, family, and the warmth of familiarity and memory. BUT I just love to put my own spin on dishes. And there are some dishes I just don’t like. Here is my own riff on each traditional plate:

* These recipes make 4 servings*

The Cod– I stuck with tradition by buying the heavily salted fresh cod. For two days I kept it in water in the fridge, and changed the water 3 or 4 times a day to release the salt.

I am not deep frying it for caloric reasons- but I will make a batter and fry it lightly in a non-stick pan. It will still get crispy and scrumptious, it just won’t be drowned in oil. For 1 & 1/2 lbs of cod, mix 1 cup of flour,  1/8 tsp baking powder, 1 tsb lemon-pepper seasoning, and 1tsp cayenne

Warm 1 cup of milk and mix in a package of yeast- mix this into the flour mixture- cover and leave it for an hour or so.  (I think the addition of yeast makes the batter extra light and crispy-especially since we won’t be deep frying).

Then dip the cod into this mixture, shake off excess, and fry when oil is hot. Do NOT fidget with the fish. Let it crisp up nicely and then turn over- around 4 minutes per side.

Skordalia- I love garlic, but I really don’t like how garlicky traditional Skordalia is. If you want it with that intensity, just add more garlic cloves than I have in my recipe below:

Boil 1 lb potatoes until tender and save the cooking water. Mash the potatoes or put through a ricer to make super fine.

Mash two or three cloves of garlic with some salt to make a paste.

Use an electric mixer to mash the potatoes with the garlic, and add 1/4 cup olive oil  1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt, and 2 tbs aged sherry vinegar- then add as much of the potato cooking water to make your desired consistency.

(This recipe was inspired by a skordalia recipe from 7 seas restaurant in Thessaloniki)

Tarama (Roe Spread)- My Aunt Anna makes the best Tarama I have ever had in my life! I asked her for her recipe. Tarama can never be distilled into a concrete recipe though, because it is one of those things you just have to keep tasting and mixing and deciding for yourself. I hope I can get it close to hers!

You need 300 grams (10 ounces) of good quality white roe, 10-12 slices of country bread (without crust) soaked in water, 1 cup fresh lemon juice, and 2/3 cup oil. (I use olive oil but it is lighter with corn oil).

Squeeze as much liquid out of the soaked bread as you can. Blend it with the roe with a blender or electric mixer. Add lemon and olive oil alternately and little by little otherwise the ingredients will not incorporate. Just keep mixing, adding, etc. I think it tastes amazing with a lot of acidity so I add more lemon juice than oil. But this is really up to you.

The Beets I love beets but I just cannot stand them boiled to mush and drowned in vinegar. Until last year I thought I hated beets because this is the only way I had tasted it!

I love beets either raw and juilliened in salads, or roasted. I am experimenting with Niko today because he also claims to hate beets. I am preparing them two different ways for him to see if he might eat them the non-traditional way. So the first way is just by simply cutting the beets in half after cleaning their skins well, and roasting in a 200C/375F degree oven until they are tender but still have some bite. I will sprinkle some olive oil, sea salt and pepper and that is it! Other times I let them cool and top with yogurt and walnuts, or goat cheese or feta cheese, but for today I will keep it simple.

Greens: I enjoy wilted greens but I was in the mood for uncooked greens for a brighter flavor next to these rather heavy dishes. So I made an arugula salad with matchstick slices of pear, fennel, and raw beets with an orange vinaigrette. (I recently read that beets are most healthy and anti-carcinogenic when they are raw! And I thought maybe Niko might like the taste this way as well- so we shall see…)

The orange vinaigrette is just a mix of a few tbs of fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 tbs vinegar, 1 tbs dijon mustard, 1 tbs minced garlic, and then 5 tbs olive oil- blended together very well. This salad really adds a bright and light component to the meal.

For dessert- again, I want something light after all the potato and bread and oil in the side dishes- so I am mixing fresh raspberries with lots of chopped fresh mint leaves and a dash of amaretto- this is an idea I got from my Aunt Ven. The amaretto with strawberries is one of the best fruit salad combinations I have ever tasted!

