A couple of weeks ago, Zēlos formally entered our local private dining scene. Chef Ken Durbin, owner of the in-home culinary entertaining company, The At Home Chef, contacted me for some help with an engagement party he was doing for a local Greek-American couple. Chef Ken's motto of Intimate Epicurean Experiences was music to my ears and I happily helped him infuse authentic Greek flavors into the meal.
The lucky couple had requested Greek meatballs and Chef Ken offered as the first course his fragrant meatballs on a bed of Agrozimi's Egg & Milk Orzo. The thicker-than-usual texture of this bronze-died, naturally air-dried pasta was the perfect complement for Chef Ken's robust tomato sauce (check out his recipe at the end of this post).
I included a pack of the orzo in a gift basket I put together for Chef Ken to present to the happy couple. It was hard to choose what else to include because I obviously love all our Artisans' products (or I wouldn't have brought them to the States in the first place!). So I went with what I thought made sense for this special engagement dinner, things that would show them some #lovethroughfood, one of Zēlos' beloved mottos.
It wouldn’t be a Greek basket if it didn’t have Extra Virgin Olive Oil, since Greeks are, after all, the biggest per capita consumers of olive oil in the world! I chose one of our best-selling gift items from last holiday season, Philippos Hellenic Goods Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This intense Koroneiki oil is beautifully packaged in a stylish glass bottle and boxed with a little gift of a second non-drip, controlled-flow spout, a real treat.
I also thought that this dinner was a sweet one of love and chose Citrus Four Citrus Fruits Spoon Sweet to celebrate that. Handmade in small batches on the island of Chios, this desert has a sensorial surprise in every bite, thanks to a unique mix of orange, bitter orange, lemon and grapefruit peels - every spoonful is a new discovery.
Since I had discussed Greek wine pairings with Chef Ken, I thought it was only fitting to add a wine jelly to the gift basket. The Sparoza Exquisite Wine Jelly Gift Set is created with Greek varietals (Agiorgitiko and Malagouzia) and Merlot. They are amazingly fragrant, thanks to the unique blend of spices, and each one pairs nicely with different types of cheese: the white Malagouzia rebalances your pallet after a strong sharp cheese, the rosé Agiorgitiko goes with almost everything in its versatility, and the red Merlot has mulled spices that pair nicely not only with cheeses but also with a grilled steak or filet.
I was thrilled that our authentic Greek flavors could be a part of someone's special meal. If you're interested in finding out more about how to bring the flavors of Zēlos to life with your own private Greek party in your home, contact Chef Ken Durbin at TheAthomechef.com....Father's Day gift, anyone?!
Cooking Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yield: 20 meatballs
1 pound ground beef (500 grams)
¼ cup bread crumbs
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a bunch of chopped parsley
1 lightly beaten egg
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 tablespoons wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
15 ounces chopped tomatoes (may be canned)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
For the meat balls, mix all the ingredients, kneading them for a few minutes. Place the mixture in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start making the sauce, mixing in a bowl the tomatoes, olive oil, paste, salt, pepper, sugar and then blend in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a small pan and add about 2 cups water, mixing well. Let it come to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Take out the beef mixture and shape into little round balls. Make about 20.
Take a large enough casserole dish that can fit all the meatballs in one layer. Start by first pouring the sauce into the casserole dish, spreading it to cover the base. Then place the meatballs onto the sauce, making sure they don't overlap - you should just have one layer of meatballs. Drizzle some olive oil on top of them and bake them until they lightly browned, for about 45 minutes. Then turn the meatballs onto their other side so that they brown on that side as well for about 10 minutes. (If the sauce starts drying out, add 1/4 cup hot water at a time to the dish).
Partner with Agrozimi Egg & Milk Orzo, which you should cook according to the instructions on the package.
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