Greek Easter v.2009

img_4450Hristos Anesti (Christ Has Risen)!

I would like to wish all of my Greek family, friends, philHellenes who celebrated Easter yesterday. I hope your day was filled with many fond memories, that the Gods blessed you with some good Spring weather and the banquet of Easter delights exceeded all your expectations.

Despite the gloomy forecast for a cool Easter Sunday, I woke up to find the crisp, cool morning to bloom into a breezy Sunday afternoon…it was a glorious day for Greek Easter.img_4326

About a week ago my family decided to opt-out of doing the usual “whole roast lamb on spit”. Our reasons were two-fold:

  1. The forecast from over a week ago was for cool weather for Easter. Half of the joy of Easter Sunday is sitting outside, watching the lamb’s progress, sipping some libations, nibbling on appetizers and picking off some the crispy lamb skin in anticipation of the finished product. The weather forecast was pretty accurate and although yesterday was gorgeous, it was a little crisp for that Greek Easter outdoor experience.
  2. We didn’t have the numbers to justify ordering and roasting a whole lamb. Yesterday, we were 6 in total. Although we all adore lamb, we also don’t want to eat lamb leftovers all week!img_6804

The solution and inspiration came from my visit to the island of Naxos last year where I saw a taverna that roasted whole legs of lamb on the rotisserie. Prior to seeing this, I was under the assumption that a leg of lamb could only be spit-roasted if it were de-boned.img_4344

Last week when I ordered and purchased my lamb, I relayed my desired method of roasting lamb to the fellas at Kostas Meat Market and their solution was to take a “long-cut” of a lamb leg, crack the the lower leg and shank portion, pull it back and tie it securely to the thigh (meaty part of the leg).

This method ensures a more even roasting of the meat and less of a chance of your leg of lamb falling off the spit. With Kostas’ method, the rod/spit simply passses through the middle of the leg of lamb between the lower and upper part of the tied leg. I was instantly sold on the idea and as you can see for yourself…the lamb was juicy, well done (Greeks eat lamb well done) and the meat rendered to a flaky, pulled-pork kind of consistency.img_4472-1

My mom’s contribution was an Arni (lamb) Lemonato. The lamb shanks were browned and then they were place in the oven (covered) with some, stock and aromatized with wine, lemon juice lemon verbena and lemon thyme. The sauce was finished off with some dry Greek oregano and having lamb “two-ways” just added to the “festival” feel of our Easter table.

The lamb is the showcase at the Easter table but lots of work (if not more) goes into the preparation and delivery of all the appetizers/mezedes that are consumed through the course of the day.

This year was a case of something old, something new. Some dishes/appetizers I don’t play with much and others had some neat twists. One appetizer was a new introduction to our Easter feast and from the look and tasty result of it…it will likely become a fixture at future Easter tables.

Without further adieu, here comes the parade of food from yesterday’s Greek feast at the Kalofagas household. I wish you all could be there…I’ll be posting recipes and further details on each of the dishes.

Sit back, scroll down, salivate, anticipate and hopefully I’ll satiate your appetite for Greek food!

Anytime you’re at your favourite Greek restaurant, an array of dips are usually ordered. Dips & spreads also feature prominently at the table of a Greek family.img_4428

Some Taramasalata, a fish roe spread that’s whipped with oil, roe, onions, soaked bread was a carryover from Lent that was still scooped up with bread.img_4341

Tzatziki had to be included for Easter. Not only is it good with bread but it’s an excellent accompaniment to lamb.img_4437

Another favourite of my family’s and a specialty from Thessaloniki is Htipiti. It’s also known as “tyrokafteri” in other parts of Greece. It’s a dip made of roasted hot & sweet peppers with mashed Feta, myzithra (ricotta) and some extra-virgin olive oil.img_44381

A personal of mine is Melitzanosalata or, eggplant salad. I’m a stickler when it comes to this salad. I prefer the smokey flavour the eggplant gets when it’s placed right on white-hot charcoal…imparting a warm, smoky flavour.img_4330

All these dips are nothing without some good bread to scoop them with and place directly into our waiting mouths. I baked some fresh bread, using the master recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. If you haven’t got the book yet, what are you waiting for?

