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Archive for August 3, 2013

TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Greek Salad

Everyone we lunch with seems to order a Greek salad or a Cobb salad. And they admit that they never make it at home!

So today’s tip is: Enjoy a Greek salad at home, regularly. When you make your own, you can add as much feta, olives, pepperoncini and other favorite ingredients as you like.

  • You can buy top-quality feta at a cheese store.
  • You can substitute romaine for the iceberg lettuce normally used in restaurants.
  • You can use the beautiful tomatoes that are now in season.
  • And if you don’t like red wine vinegar, the classic dressing in America, you can substitute balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
  •  
    Serve your Greek salad as a main meal, a smaller salad course, or as a soup-and-salad or sandwich-and-salad combo for lunch.

     

    A cute Greek salad preparation from Stix
    Mediterranean Grill
    in New York City. What’s missing? The lettuce, which is not part of authentic recipes.

     

    FOOD TRIVIA: In Greece, the feta-cucumber-onion-plus salad is referred to as horiatiki, which translates to country/village/peasant salad. It is a common part of a traditional Greek meal. Horiatiki doesn’t contain lettuce—that’s an American preference. In Greece, you’ll only see lettuce used at restaurants that cater to tourists.

    An authentic horiatiki is a combination of all or some of the following: anchovies, bell pepper, capers, cucumber, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, onion, sardines and tomato. It is dressed with olive oil only—no vinegar—plus oregano, salt and pepper.

    The recipe below is from Molyvos, one of the finest Greek restaurants in New York City. Executive Chef Jim Botsacos. He serves an American-style Greek salad, but check out the preparation: He uses the techniques of a top chef.

    RECIPE: GREEK SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Side Servings

  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes*
  • 1 cucumber, scored, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise ¼ inch thick
  • 1 small red onion
  • 20 kalamata olives, pitted and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup feta cheese, diced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, well drained
  • Red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
  • Optional: anchovies, bell pepper, pepperoncini, sardines
  •  

    *When beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes are not in season, use halved cherry tomatoes.

     

    A classic Greek salad. Photo courtesy Stix Mediterranean Grill | New York City.

     

    Preparation

    1. CORE the tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half crosswise, then cut each half into 6 pieces. Place the pieces in a mixing bowl. Add the cucumber.

    2. CUT the onion in half lengthwise and then slice each half lengthwise into thin julienne. Add the onion to the bowl. Add the olives, cheese, and capers. If using pepperoncini, slice into circles and add; or use whole as garnish,

    3. ADD the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste and season with oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

    4. PLACE an equal portion of the lettuce on each of 6 salad plates or bowls. Top with an equal portion of tomato mixture, sprinkle lightly with oregano. Serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE: RED WINE VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the vinegar with the garlic and oregano in a small mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk, whisking constantly. add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until all the oil is incorporated.

    2. SEASON with salt and pepper to taste and set aside until ready to use. Whisk briefly before using.

      

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    RECIPE: Bacon Potato Pancakes With Corn Salsa

    To some people, a baked potato with sour cream, grated cheese, green onions or chives and bacon is heaven. Here, heaven has a Southwestern twist.

    The baked potato becomes a potato pancake; crumbled bacon, green onion and Gruyère cheese go into the pancake; and the sour cream becomes avocado cream. The pancakes are topped with toasted corn salsa.

    This recipe, courtesy of Simply Gourmet and our favorite potato recipe website, PotatoGoodness.com, was part of the Amazing Appetizers Culinary Challenge at Eat, Write, Retreat. It makes 12 potato pancakes for a first course or side.

    Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds yellow potatoes, diced, peeling optional
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup diced green onions
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  •  

    A potato pancake with toasted corn salsa. Photo and recipe courtesy Simply Gourmet | Potato Goodness.

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (use white rice flour for gluten free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • Avocado Cream (recipe below)
  • Grilled Corn Salsa (recipe below)
  • Optional: chives or cilantro sprig for garnish
  •  

    Preparation

    1. ADD diced potatoes to a large pot and fill with water until just above potatoes. Bring to a boil. When potatoes are done, drain the water and let the potatoes dry out in the pot for a minute or two.

    2. FRY bacon and cut into small pieces. Save the grease and use to fry the potato pancakes.

    3. COMBINE the bacon, green onion, cheese, egg, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

    4. RICE the potatoes into the bowl with the other ingredients, using a potato ricer. Stir to combine. The consistency will be very thick.

    5. SCOOP with an ice cream scoop to portion the pancakes, then shape them into 2-inch disks. Fry the potato pancakes in bacon grease until they are golden brown (if you don’t have enough bacon fat, supplement with another fat or oil). Remove them to a wire rack over paper towels to drain.

    6. TO SERVE: Top with avocado cream and grilled corn salsa.

     

    Yellow potatoes with a potato ricer. Photo
    courtesy OXO.

     

    RECIPE: AVOCADO CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE avocado, sour cream, lime juice, salt, garlic powder and onion powder into a small bowl.

    2. MASH with a fork; then whip until smooth with a wire whisk. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Makes 2 cups.

     

    RECIPE: TOASTED CORN SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) yellow corn, drained well, or 2 cups fresh grilled corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons small-dice orange bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup small-dice red onion
  • 1 teaspoon light olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT a cast-iron pan until very hot. Add the corn and toast on all sides, stirring frequently so it does not burn. Remove once it has a nice brown color.

    2. COMBINE corn and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve hot or cold.

      

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