A Meze Gathering Menu

Posted on: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Whether it be Spanish tapas, Italian antipasti or French hors d'oeuvres, many cultures appreciate the laid-back pace of small-dish gatherings. Moving into a 4th floor walk-up was not the ideal way to end the summer, but it gave us reason to prepare some of our favorite appetizers and share them with some of our favorite people. For this small plate gathering, we were inspired by our Greek heritage. Our Yiayia’s spanakopita recipe was the perfect starting point. Then, we found inspiration in our cupboards to create an array of "meze” (assorted small dishes). The menu included:

Watermelon, Feta and Cherry Tomato Kebabs Drizzled with Balsamic

Lemon and Oregano Chicken Kebabs with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce





Yi's Spanakopita

Ten years ago, we asked our grandmother for the secret recipe to her spinach pie. While it was difficult to transcribe “a little of this” and “a little of that” into exact measurements, with a little creative license, we created the following recipe.


Yi's Spanakopita

3 boxes frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 c grated onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 large block crumbled feta cheese
1 c ricotta cheese
½ c Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper throughout
1/4 c melted butter
thawed phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix the first eight ingredients until they are well incorporated. While the filling is easy to make, the laying of the phyllo dough is a little tricky. We rarely fight, but the placing of the thin, delicate sheets of dough is always a point of contention-horizontal or vertical? The key is to keep the phyllo dough damp under a moist cloth throughout the process. Butter a 9x11 pan. Next, carefully place a sheet of phyllo (you may have to trim the edges). Brush a little butter over the dough and continue the layering of phyllo then brushed butter for at least 7 layers. Once you form a solid base, spread out the spinach and cheese filling. Layer 7 more sheets of dough and brushed butter. Yi always reminded us to score the top layer of phyllo before baking to enable clean cut pieces later. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.


Assorted Bruschetta

Oh the limitless of bruschetta! Instead of following the popular yet standard Italian Caprese (tomato/mozzarella/basil) style, we decided to make three types with three very different flavor combinations:

Combo 1: Chopped Kalamata Olives, Sundried Tomatoes, Fresh Tomatoes, Feta, Mint
Combo 2: Fig Preserves, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto
Combo 3: Ricotta Cheese, Arugula, Pine Nuts, Honey 

Generously spread the above combos atop toasted bread. We used French baguettes, sliced on a bias, brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toasted in the oven for 15 minutes or so, until golden brown.

These were the perfect appetizer, appealing to all kinds of palettes with bursts of different flavors and colors!

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