This week has been an extraordinarily hectic one. I haven't been posting (or even checking my favorite food sites) lately because of a Mediterranean party the beau and I have been planning and eventually threw yesterday night for group of close friends. The event involved a significant amount of prep work and shopping, but what made the party difficult, is that I had to simultaneously make time for my biggest annual commitment: the NBA Playoffs with the Phoenix Suns. When I watch Suns games, I get "in the zone," and all else in my life takes second place--including cooking and eating. To me, Suns games are more important to me than imbibing my daily requirement of water or consuming life-sustaining nutrients. Yes, I said that correctly: Suns games are more important to me than food.
But, now that I have a brief period of off time (Game 4 just ended), I want to make some time for my other commitment, my friends here at the food blog! I want to share with you some pictures I was able to take of the food at the party. Unfortunately, because I spent huge portions of my pre-party time watching Friday's game, I wasn't able to take as many pictures as I usually do, but here are some of the tastier pictures I was able to snap.
The most difficult and labor-intensive item that I made for Saturday's party was the dolmades. Dolmades are made with thin blankets of veined grape leaves, which are carefully bundled around moist filling made with steamed long grain rice. The rice filling is festooned with specks of coarsely minced mint; sweet, plump, and flavor-saturated raisins; crunchy pine nuts; and a savory blend of steaming and caramelized onions and garlic. For the full recipe, check here. For a step-by-step pictorial on how to assemble dolmades, see the pictures below:
The dolmades went perfectly with tzatziki, a cooling dairy-based salsa made with thick, Greek yogurt. Tzatziki is infused with the zesty and taste bud-penetrating flavors of mint and mixed with suspended, gravity-defying diced cucumber cubes. Tzatziki should be made ahead of time, to allow the flavors to imbue themselves throughout the creamy yogurt concoction.
Also, for the party, I prepared my favorite refreshing Mediterranean salad, tabbouleh, made with a coarsely minced herb blend of flat-leaf parsley, mint, and green scallions. The salad is dressed with fruity extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest and interspersed with crumbly and absorbent kernels of coarsely milled bulghur wheat. This too should be made ahead of time, again, to allow the mixture of the flavors.
Along with the above pictured items, the party meal featured southern-cooked spinach and poached asparagus spears with lemon zest (which was cooked ahead of time, and unfortunately, not very photogenic), roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary (didn't have time take a nice picture of this) and commercially-made pita bread and hummus.
Okay, back to watching SportsCenter highlights and replays of the Phoenix Suns playoff game! You're welcome to come to San Francisco and watch with me, if you don't mind my trash talking!