[Sca-cooks] a 'Fat Tuesday' Greek meal ... OOP and LONG

Georgia Foster jo_foster81 at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 25 08:30:46 PST 2009

So that I am not guilty of spoon-teasing, as promised ... here is how the meal was prepared.


Pitas (ya can’t buy them here so I have to make them)  -   Dissolve 1 ½ Tbs yeast in ¾ cup warm water and 1 ½ Tbs sugar until the yeastybeasties start to grow.  While that happens, Dissolve 1 ½ tsp salt in 1 ½ cup warm water.  Add the salt water and the yeast mixture to 6 cups of flour.  Let rise until double (ok ... so mine rose three times …. I kept having to punch it down due to LIFE ™ happening  the extra raisings didn’t seem to hurt the finished bread any).   Divide into 18 equal pieces, form each into a ball and cover with a damp towel.  Roll each into a 10 inch circle.  Pierce the circle with a fork (a BUNCH if times), fry on a dry griddle (whatever sort you use for other flat breads (I used to use the glass top of my stove but I can’t do that anymore (and if you want THOSE details … ask me … last Wednesday was HARSH on my kitchen AND my Wallet).  I cooked them on medium for about 3 minutes a side. 
(aside here … I have made these so often that I do it by feel.  They keep really well and the youngest LOVES them warmed with butter, sugar and cinnamon with his breakfast … or at events … or whatever … they keep forever).
For the meat, I used 3 lbs pork (I used the extra-lean boneless pork steaks that were on sale for $3.00 a pound) cut into strips ¼ inch wide.  Marinated in 1 ½ cup olive oil, 1 ½ cup marsala wine, 1 bulb of garlic (chopped rough), 2 Tbs chopped oregano and 2 Tbs chopped mint (both from my little patch of weedies in the back yard).    I marinated the pork for about three hours.  I cooked it gently in a little olive oil and then added some chopped Feta just before serving.
I laid out plain yoghurt mixed with shreaded cucumber, sliced tomatoes and sliced red onions.  People added what they wanted folded it in half (Navajo Taco style) .
Cheese pies – I had a 3 pound block of Feta so I crumbled it with 9 eggs, a fine-minced onion, fine minced but of garlic (we have no fear of vampires in our home), and 2 Tbs chopped parsley (same weedie patch as above).  I used purchased phillo.  Two sheets per pie with butter brushed between.   Lay out a sheet, butter it, lay out another sheet, dump ¼ cup of the cheese and egg mixture on one end.  Roll over once, fold in one side, roll again, fold in the other side, and then roll to the end.  It looks kind of like a tiny burrito.  Placed on an UNREWASED cookie sheet, bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  This batch made 20 pies.
Spinach – I cooked half a pound of CHEAP bacon until crispish.  Added ¼ cup chopped onions and 3 buds of garlic chopped (see above about vampires), and cooked them with the bacon until they were soft and translucent.  I added ½ cup of cider vinegar and poured it (still sizzle hot) over ½ pound of fresh spinach leaves. 
Baklava – 32 ounces of fine-chopped walnuts mixed with 8 Tbs of cinnamon and 4 Tbs nutmeg.  Purchased phillo dough again (it is a time thing … I CAN make my own, but I usually need more than 2 hours to do it.  I used two of my 9 x 13 cake pans lined with foil (to contain the mess).  Six layers of phillo with butter between each makes the bottom layer, then six spoons of nut mix, then two sheets of phillo with butter between, alternating nuts and two layer phillo until I ran out of nuts, then six layers of phillo butter phillo.  Cut into squares (I don’t gauge well … so we get squares, not the traditional diamond shapes).  Baked at 350 for 50 minutes.  While it was baking, I dissolved 2 cups sucar and 2 cups water over medium heat until it started to bubble, then I added 1 cup of honey 2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg.  I let that simmer until the nut and phillo was done, then poured it over the baklava while it was still hot from the oven (sizzle sizzle).
Just so everybody knows:
The meat was an adaptation from the Frugal Gourmet Cooks the Three Ancient Cuisines.  It started as the Souvlaki recipe.  Substitutions and changes included using pork instead of lamb (I ABHOR sheep in any type.  Just sayin), the Marsala for red wine, the addition of garlic and oregano to the marinade.  Also, the addition of the crumbled Feta was a spur-of-the-moment addition some years ago that we liked and just kept.
The filling for the cheese pies were adapted from the same book.  To that one I have added the onions, garlic, and parsley to the original (which always struck me as particularly unimaginative). I have altered BOTH so severely that I would not claim to have followed his recipes.  By this point I can hopefully say that the recipes were springboards for the current product.
I have no idea where I got the pita recipe.  It is written out on a sheet of notebook paper.  I have toyed with it over the course of the last year to find what makes it work for my situation.
The spinach salad recipe was something my mother used to make with iceburg lettuce (yuck yuch ick ick ick bleh p’tewie).  I have found the fresh spinach to be a much better match for the mix.  
The Baklava recipe came direct from the “Wyoming Homesteader’s Cookbook” that I bought at South Pass City, WY …. Lordy ….. 30 years ago?  
The meal was set to feed six, with extra baklava and cheese pies to mail (using express mail, dry ice and wrapping it in MANY layers of new paper).  Were I feeding just the group, I would have made half the cheese pies and half the baklava.  I could halve the pita recipe I suppose, but we use the bread so I just make it in a batch that size.

Jo (Georgia L.) Foster
Never knock on Death's door.
Ring the doorbell and run ... he hates that.
I don't want to set the world on fire, I'm just trying to light a candle.

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