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DISHES TO SAMPLE WHEN WE'RE IN PORT
Sangria Mr. Sadak's Hummus
Fried Mussels with Walnut Sauce Greek Halibut Soup
Keftedakia (Greek Meat Balls) Persian Stuffed Peppers
Mediterranean Pasta Morrocan Carrot Salad
Tomato, Feta and Olive Salad Souvlaki
Homemade Pita Bread Sicilian Fruit Dessert

SANGRIA
Drifting through the sea sipping on a glass of this from the Costa Del Sol should get your imaginary cruise started right.
Serves: 8

1 whole orange -- unpeeled, sliced
1 cup orange juice
1 whole lemon -- unpeeled, sliced
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 gallon Burgundy
3 tablespoons brandy
10 ounces sliced peaches -- with juice
1/2 cup strawberries -- sliced
1 whole banana -- sliced
Put all ingredients into large pitcher, stir, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or (preferably) overnight.

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MR. SADAK'S HUMMUS
We're going to stop in Lebanon to sample a Mediterranean favorite. Mr. Sadak was a native of Lebanon and the owner of the old Embassy Restaurant around the corner from where I worked. He used to ply his work-worn customers with this appetizing version of Hummus!
Serves: 6

1 can Garbanzo beans, (20-oz.) -- undrained
1 clove Garlic -- peeled
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 teaspoon Paprika
Additional Olive Oil
Additional Paprika
Pita bread
Drain liquid from beans into measuring cup; save 1/2 cup and set aside. Place garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and paprika into blender or food processor; puree 10 seconds. Add bean liquid and puree 40-45 seconds or until smooth. Place mixture in bowl; cover and chill at least 2 hours. To serve, put mixture into wide shallow bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and paprika; put basket of large warm pita bread pieces out for dipping.

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FRIED MUSSELS WITH WALNUT SAUCE
Let's go ashore in Istanbul to sample these li'l critters (called Midye Tavasi in Turkish). These crispy mussels are a popular menu item at street stands that line the busy wharves and open-air markets throughout Turkey. The accompanying walnut sauce, known as tarator can be thickened with hazelnuts or almonds in place of walnuts. It is also good served with cooked vegetables and fish.
Serves: 10

Recipe By : "Taverna" cookbook by Joyce Goldstein
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
40 large mussels in the shell
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Peanut oil for frying
Soak 10 small wooden skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.

WALNUT SAUCE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool and place in a food processor or blender; add garlic and bread crumbs and pulse to combine. Add olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and puree until smooth. Thin to a spoonable consistency if needed with a little water. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar or lemon juice if needed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

MUSSELS: Meanwhile, scrub mussels well under cold running water; discard any that do not close to the touch. Pour water to a depth of 1 inch in a large wide saute pan and add mussels. Place over high heat; cover and cook until mussels open, about 3-4 minutes. Drain mussels and discard any that have not opened. Remove mussels from their sheels, gently pulling off their beards.
Thread 4 mussels onto each skewer. In a side shallow bowl, combine water and flour; stir to make a thin batter, and set aside. In a deep skillet or wok, pour peanut oil to a depth of 2-3 inches; heat to 375 degrees or until a tiny bit of batter dropped into the oil sizzles immediately. Working in batches, dip the mussel skewers into the batter; slip them into the oil. Fry until golden on all sides, turning as needed, about 2-3 minutes. Removre with tongs to paper towels to drain until all mussels are cooked.

To serve, arrange skewers on a platter. Serve hot with walnut sauce on the side.

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GREEK HALIBUT SOUP
A stop at one of the Greek Islands will render up a delicious bowl of this!
Serves: 4

1 cup chopped Onion
1/2 cup chopped Celery
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
5 cups Water
1 cup Dry White wine
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 cup Uncooked Long-grain White Rice
1 1/2 pounds Halibut Steaks, skin and bones removed
4 Lemon slices
1/4 cup Lemon juice
Chopped Fresh Parsley for garnish
Saute onion and celery in oil until soft. Add the water, wine, salt, oregano and pepper; mix well and bring to boil. Add rice; cover and cook until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Cut fish into serving-size pieces and add to pot with lemon slices; simmer 8-10 minutes or until fish is cooked. Add lemon juice; simmer to heat through 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately garnished with parsley.

