We are invited to an 80th birthday party for a Greek/American gentleman. I would like to bring a Greek appetizer that is not too complicated. Dolmates ( sp?) are already on the menu. Any suggestions? Thanks.
i use alton brown's recipe for tzatziki, and bobby flay's recipe for babaghanouj. note that in the tzatziki recipe listed below, you can omit the draining of the yogurt if you manage to find thick greek yogurt (i didn't, so the process was a bit longer for me than it would be for someone with that on hand). i reduced the amount of mint, and also added a little fresh oregano, because greek and oregano just go together to me.
16 ounces plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
1 large firm eggplant (about 1 1/3 pounds), cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon tahini
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 loaves of naan
Preheat grill. Brush flesh of the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill flesh-side down for 15 to 20 minutes, turn over and grill an additional 15 minutes, or until soft. Let cool slightly and remove the flesh with a large spoon and mince..
In a large bowl, mix the tahini, garlic, shallot, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne, cilantro together until combined. Fold in the eggplant and reseason with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if necessary.
To drain yogurt for tzatziki (or anything else) line a plastic colander with plain white paper towels, dump the carton of yogurt into the middle, place another paper towel over the top, then set it in the refrigerator over a bowl that will catch the drippings. Rest another bowl on top of the yogurt. Depending on how thick you want the yogurt, it can drain anywhere from a couple of hours to a day and a half if you want yogurt cream cheese.
My tzatziki is kind of old fasioned. Just yogurt, peeled, seeded and grated cucumber, garlic to taste, salt and olive oil. This is the basic classic recipe common throughout Greece and Turkey.
When offering it with kebabs, I also put out small bowls of thinly sliced red onion, coarse chopped mint, dill sprigs, chopped tomatoes and pita/pida bread.
Have you checked with the party-throwers to make sure a potluck dish would be welcomed? I would think that for an 80th BD, family and friends will be bringing in tons of fabulous Greek food. I, personally, would attend and eat! Take the best bottle of ouzo I could find as a present to the gentleman and maybe a stack of really cheap ceramic dishes (go to yard sales, mis-matched okay, small, large, whatever) tied with blue and white ribbons (aren't those the colors of the Greek flag?). Ouzo for toasting, dishes for smashing on the floor! Oopah!
Since the Greek dishes will likely be supplied in plenty by those expert in cooking that cuisine, what if you brought something small that is from your ancestral background? That way you are sharing something of yourself and will be offering something different, as well as cooking something you're already used to preparing which you know will be wonderful.
Some worry beads and an evil eye charm! Can't miss. '-)
I'd go with tyropita and/or spanakopita. I don't do the triangles. Too time consuming with all the folding. I just do mine in jelly roll pans, at least two of each, and then cut them into diamond shapes a little larger than baklava before baking. Doesn't matter how much I make/take, it's always the first empty dish at the party.
You might consider making lamb meatballs, I put mint & pignoli nuts in mine and serve with tsatsiki (sp?) sauce. They're good hot or at room temp.
I love greek food! What about Tiropitas, or Keftedes? As far as the Spanakopita, it is my favorite. I could just eat a plate of those, but I really just want a little of everything!
I've posted the following recipe for "fava bean salata" before -- it's an excellent recipe, and very Greek -- pretty much every little cafe in the Greek Islands serves a variation of it.
The recipe is adapted from Rosemary Barron's Flavors of Greece:
Fava Bean Salata:
2 Cans Butter Beans (14 oz cans) (reserve juice from can) [Note, you can do this with dried butter/fava beans, or, even better, fresh fava beans, as well, but it is excellent with the canned beans].
3 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 med. carrot, finely diced
1/2 celery stalk, finely diced
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2-1/2 T. finely chopped parsely
Salt and freshly fround black pepper to taste
1 thick slice coarse-grain white bread, crust removed, soaked for 5 mins in 1-3 T. extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
Juice of 1 small lemon
Paprika for serving
Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan. Saute the onions, carrot, garlic, celery and bay leaf over med.-low heat for 15-20 mins, or until dark golden brown, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Stir in 2 T. of the parsley, the salt, pepper, beans (and their liquid) and about 2-3 T water. Cook for a few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Transfer to a food processor and add soaked bread. Puree, and with the machine running, add most of the remaining olive oil and about 2/3rds of the lemon juice and process until thick and smooth. Add a few T of water if the puree is too thick, and add salt, pepper, and additional olive oil or lemon juice to taste.
Serve sprinkled with remaining parsley and olive oil and the paprika. Great with toasted pita or french bread.