Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Its still winter here in Vancouver...yup the first day of spring has come and gone and our temperatures are soaring around 9 C with a forecast to drop even lower in the next few days. I  am oh so in need of sunshine and memories of holidays in a warm land just to revive me...
Last evening I connected with a favourite place I once visited as a child by delving into one of my favourite cultural cooking styles: Greek. This recipe uses my rendition of a tangy, herbaceous marinade to 'greekify' a beautiful side of Steelhead Trout. You can substitute salmon or chicken breasts for the protein for equally scrumptious results!


Recipes below...

When I was growing up in Germany, I had the opportunity to travel with my family to Greece. As a young impressionable girl, I was immediately taken by the rich history and stunning beauty of this ancient, mysterious land. Visions of white-washed structures clad in azure blue shutters clinging to the edge of this rocky terrain, still conjure up fond memories of a carefree time spent in this spectacular country during my childhood holidays.

I still remember sitting on the millenia-old stone steps of the amphitheater in Delphi imagining a rendition of Homer's The Illiad and the Odyssey unfolding on the stage before me. Actors dressed appropriately in a peplos, the Greek version of a toga ( not to be confused with the costume of choice at college initiation parties...) and carbatine, a type of leather sandal (in my teen years also known as the 'Goliath Sneeker'), reciting this epic poem about ancient Troy.

Some of my fondest memories are of sitting in a quaint sidewalk Taverna in Paleokastritsa on the gorgeous island of Corfu, savouring some of the lip-smacking local cuisine. It is here that I sampled Kalamarakia (calamari or squid) and Htapothi (octopus) for the very first time. To my surprise, the octopus required a somewhat unconventional type of prep to make it palatable...I hesitate to share this information, as it still conjures up one unpleasant 'foodmare'  that haunts me still...*having flashbacks, starting to hyperventilate*... 

Ok, I was witness to the local fishermen hauling in their catch of these creepy looking bulgy eyed, slimy creatures, all tentacles and legs waiting on their fate (the daily restaurant plate special). It wasn't bad enough that the the octopi were hung on a clothesline to drain...I digress...admittedly though, grilled octopus is a must try, it is insanely good!

The best street food I have ever eaten was a lamb Souvlaki grilled on a small BBQ by a local vendor in Pelekas. I can still taste that tangy lemony-garlic and sage marinade engulfing those succulent little skewers. I could smell them all along the walk uphill to the top of the village where our B&B was located. A couple of Drachma could buy you two Souvlaki, piping hot off the grill, the perfect snack to tide you over until dinner at the nearest Taverna. Here is where we would indulge in some Spanakopita (spinach pie) or Dolmades (meat balls) for our Mezethes (appetizer), Moussaka or fresh grilled Scampi for a main with a refreshing traditional Greek salad and rice pilaf and of course some Baclava to complete the perfect the time I wasn't old enough or the slightest bit interested in Ouzo, one of Greece's staple alcoholic beverages, but I can tell you that I was witness to the result of what happens when the adults indulge in too many bottles of this licorice flavoured spirit...lets just say: Zorba the Greek arrived!

Greek Fish Marinade

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pepper to taste

1. Place herbs, salt and pepper in mortar and pestle and crush to combine. In measuring cup, whisk together herb mixture, garlic, lemon juice, orange juice and olive oil. 
2. Pour over fish, coating well. Marinate for 2 hours, turning fish frequently. Enough to marinate 4 fish fillets. Place fish on hot grill and cook, basting frequently to desired doneness.

Greek Salad

3 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 onion, diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 dozen black Greek olives
150g goat feta, crumbled
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp oregano leaves, crumbled
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp sugar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Place vegetables and olives in a large salad bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, herbs, sugar, salt and pepper and olive oil. Add dressing to vegetables and toss until well combined. 
2. Before serving, top with crumbled feta and garnish with additional oregano. Serve chilled.

Sprouted Brown Rice Pilaf

2 cups sprouted brown rice
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
1/8 tsp sage
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat olive oil and butter in saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots and rice and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add stock, herbs and lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered until rice is done, about 25 minutes. 
2. Remove from heat and let rice rest for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and season with sea salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley. Serves 4.


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