There’s quite a bit of time between when guests arrive and when the main attraction – the lamb is ready for the dinner.img_4399-1

More meats are prepared and given out through the afternoon as mezedes or appetizers. This first dish is a delicacy especially enjoyed during Easter Sunday, it’s sweetbreads. These particular sweetbreads are from the calf and I gently poached, then grilled them and brushed on a ladolemono (oil & lemon sauce) infused with fresh sage. Sweetbreads and sage are perfect match!img_4377-1

Next up is kokoretsi…another Greek Easter time classic. Kokoretsi usually appears in a larger form on the spit. It contains an array of lamb’s organ meat, some sweet breads and wrapped in yards and yards of lamb’s intestines. Here, I made some individual skewered kokoretsi that were every bit as good as the larger, usual version.

Finally, this next meze is a first for my Easter table but it definitely will not be the first. An avid reader of my blog, Leonard Bardoutsos wrote to me and suggested I try out “Splinandero” or litterally translated as “spleen intestine”. This is usually made by coarsely chopping an array of offal similar to that of Kokoretsi, marinating it and stuffing it into the large intestine of a sheep or lamb.img_4393

Such intestine is harder to find here so I improvised and used some sausage casings I had in the freezer. The result? A suprisingly delicious meze that had very little taste of liver or organ meat. Upon cutting slices of Splinandero, I was met with a cross-section of the different meats lookin like a mosaic of offal. Thank you Leonard…Splinandero will be appearing at future Easters!

By now, you can kinda’ tell Easter is all about the meat – which is fine. After a long period of Lent…us Greeks have alot of catching up to do with meats. However, we still have some vegetables and greens appearing at the table.img_4470

World-famous and oft’ requested by family, friends and readers of my blog are roasted potatoes. Olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of Greek oregano turned potatoes into magic. Blast the combo in a pre-heated oven and you should getting something that looks like this.img_4455

Since I had the grill going, I simply tossed some asparagus in some oil, salt, pepper and garlic pepper and grilled them. A squeeze of lemon juice and some sea salt are all that are needed for this delicious veggie.img_4481-1

This salad comes from the latest edition of Gastronomos and it was a pleasant surprise for everyone. Mixed greens get tossed in a warm dressing of honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar with a topping of toasted pine nuts. I want this salad now!img_4203

For dessert, we went with something old, something new. A Greek baklava containing chopped walnuts and almonds gets layered in sheets of buttered phyllo and then a syrup is poured over to give the baklava that syrupy moistness and crisp phyllo textural contrast.img_4494-1

Finally, I also served a creme brulee infused with the flavours of vanilla and mastic. When the cream was simmering, the aromas already told this was going to be real good. The creme brulee also gave me the opportunity to use my new kitchen torch. How do I do?

That was my Easter from yesterday. I hope you enjoyed the culinary ride. It’s one of, if not my favourite celebration day as a Greek. Let me know what stands out for you, what recipes you would like to see.

In the coming days, I’ll be posting links and recipes to the old and new dishes I have prepared. Happy Easter!

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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78 Comments for “Greek Easter v.2009”

says:

I’m new to your blog but I know I’ll be a frequent visitor. Your recipes and photos are great. Do you have any leftover lamb, baklava or creme brulee? I’ll be right over.

says:

Oh my Peter! What a great day you had. All the food that looks mouthwatering. I have never heard of Htipiti before. It looks so tasty. And after trying your potatoes, I have to say that they are famous in my home.

says:

Looks like an amazing event!

Do you happen to have a recipe for Htipiti? Sounds like something I would really enjoy.

I agree on the potatoes because simple and so delicious that way.

says:

I didn’ tknow greek people celebrated Easter yesterday. I thought it was a week ago.
Well i learn new things everyday.
Love the feast, when ever i see a party post in your place i always wish i coiuld join for the party to taste all the delicous goodies and it always look so so yumm. Especially to try new food, which i have never ever had.

Bridgett

says:

What a gorgeous feast! This is quite a celebration and it looks like you had a fantastic selection to choose from. I wouldn’t know where to start. Very impressive, Peter!

says:

Wow. What an incredible repast. I don’t know where to start…the lamb, the baklava, the creme brulee, hell – even the potatoes. Looks great!

says:

OMG everything looks SO wonderful! I need to try those potatoes. The first picture of the lamb on the spit should be on the cover of a food magazine! Would love to see the recipe for the eggplant salad :)

Louis Gkikas aka Nikoman44

says:

The feast looks fantastic. Well described and well photographed. Great job.

says:

Magnificent spread!

