Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Southern Girl Goes Greek!

We were having company for dinner and I wanted to do something different. Greek sounded good to me for a hot summer night! Thanks to my DH for grilling! We had a lovely dinner with homemade pita. After many years of trying others, this recipe worked!  The little pockets puffed up in the oven and looked beautiful! I'm making up for lost time and posting ALL of the recipes from our dinner! I hope you'll try some or all and let me know what you like best!

Greek Dinner for 4 ( with lots of leftovers!)

Watermelon Feta Salad
Herbed Grilled Veggies
Marinated Pork with Tzatziki Sauce
Plain Pita Bread
Lemon Ice Cream
Sugar Cookies

Watermelon Feta Salad

I halved the recipe and had plenty leftover! 
1 7-8 lb. seedless watermelon, chilled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 limes, juiced
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best)

Note: This salad is best made just prior to serving. Prepare one hour or less before your meal.
Cut rind from the watermelon, then chop the fruit into 1 inch chunks. Place chunks in a colander to drain as your chop.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper to create a dressing.
Place watermelon in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing and chopped mint over the watermelon and toss gently to coat.
Pour the crumbled feta into the salad bowl and stir gently to integrate the cheese into the salad. Serve.
The salt and the citrus in the dressing will activate the juices in the watermelon, so a lot of liquid will collect in the bottom of the salad bowl. This is normal, and does not affect the flavor. To avoid having liquid transfer to your plate, serve the salad with a slotted spoon.

Plain Pita
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 packet or scant tablespoon active dry yeast
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 scant tablespoon salt
Pitas are best made ahead of time so they'll have a chance to cool and deflate before you fill them. So if you're going biking or hiking on the weekend, you'll probably want to make them up during the week.

If you work away from home during the day or even if you work at home, you can make up a sponge, with about half the flour. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going. When you get back to the sponge later on, add the salt and enough flour to make a dough that is a bit stiff, one that you can easily knead by hand.

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and bouncy, adding only enough more flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Give it a rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten and make it more cooperative about being shaped. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and then roll each piece with a floured rolling pin, or a pin with a cover, on a floured surface into a circle about 6-inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. You may need to let the pieces rest occasionally to relax the dough.

Sprinkle baking sheets with cornmeal, and place two circles on each. Or place circles on pieces of parchment paper. Let the dough circles rest here for at least 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to a hot 500°F.

When the pita circles have finished resting, place the baking sheet on the oven bottom or, if this is not possible, on the lowest rack. If you're using a baking stone, make sure it's on the oven floor, or on the lowest rack. Use a peel to transfer the pitas-on-parchment to the stone. Close the oven door and keep it shut for 1 minute. Don't peek or the pocket may not form. It's this initially fast, hot searing of the outside dough of the pita that makes it separate from the inside. The carbon dioxide gas created by the yeast expands inside and accentuates the separation until the pita blows up like a balloon and the pocket is created.

At the end of the minute, place the sheet on a rack higher in the oven and continue baking anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes, until the pitas have blown up into balloons and are lightly browned. If the pitas baked right on the stone, you'll probably want to transfer them to a baking sheet, which is already in place on the oven rack, for this second part of their baking. When they're done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the pitas off and let them cool. They will probably deflate somewhat after cooling. Once they're thoroughly cool you can press more air out of them so they take up less storage room.

From several years ago:

 Pork with Tzatziki Sauce

I am forever indebted to my Cousin Carol for sharing her recipe for Taztziki Pork! It has become one of our favorites for grilling season. You can use pork loin, cubed or pork tenderloin (whole or cubed) or just boneless pork chops. You can't go wrong with this recipe! Serve the skewers with pita bread, sauce and roasted peppers.

Pork Marinade
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced (or more!)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning
3 ½ pounds pork, cubed

Mix ingredients in large glass measuring cup. Pour into Ziploc bag, add pork, seal and refrigerate several hours. Remove from marinade, skewer pork cubes and grill.

Tzatziki Sauce
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, grated, drained
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed (or more!)

Grate cucumber. Place in colander lined with a large coffee filter; add salt, let drain (overnight,if you can). Squeeze out moisture. Combine with remaining ingredients.

These are as good cold as they are warm! Pouring the sauce/marinade over the cooked veggies allows them to absorb the flavors. Grill enough for leftovers. You'll be glad you did! Add your favorite veggies.... thick slices of onion, tomato halves... etc.... these are one of our favorites!

Grilled Herbed Summer Veggies
1 large eggplant
2 med yellow squash
2 med zucchini
2 med red peppers
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, thyme or tarragon, chopped

Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Sprinkle with salt on both sides and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse salt from eggplant; pat dry with paper towels.

Cut squash and zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut pepper into 1-inch wide strips. Brush all vegetables lightly with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place on grill over medium heat. Grill for 8 minutes on each side or until fork tender and brown. Remove from heat, place in a serving dish with sides. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley and basil. Pour over cooked vegetables. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Easy Lemon Ice Cream

1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream ( I used 1/2 and 1/2 because that was what I had!)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup lemon juice ( next time, I will reduce to 1/2 cup because this was too bitter!)

Mix cream, milk, sugar, zest and salt in saucepan until sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil.
Beat the yolks in a bowl until light yellow.
Pour the hot cream mixture into beaten yolks gradually and stirring constantly.
Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until it coats the back of the spoon (3-5 minutes).  Stir constantly; don’t let it boil!
Stir in lemon juice and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Chill in the fridge about 3 hours.
Transfer to the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Spoon into an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Take it out of freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.