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Greek Easter Feast

Cat Cora will demonstrate some traditional Greek meals to celebrate Greek Easter which is on Sunday, May 5.

Greek Easter does not always fall on the same date as what most of America knows as the holiday, because the Greek Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar when calculating Easter.

Menu:
Avgolemono (Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce)
Lamb Skewers (Souvlaki)
Koulorakia (Cookies)

Cat Cora is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She runs the Postino Restaurant in Lafayette, Calif. She co-hosts the Food Network show "Melting Pot" and also Food Network's newest show, "My Country, My Kitchen." She is excited about her new show because it will show the cuisine of her Greek ancestors.

Cora also has a new job as a food columnist at the Contra Costa Times, and she also will be coming out with a cookbook soon.

She was raised in a small Greek community in Jackson, Miss. Her parents were first-generation immigrants, and they held strongly to their Greek traditions while incorporating their southern surroundings.

She grew up in a restaurant family. During her college years, she cooked at both a casual Italian trattoria and an upscale private dining club serving classical French cuisine. She went to Europe after college and, for four months, she ate and drank her way through nine different countries.

She then went to the Culinary Institute of America, from which she graduated with honors. She went to work for Anne Rosenweig and Larry Forgione, two chefs considered by many to be pioneers of American cooking.

Cora continued her culinary education in Europe. She apprenticed for two of France's 3-star Michelin chefs: Georges Blanc and Roger Verge. She returned to New York briefly before heading to the Napa Valley.

Here are her recipes:

Avgolemono (Chicken Soup with Egg-Lemon Sauce)

Ingredients:
1 each 3-pound free-range chicken
1 large onion, diced fine
2 each bay leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 each leek, cleaned and quartered
1 each carrot, peeled and quartered
2/3 cup Arborio rice
2 tablespoons salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Method:

  1. Place the chicken in a large pot of cold water, enough to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, skimming when necessary.
  2. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions.
  3. Sweat the onions until clear. Set aside.
  4. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the broth. Let the chicken cool and pull the meat from the bones. Dice into large cubes. Set aside.
  5. Add the onion, bay leaves, leek and carrot to the broth and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. When finished, remove the carrot and leek from the broth and add the rice to the broth. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium high to simmer until the rice is cooked al dente, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken back into the broth. Add more water if needed.
  8. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and lemon juice together. Pour 2 cups of broth slowly into the bowl of egg and lemon, whisking continuously. Once all the broth is incorporated, add the mixture into the pot of chicken soup and stir to blend well throughout.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve hot.
Lamb Skewers (Souvlaki)
(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

1 lamb shoulder, cubed
1-2 bay leaves
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning spice
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Method:

  1. Cut leg of lamb into 1-2-inch cubes.
  2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar and pour this marinade over the meat.
  3. Now sprinkle the marinated meat with salt, pepper, Greek seasoning, garlic and bay leaves. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Skewer meat and cook skewers over charcoal (or in oven broiler), basting (with leftover marinade) and turning occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked to taste.
  5. Serve over orzo.
Twisted Sweet Biscuits (Koulourakia)
Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 each large eggs, save back 1 yolk
3 1/2 cups pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the butter and the olive oil.
  3. Add in the sugar and beat well.
  4. Drop the eggs in one at a time(using 3 whites and 2 yolks) and continue to mix.
  5. Begin adding in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla.
  6. Incorporate everything well and pull the dough out onto a floured board.
  7. Knead lightly to mix and with a tablespoon, pull a piece off and roll it about 1/2 inch thick into a cylinder. Holding each end, bring it together in the middle and twist the dough 2-3 times. Pinch the end lightly to seal the cookie.
  8. With a fork and a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg yolk and milk. Brush each cookie lightly with the egg and milk mixture. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the cookie and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown.
The following is a recipe by Cat Cora that was not demonstrated on the air.

Hortopita
(Recipe Courtesy of Cat Cora)

Ingredients for crust:
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 ounces olive oil
1 cup water or milk

Method for crust:

  1. In a large bowl or food processor, mix the flour and salt.
  2. Add the oil and liquid and mix briefly until a dough forms.
  3. Pour it onto a floured board and knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth.
  4. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
Ingredients for filling:

2 pounds mixed greens (mustard , dandelion and rocket)
12 ounces olive oil
3 each spring onions or white onion, thinly sliced
6 each scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup parsley, chopped rough
4 ounces dill, chopped rough
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Method for filling:

  1. Preheat a pot of canola oil to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot, briefly boil the greens until wilted.
  3. Remove and strain the excess water.
  4. Heat a saute pan on medium heat.
  5. Add the 4 ounces of olive oil.
  6. When the oil is hot, add in the spring onions and cook until translucent.
  7. Add the scallions and continue to saute until they are tender.
  8. Add the wilted greens and parsley and saute for 3 minutes more.
  9. Remove from heat and add the dill and salt to season.
  10. Set aside to cool.
Method for assembly:
  1. Divide the dough into four pieces.
  2. On a floured surface, roll one piece out to a large rectangle. Trim the edges if needed.
  3. Brush both sides of the phyllo (dough) with olive oil and place a generous portion of the filling on one end of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
  4. Roll the dough in a cylinder and then shape into a coil. Continue with the other dough and repeat the process.
  5. Fry them one by one.
  6. Cut in half and serve warm or at room temperature.
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