I purchased a 1/2 a lamb, and I’m going to need your help in knowing what to do with it. It came with everything, even the heart!

says:

Christos Anesti, Peter!!
Easter is also one of my favorite celebration days – the lamb looks amazing!
I wish you the very best my friend!

says:

What a wonderful spread…it’s a shame there were only 6 at the table. I would have gladly made a 7th and I’m sure if you sold tickets, you’d be adding folding chairs and card tables!

says:

happy easter Peter! I just learnt about the Greek tradition of celebrating a week later. That has to be a royal FEAST!

says:

Did you say 6 people? You’re kidding, right? You have enough food for an army!! What a beautiful spread Peter! Maybe because I just brewed a pot of coffee, but I’m craving a slice of that superb looking baklava!!

says:

I absolutely love this post. I had big expectations of what a Greek Easter feast would look like and I’m much more impressed than I even thought I would be.

Leonard

says:

Xristos Anesti Peter,that was just the feast to top all other feasts, and the right amount of food for 6 Greeks on Easter Sunday…. thats if you dont want leftovers for the next day, I dont think that the world knows how early we start and how late we finish.

says:

Everything looks really scrumptious, but I am seriously drooling over all those dips. I love a good dip with warm bread!

says:

What a beautiful feast! I look forward to the recipes.

We were invited to a coworker’s house for Greek Easter and it reminded me of you all day.

They had a whole lamb roasting over the charcoal and also a 5′ long skewer of kokoretsi. There were all sorts of dips, spreads, and side dishes. I have no clue what most of it was, but everything was delicious.

Our hosts were extremely kind and made sure our plates were never empty :-) I *love* Greek Easter!

says:

Ohmygoodness! You had a busy day! Love all the photos!! The Htipiti looks and sounds delicious…Being vegetarian, I guess I wasn’t really interested in the meat! :) Though the photos really look awesome!

says:

An amazing feast Peter! I love the creme brulee picture. I like any excuse to use my kitchen blow torch too LOL

says:

this post is a veritable feast for the eyes, which is second only to a feast for the belly. thanks for sharing your easter experience (and the baklava in particular). :)

says:

Loved following your updates on twitter. And thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful food tradition! The pictures are tempting !

says:

Sheesh, you did this up RIGHT Peter!! I can’t even begin to imagine how you ate all of that fabulous food. Everything about it was just perfect. I’d pay a LOT of money to have you make dinner for me :)

says:

JUST AMAZING Peter…am yet to scrape my jaw off the ground.Love the ‘blasted potatoes’, the folded leg-o-lamb (cool), the dips, the baclava,the creme brulee, the sides, the AB in 5, the overdose of meat after Lent…Well done indeed!

says:

Alithos Anesti! It looks like you had a fantastic Easter…absolutely beautiful Peter. I love how you got pics of everything cause I barely got to take any and now I am kicking myself for doing that.
Much love, health and happiness to you and your family Peter!

Koffee Kosmo

says:

After a spread like this I dont think I will find room for a Kafe
Maybe after a small sleep

Hah Maria I also remembered to take photos well after the food was eaten

says:

I knew your Easter post would be fabulous but this is way past fabulous and over the top! I’m surprised you were able to move and type after this feast! Spectacular!

Carol

says:

Excellent food as always. Can you please provide me with the receipe for Taramasalata? My mother-in-law loves the one at Mr. Greek restaurant, is your the same?

says:

Absolutely fabulous, of course. You need a restaurant. Seriously. I made creme brulee for our Easter dinner too — my husband & father in law’s fave dessert. But what’s mastic? I know — google it, right? ; )

says:

Such an amazing spread. I think I could take all day to comment on it all.

That first photo of the lamb is still making me salivate. I want lamb in a big way right now.

That pepper and feta dip looks to die for.

So do those desserts.

You certainly seem relaxed and happy with your meal. I had a lovely Easter, but man was I stressed!

says:

MY OH MY! That is one amazing banquet Peter, you can come to Passover at our home, and I am picking this holiday to come to yours! I especially want to try those sweetbreads.
Happy Easter.
LL

says:

Great post! It looks like a wonderful feast. I love Taramasalata. The best I’ve had was from a restaurant in Chicago called Greek Islands. Great place if you ever make it to Chicago.

says:

Oh WOW – can I come over to your place for Easter next year?? You’ve also just reminded me how much I love htipiti…

says:

Oh my gosh, this looks sooo magnificent! What an amazing feast! That lamb and those potatoes and that dessert … and, well, all of it! YUM!

says:

Oh, and I also meant to comment on how beautiful that church interior is. So lovely. Hope you had a joyous holiday!

says:

Happy belated Easter, Peter. Everything looks delicious. Looks like you had quite the spread! Of course, we did too. I’m back in Chicago about 10 lbs heavier :P