To me, it's colorful, delicious food: lots of feta cheese & yoghurt, olives and olive oil, tons of vegetables (sun-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers & eggplant, which I love), stuffed grapeleaves, wine, and, of course, garlic!
In college I once met a Greek student, and what I remember most vividly is the smell of GARLIC seeming to come from every pore! A bit overwhelming for a German who grew up in a garlic-phobic home, and at first I pitied his girlfriend, but then I realized it was the wonderful food she fixed that caused his unique odor -- I'm sure they'll both live to be 110 years old!
SO, on to Greek cuisine.
Of course, I've got to make Moussaka, the traditional casserole of ground meat, eggplant (or other veggies such as zuccini, potatoes) covered with a bechamel white sauce and cheese, au gratin.
THEN, there are some wonderful Greek chicken recipes, often marinaded in lemon juice, then baked surrounded with vegetables. I know this wonderful greek recipe for a lemony chicken egg-drop soup, but I think I might spare my son who feels fervently about eggs not belonging in soup...
Here's an intreguing chicken dish I might just have to try:
Chicken with a cream sauce flavored w/ ouzo
- 1/2 pound of skinless chicken breasts
- 2/3 cup of carrots, coarsely grated
- 2/3 cup of zucchini, coarsely grated
- 6 1/2 tablespoons of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of ouzo (or other anize-flavored liqueur)
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
Cut the chicken into large square chunks.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. When hot, add the chicken and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the carrots and zucchini and continue to sauté 3 minutes longer. Add the ouzo, cream, salt, and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes more until the sauce melds.
Next, I found these recipe on a "A Dash of Life", who writes about her life as a doctor in Greece, and wrote several interesting posts about the greek cooking and benefits of olive oil. Since I adore leeks (and grew some for the first time in my garden this year), I've got to try these!
This is supposedly served alot all over Greece, a sort of "comfort food". I changed the recipe slightly from the original (I was pressed for time), and it turned out yummy, albeit perhaps not quite authentic.
Olive oil (I used my homemade garlic-infused, see recipe here*)
Leeks, cut up
chicken buillon cubes, or stock
stewing tomatoes from can (I skipped these)
rice (I used brown rice I had already cooked)
Salt & pepper to taste
Saute leeks in olive oil. Add water and/or chicken stock and rice. Watch water level-- don't let it boil dry. Add lemon juice immediately before serving (tastes ok without lemon too!)
photo credit: http://www.greekrestaurant.com