Tag Archives: Greek feta

Spicy Whipped Feta and Roasted Pepper Dip, Tirokafteri

This has been one busy weekend!  Not only was it Cinco de Mayo celebration and the Derby but, here in Fort Lauderdale, we also had our annual Air Show down on the beach.  The Air Show is great fun…especially if you don’t go.  We live close enough to the beach that we can see the planes make their passes.  In fact, if you stand in our pool and raise your arm you can just about high-five the pilots as they roar by!  Needless to say, our grocery and liquor stores are crazy busy.  The Friday heading into the weekend is when the madness begins.  Both the deli and the meat departments run out of wings.  Fried chicken, key lime pies and ice are long gone.  Even the least favorite of Solo cups, the yellow ones, fly off the shelves.  Hell, it’s just one big ol’ party out there.  By 9:00 in the morning smokers and grills are fired up, mostly by the men, while the women rattle around in the kitchen, set up around the pool (that translates to “make it pretty”), give the dog a last-minute walk and take a final inventory of the bar necessities:  tequila, bourbon and champagne.  I’m fully aware that last statement I made sounds awfully sexist but I know of no females, family, friends or otherwise, who seek to learn the intricacies and nuances of grilling in the steaming Florida heat while being kept company by mosquitos the size of small dogs.  No.  And I won’t even go into what our humidity does to that blow out you paid good money for and are trying to make last until Tuesday.  Nah.  My girls don’t flip burgers, lobster tails or ribeyes.  But what we WILL do is feed you some outstanding dishes.  This dip is one of those dishes.  I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat myself.  Because there are so few ingredients called for it is of paramount importance to use the best quality ingredients available to you.  The feta must be made of sheep’s milk otherwise it’s not even feta.  The cheese must be in block form.  Store bought crumbled feta is just…wrong.  It has no semblance to the real thing.  I don’t buy it…ever.  I purchase sheep’s milk feta in a block and crumble it myself and my recipes turn out as they’re supposed to.  Use whole milk thick Greek yoghurt or whole sour cream.  Even creme fraiche is okay in a pinch.  Regarding the heat in the spread, if you like a good kick then add the entire scotch bonnet pepper.  If you are uncertain no worries.  Discard the stem of the pepper and slice it in half from stem end to bottom.  Carefully cut out ribs and seeds and set them aside to add if you decide you want more heat.  I wear disposable cloves to protect my fingers from burning my eyes if I happen to rub them.  Easier than falling off a log.  Serve with assorted breads, crackers, crudite and pickled vegetables.  Try serving this dip with pickled okra…it’s not just for Bloodys anymore!

Spicy Whipped Feta and Roasted Pepper Dip, Tirokafteri

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 16 ounces sheep’s milk feta cheese, drained and patted dry
  • 12 ounces jarred roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thick Greek yoghurt or whole sour cream
  • 1 ripe scotch bonnet pepper, halved, ribs and seeds set aside if needed, stem discarded
  1. Into the bowl of a food processor. crumble the feta cheese by hand.
  2. Add the roasted red peppers, olive oil, yoghurt and scotch bonnet pepper.  Process until smooth.
  3. Taste for heat adjustment and add some of the scotch bonnet seeds for additional heat.
  4. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours for the dip to firm up.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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Stewed Green Beans Greek Style

