Salt preserved sardines and anchovies prepared for meze
We are grateful to our parents for so many things. They supported us, financially, emotionally and nutritionally, throughout all of our schooling. They showered us with love, attention and encouragement every day, and they balanced their praise with enough well-deserved disapproval to keep us humble and in check. This of course does not mean that we are perfect, but as parents, they kind of are.
We don’t know about you, but in our homes, melitzanosalata often plays second and third fiddle to some of the other, more popular Greek dips like tzatziki and taramosalata. This is a shame, and every time we do have melitzanosalata, we vow to make it again very soon; it is so good, so easy, and pretty good for you too. It is also a great way to use up any eggplant surplus from the garden when you don’t feel like eggplant chips (actually…we always feel like eggplant chips), or you don’t have the time to invest in making moussaka.
Gardening is a joy, and it really is a blessing to be able to walk into your backyard and pick supper. Sometimes however, everything seems to ripen at once, and you find yourself with a surplus of vegetables. This is never really a problem, as the non-gardeners in our lives very appreciatively relieve us of our excess. But we have learned that some veggies are less popular than others; eggplant seems to be one of those vegetables. No one has ever turned their nose at a bag of vine-ripened garden tomatoes. Cucumbers are welcomed with a smile, and zucchini are greeted with glee…but eggplant? Eggplant often gets a “it’s not you, it’s me” reaction.
We love food; we love to eat food, write about food and talk about food. It must run in the family, because we have recently (like right now) been enjoying a visit from our Australian cousin. Along with showing off our beautiful city, hanging out with all of our cousins, and hearing about the perils of living down under (we have decided that Aussies are much braver than us Canadians!), we have found ourselves constantly talking about food…possibly because we are always eating. We have been having a truly beautiful time.
If you have never had cheese saganaki…we’re sorry. But, we’re also really happy that you are reading this, because now, you’ll be able to make this easy, fantastic cheese appetizer for yourself, and anyone else you want to be really nice to.
Our parents have made this fried cheese meze many ways over the years, and each method was quite delicious…because, fried cheese! But, the winner method and recipe actually comes from Akis Petretzikis (sorry Ma and Ba). If you love Greek food, you have most certainly heard of this young, hip, tattooed Greek chef. He is very handsome popular! In fact, his website, Akis Kitchen was recently voted Number 1 of the Top 40 Greek Food Blogs. Another fun fact, Mia Kouppa, (just a few months after we posted our first recipe), was voted NUMBER 9 on that same list! What!!??? We know….crazy!!! And wonderful!!
We try really hard to be good people, and that includes living in a way which helps respect and protect our environment. We compost, we recycle and re-use, we try and limit our carbon footprint and we re-purpose whenever and whatever we can. Therefore, in the spirit of making something old, new again, we’ve decided to re-share a recent recipe. By presenting it in a different way, it serves a new, delicious purpose.
Several months ago we came across a video clip of an Italian-American comedian named Sebastien Maniscalco. In this particular bit, entitled “Doorbell”, Chicago-born Maniscalco compares the reaction of families today versus those of twenty years ago, when the doorbell rings unexpectedly. His portrayal of households faced with unanticipated company (which you should definitely watch by clicking here) is quite hilarious, and also, a little bit sad. As with most things comedic, an element of truth runs through it. Why do people, as Maniscalco points out, cringe at the thought of company? Why does the idea of entertaining, especially at the last minute, stress us so? We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to, and that with a change of perspective and some staples in the freezer, fridge and pantry, you can jump for joy when company comes calling.
Ask most non-Greeks what their favourite Greek food is and we think that a large majority of them will say spanakopita. Perhaps this is because spanakopita is so easy to pronounce, not requiring the guttural sounds difficult to articulate unless you have practiced them since birth. Although this is true, it must be more than mere phonetics. We actually think that spanakopita are so revered because they are, in a word, yummy.
Spanakopita are perfect in so many ways, and there are so many ways to prepare them. Here we have chosen to share the recipe for what we affectionately call spanakopitakia; the -kia tagged on to the end illustrating that these particular spanakopita are small and adorable. Made with store-bought phyllo, they are actually pretty easy (albeit time consuming) to make. In future posts we plan to introduce other variations of spanakopita, including those made with home-made phyllo dough. We dream about one day having a whole category of recipes called “Pitas”. No…really…we actually dream about this stuff, like, in our sleep. #losers
Christmas is coming and for many people of the Greek Orthodox faith the hustle and bustle of shopping, tree trimming and holiday baking is accompanied by a period of lent. Nisteia, or fasting, is meant to be a spiritual preparation for an experience of deeper connection with God and it occurs several times during the year. The Christmas fast begins on November 15 and lasts until December 24. During this time, the consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs on most days, as well as oil and wine on specific days, is prohibited. Shellfish however, such as shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters, and squid (calamari), are permissible most of the time. Cue the fried calamari.
This is a recipe which garners much ooh-ing and aah-ing when it is served. Funny, because it is actually a very simple and quick meal to prepare, particularly if you find calamari which is already cleaned. So, whether you are Greek Orthodox or not, whether you are fasting or not, go ahead and try this fancy, not fancy, meal.
It’s hard to know exactly what makes these meatballs so delicious, but we have a few ideas. These bite sized morsels are made with a mixture of two types of meat, are perfectly spiced, and because they are fried you end up with a meatball which is crispy on the outside but soft and juicy on the inside. Meatball perfection.
Our parents often serve these meatballs as meze (appetizers) or as part of a buffet dinner. Occasionally they will be an easy lunch or supper, served with a batch of homemade French fries and some feta cheese. So good! The only problem with these meatballs is that they are so small, and so delicious, if you are not careful you can end up eating about 45 of them without even realizing it (not that anyone is counting of course).