Pink Caviar Spread*
Taramasalata, made with the roe of carp or cod, is wildly popular in Greece. "Pretty in pink," it's thick, creamy, and deliciously salty.
Soak the bread in water for 1-2 minutes till soft. Squeeze the slices in your hands to get water out.
In a food processor, combine mashed bread with garlic, lemon juice and roe. Pulse to blend. Then with motor running, slowly pour a very thin stream of olive oil, making sure it gets incorporated (like making mayonnaise). You want a creamy (but slightly grainy) consistency. If it’s too thin, add more oil; too thick, add more lemon juice or water.
Turn into a bowl, sprinkle with parsley to garnish, and serve with pita bread wedges. Heaven!
* Hundreds of variations of this recipe exist, and passions run high about the best way to make it. Some prefer potatoes to bread, some use milk, or add onions. Real purists blend it all by hand with a mortar and pestle.
Tips & Glossary
You may not have a number of ingredients used in Greek cooking in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Mid-Eastern food stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.
Filo: aka phyllo, paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Purchase frozen in most grocery stores and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with a sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
Grape Leaves: Grape leaves are sold canned in salted oil. Rinse off the salt before using. If you want, prepare your own: find fresh, tender young leaves and plunge them for 1 minute into boiling water (with 1 or 2 T lemon juice). Then proceed with recipe. After blanching, you can freeze them for later use. Here’s how: blanch as above, dunk in iced water, pat dry with towels, and seal in an air-tight plastic bag. They're safe for 6 months, but use quickly when thawed.
Nutmeg: Use small whole nuts and store them, tightly covered, in a dry dark area. Grate what you need using the smallest grating edge or grind in a food processor. What a difference from store bought nutmeg!
Pine Nuts: edible seeds of pine trees used in many Greek dishes. Before cooking, release flavor by lightly browning in a heated skillet
Skewers: Use metal or wooden skewers for kebobs. If wooden, soak 30 minutes before using to prevent them from catching on fire.
Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own. But, seriously, why would you? Purchase it at Asian or Mid-Eastern stores.
Semolina: aka farina or Cream of Wheat; a coarsely ground wheat grain. You also know it as couscous. If made from durum wheat, it is used to make pasta.
Tarama: poor-man's caviar. From carp roe, it is pinkish-orange and is what (along with food dye) gives taramasalata its lovely color. Buy it jarred in Mid-Eastern food stores.
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