Isn’t it strange how as a child, the same things we hate, abhor, detest, we end up loving, downright craving, as adults?  My siblings and I have laughed to no end at the spare, flavorless dinners our mother used to serve.  Once a week my mother would go  to go to the grocery store for a “big buy”.  If we were in the car, she wouldn’t allow us to go in, saying, “You children stay here.  Today’s a “big buy”.  I’ll be back in TEN minutes.”  TEN MINUTES?  A BIG BUY?  That ought to give you a little insight as to my mother’s feelings regarding food and cooking.  She’d try to go to the store by herself and get that annoying food thing out of the way, never, ever suspect when she arrived home and her first middle child would greet her at the front door in the style of Eddie Haskell.  “Hello, Mother.  May I help you with the groceries?”, I would ask in my sweetest but most nonchalant tone.  “Gracias, Cielo!”, she would answer, “You’re a BIG help”.  My mother ALWAYS had words of encouragement for us.  While she was inside the kitchen unloading bags, I would go through the ones left in the car as  quickly and thoroughly as a swat team.  My mother bought only frozen vegetables, hard, square boxes of misery and disgust.  Efficiently, I set all the boxes aside.  Carrots, string beans, spinach, broccoli,  the runner-up for nastiest, succotash.  First place, numero uno for all time nauseating and most hateful childhood vegetable goes to……waxbeans!  Yes.  My mother served us frozen wax beans.  They were yellow and looked as though they had been hand dipped in tallow.  And NOT in an artisanal way.  When all the groceries were inside I would casually call out to who ever was around, “I’m going outside.”  No one ever cared and no one ever paid attention, thank you very much.  I’d grab all the boxes, all of them, and trot around to the back of the house.  Stacked neatly on the dock, we lived on the water, I would take a frozen square, and with a strong and practiced arm, I would skip that box across the canal with all the strength in my 11 year-old body.  Those boxes just skimmed across the top of the water, bouncing four, five, sometimes SIX times.  I know it was hideously wasteful but I really enjoyed it.  Mama always came home from the store in the late afternoon, so I was on the water skipping boxes when the sun was going down, palm trees swaying.  Often the fish would jump.  It was quite lovely.  I knew I had scored when Mama would rip the freezer apart, all the while talking to herself, “Oh, pooh! I know I bought vegetables!  Caramba!  Where could they be?”.  But sometimes, we weren’t that lucky and a box or two would slip past me.  My older sister, Cynthia, and I had only a few ways around these toxic nuggets.  And let me add, my mother didn’t even heap the vegetables on our plates.  She only put maybe three or four beans on each of our plates.  Child, that was more than enough.  My mother never used salt or pepper and there was NEVER butter or any kind of sauce on the vegetables.  They were just boiled.  Making sure my father didn’t catch us, we would swallow the little, yellow, nasties whole with our milk.  Until the day he DID catch us.  I don’t know how Cynthia got her’s down, but I remember thinking, “I don’t care if I’m still here at breakfast,  I’m.  not.  eating.  them.  I’m not.”  Everyone was long gone from the dining room, Cynthia doing homework, Tommy and Pamela were splashing away in the bathtub readying for bedtime.  And there I’d be.  No elbows or forearms were ever tolerated on the table and sitting up straight was mandatory.  The night would just drag on, my parents walked by every once in a while, always saying the same thing, “and don’t even THINK about getting up until you finish all of that!”  And I just sat there, thinking the same thought, “I’m not eating this.  I’m not.”  I overheard my mother reading to Tommy and Pamela a bedtime story or two and I felt big waves of hopelessness and despair wash over me because now I truly COULDN’T eat them.  They were stone cold.  And hard.  And I didn’t have any more milk.  Right about then my father put down the paper and barked at me, “Get up.  Put your plate in the kitchen, brush your teeth and you’re to go straight to bed.”  Okay…I can do that.   And the beauty of this whole memory is, the following morning you would never have known this had happened!   There was absolutely no mention of the dinner fiasco of  the night before.  My parents would be happy and loving, embodying the philosophy, “It’s a new day!”  Today IS a new day, but not new enough to eat wax beans.  Or broccoli.  Or cauliflower.  But just about every other vegetable is great.  I love this dish, stewed green beans, because it’s so darned easy and it gives one the full feeling of eating something heavier, like meat or fish.  The sautéed onion gives the beans and tomatoes the sweetness needed and the olive oil mixed with the broken down tomatoes results in a silky, savory sauce.  Fassolatha is served with a healthy sprinkling of crumbled feta on top and crusty bread to dip in the sauce.  I think it’s sublime!

