Friday, August 08, 2008

Opening Ceremonies- A Salute to Greece

The long-awaited Olympics are here and our family is gathered around the table and around the TV (see left, a huge new plasma I got for my birthday!) to celebrate and enjoy that mix of excitement, anticipation and pride as we watch the athletes from around the world parade into the Bird's Nest stadium to begin the Games.

As I wrote earlier, our tribute to the games in the foods around the world starts traditionally with food from Greece to honor the birthplace of the Olympics(you can see from the picture that we are adding the flag of each nation we cook from each night to the Olympic flag) Since we are on a diet, our usual pastitsio would not cut it, so it was time to hit the internet and get some inspiration. I did a search for Greek food and was lucky to find several sources, including About.com and Matt Barrett's Travel Guide which had a great guide to Greek dishes and ingredients. I thought I wanted to make lamb, and when I read about a dish called paidakia, which is to Greeks as baby back ribs are to Southerners, I knew that was going to be the centerpiece of our meal.

Paidakia (right) are little lamb chops seasoned with ground pepper , broiled and squeezed with lemon. So now, what to have with it?

Trending toward a Greek salad, I found a recipe for Horiatiki Salata, a salad of chopped vegetables with feta cheese.

I needed to round out the meal and remembered seeing a Greek zucchini on Kalyn's Kitchen and so decided to recreate that as well.

For dessert, Greek Yogurt with honey and fresh fruit.

Our first Olympic meal was a great hit. The Paidakia was everything I had read and more - simple ingredients combined to make the lamb the star. The salad was light and delicious accompaniment and a great use of tomatoes and cucumbers from the farmer's market, and Kalyn's zucchini was a hit even with those in my house who usually don't like zucchini (Molly,of course). Olympics or no, I will definitely be making these dishes again. And you should give them a try, they definitely are worth a gold medal!


Paidakia (Inspired by Nancy Gaifyllia at About.com)

2 lb of small lamb chops (If budget is a concern (I got my chops at Costco), I think this technique would work just as well with boneless chunks of leg of lamb), my chops were about an inch thick

Coarsely ground sea salt

1 tablespoon of coarsely cracked peppercorns (I had a 6-pepper blend that I used, but any combination of cracked peppercorns would work)

Lemon wedges

2 tbsp olive oil

I put the chops in a Ziploc bag, added the other ingredients, and massaged together and let come to room temperature. Spray broiler pan with olive oil or nonstick spray and place chops in single layer. Broil for about 3-4 minutes (watch carefully), flip chops and broil 3-4 more minutes or until desired doneness is reached (we like ours pink so about 3 minutes per side worked for us). Remove to platter and squeeze with juice of 1/2 a lemon. Serve with extra lemon wedges.

Horiatiki Salata (Also inspired by Nancy Gaifyllia from About.com-frankly, I want to show up at her house for dinner!)

1 large red onion sliced

1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly

1 red or yellow sweet pepper (I had the little mini-peppers from Costco and used 6 or seven of the them) cut in small chunks

2 large ripe tomatoes (don't make this salad if you do not have really good tomatoes!) cut in chunks

1/2 tsp Greek seasoning(I used Penzey's)

A handful of greek olives

1/3 cup good red wine vinaigrette

3/4cup of feta broken into chunks

Again, I combined all ingredients in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and let chill in the fridge while I made the zucchini and lamb- Easy and it made an outstanding salad that was a change of pace from the usual greens!

Check out Kalyn's site for her recipe for her recipe for Georgette's Greek Zucchini.
It was a big hit, healthy and simple.

What is on tap for tomorrow night? We are thinking of American food with a side of Michael Phelps!


3 comments:

David Hall said...

Ha! Love the idea Deb, foods from around the world. Glad my French inspired dish is going to be on your menu, you won't regret it. Take care.

Cheers
David

Nancy Gaifyllia said...

What a fabulous way to kick off the Olympics! And you're more than welcome at my home! I'm delighted that the recipes tempt you.

Deborah Dowd said...

David Hall- Can't wait to give it a try!

Nancy - You are a Greek food genius, these dishes were outstanding.