Having grown up attending the local Greek Festival almost yearly, this is something that I was excited to now be able to share with my daughter. Not only was I looking forward to the fantastic Mediterranean cuisine, but thinking about how Gillian Grace would react to the music and dancing had me practically giddy!
And let me tell you what---Sweet Bean's reaction definitely didn't disappoint! GG proved once again that she's no stranger to the spotlight and was quick to show off her moves in front of an encouraging crowd. An adorable little guy even took a quick liking to our Lil' Miss Priss, trying to impress her with his fancy footwork and infectious grin. While Bean was entertained for a bit, she was far more impressed with the five inch stilettos of the band's lead singer, confirming my suspicion that she's a fashionista in the making!
Getting ready to go, GG was all smiles!
Here we are with one of my former, and favorite, students! She and her mother were kind enough to give us complimentary tickets to Greek Fest! Efxaristo, y'all! (That's thank you in Greek!)
And with all the great food from this weekend's Festival still fresh on my mind and palate, I can't wait to try my hand at recreating a few of my favorite Greek inspired dishes!
Spanikopita (Spinach Triangles or Pie)
Courtesy of the Food Network
60 triangles (or a 9 x 13 dish)
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
* 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
* 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
* 1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 pound filo pastry sheets
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan, add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining olive oil. Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the scallions, along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. (This part can be done ahead and kept refrigerated).
Stir the feta and as much beaten egg to moisten the cooled spinach mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter.
Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn't dry out and become brittle. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo into 3 by 11 inch strips, and recover with the towel. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of filo with melted butter. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet and keeping them covered with a towel until all are ready to bake.
Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve hot. (These may be frozen before baking, layering waxed paper between layers of triangles to keep them from sticking. Bake frozen triangles an extra 10 minutes.)
Variation: Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, and spread 6 sheets of filo, brushing each with butter, on the bottom. Spoon the spinach filling over the filo, then cover with 6 more sheets of filo, buttering each sheet. Score the top 3 sheets with a sharp knife. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is golden, let stand 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve warm.
Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes, Courtesy of Rachael Ray
* 1/2 pound orzo
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
* A handful of parsley leaves, chopped
* 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
* Freshly ground black pepper
Heat water in large sauce pot to boil and add pasta, cook to al dente.
Melt butter in the pot while still hot and combine with feta. Add cooked pasta to feta butter and toss with parsley and tomatoes, season with a little pepper.