Maybe Next Time Greece

I am so privileged to have the opportunity to know so many people of so many faiths and nationalities. I began this column today with the Greek Avgolemono in mind. For those of you who are unaware of this “brusca”(sharp tasting) sauce, it is a simplified version of the French Hollandaise in a sense. As much as I love Greek cuisine, and am knowledgeable about it, Sephardic and Ashkanazi(among others) cuisines have always been close to my heart. Why? I just don’t know. Imagine, a liberal Yankee! who would have thought? I suppose Kashrut, kosher cooking, intrigued me when a teen and I have always been a sponge when it comes to learning. Heck, I read history books to relax.
Anyway, I am rambling. Ever since my first magic show back in 1980 at the Jewish Center in Bangor, I have been most interested in the Jewish cuisine, and one of my favorite dishes is a spinoff of Avgolemono. This recipe, although not considered Kosher, has Jewish influences and I do think you will love the flavor of the sauce. This dish can also be prepared as a soup, as Avgolemono enthusiasts do, by thinning out the sauce with a little extra vegetable broth and serving it with a few meatballs. I much prefer this heartier interpretation.

Meatballs Agristada

Makes approximately 24 small meatballs.

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 c. matzo meal(or 1 c. breadcrumbs)
2 t. minced garlic in oil
2 T. dried chives
1/2 c. canned, chopped spinach, squeezed dry
1 t. dried oregano
2 eggs, slightly whisked
3/4 c. cooked rice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 c. vegetable broth

Agristada Sauce:
3 eggs
1/4 c. lemon juice
Buttered egg noodles

In a large bowl, mix the two meats together well. Add the rest of the ingredients, except broth, and mix well using hands. Form into meatballs the size of walnuts. Over medium heat, in a large skillet, saute meatballs until brown. You will have to do this in batches. In the meantime, pour vegetable broth into a large pot and heat to boiling over medium heat. Drain meatballs on paper towels and then add to a pot of vegetable broth. Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until done. Remove meatballs from broth. Strain broth and reserve 1 1/2 c.. Or if making soup, strain the broth, keeping it all. (Double the eggs and lemon juice before whisking into hot broth). Return broth to stove and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Beat egg yolks and egg with lemon juice. Add about a cup of the hot broth to the egg mixture very slowly: whisk well.  This is called tempering. Turn heat to low and return this mixture to the pot of simmering broth and whisk well over low heat until thickened. Do not bring to a boil. Add meatballs and continue to heat until meatballs are hot and coated with sauce. Serve over cooked egg noodles.

How about one of the easiest cookies you will ever make? And yes, we are still sticking with the Jewish theme, sorry Greece.

Hamantaschen Cookies are three-cornered cookies that resemble Haman’s hat(Look it up. It is a fascinating story) and normally eaten for the Purim holiday, but of course should be enjoyed year round. The kids will love them because you can let them pick out their favorite jam, jelly, preserves or even chocolate.

Jewish Hamantaschen Cookies

1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. butter or margarine
2 eggs
6 T. water
1/2 t. vanilla
4 c. flour
Filling or fillings of choice

Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs and cream until smooth. Stir in water and vanilla. Add flour, mixing until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray nonstick cooking spray liberally, then dust with flour.  Roll out cold dough very thin. If you would like, roll out between waxed paper. Using a round or scalloped cookie cutter, of any size really, cut out as many rounds as you are able to. Gathering up the dough and rolling out again to cut even more out. Remember, we are Yankee’s. Pinch off walnut-size pieces of dough and roll into a ball. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of circle of dough. Pinch to form a three-cornered hat. Bake about 15 minutes or until just starting to brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired or drizzle with melted chocolate.