I didn’t think I had to go into further detail on the Htipiti dip (as photgraphed here) but I’ll run it down for you. It’s quite a free-form recipe as the measurements depend on how hot your peppers are and how salty your Feta is.
You need three ingredients for this recipe: Feta cheese, Myzithra (ricotta) and roasted hot banana peppers.
First, you roast your hot banana peppers on the gas or charcoal grill until charred on the outside. Then place in a plastic or paper bag and allow them to sweat for at least a half an hour or until cool enough to handle.
By this time the charred skins should be easily removed and you’ll be left with a succulent roasted hot pepper. I like whizzing a few banana peppers in the food processor and then I set them aside as I prepare the rest of the Htipiti ingredients.
Now take an equal amount of Feta and Myzithra and add a little olive oil and start mashing the cheeses with your fork until they are incorporated and smooth.
Now add some pureed hot peppers in small amounts, mix and taste. Keep on adding until you acheive your desired heat. In Greece, Htipiti is served mildly spicy, not “blow your head off spicy”. If the mixture is a little stiff, slowly pour in some olive oil and blend it in. You now have your own Htipiti!
At this point in my Birthday party I served a new favourite of mine – grilled shrimp and Chorizo skewers. Again, there’s no real recipe here but to soak the bamboo skewers for at least overnight and then slice your Chorizo to the thickness of the shrimp and wrap the body of the shrimp around the arc of the sausage and secure with a small skewer.
Lightly oil your shrimp & Chorizo skewers and grill on high heat for 1-2 minutes per side. Serve them immediately.
Finally, this next dish doubled as another appetizer and a side dish…a green bean and cherry tomato salad.
I originally saw this cold bean salad on an episode of the Barefoot Contessa and I was immediately drawn to this salad. It had beans, olive oil, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, oregano, garlic and parsley.
After exploring regional dishes of Greece, I discovered that this dish is a specialty from the Greek island of Kythera, situated just south of the Laconian peninsula.
Here’s a family favourite – a wonderful summer salad of green beans and my own touch with roasted cherry tomatoes. The sweet tomatoes play off on the tart vinegar and the garlic and pungent dried Greek oregano offer a deep bottom to this symphony of herbs and vegetables.
Green Bean & Cherry Tomato Salad From Kythera
1 1/2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, roasted
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic , minced
1 heaping of teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste
- Place your cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a pre-heated 450F oven and roast for 20-30 minutes or until they skins have cracked & shriveled a bit. Allow to cool and set aside.
- Place a large pot of water on your stove-top and when it comes to a boil, add a good amount of salt and and place your beans in the water. Boil for 3-5 minutes until just tender (but still crisp).
- Strain your beans and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- In a large boil, add your balsamic vinegar, garlic, mustard and oregano and begin whisking in your olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper and now add your beans, cherry tomatoes and chopped parsley.
- Toss the salad so that the dressing coats all the components. Ad just seasoning with salt an pepper and serve at room temperature or cold.
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