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THE Dish: Michael Psilakis' Greek "comfort food"

(CBS) Acclaimed celebrity chef and cookbook author Michael Psilakishas been credited with putting modern Greek cuisine on the culinary map.

He was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine, Chef of the Year by Bon Appetit and Esquire magazines, and has a James Beard nomination for best new restaurant - not bad for a kid from Long Island.

The executive chef/owner of Kefi, FISHTAG, MP Taverna, joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" with his ultimate dish: Grilled Branzino, Greek Salad, Meatball and Yogurt with Fruit and Honey.

According to Michael's official bio, his former New York City eatery, Anthos, not only received a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2008, it became one of only two Greek restaurants in the world to ever receive a Michelin star.

Michael's first cookbook, "How to Roast a Lamb," an homage to his Greek heritage, was published in October 2009, and has won countless awards, including the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Foreign Cuisine.

Enjoy all of our recipes!

RECIPES:

Grilled Whole Fish atop a Warm Salad of Potatoes, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, Olives and Feta Drizzled in Fresh Lemon Juice and Garlic

Ingredients:

  • 4 Branzino's 1-2 lbs. each, scaled and gutted
  • 24 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 24 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 24 green olives, pitted
  • 2 sweet onions sliced into rings, grilled, and reserved
  • 10 fingerling potatoes, par cooked and reserved
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/2 Cup feta cheese
  • 2 lemons

EVOO

  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 Tb. dry oregano
  • 1 Tb each of fresh chopped parsley, basil, and dill

Method:

Pre-heat a grill to med-high. Paint fish with EVOO season with salt and pepper, and place on the grill. Char on each side for approx 8 min.

For warm salad, in a large heavy-bottomed pan add 2 Tb. EVOO and heat through. Brown garlic and potatoes. Then, add tomatoes, olives, onion rings, dry oregano, and feta cheese. Transfer to a serving platter and place the fish on top of the warm salad. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top, then drizzle with EVOO, and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Tsoutzoukakia (Fried and Braised Beef and Pork Meatballs)

Yield: About 28 meatballs

  • Chunky Tomato Sauce (below)
  • 15 slices Wonder bread (crust trimmed off)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • Half a large Spanish or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry Greek oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Graviera cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Blended oil (90 percent canola/10 percen extra-virgin olive), for shallow-frying

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 whole scallions, sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 12 cloves Garlic Confit (optional, page 000)
  • 12 cracked, brined green olives, pitted and torn
  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted and torn
  • 15 small, picked sprigs of parsley
  • 15 small, picked sprigs of dill
  • 15 leaves basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Make the chunky tomato sauce in a very large pot and have it standing by, on the stove.

2. In a bowl, soak the Wonder bread with milk. Squeeze most of the milk out of the bread, and transfer to a large bowl. Add the beef, pork, onion, parsley, oregano, Graviera, and egg; season liberally with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with clean hands until evenly blended. Use a 1 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop to form firm-packed, golfball-sized meatballs.

3. Spread a generous bed of flour on a large platter. Warm about 1/4-inch of blended oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, coating them evenly all over. Fry in batches until golden brown on all sides. As they are browned, transfer them to the pot of tomato sauce and keep the sauce at a very low simmer. Cook gently for about 1 hour, until all the meatballs are tender and very juicy.

4. In a skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallion and sautee for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, olives, and garlic confit. Sautee for a minute, then add this mixture to the pot of meatballs and stir very gently, to combine. Simmer for a minute or two more and transfer onto a platter. Scatter with the torn herbs and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

Chunky Tomato Sauce:

Yield: 5 1/2 cups

  • 15-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, with all the juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Half a large Spanish or sweet onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried
  • Large handful basil leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups water

1. In a food processor, puree about one third of the tomatoes.

2. Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee until almost tender. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more, then deglaze with the red wine and add the bay leaf, basil, water, pureed and whole tomatoes and all their juices. Simmer for 5 minutes, all the time breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

TOMATO & STRING BEAN SALAD

SERVES 4, OR MORE AS PART OF A LARGER SPREAD

This is my version of a Greek steak house salad-it's fantastic with a steak or any kind of protein. Add toasted bread and it's a Greek version of the Italian dish panzanella. I recommend going a step further by adding a grilled onion: the char flavor works perfectly with the ripe fruit and vegetables.

  • 1/4 pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/4 pound yellow wax beans, ends
  • trimmed
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Red Wine and Feta

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 vine-ripe tomatoes, preferably
  • heirloom, cut into rough wedges


  • 1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • and separated into rings
  • 6 small, picked sprigs parsley, torn
  • 6 small, picked sprigs dill, torn
  • 16 leaves fresh mint, torn
  • Kosher salt and coarsely cracked
  • black pepper

Prepare an ice water bath and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the beans until tender but still snappy, about 3 minutes, then shock them in the ice water bath and swish around. Drain well and dry on a clean towel.

In a bowl, combine the beans, vinaigrette, feta, tomatoes, oregano, red onion, and torn herbs. Toss well with clean hands. Taste and adjust the seasoning with kosher salt and pepper.

*If you wish, add toasted chunks of day-old bread, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

*Or try adding half a grilled Spanish or sweet onion, separated into rings

Yogurt with Candied Quince & Crushed Jordan Almonds

  • 1/3 cup Jordan almonds
  • 1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) Greek yogurt
  • 2 Candied Quinces with syrup
  • 4 leaves fresh mint, slivered

For the Candied Quince

  • 2 quince, each about the size of a large apple, peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 7 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Zest of 1 whole orange, removed in one thin strip with a vegetable peeler, without any of the bitter white pith.

Cut the quince quarters into longs strips about 1/4 inch thick and wide.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water to make a simple syrup. Stir to dissolve and add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange zest. Add the quince and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover pan, and simmer the fruit gently in the syrup until it looks slightly pink from the cinnamon and cloves, and is very tender and almost completely translucent but not falling apart. This may take up to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a sterilized jar and cool the jar down quickly in an ice water bath (this will improve the keeping time). Press a square of plastic wrap down directly onto the surface of the syrup. Place another square of plastic over the rim of the jar and twist on the lid or secure with a rubber band. Replace the square of plastic that touches the preserves each time you use some and use a perfectly clean soon each time to prevent cross contamination from the other surfaces in your kitchen.

For the Yogurt with Candied Quince & Crushed Jordan Almonds

Crush the almonds then chop coarsely to a chucky granola-like consistency. (If this is difficult or messy, you can pulse quickly in a food processer.)

With an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, form quenelles (oval dollops) of the yogurt and put two on each plate. Sprinkle the candied Quinces on top and drizzle with some of their spicy syrup. Scatter with the crushed Jordan almonds and a few slivers of mint.

DRINK:

Ouzo Lemonada

  • 2oz Ouzo
  • 1oz lemon
  • 1oz Simple Syrup
  • Top off with Tonic

Steps

Combine ouzo, lemon juice & Simple syrup over ice

Top with Tonic

Garnish with lemon wedge

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