One of my favorites is dolmades. These small parcels of rice, dill and lemon are delightful. They are fiddly to make I admit, but it really does annoy me when supposedly homemade food is on offer and you get served with what is obviously tinned stuffed vine leaves. It is a personal bugbear of mine and actually puts me off a taverna for life, however good the rest of the meal was.
To make these tasty morsels you need:
225g Preserved Vine Leaves - Rinsed then soaked in hot water for 5 mins
175g/1 Cup Long Grain Rice
350g Onions - Finely Diced
4 Spring Onions - Thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
4 Tbsp Fresh Dill - Chopped
3 Tbsp Fresh Mint - Chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley - Chopped
150ml/ 2/3 cup Olive oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
450ml/2 cups Hot Water
Salt & Pepper
2) Use a couple of the inevitable misshapen leaves to line the bottom of a large pan. Spread a vine leaf out on a board, vein side up and place a heaped teaspoon of the stuffing near the stalk end. Fold the two opposite sides over the stuffing then roll up tightly from the stalk end. Continue you way and pack them together in circles in the pan. You may lose the will to live half way through this process but believe me it's worth it.
3) Mix the remaining olive oil and lemon juice and pour over dolmades. It's worth inverting a small plate on top of them now to stop them moving around as they cook. Gently pour the hot water over them, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Dolmades can be served hot or at room temperature and keep well in a fridge for a few days. I was at this point going to provide a few 'in action shots' as I made these a few days ago but as my kitchen ends up looking like a war zone when I'm 'creating' I decided against it.
Next up is the ubiquitous Tzatziki, a must at any Greek gathering. Very simple to make and loved by all there's no reason not to make it.
The thing is the company, the atmosphere and pleasure we get when we join up with old friends and new to share lively conversation and good times. In these difficult years, you cannot ask for a better panacea, it's why the Greeks are still smiling.
You will need:
2 Garlic Cloves (more if you're that way inclined)
250g Greek Yogurt (and yes I mean the full fat one, just eat less, if you can)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1) Peel and grate cucumber into a colander - Squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Mix with yogurt; garlic and oil add some salt then cover and chill.
That's it. Very easy, very tasty and like most Greek food tastes better the next day