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KEFTEDAKIA (Greek Meat Balls)
We'll stop at another Greek island for these yummies (yes, that's real Ouzo in there, but don't worry---the alcohol cooks out).

2 slices bread -- trimmed
1/4 cup Ouzo (Greek anise-flavored liqueur)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion -- finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or 1 tsp. dried
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Soak the bread in the Ouzo for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the onions for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Add the ground beef, egg, mint, garlic, and oregano. Season with black pepper. Mix well. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the flour lightly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Add 1/4 cup of oil to the skillet and heat over high heat. Cook one layer of meatballs for 8 to 10 minutes, browning on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a platter and repeat.

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PERSIAN STUFFED PEPPERS
No, we don't have to go all the way inland to Iran for these----we're going to get them in Jordan.
Serves: 4

Recipe By : Penzey's Herbs and Spices 1/2 pound Lean Ground Lamb or Beef
1 bunch Green Onions -- chopped
1 tablespoon minced Parsley
1/2 cup cooked Rice
1 teaspoon Salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon minced Cilantro
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 Green Bell Peppers
1 1/2 cups Tomato Juice
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, brown meat over medium-high heat; drain. mix in onions and parsley; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add turmeric, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, cilantro, tomato paste and rice; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut tops from peppers and save; remove seeds. Fill peppers with meat mixture; replace tops of peppers and secure with wooden picks. Place peppers in prepared casserole. Combine tomato juice, remaining salt and pepper; pour over peppers. Cover; bake 45-60 minutes or until peppers are soft to the touch.

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MEDITERRANEAN PASTA
This is here for a little bit of luncheon on board the ship. It's full of all the goodies found all around the Mediterranean.
Serves: 4

1 pound penne
2 2/3 pounds cherry tomatoes -- halved
5 ounces soft mild goat cheese -- crumbled
2/3 cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Cook pasta in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender. While pasta is cooking, toss tomatoes with salt to taste in a bowl and let juices exude. Drain pasta onto a serving platter or bowl. Toss with goat cheese until cheese is melted and coats pasta. Add tomatoes with juices, olives, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

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MORROCAN CARROT SALAD
No Mediterranean cruise would be complete without a stop in mysterious Morroco along the north African coast where fresh vegetables and wonderful seasonings rule.
Serves: 4

1 pound Carrots, peeled and left whole
1 clove Garlic, peeled and left whole
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Sugar
dash Cayenne
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Chopped Fresh Parsley garnish
In medium saucepan, boil carrots and garlic clove about 20 minutes; drain and discard garlic. Slice carrots thinly lengthwise; place into medium bowl. Combine remaining ingredients except oil and parsley; whisk to blend well and pour over carrots, tossing to coat. Chill about hour. Before serving, sprinkle with oil and parsley.

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TOMATO, FETA AND OLIVE SALAD
Here's another pan-Mediterranean salad for our shipboard luncheon.
Serves: 8

2 pints Cherry Tomatoes -- halved
1/2 cup Calamata Olives -- drained, pitted and
1 1/2 cups crumbled Feta Cheese
1 clove Garlic -- minced
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
3/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
Place tomatoes, olives and cheese in salad bowl. Place the garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in small bowl; mash thoroughly with the back of a teaspoon. Whisk in vinegar. Whisk in oil and continue whisking until well-emulsified; pour over salad. Toss gently to coat well. Cover and chill up to 4 hours before serving.

