Showing posts with label Greeks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greeks. Show all posts

Smyrneika Soutzoukakia in Domatosaltsa - Sausages from Smyrna in Tomato Sauce and as appetizers with Tzatziki sauce

Smyrneika soutzoukakia or sausages from Smyrna is a very traditional dish in Greece. Its originality comes from Smyrna thus the name Smyrneika. Smyrna – which is now called Izmir - is situated in the outskirts of Turkey across from the island of Chios, Greece. You can get to Smyrna from Chios by ferryboat in only 30 minutes. The dish is brought to Greece by Greek refugees from Asia Minor in the early 1920’s when the Greek and Armenian genocide took place.

Smyrneika soutzoukakia are served, traditionally, over rice, mashed potatoes or French fries and are usually made with ground beef. My mother and sister in law used to mix the rice with the ground beef. I have a Greek – quite old cookbook - that states the same. In this recipe, I decided to omit the rice, and instead of serving them over rice, I served them over orzo. I also used ground turkey instead of ground beef. You can use ground beef if you would like. It tastes equally good.

You can serve the soutzoukakia (sausages) with tzatziki sauce as an appetizer, with my domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) that I specifically created for them, or you can cook them in the domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) and serve them over orzo, rice, mashed potatoes. I have also served them in the past with gluten free orzo, and instead of regular breadcrumbs in the meat mixture I used gluten free breadcrumbs. The sausages can also be fried once you lightly coat them in flour.  I don't usually fry any foods, so these ones I baked them in the oven.  Enjoy!

Smyrneika Soutzoukakia - Ground turkey sausages from Smyrna

Makes 30 servings (approximately 1.3 oz each)

2 lbs ground turkey
½ cup shredded onion
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. olive oil to coat the cookie sheet

Peel and shred the onion and the garlic. Set aside. Wash and chop the parsley.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, the bread crumbs, the parsley, the shredded onion and garlic, the cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Mix well together and shape into 3" long sausages. About 1.3 oz each.

The sausages (soutzoukakia) before they go into the oven

Preheat oven to 400° F. Use the ½ tbsp. of olive oil and brush a cookie sheet. Place the sausages on the cookie sheet and bake for about 40-45 minutes turning around in between, till lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.

After they come out of the oven

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1.284 oz (36.4g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 74
Calories from Fat 38
Total Fat 4.2g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 31mg
Sodium 124mg
Potassium 97mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.7g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 0.2g
Protein 8.6g

Domatosaltsa For Smyrneika Soutzoukakia

Tomato sauce specific for Smyrneika soutzoukakia to dip or to serve with the soutzoukakia over rice, orzo or mashed potatoes.

Makes 6 servings (approximately 8.3 oz each serving)

¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
14 ½ oz diced tomatoes
15 oz tomato sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cumin

In a large saucepan, sauté the diced onion in the olive oil. When the onion is transparent, add the diced garlic. Sauté for a minute or two, but don't burn it. Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce (the can and the cup) and one cup water. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Add the cumin, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add the oven baked cooked sausages.  Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Serve over orzo, or rice or mashed potatoes.  Or serve the domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) on the side as a dipping sauce for the soutzoukakia.

Served over orzo in domatosaltsa (tomato sauce)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 8.148 oz (231g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 131
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 8.9g
Saturated Fat 1.3g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 983mg
Potassium 643mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.8g
Dietary Fiber 3.6g
Sugars 7.9g
Protein 2.8g

Tzatziki Sauce
Makes 28 servings (approximately 2 tbsp. each serving)

16 oz reduced fat sour cream
8 oz Greek, Non-Fat, Plain Yogurt (oz)
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 tsp. garlic
2 tbsp. dill
2½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients together, refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (31.4 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 43
Calories from Fat 32
Total Fat 3.6g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 6mg
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.3g
Dietary Fiber 0.1g
Sugars 0.4g
Protein 1.4g

Served with Tzatziki sauce and with the Tomato sauce as appetizers

Note:  The sausages freeze well by themselves.  The same with the tomato sauce.  You can freeze them if you are making a big batch of either of these dishes (except of course the tzatziki sauce).  I froze them in the past and heat them up in either the microwave or in the oven.  Or I would defrost the sausages and the tomato sauce and then cook them in low heat till heated through.   