Niko brought a nice barrel Assyrtiko Santorini wine and I can’t wait to crack it open and enjoy this meal.

These recipes of course can inspire you at any date or any day of the week-doesn’t have to be March 25th.  I hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you do! Xronia Polla!

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The night of my dinner party was the first really cold night here in Greece, and it set the tone well for my Fall French Bistro fare. (Admittedly, cold for us here is 45-50F…I still cannot convert to Celsius!)

It was also Halloween night!! I nearly forgot, but my friends Peggy and Ted brought a huge, hella festive cake. I used to live in San Francisco, so I still use lame words like “hella” sometimes. forgive me. Here’s a pic:

IMG_0776So we kept some of the American tradition alive!

The rest of the meal, however, was very French. As I mentioned in my last post, the menu was: Smoked Salmon Mousse, Blanquette de Veau, Pomme Anna, Two Cheese Plates, and Chocolate Mousse with Candied Almonds.

Making this salmon mousse is effortless and decadent.

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I whipped up chopped bits of smoked salmon with marscapone, a drizzle of lemon juice, and sea salt & pepper. You can also use ricotta cheese, or any smooth farmer’s cheese. You may prefer ricotta if you want a lighter, airier texture. The mascarpone makes a thicker texture.

The ratio is 1/2 cup cheese for every 200 grams salmon. This makes enough for 12 people to have 2 or 3 bites. 20 minutes before guests arrived, I spread them on round melba toasts, and topped each one with a caper and some dill.

Meanwhile, my blanquette de veau and potato tart (pomme anna) was  re-heating.

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The heavenly veal-mushroom-parsnip-carrot-leek aroma filled the kitchen. I snuck a bite and the meat was like butter. Boiling the veal first and then letting it stew in broth must be the most effective technique I’ve used for preparing veal. I used this recipe from epicurious, but instead of celery root, I used parsnips, and instead of pearl onions, I used leeks. I highly recommend using leeks. They unravel and absorb beautifully into the stew. I also used half chicken broth and half beef broth.

Right before serving I made the “white sauce” by making a roux of butter and flour and then adding cooking juices, and some heavy cream.

Honestly, the veal tastes amazing even without this sauce. But I really do like this very thin gravy that almost gets totally soaked into the meat. It adds a very subtle creamy-ness. My boyfriend Niko, who hates creamy sauces, did not even notice the cream.

I made my Pomme Anne and while everyone seemed to like it, I prefer a light potato gratin with chicken stock made with thicker slices of potato. So I will go back to that recipe next time. Here’s a picture though:

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I loved this simple salad. Very few ingredients with BOLD flavors: Spicy arugula, licorice fennel, and a citrus orange vinaigrette:

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For the orange vinaigrette I mix a few tbs of sherry vinegar, 2 tbs honey, (1 tbs of dijon if i want it creamy and a bit spicy), 1 tbs diced garlic, 2 tbs orange zest, and juice of one orange. Whiz this up and add olive oil until it is to your desired taste and texture.

I made two cheese plates. One was a peppercorn blue cheese that I drizzled lightly with honey. The other was baked camembert spread with apricot jam and sprinkled with thinly sliced almonds.

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So this was the meal! I thought of serving cheese after dinner along with dessert like the French…but I worried no one would have any room.

We all made room for dessert though! Now, I love chocolate mousse. But I think there needs to be some variety to its one-note smooth texture. I love the airy quality, but something hard or crunchy makes it all the better in my opinion. I made candied almonds to top it with, and it worked well.

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I piped the mousse onto every plate and topped with the almonds. Again, very quick yet very elegant.

You can eat the candied almonds all by themselves! Totally addictive. And it takes 15 minutes! Just put 1 cup thinly sliced almonds, and 1 cup sugar in a pan and stir constantly over medium heat. Once toasted, golden, and the sugar has melted and sticks to the almonds, youre done! Store in an airtight container until you use them, and try not to eat them all before your party!

We had such a nice night. My friends brought that great cake and some very good red wine. We chatted, savoured, laughed, indulged. It was my version of a wonderful night.

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