Another month, another feast
Once again, another month has come and gone. Every month the est crew` all get together and try cook up a different cuisine. For this month’s cook show & tell theme, we decided to go with Greek cuisine. I think the inspiration for the Greek theme stemed from George Comlombaris’s obsession passion for all things Greek, which was displayed prominantly on Masterchef. As usual, when a group of food lovers get together for a cook up, you’re bound to get too much food, endless photo taking opportunities, and a guaranteed late dinner. Atleast this time, we ate before 9pm.
When I think of Greek food I think of souvlaki and tzatziki. This shows my ignorance for the cuisine as well. I guess the good thing about these monthly cookups is the opportunity to do some research into more traditional dishes of a particular cuisine. But as it turns out, we still end up with souvlaki and tzatziki.
To start off the meal, Minh and F kindly prepared a couple of nibblies. Whilst preparing our entrees and mains, we nibbled on Tzatziki with sesame Lavosh and goats cheese rolled in ash with thyme, lemon oil and olives.
Our ‘cooking snacks’
Entree & Sides
What good would a greek dinner be without grilled halmoumi ? The salty and rubbery texture is very addictive and is best served with some minimal additions such as olive oil, lemon and oregano.
Octopus is great when grilled. After doing a bit of research it seems the Greeks keep their marinades quite simple for seafood. We experimented a bit by mixing Lemon, oregano, sugar, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil as a marinade. It turned out tasting pretty good, the slightly burnt bits on the baby octopus were particularly addictive.
Teresa used organic tomatoes from the Eveleigh Markets for these. Despite the cost, the taste more than made up for it. The tomatoes were bloody sweet, they didn’t even have a hint of sourness you would associate with normal tomatoes.
Minh substitued black beans with a four bean mix and it worked quite well. You can’t really stuff up a Greek salad so this dish was quite a hit with the punters.
Teresa who is our resident Vegeterian Vegequarian made these beef koftas. For someone who wasn’t able to taste them because she doesn’t eat meat, she did a pretty good job in getting all the flavours right. Despite these looking like shit on a stick, they tasted very moist mainly due to the organic beef instead of regular beef. We all agreed she did better than Sam’s effort on Masterchef where his kofta’s were not cooked properly!
The token dish at every Greek dinner would probably be the lamb souvlaki. I usually wing it when it comes to marinades and this one was no different. I mixed together dried greek oregano, cumin seeds, lots of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and cracked pepper. I then put all the cubed pieces of lamb leg into a zip lock bag with the marinade and let it sit in the fridge for 3 hours. Just before dinner time I popped them onto the BBQ because they are best served fresh off the BBQ otherwise they become a bit dry and chewy.
Pastitsio is a type of greek baked pasta and is similar in taste to lasagna but has cinnamon in it (it is not a pastitsio if there isn’t any cinnamon). This dish just screams ‘winter’ all over it, especially with the copious amounts of cheese and bechamel sauce. The crusty bits of cheese on the top were to die for.
Recipe for pastitsio: http://greekfood.about.com/od/maindishes/r/pastitsio.htm
Recipe for bechamel sauce : http://greekfood.about.com/od/syrupssauces/r/bechamel.htm
You’d think this was George’s dish on Masterchef and not Gary considering it is Greek. Simple in preperation and simple in taste, we used organic cherry tomatoes and once again they really made a difference due to their extra sweetness and juicyness.
B whipped up George’s chocolate cigarettes from Masterchef minus the sabayon. I still cringe at the thought of Matt Preston saying to Lucas ” Close but no cigar ” when judging his cigars. The combination of dark chocolate and pistachios is a match made in heaven, I don’t even think B used any honey or butter as directed in the recipe. Instead of serving it with sabayon we had it with custard which turned out to be a perfect alternative.
Baklava usually goes for a few dollars a piece, little do people know that it is actually quite easy to make. We were lucky enough to find a baklava recipe in this months Gourmet Traveller Magazine and they had a fool proof recipe. We didn’t have time to let it sit overnight, otherwise it would have tasted even better. We left a few pieces for Minh to try the next day and she confirmed it tasted heaps better when given proper resting time.
So throughout July, Masterchef played an integral part of our lives, this was evident in some of our chosen recipes. In terms of how we went with the Greek theme, I know for a fact that we have barely touched the surface of authentic Greek food. I hope to rectify that by visiting some proper Greek restaurants this year to see what I am really missing out on.
So what’s on the menu for the August cookshowandtell ? We’re not too sure yet but with August creeping up next week we better figure out something soon.