My maternal Greek grandmother was an amazing matriarch who loved to entertain and was very devoted to family. She had four brothers, and all of their families would come together at her house for wonderful meals during the holidays and year-round. She would make delicious Greek food that was enjoyed by all. These are two of her recipes.
- Greek Cocktail Meatballs /Keftedakia
2 pounds ground beef
(or optional 1/2 ground lamb or pork)
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups moist bread crumbs or cooked rice
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 tablespoon salt (or less salt if desired)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
White wine (optional)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil until soft and then let them cool. Place the cooled onions in a bowl and add the meat, bread crumbs or rice, eggs, mint, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Knead well until all ingredients are blended and shape into small meatballs, the size of a walnut. Place in an oiled baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine over the meatballs. Place in a serving dish to keep warm and pour any pan juices over the meatballs.
As an alternative cooking method, these meatballs can be dredged in flour and fried in a heavy skillet in about an inch of extra virgin olive oil. Heat the oil and fry a few at a time, turning constantly, until golden. Serve hot or cold.
(Custard with Filo Dough)
1 quart milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup farina or Cream of Wheat
1 cup butter
10 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 jiggers Cointreau or other fruit liqueur
1 pound filo pastry leaves
- Spiced Syrup:
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 jiggers orange or peach liqueur
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons orange peel
In a large saucepan, heat the milk and 1/2 of the sugar over low heat until warm. Add farina slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens and is smooth. Add the butter and stir until completely blended. Remove from heat, add vanilla, orange rind, and liqueur. Stir well and allow mixture to cool. Beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until frothy. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into yolks. Add farina mixture and mix well.
Bring all the spiced syrup ingredients (except vanilla and liqueur) to a boil. Simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and liqueur. Remove from heat and cool. Prepare the custard and syrup and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan. Place about 10 sheets of filo dough on the bottom of the pan, each individually brushed with melted butter. Pour the cooled custard mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Cover the custard with the remaining filo sheets, brushing each sheet with butter. With a sharp knife or razor blade, cut the top of the pastry into 3-inch squares. Bake for 1 hour; remove from the oven and pour cool syrup over the pan, so that it saturates the filo and custard thoroughly. Allow to cool before serving.