Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time Flies...Is it Easter dinner already?

I cannot believe that Easter is just one week away.  Maybe it is the crazy weather that has my time perception all mixed up.  That, and starting Daylight time so early this year.  Whatever, I had some friends for dinner on Tuesday and was taken taken by surprise when they mentioned how close Easter was.

Not that I did not have some idea.  I had already started working on my menu.  But now I realize that I need to start my shopping.

I have a craving for Greek food, and since I haven't had a Greek themed dinner for three years, that is what I am going with.

The entree will be a yogurt and spice marinated grilled lamb.  If the weather turns out to be nice, I can even do this outside.  I'll make my pastitsio from a recipe given to me in the 1970's by a Greek co-worker.  Then there is the recipe for spinach pie from the April, 1974 Gourmet magazine.  When I threw out my ten-year collection of Gourmet, I kept this one edition for all the wonderful Greek foods that were in the feature article.

No menu is complete without Greek salad and lots of feta cheese, some pita bread and hummus.  And for dessert, I think I am going to switch gears and make a carrot cake.  I cannot justify this indulgence without having folks to share it with.  Carrot cake and cheese cake are two of my weaknesses.  Put cream cheese frosting on carrot cake and I am a goner.

For anyone interested in making pastitsio for Easter or just as a change up from mac and cheese, here is my tried and true recipe.


8 ounces ziti (or penne) macaroni 

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
½ cup fined diced onion
1 pound ground beef or lamb

¼ cup white wine
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh, not the one in the green can)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

2 beaten eggs
¼ cup melted butter   

Bechamel Sauce:

½ cup butter
1 cup flour
3 cups milk, warmed
3 eggs
½ cup grated parmesan
Dash pepper
Dash nutmeg


Cook pasta in salted boiling water till al dente and drain

In large sautĂ© pan, brown onion and meat in oil and butter.  Remove any excess fat.  Add wine and reduce to syrup.  Add tomato paste and pince.             

Add cheese, spices, and salt and pepper and cook till thickened

Place macaroni in a buttered 9 x 13 pan with eggs, butter and ground meat mixture from above

Bechamel sauce: 

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and cook, but do not brown.

Add milk to above and cook till mixture thickens.

Combine beaten eggs with cheese and seasonings. 

Stir bĂ©chamel sauce into egg mixture, slowly, so as not to cook eggs.  Pour over macaroni in pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

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