Monday, January 10, 2011

{Go, Greek!}

The mom of one of my childhood friends made wonderful food -- baklava and spinach pies,
in particular. I loved when my play dates at their house coincided with her cooking days so
I could watch her while she cooked and sample the goods. Their house often smelled like
magic to me. Ever since, I've wanted to make spinach pies from scratch.

I've settled for store bought or restaurant versions for the past 17 years, convinced that
working with filo dough was above my skill level.

Thanks to the Barefoot Contessa and the "Food Network", I got the encouragement I needed
-- "How easy is that?" -- to finally try my hand at making spinach pies from scratch.

(Graphic and photo credit: Google Images)

Ina Garten (who coincidentally shares the same first name as my childhood friend's mom)
made a whole Greek menu on her show. I duplicated it for our New Year's Eve dinner. It
was, hands down, the best meal I've made in a long time. I loved sharing it with David and
his parents. It made a stay-at-home and very chill New Years Eve a little more special.

I thought I'd share the end product and links to the recipes with you, too. (The color on
my photos is a little off. The food looked even better in real life. I'm still learning how
to capture good lighting and color at night with my flash.)

Greek Salad with vinaigrette (recipe here)

Lamb Kebabs marinated in a yogurt-rosemary mix (recipe here)

Spinach pies or Spanikopita (recipe here)

Tzatziki with grilled pita (recipe here)

I was so proud of this meal. It was loaded with flavor! It worked great for mixed company --
vegetarians and carnivores. I was able to go meatless and still have a totally complete meal.
They loved the lamb, a meat people don't eat as often.

I'll probably do a play-by-play post of the spanikopita next time I make them, you know,
now that I'm an expert. :) In the meantime, do you have a favorite Greek or Mediterranean
dish that you make? I'd love to hear about any and all. It's my favorite kind of food, but I
always go out to eat it. This meal gave me the confidence and desire to try making more
of it myself. That's a good thing.


Colleen said...

This is the second post today that I've seen referencing this cookbook. I may have to check it out for myself. The food looks delicious.

Unknown said...

D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.!!! Looks so yummy! I'm not a fan of lamb, but those kabobs look tasty! Other than hummus, I don't make musch Greek or Mediterranean, but I do love Pita Jungle & Med Fresh!

Ale said...


Congratulations! the food looks sooo good! I am hungry now! I told you about the shop that is down the street from my house. Sophia's they have everything Greek and their yogurt made from scratch is just delicious together with their Feta cheese. So I buy from her since she makes everything from scratch and I support the local economy. I was thinking, have you tried the small Greek salad they have at The cheese cake factory? I think you are going to love it. I know, you said you are cooking but if you are at the mall and want a small lunch, try it, you won't be disappointed. Sophie's (George's wife) makes a mean hummus. I will ask her for the recipe for you. Great job!

carlene federer said...

YUM! Invite me next time and I'll bring the baklava, the only Greek food I've made so far, but I gotta try those spinach pies!

TruJen Phtography said...

Salivating over here! So proud of you! Trying something new and making it look like you've been making them for years! GOOD JOB!!!
So... I'm invited next time, right?!?! And like Carlene, Scott makes a super great baklava!

Kristi said...

This entire meal looks delicious! I have never cooked Greek (except kabobs) but I sure enjoy eating it! Gyros and falafel....yum!

elizabeth said...

these pics are making me hungry - I love Greek food, but never cook it myself. Ina is one of my favs too.

Shu Han said...

another great greek inspired dish to go with tzatziki is dolmades! i say inspired because i use collard leaves, which are much more readily available than vine leaves! that looks like an awesome greek spread! yum!