Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 – A Canada Day CelebrationJun 28th, 2009 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Appetizer, BBQ, Beef, Canada Day, Canadiana, Festive, Greek, Greek Food, Greek Grill, Liqueur, Main, Meat, Meze
This upcoming week will kick off the holiday season what with children out of school and parents are gearing up for family vacations. Next week also marks the arrival of July and a very important date for Canadians is July 1st – Canada Day.
Us Canadians celebrate with pride our very young but thriving, prosperous and peaceful country’s birthday. Canada as we know it (as a nation) will turn a mere 142 years old. The number of years celebrated each year has always been easy for me to remember. I was born in 1967, I was a Centennial Baby. Back in 1967, Canada celebrated it’s 100 years in existence as a country. We’re a young nation but one with much promise.
Canada is a nation made up of the Native peoples, early Viking settlements have been discovered on Newfoundland and early French and English settlers laid foundations for what is today modern Canada.
The social fabric of today’s Canada is a richer tapestry – one that includes a significant immigrant population. Both my parents came from Greece and many of my other friends in Canada share a similar fate in being born in Canada to immigrant parents.
Today, immigration numbers are still high and Canada still embraces people from all over the world: to escape persecution or war, to seek out a better life and contribute to the development of this young, budding nation.
Canadians are very proud of their country and we wear the Canadian flag with much pride. Canada Day often gets shadowed by the July 4th festivites just South of the border and that’s why I chose to throw a BBQ to celebrate Canada Day.
You still have a few days to plan your backyard BBQ for friends and family and you’re about to get an eye-full of delicious ideas for a summer BBQ. The slant of my feast is obviously towards Greek food. Gone are the days when non-Greeks would look oddly at Greek dishes. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love Greek food.
This BBQ presented a little bit of a challenge. In the mix I had invited some folks who often serve me at the pub I frequent in downtown Toronto. Not one of them Greek, not one having visited Greece and all them associate Greek food with what they have been served on the Danforth (Toronto’s Greektown).
When I first started this blog, my intentions were to show Greek food the way I know it as a Greek, my vast experience in trying varying Greek dishes from all regions of Greece and sharing my experiences with you, the reader.
My friends relished each and every plate, they have a new concept of what Greek food is all about and after all the dishes cleared and loaded into the dishwasher, I’m delighted they all now loveÂ Greek food.
After today, you too going to love Greek food!
First plates to arrive on the table were the dips. I chose to offer this delicious roasted red pepper dip.
The other dip to arrive at the backyard banquet is a summer standard when I’m entertaining, Melitzanosalata or, eggplant salad.
Next to arrive in front of our hungry eyes was a little taste of Canada, some salmon cakes.
The salmon cakes came to the table alongside an Avocado Tzatziki. Chunks of avocado were stirred into strained Greek yogurt and chopped fresh tarragon added alot of flavour to a wonderful pairing for salmon.
Inorder to buy myself some time and get the grill going for the upcoming dishes, I served a plate of my homemade Pastourma. Pastourma is the original pastrami and it’s cured and seasoned with fenugreek and other exotic Byzantine spices.
At this point, the grill still wasn’t ready, so I quickly jumped back in the kitchen and whipped up a quick saute of shrimp with a garlic, olive oil, a Greek dessert wine made of the Moscato grape and finished off with lime juice, Boukovo (chilli flakes) and parsley.
Finally! The grill is ready and this as good of a moment as ever to introduce my friends to grilled octopus. The night before I braised the octopus in it’s own juices, threw in the wine cork for extra-tender action and then marinated the tentacles in wine and spices. Those at the table who’ve eaten octopus never had it so tender and those trying it for the first time became converts.
In keeping with the cephalopod theme, the next item on the menu were grilled baby calamari stuffed with Kasseri cheese, scallions and red peppers and then topped with a parsley sauce. This is new dish in my roster and it will be a delight to make over and over again!
Using my grill basket, I tossed some peppers, zucchini, mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them quickly over high heat. Another drizzle of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste were all that was needed to complement the veggies’ natural flavours.
It’s now time for some meat. A summertime favourite in Greece and on my grill is pork belly. Greeks love grilled meats and Pantsetes are often found alongside souvlaki and keftdes at most grill houses and tavernas.
Us Greeks like to feed our guests…I mean REALLY feed them. The next meat course comes from the island of Cyprus. This dish is called Seftalia. Ground beef and pork and seasoned with spices (including a pinch of cinnamon) and wrapped in lamb’s caul fat and grilled. Moist, juicy and aromatic are my recollection of this popular dish from Cyprus.
Last of the meat courses was some spare ribs. My own dry-rub combo coated these ribs over night and then during the day of my BBQ, I baked them off in the oven and finished them on the grill and finally slathered them with a zesty BBQ sauce.
Served alongside the ribs are a Canadian favourite…Yukon Gold potatoes sliced into coins, tossed in olive oil and Montreal Steak Spice, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in the BBQ on indirect heat. These spuds are one of the easiest and tastiest offerings for a BBQ!
At this point, we were all full. Some went for smoke breaks, I loaded the dishwasher with plates, cutlery, etc and then I served up a small plate of watermelon salad with thinly sliced red onions, chopped fresh mint, cubes of Feta and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
One of the most important rules about attending a feast is to always leave room for dessert. I chose a Greek classic, Creme Caramel with the only “twist” being the use of some grated Tonka bean to infuse the milk. This was my first time using Tonka beans and I’m hooked! The flavour, the aromas are intoxicating.
There you have it folks…my Canada Day BBQ celebration. I do hope you enjoyed the virtual hospitality and I hope I’ve captured your imaginations and piqued your interest in trying some dishes.
Recipes and links will follow in the days ahead. Tell me what recipes you would like to see first and I’ll try and post the more popular recipes first.
Finally, don’t forget to wish Canada ad Happy Birthday this Wednesday July 1st…Happy 142nd Canada!!!
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Â© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis
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© 2009, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. 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.