By day they are executives in New York City but by night (and most weekends too) they are culinary wizards adventuring their way around the inventive kitchen. Meet blog reader Michael, one of the winners in last month’s Spartan Souvenir giveaway and his lovely wife Renee.
As soon as their prize of Greek olive oil and wild mountain oregano hit their mailbox they started daydreaming about what they could make. Possibilities abounded of course, but it didn’t take very long before they settled on two Mediterranean-style dishes that highlighted their new winnings and captured the simple fresh flavors of their farmer’s market palates. In a lovely spirit of community, these two home chefs not only sent back a follow-up note on their gift receipt but also included recipes and photos of everything they made with their Sparta samplings. Fantastic! Here is what they made…
Long-time connoisseurs of make-it-yourself pizza they first prepared a Mediterranean style Greek pizza with homemade dough and an inventive brussels sprout topping. Next, (just in time for Fish Friday) they made a simple Greek-style baked cod using local fish and an array of herbs.
Michael and Renee’s recipes couldn’t have come at a better time in our calendar year. If you are still entertaining holiday house guests the Greek Pizza makes for a fun party pleaser and can be doubled or tripled in size to fit all appetites. Or if you find yourself ready to put the heavy plates of the holiday season behind you then the Greek Baked Cod would be just the ticket for a light and refreshing meal. Both recipes highlight the unique flavor of the olive oil and oregano from Sparta, Greece which you can find at thespartantable.com All other ingredients can be locally sourced from your grocery or market.
Note: Michael and Renee followed Jim Lahey’s lead on the pizza dough preparation. You can find a step-by-step guide here which includes a casual video on the making of it all. If you have never made homemade pizza dough before don’t feel intimidated, it’s very easy and this is a no-knead recipe which makes it even easier. If you can’t sacrifice the time for the dough, start out simple with a pre-raised dough ball from Trader Joe’s or the fresh bakery department at most supermarkets.
(for the dough)
3.5 cups all-purpose flour ( M&R veered slightly from the dough recipe and incorporated some whole wheat flour as well. This recipe reflects their version.)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
(for the topping)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and placed in a bowl, covered with water for at least 30 minutes, then drained and dried
1 Serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced (remove the seeds and veins if you are averse to heat or if your chili is super strong)
8-10 raw brussels sprouts, shaved
1/4- 1/3 cup (plus more for topping) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon Spartan Table wild mountain Greek Oregano
5 ounces Spartan Table Extra Virgin Greek olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Prepare dough as directed. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Add pizza stone about one hour prior to baking. Mold the dough into a circle on a pizza peel lined with semolina flour to prevent sticking and for easy sliding.
Place all topping ingredients together in a bowl and mix in olive oil and salt and pepper to coat.
Scatter your toppings evenly on top of the dough. Bake until bubbly and slightly browned about 10-12 minutes. Depending on your oven, this could take more or less time. Finish with olive oil, sea salt, and extra Parmesan cheese.
Greek Baked Cod (serves 2)
Fresh, local cod (enough for two portions)
1/2 teaspoon Spartan Table Greek oregano
5 ounces Spartan Table Greek olive oil for drizzling and finishing
1 quarter of a large organic lemon, thinly sliced
1 half of a medium shallot, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Add cod to two pieces of foil paper (doubled so that it doesn’t leak) placed on a baking sheet. Drizzle fish with the olive oil, oregano, and salt and pepper. Arrange the shallot slices on the bottom of the foil, place the cod filet on top with the fennel and lemon slices.
In the land of the Vintage Kitchen, it is very exciting to have such an enthusiastic (and delicious!) response to a blog post. Hopefully, Michael and Renee’s recipes will help pave the way for more culinary adventures discovered by our readers. Having come full circle with an interview that originated months ago in the faraway, mystical olive groves of Greece and ended up finally on the kitchen table of two New York foodies, this post feels a bit like magic. Even though a zillion miles separates us from Sparta and Nashville and New York we now share a commonality in the history of a food. And our cross-culture community feels a bit more close-knit. As Homer said, “the journey is the thing.”
Again, a big thank you to Jehny and George for carrying on the family tradition of olive-growing in Greece and to Michael and Renee in New York for inspiring us with two new recipes fit for a feast.
Cheers or opa, as they say in Greece, to the final days of 2016. May they be both merry and bright.