AUGUST 2009-AGIORGITIKO DINNER

Storefront Vermont

AUGUST 2009- AGIORGITIKO DINNER- VERMONT

2006 Notios, Peloponnisos, Agiorgitiko  13.0 alcohol $13.99

2007 Red on Black, Nemea, 13.0 alcohol $14.99

Menu:

Crudities with yogurt herb dip

Bugulama

Grilled Flank Steak marinated in red wine vinegar, garlic and fresh oregano

Coffee ice cream

Carlita:

During the August heat wave I escaped the cement jungle and landed in the green rolling hills of southern Vermont.  Gastronomeg and Jason are settled in their cozy farmhouse awaiting the small gastrome who will be arriving any day now.  The countryside is stunning with big white barns, wildflowers and pristine air.  We grilled most of our meals, shared some refreshing muscadet and rose, and basically caught up on their new rural life.  We listened to the symphony of creatures in the night air and I even got some plein air painting in.

evening

Our August wine Agiorgitiko from Greece was not too difficult to locate.  Most wine stores seem to have just a couple reds and whites from Greece and the red usually includes an Agiorgitiko.  The Notios

“the one that comes from the south”, was our favorite  of the two.  Clear ruby in color with black cherry, jammy fruit, medium tannins with a tar and bitter notes on the finish.  It’s body and finish reminded me of a dolcetto.  The Red on Black was more fruit forward and not as tannic as the Notios.  Meg felt it was more modern in style than the Notios.  Both wines were simple, strait forward, worked well with the flank steak and didn’t break the bank.

CSA

baaaa

Vermont Local “Greek” wine dinner

Gastronomeg:

One of the things we’ve been enjoying the most since our move to Vermont (well, besides the mountain vistas that open up as you travel winding shady roads,

white farmhouses with blazes of black-eyed-susan and bee balm in front, stone walls, cool streams, and swimming in the lake) is the easy availability of fresh and local food.  Our nearby CSA provides most of our vegetables, plus wonderful fresh goat cheese that the farmer, Elizabeth Wood, makes from her adorable dwarf  goats. Whatever we’re lacking from the CSA, we can pick up down the road in Williamsville at the beautiful timber frame building that serves as the self-serve farm stand at Amazing Planet farm. Amazing Planet also happens to have some of the best eggs we’ve ever eaten — their big and beautiful Rhode Island Red hens strut all around the barn and fields munching bugs and nibbling grass and their eggs have the most amazingly orange yolks ever (schoolbus-yellow frittatas and omelettes are a treat these days).  Local meat is easily available from various farms and also at a new butcher shop in Brattleboro that specializes in meat from local producers.  And of course dairy products go without saying in Vermont (which is thankfully enjoying a renaissance of boutique dairy farms). Which also means an amazing variety of local cheese – as my friend Martin Johnson says, if Vermont seceded from the Union it could be considered a fine cheese-making nation in its own right!

On the way to Dover

We couldn’t wait for Carlita’s visit to be able to indulge in some fine summer feasting. As it turned out, she managed to escape New York City during this summer’s only serious heat wave, which was far more bearable here than it would have been there! It always cools off at night when the breeze comes up…. Vermont summer is just heavenly, however short it may be.

For August’s Agiorgitiko dinner, some simply grilled meat definitely seemed the way to go. Lamb was tempting, given the Greek theme, but pricey. Instead, we settled on a nice big flank steak. Now all we needed was some oregano for a marinade, a side dish, and we’d be set!  One of the things I love most about our CSA this summer is that there are pick-your-own options available every week, and you can go pick on days that aren’t your pick-up day if you are short on ingredients. So we took a scenic detour to Dummerston on the way home from Brattleboro and stopped by for a handful of oregano and other herbs.  On the way there, it occurred to me that a perfect side dish would be Paula Wolfert’s Bugulama (recipe to follow). The Mediterranean flavors and easy preparation were just what was needed with the wine, and for making dinner on a hot day (we’d get our starch and vegetables in one flavorful package that didn’t need long on the stove).  Plus, I already had some collard greens in the fridge from the previous week’s pickup that we could use.

