Monday, April 27, 2009

back from the dead!

Well not really, but having no camera cord is NO JOKE!

This is going to be an epic post!

Where to start, where to start… let’s keep the “back from the dead” theme and start with Easter!

When you are Greek, Easter is IT.

pascha table

This is actually only part of the table. All the lamb is further down on the left. And it totally excludes the MULTITUDE of desserts!

pascha eggs

I love the blood red eggs. Every year you have a contest by smashing each others’ eggs into one another, and seeing which one breaks. Whoever has the last, triumphant egg supposedly gets good luck for a year. My uncle has it down to an ART. His egg selection is a long, complicated process.

pascha plate

This is my plate, but is NO MEANS a reflection of everything I ate on Easter. I have to say it was absolutely wonderful to just relax and eat delicious homemade food and just remember what hospitality and holidays are all about: being with the people you love, enjoying their company, enjoying the food and the abundance and the happiness around you.

This particular selection is spanikopita (my aunt Kathy’s is the BEST!), beet greens, orzo, roasted potatoes, lamb that I made! (it was a new recipe: you rubbed the lamb with salt, pepper, olive oil and ghee mixture, garlic, grated onion, harissa- which is Middle Eastern chili paste, cumin, paprika, and tons of parsley and cilantro. Then you roast it, and for the last part of the roasting time you pour a broth you make by steeping saffron and hot water into the pan to kind of infuse the lamb. It was the BOMB DIGGITY!), Greek salad, and little appetizers- pita bread with taramasalata (fish roe whipped up with lotsa lemon juice and goodness- it’s FAB!) and baba ghanouj that my cousin made basically just throwing everything in her kitchen in, which was awesome, and hummus. Oooh and BEETS! Like most families, my family is divided between beet haters and lovers (I am a reformed hater turned lover) and man oh man those beets were great.

Again, that plate is maybe, MAYBE 1/3 of what I actually ate. It was wonderful :D

And then there was dessert :D Koulouraikia, the traditional Eastern cookie- its claim to fame is its shape, which is rolled up. My uncle’s in laws brought key lime pie and strawberry pie which were untraditional but THE BEST KEY LIME AND STRAWBERRY PIES I HAVE EVER TASTED. I actually had no official serving of the baklava I made but ate so many “crumbs” from the pan that I probably had the equivalent of five pieces :D

Now onto this week. The week following Easter in the Orthodox tradition is known as Bright Week. The end of fasting! Yay! I lovingly call it “carnivore week”.

steak tips

Sirloin tips… are AWESOME! They are so user friendly! I always make my steak either charred or raw, but these broiled beautifully, and with the marinade ended up so tender and lovely!

I used this recipe and followed it to the T (except that I halved it to make 2 4-oz servings). I highly recommend the marinade.

The first, hot and served with roasted turnips and asparagus. YUM! Look how perfect and medium rare that is! I am in shock that I pulled that off!

steak tips n veg

The second, cold, on top a salad of mixed greens, asparagus, cucs, baby bella mushrooms, and lemon dressing, with a Trader Joe’s apocryphal pita on the side.

steak salad

I’ve also had a good amount of turkey sandwiches. This one was with mustard on spelt bread, with the last of the black bean soup and an apple on the side.

turkey sammich 1

This one was on a whole wheat English muffin with chunky pesto and an apple on the side (I’m sure I had something else with this- probably yogurt, knowing me?)

turkey sammich 2

I have also had a good amount of barbecue, because come this time of year BU has a lot of fun free cookouts (well “free”. I mean, I pay so much tuition I should really go to every single cookout and eat like fifty hot dogs but obviously that would not be healthy). I’ve enjoyed two separate barbecues, one of which I used to supplement my lunch and had about 2/3 of a hot dog, the other of which I went to STARVING after a workout and had this weird nosh-y lunch of half a HUGE hamburger bun and kind of kebabs I made by ripping up a hamburger patty and like 1/2 to 2/3 of a veggie burger patty, along with lots of mustard and tomato and red onion. God that was an awesome, messy lunch.

I also made my friend (she’s a big protein person, so I always have to make her meat or beans!) some seriously awesome Caribbean-ish rice and beans with mango chicken sausage (which you’ll be seeing again, imminently), tons of green onion, tomato, and green pepper, with some salsa on the side. Didn’t get a picture. My camera had no space, *SOB*. God I’ve missed my memory card.

This next dish wasn’t carnivorous, because I had my vegetarian friend over for dinner. She’s Orthodox, too, so for Lent she does indeed go totally vegan the way you’re supposed to, so I wanted to make her something cheesy and awesome.

The result was inspired by this. I give you pumpkin- goat cheese pasta with kale!

pumpkin pasta

We had this with great big huge luscious artichokes, just steamed with mayo. And I had the awesome leftovers the next day.

I don’t totally remember how I tweaked the recipe, because it was awhile ago (I made it, froze it, and thawed it in the oven so the goat cheese got all melty, mmm), but basically I just used skim milk as my liquid, replaced the mushrooms in the original with chopped up kale, and subbed goat cheese for Parmesan. WOW it was tasty. Something crazy magical happens when the kale soaks up the pumpkin flavor, and the sweetness of the pumpkin and the tang of the goat cheese and the slight bitterness of the kale interact in a really cool way.

To end on a sweet note (I’ll post today’s eats later, I might as well break up this epic post a LITTLE!), as a seriously wonderful Easter treat, my mom, when she was on a business trip in San Diego, got us SEE’S CANDY!

I was raised in Spokane, WA, on the West Coast. The West Coast is a glorious region where you can go to a See’s candy store, which first of all has the happiest employees ever and free chocolate samples, and also has fresh handmade chocolates that you can’t get in the unsatisfactory preselected boxes that you can mail order on the East Coast. Sees candy in my opinion is the best candy you can get in America. Everything is fresh and natural and they only use the best ingredients.

My grandmother’s father was a confectioner who made his own candy, and she was a chocolate connoisseur (wow, I love that Windows Live Writer has spell check! Did not have a clue how to spell that!) and she said Sees was the best. She also, incidentally, said Hersheys puts paraffin in their chocolates , and you can tell by the flavor.

The most recent candy I enjoyed was the Polar Bear Paw, white chocolate with caramel and peanuts. YUM! I still have a few left, so you’ll be seeing more of them as I lovingly detail their consumption.


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