Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Greek Feast

We rang in the New Years with a wonderful Greek Feast prepared by moi, and sides brought by friends. I prepared Baklava, Spanakopita(spinach pie), and Dolmades filling.(Instead of rolling the stuffed grape leaves for 20+ people). By popular demand I was asked to post my recipes so here goes!

1 lb. Fresh spinach OR
10 oz. Frozen spinach (I prefer the frozen)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley chopped
2 T Olive Oil or butter (for saute)
1 Large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 lb. Feta cheese
2 T Fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 package phyllo dough
2 sticks melted butter(for brushing the dough)
4 Eggs
FRESH SPINACH: Rinse and stem the spinach, chop into small pieces or tear into shreds. Drain well to thoroughly dry.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil or melt the butter. Add the spinach, parsley,onions and saute until the spinach wilts and cooks down, approximately 5-minutes. Transfer to a sieve and drain well; set aside in large mixing bowl.
FROZEN SPINACH: Thaw thoroughly, drain real well. I also squeeze/press the water from it. Place in large mixing bowl.
In medium pan, saute the onions until translucent;with the parsley and garlic,
add to bowl containing thawed spinach. Let cool, then mix with eggs and Feta.
Lay 6 phyllo sheets in the pan, lightly brushing each with oil or melted butter before adding the next layer. Brush all the edges first since that is where drying will begin.
Spoon half of the spinach mixture over the top of the phyllo and carefully spread evenly to within about 1/2 inch of the edges.
Lay 6 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each one with oil or melted butter before adding the next layer.
Spread the remaining spinach mixture over the top.
Finish off with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each as previously done.
Cover and chill for about 30 minutes to set.
Bake at 350 degrees.
Bake until golden, about 30-minutes. Test by inserting a table knife to the center. If it comes out relatively clean, your spanakopita is done. Don't let this go beyond golden brown.
Let cool for 5 to10-minutes to set, then cut into squares.

1 pound (4 cups) walnuts, finely ground (be careful to not over-grind or you'll end up with a nut paste). This can be done ahead of time, put into an air-tight container or zip-lock bag and stored in refrigerator. (You may use any combination of nuts, I used almonds and cashews for this last round of baklava).
3/4 Cups sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie seasoning
1 pound package of phyllo pastry
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, melted (for brushing phyllo)

2 Cups water
3/4 Cup sugar (or less, depending on your sweet-tooth)
2 Teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 Cup orange blossom honey (I use less sugar, more honey)

Combine ground walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in large bowl.
Brush bottom of baking pan liberally with melted butter; place 1 sheet of phyllo in bottom of pan and brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat until you have 6-8 sheets. EVERY sheet will be brushed with butter.
Sprinkle top sheet of phyllo evenly, with approximately 1/4 cup nut mixture.
Cover with 2 buttered phyllo sheets.
Repeat the layering/buttering process until the nut mixture is used up.
Place 8 more sheets of phyllo on top, buttering each sheet.
TIP: The phyllo sheets may not exactly fit your pan; if the overage begins to build along the sides of the pan, just fold them down onto the layers. The last 2 sheets on top should be folded UNDER for better presentation.
With SHARP knife, cut Baklava into small diamond-shaped pieces (about 1-1/2 inches). Try to make your cut deep to the bottom of the pan. When you begin making the diagonal cut, which will form the diamond shape and individual pieces, you may need to hold the top layers of phyllo in place with your fingers. They tend to slide around.
While Baklava is in the oven, prepare the SYRUP:
Combine in a 2 quart saucepan: water with all ingredients EXCEPT the honey. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the honey and simmer about 5 minutes more. Remove from the stove and allow to cool.
When Baklava is done, remove from oven and immediately pour the cool syrup evenly over the hot pastry, a little at a time until used up. It may appear that the Baklava is swimming in the syrup, but this will be absorbed in a couple of hours
Let the Baklava stand in the pan overnight in a cool place, or in your refrigerator if it's necessary.

Dolmade Filling:
1 lb ground beef or ground lamb
2 cups uncooked white Basmati rice
4 cups water
1 package frozen french style green beans
1 4oz package of crumbled Feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 packages brand Simply Organic World Of Taste Dolmades Seasoning.

In skillet brown most the meat, place in pot with water, rice, beans, oil, garlic, and seasoning packets. (Feta will be added at the end of cooking.) Bring to a boil and simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is soft and fluffy. When done add Feta and fluff rice to stir.

I served store bought Tzaziki sauce for putting on the spanikopita and rice mixture.
Also served was some wonderful homemade bread, that had feta and bitter greens in it, a greek style salad, and some wonderfully seasoned oven baked potatoes.

The food was great, and the company was wonderful. This is the second New Years that we had Greek food at, and although we are not really Greek, we pln on doing this for many New Years to come. No real reason other than we love the food!

No comments: