Mediterranean feast

Olivia Schneider

This week, we planned to have a Mediterranean feast at the Hackett’s Cove house in Nova Scotia.  Keftedes (Greek meat patties), dolmades (grape leaf rolls), Greek roasted potatoes, lubiyeh (Lebanese green beans), fattoush (a Lebanese salad) and tzaziki. Mom packed up some  grapes and their leaves, as well as Greek thyme, from our family’s Kingston garden, and brought them to the East Coast. I’ve made grape leaf rolls once before, and I was excited to try them again.

But the  za’atar was mouldy; our trusty Pete’s Frootique (a wonderful specialty grocery store in Halifax) had, unusually, failed us. It was clear we wouldn’t be eating fattoush for dinner. So we omitted the mouldy za’atar pita crisps and—allowing Pete’s to redeem itself—added some of the spectacular feta Mom picked up from Pete’s earlier in the week. Bob and Mom had also bought some perfect produce  the day before from their small but well-stocked local farmers’ market (every Tuesday afternoon from May to October in Tantallon, NS).

Most of the recipes we used were Mom’s, or came from joint decisions we made,  based on what we had in the house, and how much work we were prepared to do  (less as the afternoon wore on). The grape leaf roll recipe came from the blog Shiksa in the Kitchen.  I was really happy with her recipe and directions.

I hope you enjoy our photos as much as we enjoyed the meal! I’m sure, as you’re reading this, Bob, Mom and I still smell vaguely of garlic.

Ready to start: grape leaves, par-cooked rice, diced onion, and fresh mint and dill. We didn't have pine nuts, so we just omitted them.
Ready to start: grape leaves, par-cooked rice, diced onion, and fresh mint and dill. We didn’t have pine nuts, so we just omitted them.
Blanched grape leaf with a spoonful of filling.

Blanched grape leaf with a spoonful of filling.

Ready to serve, after being simmered in vegetable broth, lemon juice and olive oil.

Ready to serve, after being simmered in vegetable broth, lemon juice and olive oil.

The beef flavour in our keftedes was lightened by lots of herbs - this time  mint, parsley, basil, cilantro, dill and oregano - and lemon juice.

The beef flavour in our keftedes was lightened by lots of herbs – this time mint, parsley, basil, cilantro, dill and oregano – and lemon juice.

With diced onion, garlic, salt and a beaten egg, keftedes are ready to be shaped.

With diced onion, garlic, salt and a beaten egg, keftedes are ready to be shaped. You can see how much chopped herb we used.

Bob grilled these (definitely taking them to the next step), so they are larger and rounder than usual.

Bob grilled these (definitely taking them to the next level), so they are larger and rounder than usual.

A hybrid Greek-Lebanese salad, with romaine, cucumber, tomato, parsley and mint, dressed with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt. And topped with feta - lots and lots of feta!

A hybrid Greek-Lebanese salad, with romaine, cucumber, tomato, parsley and mint, dressed with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt. And topped with feta – lots and lots of feta!

Greek potatoes are slow roasted with olive oil, lemon, garlic, oregano and salt. Lebanese beans are simmered in olive oil, fresh tomato, onion, garlic, salt and spicy globe basil.

Greek potatoes are slow-roasted with olive oil, lemon, garlic, oregano and salt. Lebanese beans are simmered in olive oil, fresh tomato, onion, garlic, salt and spicy globe basil.

Full disclosure: we didn't actually eat these grapes, which Mom and Bob brought from their Kingston vines, until the next day.

Full disclosure: we didn’t actually eat these grapes, which Mom and Bob brought from their Kingston vines, until the next day. (Yep, that’s the ocean you see between the stands of trees.)

The feast! Mom worried that we didn't have the Donvier yogourt cheese maker, but we used Oikos Greek-style 2% yogourt, which stayed thick and creamy even with the addition of grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, mint and dill.

The feast! Mom worried that we didn’t have the Donvier yogourt cheese maker to thicken the yogourt, but we used Oikos Greek-style 2% yogourt, which stayed thick and creamy even with the addition of grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt, mint and dill.

Olivia lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she enjoys making fast-but-good meals on a budget, and exploring new restaurants and recipes.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

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8 thoughts on “Mediterranean feast

  1. Ooo, these pictures look great! I really like the Shiksa in the Kitchen blog too. Aunt Sharon, I’m even more disappointed about not stopping by your house on the way out of Kingston – I’ve been wanting to make dolmades for months, I would’ve snagged some of your grape leaves! Weirdly, I couldn’t find them at St. Lawrence Market (I just assumed the market had everything).

    Liv, I vaguely remember making dolmades at Parkside from the grape leaves growing on the side of the garage. Is this the time you remember too? … I think it’s even possible that Aunt Susan was there as well… but I could just be making things up… It’s happened before.

  2. Sounds amazing! I’m currently en route to Halifax for leftovers, don’t throw anything out!
    … I also like Cobblestone stout, liberty ale and buffalo trace. Also, if you could book some time to drive me to the gym that would be great. Also, what’s for lunch? Also…what’s for dinner?

  3. The grape vines are really doing well this year, Jesse, and I think there should be nice leaves for at least a couple more weeks. I can preserve some for you, too. Adrian wanted to make jelly from the grapes, but we’ve been urging so many people — family, friends, neighbours, random strangers on the street — to come and get some grapes that even this year’s bumper crop may be too depleted for it.

    James…what leftovers??

  4. The grape leaves were amazing Liv. The rest of the meal was incredible, as well. The fact that vampires didn’t bother us for days was an added bonus.

  5. Your grape leaf rolls (war’a ai’neb) inspired me to make some yesterday! An inspiration made possible through the gift of grape leaves from my boss and his wife. They are impossible to find fresh in the stores here. They come only in a very salty brine, which is ok, but not nearly as nice. Anyway, they turned out fabulously. I used rice, chickpeas, dried mint from my dad’s garden (Lebanese mint smuggled into Canada years ago by Sito), shallots from Brittany (gift from Pascal), and lots of lemon. Olive oil, of course. Along with, I made hummous, babaganoush and tabouleh.

    • And our mint in Kingston is some that you brought to us, Summer, also descended from Sito’s original mint. I’m going to take some to the Nova Scotia garden next spring, too.

  6. Okay….this one is mind boggling. I know very well how much planning and care went into this.
    A stunning feast of story, photos and inspiration. Very nice Olivia and support crew.

  7. Many many many grape leaf rolls have rolled off my hands, Jesse. Somewhere in your memory, either here or there. I love them and best with, lamb, fresh marjoram, mint, lemon zest and simmered in a tomato garlic broth……mmmmm.

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