Chard

At the farm, Elizabeth was putting together irrigation hoses which she was using for the first time in this strange summer (it was just so wet in June and July). Since there is lots of chard available to pick at New Leaf, we grabbed some of that to supplement the collards, along with oregano for the beef marinade, plus a few more of the irresistible candy-sweet golden cherry tomatoes that have been going nuts for the last few weeks. (Happily for us, New Leaf has been extremely lucky to have avoided Late Blight, which has wiped out almost everyone else’s tomatoes this summer).  We rushed the chard and herbs home so they wouldn’t wilt in the heat, made a marinade for the beef (oregano, garlic, and Carlita’s home-made red wine vinegar), and went about our afternoon business.

dining room

This was definitely one of those dinners that provided maximum flavor with minimum effort!  The steak only needed about 3-4 minutes a side, then a short rest to let the juices settle. The marinade gave a nice sharp wine-y flavor to the meat, which was delicious with the fruity wine. And the Bugulama packed a wonderfully rich flavor punch on the side. This is truly a winner of a greens recipe, and I love greens in so many ways!  It is great for summer because you can serve it at room temperature, which allows the flavors to meld wonderfully.  And make extra – my dirty little secret is that it is even better the next day for lunch!

“Best Ever” Bugulama – adapted from Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Greens and Grainsdinner prep

3-4 cloves of good fresh garlic (Wolfert calls for a whole head! I find 3-4 cloves to be plenty, and I love garlic. I’d say start with this much and adjust to your taste.)

1 tsp of salt (plus more to taste)

1 large onion (the fresher and more juicy the better)

1 pound mixed greens (sweet and bitter)

1 cup coarse-grained bulgur

4 TBSP olive oil

1-2 tsp ground mild chilis, or more to taste (I use piment d’espellette, because I have a string of them from last summer’s vacation. Ground anchos would work well too. Here’s a source in case you can’t find them in the supermarket. Do NOT use “chili powder,” which has powdered garlic, oregano, etc. in it.).

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

½ tsp (or more to taste) ground coriander

½ tsp ground black pepper.

½ cup water (you may need slightly more depending on the moisture content of your greens)

Crush the garlic with the side of a knife, peel, and roughly chop. Mash the garlic, 1 tsp of salt, coriander, and the ground chili with a mortar and pestle (or if you don’t have one, sprinkle the salt and chili on the garlic and chop and chop it, crushing to release liquid. Or press through a garlic press, then mash the chili and salt in with the back of a fork).

Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash and chop the greens into fine ribbons.

Here’s where it gets fun!  In a 3-qt. or larger heavy-bottomed pan, mix the crushed garlic mixture, onions, and slivered greens with the chili flakes, black pepper, and more salt if you think it needs (this is to taste – make it without any extra the first time and see what you think). The best way to mix is with your hands. I just love mixing thing with my hands! The greens will start to wilt and reduce a little from the salt, and the crushed garlic will smell heady and divine.  Once the greens have reduced enough to make room in the pot, add the bulgur, olive oil, and water, and continue mixing, kneading it and really squeezing the liquid from the greens and the water into the bulgur until everything is very well combined.

Cover tightly and set pot over medium heat. As soon as it steams (and keep a close eye on it so it won’t burn at this stage!), turn down as low as your burner will go and let cook for 10 minutes. Give it a quick stir after 10 minutes to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan too much (it always does a little), and add a few drops more water if it already seems dry. Cover again and cook for 5 more minutes, then turn off heat and let it stand for 10 minutes more without uncovering, then stir and re-cover if it needs a little more time.  Can be served right away, or make ahead and let it sit at room temperature until you are ready for dinner.

front porch

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2 Responses

  1. Made the “Best Ever” Bugulama for dinner tonight. I mixed two types of hearty greens that I buy in Istanbul that I can’t seem to find a known equivalant for or perhaps they don’t exist there…..don’t know. The turkish ‘pazı’ and ‘lahana’ leaves that I used worked beautifully. We drizzled a thick, aged balsamic over the top and ate warm – it was amazing! With the balsamic my rather picky teenage boys liked it too. Bravo! It’s a keeper!

    • Hey sis, seems the recipe which started in Turkey, interpreted over here is now back over there. The addition of the balsamic sounds great. I love this recipe and it reminds me of some of the grain, bulgur dishes I’ve had in Turkey. I’m also impressed that my nephews eat bulgur and greens. Cheers!

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