Athens has won the war against Persia, but now what? The Golden Age of Pericles, that's what! He's building temples, making money, enlarging an empire, all in the name of democracy. Darby Vickers from the History of Greece podcast stops by to talk about the Great Democrat as well as what it's like to visit the Parthenon today. The one in Athens, not the one in Nashville. She also talks about Greek bakeries and the joy that is spanakotiropita.
The intro today (my first one ever!) is from Lynn Perkins of the History of the Ottoman Empire podcast. He does fine work, and I can't wait to bug him when I get to Topkapi Palace.
There are few dishes as stereotypically Greek as roast lamb. With the weather starting to get cold as we move towards Autumn, what better way to celebrate stick-to-your-ribs comfort food?
If we were REALLY doing this right, we would roast a whole lamb on a spit in your front yard. But that might upset the neighbors, the police, and the homeowners’ association, so we’ll do something in the oven
Arni sto Fourno (αρνι στο φουρνο), which means “oven-roasted lamb,” is a recipe I’m using from the restaurant where I met my wife 15 years ago. In fact, this is the very dish I had that night, which is a good way to know that it’s the real deal - I mean, it was fifteen years ago.
The restaurant, the Greek Islands, calls it Arni Fournou, but whatever you call it, it’s super simple. Chunk up some potatoes, throw in chopped tomatoes, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then nestle in four lamb shanks, of about a pound each (500 g).
This recipe (http://checkplease.wttw.com/recipe/arni-fournou) comes from the Greek Islands, via the files of Check Please!, a public television staple in Chicago, in which each of three average viewers invites the other two to their favorite local restaurant. I wish every town had that show - it does a terrific job in introducing viewers to cuisines, neighborhoods, and establishments they would never have considered otherwise. (http://checkplease.wttw.com).
The priestess of Apollo will answer your questions, if not how you expect. Will Athens survive the war with the Persians? Should Sparta march to help? Will you enjoy this episode on the Oracle of Delphi in Greece, featuring the brilliance of Alison Innes and Darrin Sunstrum from the MythTake podcast and Lantern Jack from Ancient Greece Declassified? Yes. Yes you will.
We'll talk about the Oracle, how it came to be and how it worked. We'll follow the Greeks in their war with the Persians. We'll visit Delphi and eat roast lamb and greens. You won't need gas rising from the temple floor to enjoy this one!
Sesame halva is well known throughout the world, and can be purchased at most Middle Eastern stores or Jewish delis. I don’t care for it though, so I’m trying out a different version: one based on flour rather than sesame.
It's smooth, sweet - but not too sweet, with a nuttiness that comes from toasting the flour after blending it with butter. I omitted the almonds because my kids are allergic, but they would probably give an amazing added crunch.
This recipe comes from the New York Times: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017926-turkish-flour-helva
1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, a little at a time to prevent clumping; reduce heat to very low and cook, stirring often with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the flour is deep golden brown and butter separates and floats to the top, about 1 to 2 hours. The higher the flame, the quicker it will cook, but the more you will have to stir it.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, combine sugar, 1 1/2 cups/355 milliliters water, and milk; bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Turn off heat, cover to keep warm, and reserve.
3. When flour mixture is toasted and browned but not burned, slowly whisk in the warm milk mixture and a pinch of salt if you like. (It's O.K. if the milk has cooled to room temperature; it should not be cold.) Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until mixture comes together in a paste-like texture and no longer sticks to sides of the pot. (Make sure to stir in the corners and bottom of pot.) Whisk the mixture occasionally, if necessary, to create a smoother texture and get rid of any lumps. Cover pot with a cloth and a lid, then let cool.
4. In a medium skillet, toast the almonds in the dry pan over medium heat. Sprinkle almonds and cinnamon over cooled helva. Spoon onto plates or into small bowls to serve.
Involved? Yes. But worth it. Really worth it. Here's a couple of tips: