Greek Meatball Sheet Pan Dinner

Photo of meatballs about to be baked for Greek Meatball Sheet Pan Dinner

Bowl Me Over
I am a huge fan of weeknight sheet pan dinners. I used to love them because when the kids were all home it was a fast and easy way to cook dinner. And, knew that they were eating real food. Now I love them because, after twenty-five-plus years, I have dinner-making fatigue. And, sheet pan dinners mean easy clean up. But, I have recently been combining that love with another love, bowls.

Bowls are great. Especially when it seems weird to eat at the dinner table because it is just the two of you. Bowls make eating dinner on the couch in front of Jeopardy! So much easier. (It’s not as tragic as it sounds. We don’t do that every night.)

The recipe below is a new addition to my Bowl Rotation. I love the bright flavors. Reminds me that Spring has, in fact, sprung!

Greek Meatball Sheet Pan Dinner Recipe
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Yields 6 servings

This Greek Meatball Sheet Pan Dinner is served with sweet potato fries and lots of Tzatziki sauce. Combine all this in a bowl with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and a tasty olive and feta dressing. Serve this easy dinner with fresh pitas bread for a meal that hits the spot! Read more…

Fish a la Spetsiota

Photo of Greek Cookbooks on a bookshelf for Fish a la Spetsiota

It’s Greek To Me
If you ever feel like you’re in a cooking rut, take a Saturday and go through your cookbooks. As you weed out the ones to be donated, you will discover books you forgot you had. The ones you loved at one time but since have languished on the shelf are desperate to see the light of day.

This was me last Saturday.

Because my love of cookbooks (read: addiction) exceeds the amount of room I have to store them, it became necessary for me to cull the herd, as it were. Some books were easy to remove. Those were the books I acquired as editorial copies during my Barnes and Noble days and frankly never really used.

Then there were the books you never get rid of even if you don’t use them on a weekly basis. The Art of French Cooking (my grandmother’s copy) for example or The Joy of Cooking. Anything by James Beard or the 1941 copy of The Escoffier Cookbook (also my grandmothers…you get the gist).

The hardest decisions were made with the regional cooking books. I was shocked to note that I have just as many Cajun/Louisiana cookbooks as I do Mexican cookbooks, and I have a lot of Mexican cookbooks. I couldn’t bring myself to part with any of those. There were a few French ones that I just didn’t really need anymore but France is still well represented as are Spain and Italy. I was surprised, given the fact that I love the cuisine, that I didn’t have a wide selection of Greek cookbooks. I have a number of Mediterranean cookbooks but only a few that are specifically Greek.

One of the books I do have is The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas. It is a fantastically comprehensive collection of recipes from across all of Greece and its many islands. I recommend it highly. Diane Kochilas is an authority on Greek and Greek American cooking and her books are a must-have for any well-rounded library.

Apparently, I need to do a little work on my well-rounded library….

Maybe it’s because spring is right around the corner or maybe it’s because it’s been a while, but after my spring book cleaning I find myself with Greek food on the brain. The bright fresh flavor of lemons, olives, and olive oil are calling to me in a big way. But first, I need another Greek cookbook or two…I wouldn’t want all that new shelf space to go to waste….

Fish a la Spetsiota
Adapted from Diane Kochilas
Yields 4 Servings

This classic Greek Fish a la Spetsiota recipe comes from the island of Spetses off the eastern coast of the Peloponnese. This dish has many versions and this simple one is a favorite. Read more…

Beer Battered Fish

Crispy Beer Battered Fish served on a plate with a wedge of lemon.

Batter Up
One of life’s more underrated joys is a basket of really good fish and chips. I love fish and chips. If there is even a whisper of it on a menu, I will order it. The problem is, just because it’s on the menu doesn’t mean it’s good. You would think it would be easy to make good fish and chips. Just batter some fresh fish and fry, right? The fact is that really good fish and chips is a bit of an art form.

The first issue is what batter to use. After much study and deliberation, I have decided that my favorite is beer-battered fish. There are plenty of other options out there including tempura, breaded, soda water battered like in our recipe for English Style Fish and Chips, and plenty of other options. I like the depth of flavor that the beer adds.

Second, no matter what batter you use, make certain your oil is hot. If your oil is not hot enough, the final result will be too greasy and not very appetizing. If the oil is too hot, you risk burning the crispy coating and having raw fish on the inside.

Also, don’t put too much in at once. Too many pieces at once will lower the oil temperature which we have established is a no-no. Depending on the size of the fish and whatever you are frying them in, start with a couple of pieces to give them plenty of time and room to get crispy. It is also very important to make sure your fish is dry and seasoned before dipping it into the batter. The batter will stick to the fish better if it is dry and at room temperature.

Third, do not drain your fish on paper towels or newspaper. Doing so will trap the steam and make the coating soggy. Use a cooling rack set in a sheet pan to keep the fish crispy.

Lastly, your choice of fish matters. Cod, more specifically Alaskan Cod, is traditional and has the best flavor in my opinion. Although, Halibut is a very close second but can be cost-prohibitive. But, you can make this with whatever you choose like tilapia, bass, and definitely with shrimp.

Beer Battered Fish Recipe
Yields 6 Servings
Adapted from I Wash You Dry

This crispy Beer Battered Fish Recipe is made with ingredients you can find in your pantry. The batter creates a crunchy coating around flaky, tender white fish. It’s delicious served with French fries. Read more…


Cioppino or Italian Fish Stew from San Francisco

Souper Bowl
The 49ers are in the Super Bowl this weekend and most of the Bay Area is excited. (There are a number of Raiders fans who just can’t bring themselves to watch, despite the departure of the team.) Around The Bay, there will be the usual parties with the usual nosh required to keep the energy up to support the team. Burgers? Sure. Brats? Of course. Guac? Wouldn’t be a party without it. If you want to go with something truly San Francisco for your Super Bowl party, I have a suggestion that is a bit outside of the box.

The recent opening of the local crab season has me thinking about cioppino, which couldn’t be any more authentically San Francisco, since it was invented in the late 1800s by Italian immigrant fishermen in North Beach. Legend has it that when a fisherman returned from fishing off the wharf empty-handed, he would walk around with a pot asking the other fishermen if they could chip in anything they could spare. The combination of fish and shellfish that made it to his pot became his cioppino and it was expected that, should the fisherman be successful on another day, he would then chip in some of his catch for another who was not as fortunate.

I love a good cioppino. In my mind you can never go wrong with mixed seafood in broth be it tomato-based or white wine and stock. It’s also pretty easy to feed a crowd. I will point out that this is not finger food. It requires a seat at a table with napkins and a place to put the shells. Perfect for Halftime.

Since cioppino was created to use whatever was available, there is no right or wrong mix of seafood for you to use. My daughter can’t have shrimp, which is a pretty standard component, so I will leave them out and use more mussels and clams. And, when it’s crab season, I will get a cleaned and cracked crab or two to throw in the pot. The legs go in whole, but I get the other meat out of the shell and top the stew with it before serving.

Cioppino Recipe
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and The Food Network
Yields 6 servings Read more…