Greek dishes to consider

After spending two months in Europe this year I realize that cooking shows on television are as popular as they are here in the states. I can remember years ago that there were no cooking demonstrations on television and now it seems as every time I turn on the TV, there is a cook demonstrating baking or food preparations and believe it or not, there seems to be more male cooks than female cooks.

Everything always looks so delicious and inviting, and today I will share recipes that I think you may enjoy trying.

The custom in Greece at our house and many others is to have the big meal at lunch which is around 2 p.m. and eat lighter at night which is around 9 p.m., whereas in America ,the dinner hour is 5 or 6 p.m. Of course it is much healthier having dinner early like we do here in America, and you don’t go to bed with a heavy stomach.

While watching a talk show with famous chefs, they were all talking about how in the past ten years or so, men have taken a very active interest in cooking whereas in the past, it was dominantly women doing most of the cooking.

Lately the cooking and trying foods of different countries have become very popular like Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Middle Eastern foods, with several friends getting together and all preparing a dish from whatever country they pick, and each then have the opportunity to try various things.

Keep in mind that in Greece most meals are prepared from scratch daily. Fast foods are not very popular like they are here, for example McDonalds, Wendy’s, Ruby Tuesday, Auntie Annes Pretzels, and other American franchises that opened did not succeed and are no longer there. There are still a very few McDonalds that cater to the tourists and KFC and Pizza Hut managed to survive so far.

In my kitchen experiences, I do have to say I have tried many different things and created several original recipes that turned out well in cooking and also with desserts. If you enjoy cooking as I do and keep experimenting and trying different creations, eventually you will succeed.

I like to share my recipes with Despina, my good friend since grade school, and neighbor friends in Greece, Maria and Fotini, and all three I mentioned are very good cooks themselves.

It seems that most eat much healthier there than we do here, making meals with veggies, beans, lentils, fruits, fish, chicken and very limited red meats. There is one island in Greece where the average age is 95 to 100 years old, and research attributed it to the healthy Mediterranean diet and use of olive oil.

I love going to the open markets to buy fruits and veggies, but then I lose my willpower when I step into a bakery with all the pastries and hot breads, and my diet goes down the drain.

Keep in mind that today you can visit a Super Market in Greece and find any and everything you can imagine, including many American items from Corn Flakes to Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The downfall is that the prices for those items are double or triple the price found here.

We were invited last Wednesday to the 64th annual Willowbrook Development Picnic and were very impressed with such a wonderful event with great food and great people plus celebrating the 4th of July. BRAVO to all of you! Until next week!

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Greek Island Soup

2 pounds haddock fillets, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 dozen clams, with liquid

1 pound fresh shrimp, cleaned and deveined

1 6-ounce can lobster meat or 1 pound scallops

1 cup crab meat

1/2 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 large onion, diced

1 carrot, grated

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 bay leaves

3 cups canned tomatoes, whole

1 cup dry white wine

In saucepan, saute garlic, onion, carrot and celery in oil until soft. Drain tomaotes, reserving liquid and add to vegetables with parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine tomato and clam liquids, and add enough boiling water to make 3 cups. Set aside. In deep casserole, arrange layers of haddock, clams, shrimp, crabmeat, lobster meat or scallops, covering each layer with some of the vegetable mixture and the white wine. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add reserved tomato liquid and simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Serve from the casserole. Makes 10 servings.

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Lentil Soup

1 cup lentils

1/2 cup tomato sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 stalk celery, chopped fine

1 clove garlic

5 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

Sort and wash lentils. Place in deep saucepan, and add all ingredients. Cover and bring to boiling point, reduce heat and cook slowly for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the clove of garlic before serving. Add a dash of vinegar. Makes 4 servings.

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Baked Scallops and Eggplant

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced

1 pound fresh scallops, diced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1 teaspoon oregano

4 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup chopped celery

salt and pepper

Peel and dice eggplant, and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine scalloops, lemon juice, bread crumbs, parsley and oregano. In large skillet, saute onion in oil until almost soft. Rinse eggplant and add to oil; cover and cook just until eggplant is tender. Combine with scallop mixture, season to taste. Place in 10 inch baking dish. Bake in oven 375 for 30 minutes or until scallops brown. Makes 6 servings.

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Squids in Wine

1 pound squids

1 large onion, chopped fine

salt and pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

chopped parsley

Clean squids, remove ink-sack and center bone. Wash well. Place squids with chopped tentacles in deep saucepan and place over high heat, cook until moisture is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Add olive oil and chopped onion and brown. Pour wine over all, cover and simmer until squids are tender. Season with salt and pepper when done. Makes 4 servings.

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Chicken Riganto

1 fryer chicken

1/4 cup vegetable oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons oregano

Cut fryer into quarters. Combine remaining ingredients in bowl, and beat with fork until blended. Dip chicken pieces in oil dressing and arrange, with skin down in baking pan large enough to fit all. Add 1/2 cup water. Bake uncovered in 375 oven for 45 minutes, basting with remaining dressing and turning to brown evenly. Makes 4 servings.

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Chicken with Feta Stuffing

2 fryer chickens

juice of 2 lemons

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pound chicken livers

1 pound Feta cheese

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter, melted

Wash chickens and rub with lemon jucie, salt and pepper. Cut chicken livers in half and place in bowl. Add cheese, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Let marinade for 1 hour. Stuff chicken and secure firmly with skewers. Arrange in baking pan and brush with melted butter. Add water to pan and bake in 375 oven, basting and turning frequently until tender and browned,. Makes 6-8 servings.

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Kiki Angelos is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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