I am going home in about two weeks to visit my family and friends for the first time since Christmas, and just thinking about it made me start craving my parents’ home cooked Greek food again. I’ve already put in a Pastichio request to my mom (thanks mom!) but my stomach has been shouting that two weeks is not soon enough. My mind tried to stay strong, telling me that all the baklava and fresh hummus would be worth the wait…but alas, I have little to no will-power when it comes to food, and so I buckled under the pressure and came up with this cheesey and gooey melange of my favorite Greek food components. Feta, spinach, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized leeks, oregano, onions, and my little cheat ingredient, Asiago Cheese. It’s not Greek, but it’s Italian, and in Italy they have a saying about the Greeks “una faccia una razza” which translates to “one face one race”, and basically means that Greeks and Italians are one and the same, so now that I think about it, I am going to let my Asiago addition slide right on into Greeksville. To go with this rich and hearty dish, I decided to whip up a nice little cup of Greek coffee. Also known as Turkish or Arabic coffee, Greek coffee is very thick and is made by simply boiling very finely ground coffee (think powdered sugar in texture) with water and a bit of granulated sugar until it begins to boil. When it is served you sip it slowly, and don’t drink all of it, because as time passes the grinds settle to the bottom of the cup and leave a about a quarter-inch thick layer of coffee grinds. It’s a fun little tradition in Greece to turn your cup upside down onto the saucer (after you’ve drank all of the liquid), wait 5 or 10 minutes, pick up your cup, and try to read your fortune in the way the grinds have shifted.
You probably (okay, definitely, they’re so gorgeous how could you not?) noticed the beautiful sugars accompanying the Greek coffee. These are from Chambre de Sucre and they are STUNNING. Each one is imported from Japan, where they’re made by a 270 year old family-run business. They’re like little works of art, so incredibly precise and delicate. I found the “About” section on their site very touching as well, being able to use products from your culture in another country is something that has been very important to my family too, my parents’ deli’s shelves were always stocked with products that reminded my Dad of the things they’d have at the market in Greece. Chambre de Sucre has a huge variety of sugars on their website; some specifically for coffee lovers, some all heart-shaped, gorgeous amber sugar crystals, more traditional decorative sugar cubes, and some even shaped like little elephants! I’m definitely going to order some to have at my bridal shower and wedding next year, they’ll look so elegant in a little bowl on the guests’ tables. I could see them being a great addition to baby showers, too, now that I think about it…
Getting a bit ahead of myself there. *Ahem* Back to the giveaway; the generous people at Chambre de Sucre have decided to give away a box of their Sucre Ronds, their beautiful 36-piece set of sugar spheres with decorative sugar flowers on top. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below about your favorite type of tea or coffee beverage. For extra entries, you can:
– Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment on this post saying you did.
– Like Adventures in Cooking on Facebook and leave a separate comment on this post saying you did.
– Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment on this post saying you did.
If you already do any of those things, just leave a comment on this post saying you do. The deadline for entries is 11:59 pm PST May 12th, and the winner will be announced May 13th. Only open to United States residents. Best of luck, and kali orexi (happy eating)!!!
Greek Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Leeks
Greek Macaroni & Cheese
- 1 Head Garlic
- 1 Leek thinly sliced
- 1/2 of a Sweet Onion chopped
- 16 Ounces Dry Rigatoni Pasta
- 11 Ounces Feta Cheese buy it packaged in brine, feta cheese that has been pre-crumbled is very dry and not as tasty
- 1 Cup Asiago Cheese shredded
- 1 Cup Fresh Baby Spinach chopped
- 2/3 Cup Milk
- 1/2 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes chopped
- 1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Plus 3 Teaspoons Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Oregano
- 1/2 Teaspoon Rosemary
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2/3 Cup Water
- 2 Heaping Teaspoons Greek Coffee
- 2 Teaspoons Sugar
- Pinch of Cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and a teaspoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan until the butter melts. Add the onions and the leeks and stir so that they're coated in the oil butter mixture. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and allow to cook for one hour, stirring every ten minutes, until it is golden brown in color. Then remove it from the heat and set aside.
- Cut the top 1/4 off of the head of garlic. Drizzle the other teaspoon of olive oil over the top of the garlic and then wrap it in tin foil and roast it in the oven for 30 minutes. Then remove it, and allow it to cool before squeezing the garlic out of the peel. Preheat the oven to the lowest broil setting. Cook the rigatoni according the the package's directions. When you strain it once it's done cooking, drizzle some olive oil over it and shake it a bit to help keep the noodles from getting stuck to each other.
- Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a small frying pan and saute the spinach until it is wilted. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat until melted. Whisk in the flour until fully incorporated. Add the milk and cream and continue to heat until hot, but not boiling. Add the oregano and rosemary and mix well, then add the asiago cheese, crumble the feta into the pot, and stir until the feta is just beginning to melt.
- Remove the pan from the heat and combine the cheese mixture with the rigatoni, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, leeks, and roast garlic in a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the black pepper over the top of the macaroni and cheese and then put it in the oven and broil it for 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned on the tips of the rigatoni. Remove and serve.
- To make the Greek coffee, heat the water, sugar, and coffee grinds over high heat in a Greek coffee pot. The coffee will simmer and then will begin to boil rapidly and rise in the pot as if it is going to boil over. It is right at this point that you should remove it from the heat, sprinkle in the cinnamon, and serve it.