It's Greek This Week!

Jim Botsacos, the executive chef at Molyvos restaurant in New York, taps the Mediterranean influences of his native Greece to cook up treasures straight from the Aegean Sea.

Chef Jim Botsacos makes a three course meal for four all within The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring $30 budget.

The Menu:
Baked Eggplant with Tomato and Herbs
Spice-Crusted Porgy with Lentil Salad and Yogurt Garlic Sauce
Roasted Black Mission Figs

Terminology:

Porgy: Widely known as sea bream, there are many different varieties of this fish family in the U.S. and around the world. The most popular U.S. porgy is the scup, which is found in Atlantic waters. Porgies have a firm, low-fat flesh with a delicate mild flavor. They are generally sold whole. The porgy is suitable for almost any method of cooking, including baking, grilling, and frying.

The Recipes:

Baked Eggplant with Tomato and Herbs
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for the baking pan
2 Spanish onions, peeled and finely diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
2 medium eggplant (same size), tops and bottoms trimmed, remove the neck (peel and small dice for stuffing), slice remaining eggplant into eight 1 1/2" rounds of equal size
2 1/2 cups canned whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, juices reserved separately
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 recipe tomato sauce (recipe follows)

Method:

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of olive oil. When oil is hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook until soft and translucent, 10-12 minutes. Season with pepper then add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the oregano and stir. Add the diced eggplant, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, to soften slightly. Stir in the chopped tomatoes along with 5 oz of their juices and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the flavors have had a chance to blend and sweeten. Lower the heat slightly and fold in the breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring occasionally 1-2 minutes, until the mix begins to tighten up; the water is evaporating. Remove the pan from the heat and fold in the parsley and fresh oregano, season again with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside. In a stainless steel mixing bowl, toss the sliced eggplant with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay the eggplant on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until it is tender to the touch.
  2. Lightly oil a medium-sized baking dish. Spoon the tomato sauce into the dish and spread evenly to cover the bottom. Top each slice of eggplant with a generous tablespoon of the stuffing, then add each slice to the baking dish in one layer (no overlapping), to fill pan. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until warm.
  3. To serve spoon 2 tablespoons of sauce onto the bottom of your plate and top with two eggplant rounds. Top with grated cheese and herbs.
Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
2 TB chopped parsley

Note: to double the recipe amount, cooking time must be increased by two and a half times.

Method:

  1. In a non-corrosive sauce pot, combine the olive oil and garlic over medium heat, and saute until the garlic is lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Add the dried oregano with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir and add the tomatoes with all their juices (to extract all of the tomato, add a little water to the can, swirl and spill into the sauce pot), and increase heat to medium high; the sauce will come to a boil. Skim the foam from the top, lower the heat, and add the sugar with a pinch of salt & pepper. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook sauce for another 25 minutes. Remove pot from heat, stir in parsley, and set it aside until ready to use.

Spice Crusted Porgy Fish, Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes, Lentil Salad and Yogurt Garlic Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients for lentil salad:
2 cups dry lentils, sorted through
4 cups cold water
2 bay leaves
2T chopped capers
4T fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3T red wine vinegar
5T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Method:

  1. Put the lentils in a small stainless steel sauce pot. Add the water and place the pot on high heat. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Skim any impurities from the top. Add the bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Transfer the lentils to a strainer and place them under cold running water to cool; drain.
  2. Combine the lentils, capers, parsley, cumin, vinegar, olive oil, and roasted tomatoes in a mixing bowl, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, mix, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, to allow the flavors to blend.

Ingredients for Yogurt Garlic Sauce:
1 8 oz European cucumber, peeled
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
3/4 cup Mediterranean-style yogurt (It is possible to substitute conventional yogurt, strained according to the method below)
1 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Method:

  1. Roughly chop the cucumber and add it to the bowl of a food processor with a pinch of salt. Process until very fine. Line a colander or other strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Transfer the cucumber and garlic puree to the colander, and drain all the juices (this takes about 30 minutes).
  2. Squeeze the cheesecloth to extract any remaining juices from the cucumbers, and then discard the cloth with its contents, reserving the seasoned cucumber juices. Put the yogurt in a stainless steel mixing bowl, and slowly whisk in the cucumber and lemon juices. Add the garlic, mix well, and season to taste with salt & pepper.
  3. The sauce should be the consistency of a creamy vinaigrette. Set aside until ready to serve; advance preparation allows the flavors to meld.
  4. To prepare recipe using a conventional yogurt you need to start with 1 1/2 cups to yield 3/4 cups for this recipe. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set over a bowl (note: bowl should support strainer so it does not touch the bottom of the bowl). Put the yogurt in the strainer and let it drain overnight. Discard the liquid and use the strained yogurt as directed.

Preparing the Fish:

Ingredients:
4 5 oz Porgy fish fillets, skin on (may substitute snapper or sea bass)
5T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted ground spices (see recipe below)
1 beefsteak tomato cut into 4 slices, about a 1/4 inch thick each

Ingredients for the crust:
2T whole black peppercorns
2T whole fennel seed

Method:

  1. Heat a small skillet to medium, add the peppercorns and fennel seeds, and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, two or three minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Place a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Place the filets, skin side down, in the ground spices - the spices will adhere to the moist skin. Transfer the filet to the pan - skin side down - and sauté 4 minutes, or until the edges become slightly opaque. Turn and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  3. To serve, place a piece of sliced tomato in the center of each of 4 serving plates. Place one filet on top of each tomato and top with the garlic yogurt. Divide the lentil salad among the plates and serve./li>

To roast the tomatoes:
1 beefsteak tomato, cut in half
2T olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine tomato and olive oil in a mixing bowl; gently toss to coat evenly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the tomatoes to the baking sheet, placing the tomatoes cut side up, (make sure they do not touch each other). Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are charred and slightly moist. Remove tomatoes from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, carefully peel away the skin. Transfer to a cutting board, chop, and set aside.
Roasted Black Mission Figs Greek Yogurt
Serves 4

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup Samos (a sweet Greek wine; if you can't find Samos, any white, red or fortified wine will do)
1 cinnamon stick
1 pt fresh black figs (about 18-20)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine one half cup of sugar, the water, Samos wine and the cinnamon stick in a medium sauce pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until syrup is slightly thickened, similar to the consistency of thin maple syrup. Remove from heat.
  3. Remove the stems from the figs and score the stem side by making an "X" with a paring knife, taking care not to cut more than the skin. Place the figs in a baking dish, pour the syrup over them and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
  4. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until very soft. Remove pan from the oven, and using a slotted spoon, transfer the figs to a plate. Drain the syrup into a bowl; reserve figs and syrup separately.
Almond Praline:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
2 tsp butter
2 tsp sugar
Pinch kosher salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Put the almonds in a bowl and lightly crush them with the back of a spoon. Add the butter, sugar and salt, and stir to combine.
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the almond mixture on the paper in an even layer. Place baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and bake for 6 minutes or until melted.
  4. Remove sheet from the oven and break the praline into pieces, tossing them gently around the pan. Return the pan to the oven for 2 more minutes, or until the praline pieces turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
  5. To assemble use 1 pt Greek yogurt (cow's milk) or strained conventional yogurt (see method in recipe above) Set out 4 red wine goblets. Place 1/2 cup of yogurt in each glass. Top the yogurt with 4 figs. Drizzle with reserved syrup and top with pieces of the almond praline. If desired, you may garnish each with a cinnamon stick and a sprig of mint.

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