The cuisine country of the week was Greece and I was very excited to try my hand at some classic Greek dishes. The bulk of my experience with Greek food comes from Greektown Detroit and the restaurants there. Going to Greektown when I was younger was always a fun day trip for my mom and me. I loved picking a restaurant out and ordering just about everything vegetarian friendly on the menu -- giving us lots of leftovers to take home and enjoy for the next few days. When I read that Greece was the country of the week I immediately started planning a menu in my head, it was quite tough because there are so many Greek dishes I'd love to try but have never made myself. I rarely cook anything Greek at home since my husband does not like Greek food :( He would go with me for birthday dinners in Greektown and barely touch whichever meal it was he ordered, but didn't complain too much, it was his wife's birthday after all!
Silly me thought maybe if I made some mild basic dishes for our dinner he would magically start enjoying Greek food, silly, silly me. My husband and daughter didn't like anything! I did give my husband a big hug because he tried it all and I know that must have been torture for him since he can't stand trying new foods. We are so opposite, I absolutely love trying new food, especially ethnic foods, I find it fascinating to think that these are the dishes that a whole country loves. Oh-well. Opposites attract.
I really wanted to make some saganaki which is something we always start our meals in Greektown with. I envisioned myself maybe making a short video of the flaming cheese to put in this post. Sad to say it didn't happen! I couldn't find the traditional saganaki cheeses anywhere :( I kept calling around and asking for halloumi or kasseri or saganaki cheese but no luck. There is a feta saganaki version on allrecipes and as wrong as that sounds to me, having grown up on Greektown saganaki which does not use feta, I would like to try it at some point, but it didn't make it to our Greek dinner this week.
Here was my little menu...
Dolmades to start
Spanakopita as the main
Greek Potatoes as a side
Baklava for dessert
The dolmades filling
dolmades all done
I've always wanted to try stuffed grape leaves but never have because whenever they are available they have meat in the filling. I called around and found a grocery store that had grape leaves for stuffing in their international foods section, yay! I looked at tons of recipes and loosely went with Tyler's recipe here Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves) -- I added cinnamon and raisins (not trying to make a sweet dish, but I noticed these in lots of other savory dolmas recipes and was intrigued) and left out the onion and fennel, and of course subbed vegetable broth for the chicken.
The spanakopita I made up just adding this and judging portions myself after reading a few different recipes. It ended up being amazing, probably the best spanakopita I've ever had and I've tried it at restaurants quite a few times. I'm sure it's nothing compared to a Greek grandma's recipe but I loved it! It was a thinner version, which I did on purpose because I didn't want a huge ammount of green spinach filling to scare away my husband or kids, and to honest I've had it where it is 95% spinach and only 5% phyllo and I prefer more even rations.
Here is the recipe I used for the potatoes Greek Style Potatoes - Allrecipes. I pretty much followed everything except for broiling them the last few minutes to try to crisp them up a touch. I loved them and but my husband, who I thought would eat these if he ate anything of our Greek dinner since he loves potatoes, didn't like them! I think that is the first time I've made potatoes that he didn't like :( we attributed his dislike to the lemon juice and spices, poor boring taste buds just couldn't handle these mild taters.
baklava before baking
I tried to cut them into diamonds, I need some practice :)
Baklava is something I've never made at home either, I enjoy it in restaurants and from bakeries but rarely get it unless we are out in Greektown. I tried this recipe, Easy Baklava - Allrecipes, and it sure was easy, and delicious! I made a half batch and followed the reviews saying to have a thicker phyllo layer on the bottom. I was so impressed with this recipe, not only was it super easy, it was probably one of the tastiest baklavas I've ever had! I love the honey flavor with the almonds and phyllo and it was not completely soaked and saturated like I've seen baklava sometimes.
All in all this was an amazing dinner and I loved trying all of the recipes for Greek favorites at home. It has really piqued my interest and I think we will be trying more Greek recipes since I saw so many I wanted to try while picking dishes for this dinner. I just wish my husband would have enjoyed it :( at least he gave the food a try though.