Saturday, October 15, 2005

Avgolemono - Lemon Rice Soup

Ok, today's lunch inspired me to post this recipe, even though I haven't made it in a number of years. We can get a nice version of it from a place just down the street, "The Gyro Shoppe" (in a converted ex-Taco Bell), and it's pretty cheap, so I haven't had much incentive to make it. I may have to try though after today, especially since we all love it. The version listed below is from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines". He lists a couple of versions in the book, including one that has chicken added, which I always do.

Avgolemono Soup (Serves 10-12)
2 cups of milk
2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
6 egg yolks, beaten
2 quarts of chicken stock
1/2 cup of long-grain rice
2 oz. (1/2 stick) of butter
chopped fresh parsley, to taste
1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
grated lemon peel to taste (optional, but recommended)
salt and pepper to taste

1) Stir the milk and cornstarch together, then beat in the egg yolks. Set aside.
2) Bring the stock to a boil in a 4-qt. soup pot and add the rice. Cook, covered, until the rice is puffy and tender, about 25 minutes.
3) Remove the soup from the heat and add the milk and egg mixture, whisking continuously.
4) Place back over heat and cook for a moment until it thickens.
5) Remove from the heat again and add the butter, parsley, and lemon juice, and the optional grated lemon peel.
6) Add salt and pepper to serve.

I usually add a cup (or more..) of shredded chicken after I remove the soup from the heat (beginning of step 3 above). It's a great use for leftover chicken.


A Greek Lunch

We had a great lunch today at The Happy Greek in the Short North today. It's been a long time since I've had Greek food, and the flavors were a welcome reminder that I shouldn't keep away from it for as long as I have. Since the portions at restaurants these days are enormous, we've been either getting an appetizer and sharing an entree, or getting a salad and sharing an entree. Today we had an appetizer of Dolmadakias and a "lunch" portion of Mousaka.
The Dolmas came on a small plate, 3 wonderful warm 2 1/2 inch portions of grape leaf-wrapped seasoned beef, lamb and rice, covered in a very light egg-lemon sauce on a bed of baby lettuce leaves. There also seemed to be a light sprinkling of feta over them. Wonderful. Satisfying. Absolutely delicious. We each devoured a single dolmadakia, then split the last one. We each wanted the whole thing, but being the generous spouses that I are, we shared...
The mousaka came on a very large plate, and as a very large portion, about 6 inches square and at more than an inch thick, surrounded in a tomato sauce. If you've never had mousaka, you must try it and ignore the list of it's ingredients. I'm saying that just because I'm not a big fan of zucchini, but I'm sure I had some today in the mousaka and it was fantastic. This thing looks like a lasagna, but the layers of roasted eggplant (I'm a big fan of that now), potato, zucchini, herbs and bechemel give it a very distinctively Greek flair.
Overall the Happy Greek was a great big fat wonderful lunch that I'm ready to repeat, probably with spanakopita, avgolemono, & pastisio.