All Things Greek

Last year my friend, Annemarie, married a Greek guy. Kostas isn’t just a guy with Greek ancestry. He’s actually from Greece.  Annemarie is English and Danish, so their wedding was really a cool coming together of cultures.  My favorite part of their wedding were the three readings:  one in English, one in Danish, and one in Greek.

Don't they make a great couple?

With a couple of girlfriends, I volunteered to plan Annemarie’s bachelorette party. We’re not in our twenties any more, and Annemarie’s not really the crazy party girl anyway. So, I promised that everything we did at her party would be something she could tell her mother all about.

The only thing I knew about Greek weddings, I learned from the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  And, lacking a better idea…a plan was born.

We would throw an extravaganza called:  Annemarie’s Big Fat Greek Bachelorette Party!  To make things easier, we just called it the AMBFGBD.

(Yes, yes, I know.  Annemarie is all one word.  But, it’s a super long name and for as long as we’ve all been friends some of us have had the habit of just calling her AM in emails and text messages.  The whole name is just too long!)

We went on a scavenger hunt where we found items from the movie, ate Greek foods, and danced a “Greek” dance in front of Annemarie’s favorite dance club.  It was a blast.

FYI: Maureen's peeking out from behind a travel magazine. The main character in the movie worked in a travel agency.

We even made up a logo and plastered it on everything we could, and Joanne (the world’s most magnificent photoshop artist) made this cover for the scavenger hunt questions.

Have you ever seen anything so awesome?

I have no idea what Kostas must have thought about us crazy Americans, but we had a great time.

After the scavenger hunt, we went to my apartment (decorated with Greek flags and blue and white streamers, of course) and ate some really good Greek food from a local restaurant. It was incredible. We had moussaka and pastichio, hummus and tzatziki, and plenty of baklava. Yum!

We did not have the following dish. I suspect that’s because the following dish is not really Greek.

“Greek” Style Shrimp Scampi

I had to think of something to do with all those herbs!

This is one of my go-to dishes in the summertime.  It’s light and flavorful.  Super fresh.  And it barely takes any time over heat.  I don’t have a/c in my kitchen.  I don’t need a lot of heat.

You’ll need…

1/2 lb of raw shrimp (I remove the tails, because who wants to do that while sitting at the table?)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 28 1/2 can chopped tomatos (I prefer fire roasted for just about everything!)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley (or similar…or not-so-similar)
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/2 lemon
salt/pepper
cooking spray
2 oz uncooked orzo

Preheat your broiler.  Put an oven safe skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.  (I just use a regular skillet and put some tin foil over the handle, just to be safe.)  Spray with cooking spray, then cook the onions about five minutes, until soft.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to package directions.

When the onion is done, turn up the heat a bit and add all that garlic.  Saute 30 seconds.

(Yes, this is a serious amount of garlic.  Do you know the trick to keep your hands from smelling like garlic for the next three days?  Wash your hands right away under cold water and rub them against stainless steel.  No, you don’t need one of those fancy stainless steel bars from the kitchen store.  Save your money.  Most kitchen faucets are made from stainless steel, so just rub your soapy hands against your faucet.  Science!  Ain’t it grand?)

Add in the bell pepper, tomatos, and most of the herbs.  Save a tablespoon or two for garnish.  Season with a little pepper and a little less salt. That feta will add quite a bit of saltiness on it’s own!

Let this mixture simmer for 5-6 minutes so the tomato can mellow and everybody can get friendly.

(Speaking of those herbs, parsley is good.  Parsley and thyme are even better.  I had some cilantro and thai basil left over from last week’s CSA.  I added even more basil and thyme from my garden.  There was not a single sprig of actual parsley in there, and it all worked out just fine.)

If the whole thing gets too thick, add in some of that yummy starch water from that orzo you’re cooking.  Then, when it’s looking like a very chunky sauce, add in the raw shrimp, cooked orzo, and sprinkle the feta on top.  Immediately put it all under the broiler.

Broil for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp.  Don’t cook it too long, because overcooked shrimp are just gross.  When they’re pink, they’re done!

Once it’s out of the broiler, squeeze that half lemon over the whole thing and top with those leftover herbs.  Yummy!

This is a pretty one. I love pretty food.

So, I have no idea if this is really Greek, but I am sure that it’s really, really good.  That’s all that really matters, right?

It makes two servings, and makes a fantastic lunch the next day.  I’m not a fan of re-heating seafood (read my note about overcooked shrimp above) so I just eat it cold.  It might be even better cold!

Oh, and if you’re looking for an awesome appetizer, omit the orzo, grab a loaf of crusty bread, and bring this to the table in the sizzling skillet.  Let everyone grab a hunk of bread and dig in.  Always a crowd pleaser…

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