Monday, January 3, 2011

Greek Feast: NYE 2010

My goodness, how time flies. Here we are -- three whole days into the new year already and I think I just started to get hungry again after all that New Year's Feasting...

Seriously. I'm barely kidding.

If you've been paying close attention to our habits over the years, you may have noticed that it's tradition for us to celebrate New Year's Eve at home in the company of our good friend Steph. It's customary for us to get together the week before Christmas to choose a theme for our celebration. And then we spend the days before New Year's gathering up a slew of great looking recipes to challenge us in the kitchen. Last year, we cooked up an amazing Asian feast that took us almost three whole days to consume.

This year, we were inspired by an issue of Saveur magazine that featured a number of Greek small plates.  So, we decided to pull out all the stops on an amazing Mediterranean theme.

Oddly enough, even the weather cooperated with our concept.  You probably won't believe me, but I've got to get it on record that it was 55 degrees here in Milwaukee on New Year's Eve Day.  Um... yeah.  Absolutely balmy. For those of you who aren't familiar with Wisconsin weather, it's pretty unbelievable to get above 30 degrees in late December, so fifty was a pretty nice treat.  Although it was a little bit rainy, we spent part of the morning outside sipping wine next to the grill while our eggplant and peppers blackened. 
We took the smoky vegetables, peeled away the burnt skin and then pureed them with jalapeno peppers, garlic, and plenty of fresh parsley to make Melintzanosalata, an amazingly spicy smoky eggplant dip.   We also pulled together some Tzatziki and a batch of garlicky Skordalia (which we made with walnuts, instead of the more traditional almonds).
The dips were amazing served with crudites (mostly sliced fresh fennel, in our case) and crackers, but they also made great toppings for the Laganes (Greek flatbreads) we prepared.
For our first round of small plates, we made deliciously herbal Dolmades, which were the perfect complement to the minty & garlicky tzatziki.
 And we loved the Garides Saganaki (shrimp with tomatoes & feta) -- which was not only delicious on its own, but perfect scooped up into the Laganes.
We took frequent breaks to play Trivial Pursuit, as well as this year's newest board game acquisition, Smart Ass (which turned out to be a seriously fun time, despite its awkwardly large dice & strangely small game pieces).
And when we'd get hungry again, we'd go back into the kitchen and whip up amazing little snacks like Piperies Gemistes me Feta (peppers stuffed with feta).  After oohing and aahhing over the dish, we'd go back to playing games for a while... until we got a hankering for our next dish.
It took a while, but we managed to get through almost every one of the recipes we'd chosen -- including delicious lamb meatballs with feta, oregano, & garlic...
Fried calimari... which was amazing when paired with the smoky eggplant dip...
And our perennial New Year's Eve favorite, Spanikopita -- which has become such a staple, we don't even bother using a recipe anymore.  This year's spinach pies were flaky and bursting at the seams with spinach, scallions, dill and garlic. 

We made a particularly large batch, but it wasn't a problem at all since we were delighted to have leftovers to eat for lunch on New Year's Day.

When we tired of cooking, we settled in with our flat-bread and dips, chatting animatedly as we sipped refreshing glasses of iced ouzo and nibbled on olives & pomegranate seeds.  The hours and minutes remaining in 2010 slipped away almost effortlessly -- as time tends to do when we're eating & drinking with good friends.

What did you do for NYE this year?

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  1. Oh that sounds fabulous! We had a simple new years eve with tacos that made both the adults & kids happy

  2. It was gorgeous here on NYE also. I took it as a good omen.

    This greek feast looks amazing! That is what I want on my next NYE. For sure.

  3. What a great tradition. And that menu is awesome. I was telling Peef on FB that I used to make Dolmades all the time back in veggie days. Yummy.

    We hung out with friends that have kids the same age as ours (so the grown-ups can play too) and had a heated game of Wii Bowling, while eating artichoke dip and sipping egg nog. Good times.

  4. OOOhhhh, I was waiting and waiting to see this one... Everything looks great, especially those cheesy peppers! We played CatchPhrase over here, and the one pot of gumbo was it - along with all the sweets. I'm not eating sugar for a month. Well, at least 2 days.

    Happy New Year!!

  5. that all looks phenomenal! i LOVE greek food. and i've been dying to try those feta stuffed peppers ever since we got that edition of the mag.

    we had steaks and i was in bed well before 12am. i am officially an old lady with 2 kids. ;)

  6. OMGosh I love Greek food and yours looks amazing! It is so very similar to Italian, no wonder I love it. We ate light and drank light too this NYE. However, Christmas Eve was filled with tons of food and a continuous flow of wine. Wishing you both a year filled with good health, prosperity, and fabulous food!

  7. YUM! This looks amazing! If you ever need someone to help take some of that food off your hands, you know who to call! ;) Do you have a good recipe for tzatziki? We've tried to make it before, but it's never as good as the stuff we get from a nearby Greek grocery store.

  8. What a feast! Those stuffed peppers look absolutely amazing.

  9. Great theme for a NYE party. Everything looks tasty and I definitely want to play that game. It sounds right up my alley.

    Weather has been funny all over. The day after Christmsa in NY we had 2 feet of snow on the ground. For New Year's Day is was 50 degrees.


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