Greek Dinner Menu

What a perfect meal! I had to post each of the recipes so you can also enjoy this delicious menu. A homey, warming dish, the cinnamon chicken is a good choice for a casual supper and definitely tasty enough for company. I served it over gluten free chickpea macaroni noodles accompanied by a tossed Greek salad. Mini baklava bites with a scoop of your favorite ice cream round out the meal. Serves 4-6.

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Chicken Kapama

with a subtle cinnamon flavor

Recipe

2 chicken breasts + 4 thighs, bone in, skin on (or a 2-1/2 to 3 lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used Penzys Vietnamese cinnamon)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic (3 minced, the other 2 left whole)
2 T. olive oil
4 c. yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. water
6-oz. can tomato paste
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 c. Myzithra cheese, grated
Noodles, pasta, or rice for serving

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl mix the ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, then rub all over the chicken pieces. Heat 2 T. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side. You may have to do this in two batches. Don’t crowd the chicken or it will steam instead of getting a good sear. When browned, remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onions and minced garlic to the pan and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onions are softened and golden brown. Add the wine and stir to get up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes, stir in the tomato paste until mixed, then add the water, 2 whole garlic cloves, and the 2 whole cinnamon sticks. Return the chicken to the pan; the liquid should cover about three-quarters of the chicken. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and add more kosher salt or pepper if needed. Serve over noodles or rice, sprinkled with plenty of grated Myzithra cheese.

Freeze any leftover sauce, or use it to top pasta or chicken for lunch the next day.

– inspired by Chef Cat Cora’s Kota Kapama

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Greek Salad

using green beans instead of cucumber

Recipe

1/2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, cut in half crosswise
1 lb. grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 lb. feta cheese
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot, chopped
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 large basil leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the beans in a pot of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. In a blender or mini processor, combine the red wine vinegar, garlic clove, shallot, mustard, oregano, thyme, and basil and puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the blanched green beans, tomato halves, red onion. and crumbled feta. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

– inspired by Chef Michael Psilakis’ Chopped Greek Salad

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Baklava Bites

find phyllo shells in frozen foods section of your grocery store

Recipe

1/2 c. pistachios
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. almonds
1 lemon, zested
1/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 boxes mini phyllo shells, 15 shells each
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. honey

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Put the pistachios, walnuts, and almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly and add to a food processor with the lemon zest, 3 T. sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and melted butter. Pulse to combine.

Take the frozen phyllo shells and place in a mini cupcake pan. If you don’t have a mini cupcake pan, place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Add 1 tsp. of the nut mixture into each shell. Bake at 350-degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the water and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Pour 1 tsp. syrup into each phyllo cup and allow it to soak in. Repeat with another 1 tsp. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Serve at room temperature. Keep the phyllo cup packaging to store any leftover baklava bites. Makes 30.

– Sunny Anderson, Food Network

Dried Fruit Scones

This quick and delicious recipe works well for any dried fruit. Here I used dried cherries and toasted slivered almonds. I’ve also used a cup of dried wild blueberries that worked beautifully! If you’re like me and dairy doesn’t agree with you, almond milk (other other nut milks) works just as well as heavy cream. Makes 8.

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Recipe

2 c. gluten free or all-purpose flour
1/3 to 1/2 c. sugar, depending on your sweet tooth!
1 T. baking powder
1 T. lemon zest (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 T. cold butter, cut in chunks
3/4 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds, roughly chopped
1-1/4 c. almond milk (or half ‘n half or heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon. Add the butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingers until a coarse meal forms and the butter is well distributed. Stir in the cherries and almonds. Add the almond milk and stir together just to incorporate; don’t overwork the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a rectangle, about 12” by 3” by 1-1/4” high (a slightly flattened log shape). Cut the rectangle in half, then cut the pieces in half again, giving you four approx. 3” squares. Cut the squares in half on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle scone shape.

Place the scones on a parchment lined sheet pan and brush the tops with a little milk. Bake for 25 minutes.