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SOUVLAKI
We can get these at little street carts on our Greek islands and nibble while we're sightseeing.
Serves: 8

4 pounds boneless Pork Loin -- cut in 3/4" pieces
1/3 cup Lemon juice
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Coarse-ground black pepper
4 Pita Bread Pockets -- halved
Shredded Lettuce
Thinly sliced onions
Diced fresh Tomatoes
Crumbled Feta Cheese
Red Wine Vinegar
Trim excess fat from pork; place in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, oil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper; pour over pork; toss to coat well. Cover; refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare grill; drain pork, reserving marinade. Thread pork on skewers; grill over medium coals, turning and basting with marinade frequently, about 15 minutes.

To serve, slip meat from skewers into warm pita pockets; add lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheese as desired. Sprinkle with a few drops of vinegar if desired.

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HOMEMADE PITA BREAD
You don't think that our wonderful shipboard chefs would make you eat commercially-prepared pita bread, do you? Here's your own recipe, directly from King Arthur Flour, for pita to have all the time with all the goodies on this page!

NOTE #1: Pita bread is another ancient flat bread made from the same sort of dough that pizza and focaccia is. It's the way it's baked that creates the pocket. Here's a recipe for the kind of pita you'll find on the grocery shelf. (For those of you who are aficionados of whole wheat flour, you can substitute 1 or 2 cups of King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for an equal amount of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (just remember to put the whole wheat flour in the sponge).
NOTE #2: Pitas are best made ahead of time so they'll have a chance to cool and deflate before you fill them. So if you're going biking or hiking on the weekend, you'll probably want to make them up during the week.

2 cups warm water (115-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
5 1/2 cups to 6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

If you work away from home during the day or even if you work at home, you can make up a sponge, with about half the flour. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going.

When you get back to the sponge later on, add the salt and enough flour to make a dough that is a bit stiff, one that you can easily knead by hand. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and bouncy, adding only enough more flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Give it a rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten and make it more cooperative about being shaped.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and then roll each piece with a floured rolling pin, or a pin with a cover, on a floured surface into a circle about 6-inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. You may need to let the pieces rest occasionally to relax the dough.

Sprinkle baking sheets with cornmeal, and place two circles on each. Or place circles on pieces of parchment paper. Let the dough circles rest here for at least 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to a hot 500F. When the pita circles have finished resting, place the baking sheet on the oven bottom or, if this is not possible, on the lowest rack. If you're using a baking stone, make sure it's on the oven floor, or on the lowest rack. Use a peel to transfer the pitas-on-parchment to the stone. Close the oven door and keep it shut for 1 minute. Don't peek or the pocket may not form. It's this initially fast, hot searing of the outside dough of the pita that makes it separate from the inside. The carbon dioxide gas created by the yeast expands inside and accentuates the separation until the pita blows up like a balloon and the pocket is created.

At the end of the minute, place the sheet on a rack higher in the oven and continue baking anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes, until the pitas have blown up into balloons and are lightly browned. If the pitas baked right on the stone, you'll probably want to transfer them to a baking sheet, which is already in place on the oven rack, for this second part of their baking.

When they're done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, slide the pitas off and let them cool. They will probably deflate somewhat after cooling. Once they're thoroughly cool you can press more air out of them so they take up less storage room.

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SICILIAN FRUIT DESSERT
And now, our last stop at Sicily for some of their famous fresh fruit in a tangy but rather light dessert. This is an authentic recipe that Mary Ann Esposito presented on one of her TV shows. This recipe can also be made with plain oranges, but the flavor and color just isn't the same nor as good.
Serves: 4

3 Blood Oranges
3 Bananas
Lemon Juice
Sugar
2/3 cup Amaretto Liqueur
Carefully peel and slice oranges. Peel bananas and cut in half lengthwise; cut halves into 3-inch pieces and coat with lemon juice. Place sugar into a shallow bowl; coat oranges slices and banana pieces in sugar; alternately place in circles on a decorative serving plate. Pour Amaretto over and around fruit; cover and macerate 1-2 hours, shaking dish occasionally to keep fruit coated.

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Copyright 2008 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved