Have you ever been so full that you’re really uncomfortable, no matter how you’re sitting/standing/laying, but you just want to keep eating?
That was us a couple of weeks back. (Side note: Honestly, I started writing this post the day after we cooked up a huge Greek feast to celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter. Life has gotten in the way since and I’m just getting to this now.)
We’d been planning our Greek feast for a few weeks (in fact, I was using it as a procrastination source when I should have been doing other things – at home, not at work, don’t worry Caroline!). Mel is a Greek food fiend and after we’d done the Chinese New Year feast a while back, she decided we had to do a Greek Easter feast.
We wanted to do the usual things – pita and dips, slow-cooked lamb, Greek salad (actually called a ‘village salad’ in Greece for obvious reasons), lemon potatoes and Mel’s all time favourite, Kourabiethes (you know those crescent shaped, icing sugar covered shortbread biscuits). We also wanted to do a few things we’d never made/eaten before, so aside from what I’ve already mentioned, we made Flaounes (Easter cheese pies), Kolokythokeftedes (zucchini and feta patties), rice-stuffed tomatoes, Galaktoboureko (a semolina custard ‘slice’) and Tsoureki (Easter bread).
Our colleague Maria lent us a cook book that was written by an Orthodox church group, in the eighties I would say. We had a couple of issues with correct amounts – on more than one occaison the amount of flour they suggested was either too much or WAY too little. Our top notch troubleshooting skills definitely came into play.
We made most things from scratch and some didn’t turn out quite the way I hoped they would. Actually thinking back on it, my projects were the ones that didn’t work out the most. I tried to make a Greek Easter bread (the Tsoureki). It was an odd way to make a bread for me, and I think I managed to kill the yeast in the process, which resulted in the dough not rising at all. Was pretty disappointing, but there was so much food no one noticed.
We did a team effort on the Galaktoboureko, but we left it until last. That was a terrible idea, because there just wasn’t enough time for it to set. It tasted great, but it looked like it hit a lot of branches on the ugly tree when he dished it up.
The zucchini and feta patties were delicious, but there wasn’t really much of a binding agent and unless the pan was hot enough the patties didn’t really stick together. There was a lot of really tasty zucchini and feta mush left over. Thankfully, I managed to make enough good looking ones for people to eat and assume I’d actually done a great job ;).
We did three dips, tzatziki (of course), tirokaferi (a feta dip with a bit of chilli) and a skordalia (think garlic mashed potato). All three turned out very well and were eaten with homemade pita (made by Mel, not me!).
Of all the things we made, the Flaounes were the most surprising! I’ve never made anything like them and if I was choosing something to make from a Greek cook book, I’d probably have overlooked them. They were essentially a bread square with a savoury filling – a kilo of haloumi mixed with sultanas, parmesan, semolina, sugar, fresh yeast, eggs and a few more things. Given neither of had had these before, it was really just the blind leading the blind. The recipe produced a absolutely ginormous batch and we made people go home with the many that didn’t get eaten (because there was so much other food). Maria said we did a pretty good job, but I did wonder if she was just being nice (haha)…
Overall, we had a great night and we hope our guests did too! Thanks to Maria for her cook books and emotional support!
We’re thinking about a Spanish Feast next, any dish recommendations?