Roasted Leg of Lamb with North-African Spices, Lemon, and Onions

Adapted from Mediterranean Hot and Spicy

I call this herb and spice rub ‘North-African’ because besides the classic oregano and rosemary, it contains such Tunisian and Moroccan spices as caraway, cumin, and turmeric. In addition it is spiked with harissa, the ubiquitous hot pepper paste, that is to Arab North-Africa what chili oil is to Asia.

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With the same spice mixture you can rub poultry, beef, or pork, two to three hours before grilling, and leave at room temperature. Or you can mix 3 tablespoons of this rub with 3 tablespoons thick yogurt and baste chicken breast or legs, or skewered lamb and pork, before grilling. Better yet, leave in the refrigerator overnight, in the spicy yogurt marinade.

Makes 6 servings (more…)

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MAGIRITSA –Easter Lamb Soup

Adapted from The Foods of Greece (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang).

Magiritsa is traditionally made with the parts of the lamb not used for spit-roasting. Remember that Greek Easter lambs are very small (about 24 pounds). In the classic recipe, all the innards –heart, lungs, and so forth– go into the pot, but they do not really contribute to taste. The flavor of the stock comes from the boiled head and neck, and the soup gets its distinctive taste from scallions, fresh dill, and egg-and-lemon sauce. There are lots of different magiritsa recipes.

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A friend described to me the one her family prepared in Halki, a small island in the Dodecanese. In her family’s version, no innards are used because, on Halki as on all the Dodecanese islands, people do not roast the lamb on a spit, but slow roast it in a wood-burning oven, stuffing the cavity with rice and chopped innards. In Halki’s magiritsa, many lamb’s heads were boiled to make a very tasty stock. The heads were not boned, but as they cooked for many hours, even the bones softened. Each member of the family got one head and ate it with the broth. No scallions or dill were added to that unusual magiritsa. (more…)

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Aglaia’s Mousaka

My Mousaka with layers of eggplants, potatoes, and peppers, is topped with yogurt and olive oil béchamel.   Read HERE the origin of this iconic Greek dish.

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I serve large spoonfuls, as with gratin dishes, and not perfectly cut squares. If you prefer a more elegant presentation make it in individual portions. I recently added the spicy and smoky Kea sausage to the lamb, to deepen and enriche the flavor.

Makes 6 servings (more…)

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Braised Meat with Artichokes (Aginares me Kreas)

The meat, cooked together with the artichokes, takes on a delicious sweetness that is complemented by the tartness of the lemon juice. In many parts of Greece the sauce is often thickened with egg, making it avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce). But I prefer this much lighter version of the dish, based on the recipe given to me by Claire Ksida, from Chios.

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Claire and her husband, own the tiny Perleas hotel, which they created by restoring an old Genoan villa, beautifully situated among extensive orange and tangerine groves, in Kambos, just outside the island’s capital. Claire prepares the dish for her guests in the spring, with the fresh tender artichokes she grows in her garden. “I have plenty of artichokes so I freeze some because I like to be able to continue making the dish throughout the summer” she told me. (more…)

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Keftedes–Meatballs

There are many recipes for keftedes (plural of kefte). Practically every cook has a unique mixture of ingredients. The following is a combination of recipes from Macedonia and Thrace that I developped for my first book The Foods of Greece . It’s my favorite because the mixture has bulgur and grated zucchini, instead of bread, which make it exceptional. Chef Jim Botsacos of Molyvos restaurant in NYC serves a variation of these keftedes.

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Serves 6 (about 35 pieces) (more…)

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