Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Egg Cookery" - (Easter) Meatballs with Lemon Sauce & Spinach and Feta Pie

Date I made these recipes: April 8, 2012 (Easter Sunday)

Egg Cookery by Lou Seibert Pappas
Published by: 101 Productions
ISBN: 0-912238-80-1; © 1976
Recipes: Meatballs with Lemon Sauce, p-114 and Spinach and Feta Pie, p-90

Well, by the time I got around to writing this, Easter came and went. But in what I consider a fluke, these recipes will get you primed for the Greek Orthodox Easter which is this coming Sunday, April 15. You’re welcome!

Given that I made ham and potatoes two weeks ago for the Mad Men premier, I was not inclined to make ham again. Well, this posed a problem because I don’t like lamb and that was the only alternative meat for Easter if ham was not on the table. Hahaha…get it? “On the table?”

At any rate, I was watching an episode of The Chew, a cooking/talk show and they were all coloring Easter eggs. Well duh, people. Eggs! That was it! I could make an egg dish for Easter!

So I pulled out my handy-dandy Egg Cookery book and found the recipe for Spinach and Feta Pie. And if it was just me who was eating it, that’s all I would have made but being somewhat of a typical guy, my husband wanted something else and so he selected the Meatballs with Lemon Sauce recipe. This came about because the suggested accompaniment for the pie was “kefthethes,” a vinegar-glazed Greek meatball. Since we didn’t have that recipe, we went for the meatballs with lemon sauce.

As between the pie and the meatballs, the spinach pie was the hands down winner. It was rich without being too overpowering and it was loaded with good-for-you ingredients like spinach and feta (goat cheese is a good thing!) and eggs (naturally—thus the name of the book).

The pie was easy to prepare and once I got it in the oven, all I had to do was set the timer and file my fingernails.

Not so the meatballs and the lemon sauce. The meatballs were rather messy to make (“roll in flour” – what?) and didn’t bind together well. I had tons of “escaped” rice all over my pan such that it looked like I was making rice soup. For the record, I was not.

The lemon sauce was a nightmare to make. In the blink of an eye, it went from a runny, non-thickened sauce to a scrambled egg paste. My husband, “Iron Stomach Andy,” was game for eating it but I promptly threw it out and started over.

Alas, the second batch fared no better as the cornstarch started to form lumps too early on in the process. Lumps are fine for gravy, but not for a lemon sauce. The taste was fine, although a little light on the lemon but I used it sparingly. And that’s too bad because the meatballs were a little bland. I think a bit more oregano is in order.

I will say that this cookbook ran the gamut of recipes – from appetizers to soups to sweets so finding something to make from it wasn’t the problem. These recipes did not take too much time and that is critical to me on a Sunday afternoon (Easter or no Easter) when I need to get things ready to roll by the time the Good Wife and Mad Men come on. This Sunday, the Masters (golf tournament) wrapped up late throwing the entire CBS Sunday lineup a good hour behind schedule so it was a good thing that the Good Wife wasn’t on this week. (By the way, CBS, so far we Good Wife fans have had to endure late-running football games, basketball games and now golf tournaments. Can Greco-Roman wrestling be far behind?).

So enjoy the toggle between Easter and Greek Easter everyone!

Meatballs with Lemon Sauce – Makes 6 servings
1 pound lean ground beef
½ pound lean ground veal
2 tablespoons each chopped onion and parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup long-grain rice
2 cups rich beef stock
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix together the beef, veal, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, oregano, pepper and rice and ¼ cup of the beef stock. Shape mixture into 1-1/4-inch balls and roll in flour. Heat remaining broth to boiling, add meatballs, cover and simmer 35 minutes or until rice is tender. Beat eggs until blended, then beat in cornstarch and lemon juice. Pour some of the broth from the meat into the egg-lemon mixture, return to the pan and cook and stir until thickened. Serve accompanied with hot pita bread if desired.

Spinach and Feta Pie – makes 6 servings
Vinegar-Egg Pastry, page 85, or your favorite pastry (Note: I used a frozen pie shell)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon each salt and crumbled dried tarragon
Dash ground nutmeg
2 pounds spinach, chopped, cooked and drained
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Dijon-style mustard (to spread on pastry)

First prepare pastry-lined pan and spread with a thin coating of mustard.

Beat together eggs and egg yolks until blended and mix in yogurt, milk, parsley, salt, tarragon, nutmeg, spinach and feta. Spoon into the pastry-lined pan and drizzle top with melted butter. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350 and bake 25 minutes longer or until set. Let pie cool 5 minutes before cutting.

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