If you try this recipe and like it please comment below. If you like what you see on this blog, feel free to follow it. If you have any questions post them in the comments box.

Baklava with walnuts and almonds and its History

The History of Baklava

Many will argue about the origins of Baklava. Greeks will attest it’s their own creation. Turks will say that the Greeks claimed it since it was perfected while Greece was under the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. Lebanese will make their own version of baklava by using an array of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, cashews or pine nuts. In other areas, they will use dough with eggs, or plain dough, unlike the “phyllo” dough. Greeks perfected the use of dough by inventing the “phyllo” dough, paper-thin sheets of dough (“phyllo” in Greek means “leaf”). A baklava recipe with the use of syrup with rose water and cardamom and a filling variety of nuts will most likely be from the Arab countries. The use of syrup with cinnamon and cloves with walnuts and almonds filling will be from the Balkan countries.

Even with all these declarations, it is believed that it was the Assyrians who came up with this dessert in 8 B.C. Greek seamen travelling to Mesopotamia, brought it to Athens and eventually they perfected it by developing the “phyllo” dough. Baklava reached the kitchens of the Byzantine Empire until its fall in 1453 A.D. Under the Ottoman Empire, baklava was served to the Pashas and the very rich. Eventually, the dessert reached the western world and was brought to America by Greek immigrants, or as others might say, by Turkish or by Lebanese immigrants. I’d like to believe that it was the Greeks who brought it to the Western world and since the Greeks perfected the paper-thin dough, I’d say it’s more of a Greek origin than any other.

There are areas in Greece that they use olive oil instead of melted butter to make baklava. I remember my mother and grandmother making baklava while I was young and they used clarified butter. The butter was made from pure cow’s milk. The color of the butter was white and not yellow like the butters we see here in the US. The ingredients, of course, were more organic back then.

I’ve seen and tasted many versions of baklava while here in the US. I tried the pistachio filled baklava, baklava drizzled with chocolate, baklava with pecans, but I’m partial to the Greek baklava with walnuts and almonds, or just plain walnuts as I remembered it from my childhood. This version of baklava is the way my mother and grandmother used to make with the only difference that I added the chopped almonds to the filling. I still use butter to brush between the phyllo dough sheets.

This is also a very traditional dessert to make during the Christmas holidays and Easter. With the Christmas holidays upon us, here is my version of Greek Baklava. Enjoy!

Baklava with walnuts and almonds

Makes 30 servings

8 oz phyllo dough
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter

30 whole cloves (optional)

MIx together the chopped walnuts, chopped almonds, sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Brush a 12x7.5 pyrex pan with melted butter. Remove one of the two packages of phyllo dough from the box. You can refrigerate or freeze the other package. Open up the phyllo dough and cover it between two clean kitchen towels. Phyllo dough dries quickly, so it is best to keep it covered while working on the baklava. Take a sheet of phyllo dough and lay it on the pan. Brush with melted butter. Continue to layer the pan with approximately 10 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing them in between layers with butter, and extending the ends over the pan (like the Spinach Cheese pie (Spanakotyropita)).

Pour the walnut, almond/sugar mixture and spread evenly. Fold over the extended phyllo dough and layer the rest of the phyllo dough sheets, one by one by brushing in between with butter. Cut diagonally and place it in a preheated 350° oven for 45-50 minutes till golden brown. If desired you can place a whole clove in the middle of each piece before baking.

  Ready for the oven

The syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Rind of one lemon

Bring to a boil 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Add the cinnamon stick and the lemon rind. Boil for about 5 minutes till is slightly reduced and clear. Remove from heat.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

As soon as the baklava is cooked, take it out of the oven and pour the syrup over baklava while it's still warm. Wait for it to cool and serve.
Ready to serve

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (49.8 g) approximately 1.8 oz
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148
Calories from Fat 59
Total Fat 6.5g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 49mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.5g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Sugars 16.0g
Protein 2.4g
...or ready to give as a gift!