Sunday, January 30, 2011

Greek Feast - Calamari, Eggplant Salad, Braised Veal and Baklava

One of our friends suggested we cook a meal composed of Greek dishes. We went to Marché Jean-Talon and picked up all the ingredients we needed. Our plan was to make stuffed vine leaves (which we did not make but will make another time), pan fried calamari, braised veal, eggplant salad and baklava. We spent the entire afternoon cooking and the results were well worth the time.
First we cleaned the calamari and cut them into 2 lengthwise. Then we cut diagonal lines into them to them (looked like grill marks on a steak) and fried them in a teflon pan. We sprinkled salt, pepper and lemon juice on them. Instead of frying them in batter like they usually do in restaurants, we wanted to keep the true flavour of the calamari. When cooking fresh seafood, it is best to keep it simple (as our friend from Gaspé would say).

We cooked a whole eggplant in the oven on a cookie sheet for an hour. Then we pealed it, cut it into small cubes, mixed it with chopped fresh tomato, olive oil, minced parsley, dries oregano, grated onion and wine vinegar. It was served cold and accompanied the braised veal as the main dish.
We browned the veal shoulder and added to it a sauce made of onions, garlic, wine vinegar,1 cup of red wine, 1 can of diced tomatoes, dried oregano and 1 cup of pitted kalamata olives. We wrapped the veal with the sauce in tin foil (make sure it is well sealed to keep all the liquid in) and put in a Dutch oven. It cooked for 2 and a half hours.

For dessert we made baklava. The picture does not show all the layers it was composed of. We used 28 phyllo pastry sheets, a mixture made of pistachios, almonds, sugar, 70% chocolate and figs soaked in brown rum. Each layer was brushed with clarified butter and on layer 9 and 18 we sprinkled some of the mixture. It cooked at 450 degrees for 1 hour. You really need to be 2 people to make this and work fast. The phyllo sheets dry up very quickly.

We had a side dish: Greek pitas with locally made feta cheese made with herbs and olive oil.

Having a theme is a challenge but it can also make it easier to choose the individual dishes that compose the meal. We will definitely try this again but with another theme.

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