Growing up Italian, homemade meatballs were a dinner staple enjoyed over pasta, in a sub roll or as savory appetizers before the main meal. But last week, while teaching a cooking class on Greek foods, I had to set my Italian roots aside and absolutely drool over Greek Meatballs known as Soutzoukakia. These morsels of magic have a wonderful combination of spices like cumin, cinnamon and oregano with a red sauce that completely enrobes them with even more flavor! Greek Meatballs are delicious with seasoned Orzo, rice or, dare I say, on a bed of Italian pasta?
red pepper flakes
Zucchini Balls with Dipping Sauce
We are right in the middle of Greek Carnival Season known as Apokries. Greek street foods are, of course, a big part of the celebrations. So this week I wanted to feature one of my favorite Greek appetizers, Kolokithokeftedes. Ok, that may seem Greek to you, but really, they are just delicious deep fried zucchini balls paired here with a fantastic dipping sauce, and pronouncing the word correctly is not part of the recipe, so don’t worry about a thing! (For the record, it’s pronounced Kolo-Keetho- Kef-ted-es.) You’ll love the crunch and the fabulous flavor combination of zucchini, cheese, onion, garlic and a hint of white truffle oil, made even more delicious by dipping them in a zesty red sauce. There’s only one more thing to say about this delightful Mediterranean treat, “Nostimótatos!” ( Delicious!)
Dry Rubbed BBQ Ribs
I have no idea if it’s Kansas City, Carolina, Texas, Memphis or St. Louis style. All I know is that this dry rub is magic dust on a rib. Just in time for your summer menus, this Dry Rubbed BBQ Ribs recipe is the perfect seasoning for a meaty slab of pork or beef ribs, finished off with just a light brushing of barbecue sauce. So let’s tackle cooking first. Slow and low. It’s the only way to keep those juices moistening the meat. For the rub, don’t overpower. Generally, whatever sticks to the slab should give you just the right amount of flavor. And because BBQ sauce is loaded with sugar or honey which can burn, save it for the last 10-15 minutes, and then just lightly coat it on the slab at the end of the cooking process. You want the flavor of the rub to come through. Now for the rub. It’s an incredibly simple formula I found in an old paperback cookbook called Tasty Vittles. This rub is the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, hot and salty. You can add a slightly citrusy kick if you’re using something like a chili lime sea salt, or burn it up big time with various chili powders. I’ve been on a quest for a good basic rub that I can make ahead, keep it in a jar in the pantry, and shake out onto a slab whenever I’m craving ribs, and this is it! Start with the basic rub and then add your own special touches using some of your favorite herbs and spices, a little at a time, until you make it your own. Rub some ribs and reap the rewards this summer!
Muhammara Dip with Crudités and Pita Chips
Take it from the queen of snacking; this dip is to die for! As I was preparing to teach a Middle Eastern cooking class this week, I came across this hidden gem called Muhammara Dip, made with roasted red peppers and walnuts and served with pita chips and crudités. Oh, My! What a delicious and simple treat that will be perfect for your Easter Brunch or summer pool parties! It’s now one of my go-to dips and I hope it’ll be yours, too!
Eggplant Pattie Casserole
Today is a fun day for Italians and those who love Italian cuisine and culture! The Italian Association of Arizona is hosting the first-ever Italian Pizza & Wine Festival at Scottsdale City Hall. Even though I wrote my own Italian cookbook, I decided on a recipe for Eggplant Pattie Casserole from an extraordinary cookbook to mark this fun foodie festival! The Modern Family Cookbook is a 900 page compilation of three daily menus for a family of five for an entire year. It was written by a woman named Meta Given who began writing recipes at age 10. As a famed home economist, and food editor for the Chicago Tribune, Given made certain that with each recipe, your family would be well-nourished since all dishes were built around a nutritious dietary plan. But the recipe I really loved is the Eggplant Pattie Casserole. Make or buy your favorite meat or marinara sauce, cook up some pasta and try it for a hearty family meal. Thanks, Italian Association for make today delizioso!