This weekend Jake and I headed back to my hometown for the annual Founder's Day celebration. Every year my uncle (who has an amazing kitchen that I am intensely jealous of) invites lots of people over and we cook lots of really good food and gorge ourselves silly. The picture above shows my cousins Jake and Brandon thoroughly enjoying their meals.
Our family has a few staple recipes that tend to show up at most of our gatherings. One is Spanakopites and the other is Dolmades. My grandmother is from Greece and those are two of her favorite family recipes. Along with the Dolamades and Spanakopites we had shishkabobs, stewed okra over rice pilaf, orzo salad, and a Greek salad. A serious delight for the taste buds. The recipes for dolmades and spanakpites follow. Please forgive the non-descript recipes as they are family recipes and we pretty much know how to make both without looking at the recipe. The next time I prepare either of these, I will take pictures of the folding process to better illustrate how it is done.
Dolmades: ( This is the basic recipe, I always add more tomato paste and olive oil)
2 lbs ground beef
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup onion, chopped
6 oz. can tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Jar of grape leaves (can be found at most markets)
Mix all of the above ingredients together, except the grape leaves. Lay out a grape leaf and add about one spoonful of filling in the middle. Fold the leaf around the mixture and place in large pot. Continue this process until all grape leaves are stuffed. Once they are all placed in the pot, cover with water and boil for 20-25 minutes.
The following link has a great guide on folding the leaves: http://www.lerios.org/recipes/dolmadakia.php
2 packages chopped frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
1 package crumbled feta cheese
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup parsley
1/4 cup dill (I use fresh if I have it and put more in)
2 eggs, beaten
1 package phyllo dough
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
Saute onions in butter until clear. Add spinach and cook until dry. Add parsley and dill;stir and cool. Add feta cheese and eggs to spinach mixture; stir well.
Combine parmesan and bread crumbs; set aside.
Lay out one piece phyllo dough (The other phyllo dough should be placed between slightly moist towels to keep it from drying out) Brush melted butter on the phyllo dough, sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Fold dough into thirds, add 2 tablespoons of spinach mixture; fold into triangles. Brush with butter and place on baking sheet. Continue process until all spinach muxture is used. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown.
Uncle Mike enjoys the meal. Go OBAMA!!!