This Friday my sister and I are hosting our annual girls' getaway to the cabin. Every Winter, we grab our best friends and enjoy a leisurely couple of days in the mountains. The highlight of the event is Saturday wine tasting in Murphys. To make things more exciting, we've decided to give the whole weekend a Dionysus theme. Naturally, I'm cooking up a mouthwatering Greek dinner. We'll start with an assortment of mezes, including Greek olives, hummus and pita chips, meatballs with ouzo and mint, and crispy cheese-filled phyllo bites. Since the appetizers are a bit heavy, the main course will be on the light side: halibut roasted in grape leaves with a Greek country salad.
These recipes would also be wonderful at an Olympics viewing party, so check them out now, after the break.
2 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed
3 tablespoons ouzo
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
1 pound ground beef (85 percent lean)
1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
- Tear bread into bite-size pieces, and place in a small bowl. Add ouzo. Let stand for 10 minutes to soak. Squeeze excess liquid from bread. Transfer bread to a medium bowl.
- Cook onion in 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add onion to bowl with bread.
- Add ground beef to bowl, and break up with your hands. Stir in egg and yolks, capers, garlic, mint, oregano, and salt. Season with pepper. Knead mixture until well combined, then use a spoon to stir until smooth. With moistened hands, shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs, and place on a tray. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and cook meatballs in batches, about 12 at a time, turning until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Add fresh oil as needed for each batch. (While you work, keep cooked meatballs warm on a rimmed baking sheet in a 200-degree oven.) Finely grate lemon over meatballs, and serve warm.
Makes about 50; Serves 6 to 8.
- Meats, Appetizers
6 sheets phyllo dough
6 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into 6 equal pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying
8 ounces dried figs, stemmed and quartered
3/4 cup honey, plus more for drizzling
3 teaspoons black sesame seeds
- In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.
- Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a dry work surface. Place one slice of cheese about 5 inches from the top of the narrow end of the sheet. Fold the top of the narrow end over the cheese, leaving 1 inch between the fold and the cheese. Next fold over 1 of the long sides then the other, again leaving 1-inch between the folds and the cheese. Then fold the cheese over, again leaving 1-inch between the fold and the cheese. Continue folding to make a package about 3 1/2 by 4-inches. Continue with the remaining pieces of cheese and phyllo.
- Fry the phyllo and cheese packages, 2 or 3 at a time, in the oil until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, heat the figs and honey in a small saucepan over low heat until the honey is warm. Set aside until the cheese packages have finished frying.
- To serve, place 1 cheese package on a plate. Spoon some figs and drizzle some honey over the top of each cheese package. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve immediately.
- Cheesecake, Appetizers
12 large brined grape leaves, rinsed and stems trimmed
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
Four 6-ounce skinless halibut fillets, about 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil a baking dish. On a work surface, overlap 3 of the grape leaves, vein side up, to create a 7- to 8-inch round. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves for a total of 4 rounds. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the olive oil into the center of each round; sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the thyme over all of the rounds. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Set the halibut on the seasoned oil and fold the grape leaves around the fish. Arrange the fish packets, seam side down, in the baking dish. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the grape leaves are crisp and the fish is just cooked through.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Season the vinaigrette with salt and white pepper.
- Transfer the fish packets to a platter. Carefully peel back the grape leaves. Spoon the vinaigrette over the fish and serve hot or at room temperature.
Make Ahead: The fish can be kept at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Main Dishes, Fish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb escarole (preferably pale inner leaves), chopped (4 cups)
1/4 lb tender young mustard greens, trimmed and finely chopped (2 cups)
1/2 lb dandelion greens, tough stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (2 cups)
2 oz baby spinach (2 cups)
1 cup watercress sprigs, trimmed
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
- Make dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, salt, and honey in a large salad bowl and add oil in a slow stream, whisking until blended.
- Make salad: Add salad ingredients to dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Greens , Salads