Stewed Green Beans Greek Style

  • Servings: 6-8 as a side or 4-5 as a main course
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bag string beans, washed and trimmed (that means snap off and discard the ends)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of dried oregano, preferably Greek
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled feta cheese to taste
  1. In a large pot, add olive oil and heat on medium high.  When oil is hot, but not smoking, add onions and stir well.
  2. When onions are fairly translucent, add oregano, stir, then add green beans.
  3. Pour both cans of tomatoes into pot and carefully break apart tomatoes with the side of your spoon.
  4. Add salt and pepper, stir, cover and drop heat to low.
  5. Allow to stew for at least one hour.  If this serves as your main course, serve in individual bowls with crumbled feta cheese on top.  Hot, crunchy bread is always welcome!

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Greek Salad, or as we say, Horiatiki Salata

Mention the name “Wilson” to my son, James and my niece, Elizabeth, and I guarantee a couple of slow smiles will spread across their faces.  We took both of them to Greece for the first time in 2002.  Having Elizabeth with us meant James had company when he was dragged from museum to museum, (ya seen one 600 B.C. amphora, you’ve seen ’em all).  And for us, the adults, it meant we were forced to work on our vocabulary.  Traveling with a genius will do that.  I bought them a soccer ball here, stateside, for them to bat around by the pool, in the sea or on the beach.  And we named it “Wilson”.  It was a huge hit.  There was always a lively, bordering on violent, game of catch going on, usually in the water.  Until the day James hurled the ball, not to, but at Elizabeth and, tiny thing that she was, instead of catching the ball, she dodged.  Over the side of the pool it went, down, down, down the service drive, down, down, down, now we’re scrambling, rolling, rolling, down the hillside hotel property.  Gone.  And landed somewhere on the field next to us.  The private property field. The completely fenced in field.  We trudged through the resort, dripping wet, to rescue Wilson.  We had to.  It was Wilson!  At the front gate of the field, all three of us stood sizing up the situation.  The wild grasses were WAY taller than they had looked, so far above at poolside.  Then that all-american practically kicked in and I said, “How hard can it be? It’s a ball, for crying out loud.  C’mon.”  The driveway wasn’t paved and we had to lie down right on the dusty ground and shimmy under the bottom of the gate.  THE BOTTOM OF THE RUSTY, CORRODED, TETANUS COVERED, GONNA SLICE YOU TO RIBBONS gate.  Oh, Lord!!  We all shimmied under without any bloodshed and started ever so gingerly walking.  Carefully planting each foot, one in front of the other, it just got creepier and creepier! There were all kinds of weeds and grasses I had never seen. The children became more and more quiet as we progressed further into the field and further away from civilization. Well, it felt like that, anyway!!  And then, my personal tragedy hit. I heard a “POP!” as I stepped down HARD on something.  Something pod-like.  Something big.  Big and full.  Something big and full EXPLODED, spewing wet, gooey stuff ALL over the tippy top of my inner thigh.  Yeah.  My inner thigh.  Right by my cootchie.  Sweet Jesus, I wanted to scream!  It was gooey!!  And I had children with me!!  How we did it I don’t know but that just spurred us into “find the DAMNED ball, ’cause we’ve got to get out of here”!!  What a relief when Elizabeth’s voice rang out,  “I found it!  Here he is!! He’s over here!”  She grabbed that ball and we just hauled out of there!!  And you have NEVER seen two children and one adult shimmy under a gate so fast!!!  No bloodshed and back to the pool!!  Oh, happy day! In Greece, the following is the salad we eat at just about every lunch and dinner…day in, day out.  It is the quintessential Greek salad.  And never, EVER with lettuce.

On my mother’s honor, THIS IS THE GATE!! We must have been crazy!!

Greek Salad – Horiatiki Salata

Yield: 4 servings

  • 5 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 bell pepper, seeded, ribs cut out, cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 12 Kalamata or greek olives, or 3-4 per person
  • good olive oil
  • 5-7 oz. slice or wedge of Greek feta
  • 1 tbls. dried Greek oregano, (if you can’t get Greek domestic or Mexican will do. But Greek is sweeter.)
  1. In a good-sized bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber and olives.
  2. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over salad and toss.
  3. Sprinkle all but a little oregano over salad, toss and top with feta.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over feta, sprinkle with remaining tsp. oregano and enjoy with warm bread!