I’ve written about Greek food before. Check out Parts One, Two and Three of our trip to Greece in 2009. This time, we brought the food to Chicago…supper club style. We are fortunate enough to have a real, live Greek person within the club. George’s tips and menu ideas helped us along. Some of the menu items (ahem….dessert in particular) may have strayed from “traditional,” but we like to think we stuck to the classic Greek flavors at the very least.
Traditional Greek Salad
Zucchini Moussaka with Bechamel
Lamb and Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce
Lemon Rosemary Potatoes
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
The Spanakopita were a hit, and pretty straight-forward. I’ll keep these on the short list for easy appetizers in the future. The nice thing is, you can always make these in advance and freeze them. We had a bit of a butter shortage, which makes things tough when using phyllo dough, but we improvised. Next time, we’ll have a couple pounds of butter on hand.
- 1-2 cucumbers (English or other), peeled and thickly sliced
- 4-5 tomatoes, sliced into small wedges
- 1 onion (we used red, but another onion will do as well), thinly sliced
- lettuce (we didn’t include any, but you could!)
- 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
- “lots” of white vinegar (this one is tough to measure, but just keep adding until it tastes yummy!)
- generous amount of oregano – to taste (fortunately, Lena and George had some on hand from the Mother Country!)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Greek olives and feta cheese served on the side
Toss all ingredients to combine.
Zucchini Moussaka with Béchamel
This moussaka was far better than any of the moussaka we ate in Greece. Frying the zucchini first before layering it with the meat sauce made it extra yumm-o.
2 pounds zucchini (sliced in rounds)
¼ c. flour
3 potatoes (sliced in rounds)
4 T. olive oil
1 recipe Meat sauce (see below)
1 recipe Béchamel (see below)
1 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. kasseri (or white cheddar)
¼ c. olive oil
2 pounds ground beef or lamb
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 t. oregano
2 t. dried basil
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 T flour
¼ c. butter
2 c. hot whole milk
2 eggs slightly beaten
½ c. kefalograviera (or parmesan)
- Lightly oil a 9 x 13in. casserole dish.
- Make the meat sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat up the oil. Brown the onions, garlic and meat. Add the spices and tomato sauce and cover at a simmer for 30 minutes.
- While the meat sauce is simmering, prepare béchamel. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until smooth and light brown (approximately 2-3 minutes). Add salt and remove from heat. Add hot milk and whisk constantly. Return to heat and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool down approximately five minutes before adding eggs and cheese (to prevent eggs from curdling).
- Lightly dredge zucchini slices in flour (season flour with salt and pepper) and fry lightly.
- Fry potatoes in oil until golden brown.
- Drain zucchini and potatoes on paper towels.
- In casserole, create a layer with half of the potatoes, overlapping them slightly. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Next, layer on half of the zucchini and sprinkle on a bit of the cheeses.
- Layer on ½ of meat sauce and sprinkle with more cheese.
- Repeat layers (steps 7-8) , using all the cheese as you go.
- Pour béchamel on top and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Lamb and Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
The lamb and chicken souvlaki is something I’ve made before….although I tend to call it “gyros.” Lena corrected me – gyro is the term for when the meat is actually shaved off a spit. If it’s just marinated/grilled meat, then it’s called souvlaki.
Click here for the chicken marinade and the tzatziki recipe (don’t forget to squeeze all the water from the grated cucumber….Right, Alison?!). For the lamb:
1.5 lbs. lamb (Shoulder, roast, shank, etc.), cubed
1/4 cup of fresh rosemary, minced
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
- Combine all ingredients, except for the lamb, in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add lamb to marinade in a shallow dish or plastic bag.. Marinate for at least two hours, but preferably more.
- Skewer meat cubes onto metal or wooden skewers. If using wood, make sure to soak for at least 20 minutes in warm water prior to cooking, to avoid charring.
- Heat BBQ to medium high and grill for a few minutes on each side. Lamb should be served medium rare, so don’t cook it longer than 10 minutes. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
To make the souvlaki extra-special, we served it with homemade pitas. Stay tuned for a post specifically on homemade pita bread!
For dessert, we strayed from the traditional baklava or kataifi. But to learn what we made, and to see photos, you’ll just have to stay tuned!