All posts tagged: meat

Lamb Kleftiko

DISCLOSURE: I don’t condone stealing. There is just one instance, however, where I do pardon a certain group of thieves because their act of stealing eventually gave the world a glorious gift. The thieves I’m speaking of are the klephts, an indigenous population that descended from the Greeks who fled into the mountains to escape—and from which to fight—the Turkish occupiers of Ottoman Greece. The klephts snuck from the mountains to steal grazing lambs or goats, then retreated back to the mountains to cook their stolen goods. The meat was seasoned with oregano and thyme or even wild garlic, placed in an underground pit and covered with soil and branches on top to trap the aromas and the smoke while cooking. Doing so helped to avoid detection from their adversaries. This sneaky style of cooking later became known as kleftiko—the food of the “klephts” or thieves. Over time, the method moved from underground pits to outdoor wood-fired ovens. These days, we make LAMB KLEFTIKO indoors, baked in any conventional oven. The lamb is either assembled …

Stifado (Beef Stew)

At the Salt Lake City Greek festival, almost every family plays a role, often with specialties they claim as their own and which they work on for months before the festival. My good friend John Timothy and his entire Pappas family are always on tyropites (cheese pie) duty. Another friend, Jeff Chipian and his family are the ones to thank for the loukoumades (honey donuts) that are promised to leave your hands sticky and stomach begging for more. My big brother, Pete and his crew, somehow keep their composure cool all weekend long while working nonstop in the ovens, popping out warm pastitsio and spanakopita on order. By the way, it would be wrong not to mention the sweet Philoptochos women who bake and cook the pastitsio and spanakopita all summer long. For as long as I can remember, the Saltas family and our cousins, the Kastanis’ have made the stifado (beef stew). Stifado is a Greek stew teeming with flavors of garlic, onion, cinnamon, wine, bay leaf, and other spices. In the United States, the …

Pastitsio

Aside from public speaking and swimming in the ocean, there aren’t many things that intimidate me. I will talk to any stranger who will listen to me on a subway in New York City. I will kill a spider for my arachnophobic big brother. I will fall, scrape my knees, and get back up just to fall again a dozen times. But attempting to bake PASTITSIO, one of the most beloved meals in Greek homes? Forget about it. Assembling layers of creamy pasta, juicy minced meat, and a thick béchamel sauce sent shivers down my spine just like the movie Jaws. But after watching in the wings for 20 something-odd years, I found my courage. All it took was one step-by-step lesson with a my yiayia. Then a few attempts on my own. And, of course, eating many variations and flavors of pastitsio around the globe to help create a recipe all my own. Now I have the confidence to serve pastitsio to the world’s toughest food critic. Pastitsio chefs have their preferences. They may …

Pastourma Rollups

The first time I prepared a dish for a large crowd, I had the jitters. The Taste of Greece, a fun, food fundraiser for our Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, annually draws nearly 500 attendees who are ready and willing to sample common Greek fare, all made by home cooks. My dad, an experimental cook who owns every Greek cookbook imaginable—twice over—always shows up with unusual dishes that people had never tried. When I was 16 and only knew how to pour the perfect amount of milk in my cereal and how to butter toast, my dad tasked me to make something simple but different—PASTOURMA ROLLUPS—that he’d found in one of his cookbooks. They’ve been a hit at Taste of Greece ever since, but my dad also loans out all of his cookbooks, so I’m not sure who to thank. Diane Kochilas? Aglaia Kremezi? Vefa Alexiadou? Susanna Hoffman? Cat Cora? Michael Psilakis? Thank you all, and every other wonderful Greek cookbook author, for opening my eyes, to this and all things Greek …