Tomato Watermelon Gazpacho

Another fresh and vibrant cold soup for those end of summer tomatoes. A Vitamix or other high powered blender is useful for this recipe — add all of the ingredients and blend for a minute or two. If you like more of a kick, feel free to add a teaspoon of jalapeño or serrano pepper to the blender. After blending, chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so that it’s nice and cold. The flavor is even better the next day! The recipe below serves at least 4.

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Recipe

4 large ripe tomatoes
1-1/2 c. seedless watermelon, chopped (+ a few tablespoons reserved for garnish)
2 slices of day old French baguette, roughly chopped
2 small Persian cucumbers*
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 avocado, chopped (for garnish)

Put all of the ingredients, except for the avocado, in a high speed blender (Vitamix) and blend until smooth. Transfer to a covered bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. To serve garnish with chopped watermelon, chopped avocado, a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.

*Persian cucumbers have a thin skin and do not require peeling. I get mine at Trader Joe’s. Otherwise, you can use an English cucumber which also doesn’t require peeling.

– inspired by a New York Times recipe by Melissa Clark

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I first served this deliciously creamy cake for brunch, but it also makes for a great dessert. Not too sweet and with a consistency somewhere between cake and cheesecake. It’s good warm, but even better after refrigerating overnight.

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Recipe

3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
6 T. melted butter
1 c. part-skim ricotta
1 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. King Arthur Measure-for-Measure Gluten Free flour (or AP flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 350-degrees and grease an 8” or 9” springform pan with a tablespoon of butter. In a large bowl beat together the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the melted butter, ricotta, yogurt, and vanilla and beat until well combined. Stir in the flour, salt and baking powder to combine.

Pour the batter into pan and sprinkle the top with blueberries. Bake 50 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. It will still be slightly jiggly; let rest for 30 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap — it’s even better the next day!

* For a prettier look, use round or square biscuit cutters to cut individual servings — best to do this the next day though after it’s been refrigerated overnight.

– inspired by a King Arthur Flour recipe

White Gazpacho with Cucumber and Grapes

With the string of seemingly unending 90-degree days we've had lately, it's good to have a refreshing, chilled soup! This white gazpacho makes a wonderful first course, followed by a colorful Salad Nicoise. If you have a Vitamix or other high speed blender, it makes preparing this recipe a breeze. A garnish of toasted, sliced almonds and halved grapes, with a drizzle of good olive oil makes you look like a rock star!

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Recipe

1-1/2 lbs. Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed and sliced
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, pressed
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. serrano chile, chopped (taste first for heat, then adjust as you desire)
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. seedless green grapes (reserve a few for garnish)
8 oz. Greek-style plain yogurt
freshly ground pepper
Sliced, toasted almonds for garnish (optional)

Put the cucumbers, lemon juice, garlic, salt, serrano chile, olive oil, and grapes in your Vitamix and puree until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the yogurt and add a few grinds of black pepper. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 5 or 6 hours. Serve garnished with a few sliced grapes, sliced toasted almonds, and a drizzle of good quality olive oil. Serves 6.

– Anna Thomas, "Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore"

Roman-Style Chopped Chicken Liver

If you like chicken livers, you'll love this recipe from Chef Vitaly Paley (Portland, Ore.). Most chicken liver mousse or pate recipes contains up to half a pound of butter! This is a nice alternative and packed with flavor. Serve with toasted baguette, grilled flatbread, crackers, or as a sandwich spread with sliced red onion and cornichons.

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Recipe

1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 lb. chicken livers, cleaned, dried and lobes halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped (or 1 tsp. anchovy paste)
5 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 T. drained capers
1/4 c. Madeira (or port, or cream sherry)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. Cognac (or brandy)
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and coarsely grated

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the livers, season with salt and pepper, and sear until lightly colored on the bottom, about 1 minute. Turn the livers over; add the shallot, garlic, anchovies, sage and capers. Cook, stirring until the shallots have softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sherry and balsamic vinegar, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Add the cognac and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, fold in the grated egg and season with salt and pepper. Let it come to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until cold. Can be made up to one day in advance. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

– Vitaly Paley, "The Paley's Place Cookbook"