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Eat With True Greek Spirit

Wednesday, August 11, 2004; Page F04

Domata Me Kopanisti

(Blue Cheese and Tomato Spread)

Makes 6 to 8 servings (about 2 1/2 cups)

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"This delicious spread is made with the local tiny and intensely flavored tomatoes and the sharp kopanisti -- a blue-type spreadable cheese. Neither of these two key ingredients is available outside the island. In the summer, use ripe red tomatoes and bake them to concentrate their flavor. Because the more common blue cheeses lack the pungency of kopanisti, add a few tablespoons of rum or vodka."

From "The Foods of Greek Islands," by Aglaia Kremezi (Houghton Mifflin, 2000):

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded

1 cup crumbled blue cheese, preferably aged Gorgonzola, at room temperature (about 2 1/2 ounces)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

1 to 3 tablespoons vodka or white rum (optional)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes shrink to half their original size. Set aside in a colander or sieve to cool and drain completely. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the tomatoes. (The tomatoes can be baked a day in advance and refrigerated.)

Just before serving, place the blue and feta cheeses in a bowl and use a fork to mash them. Mix in the tomatoes. Don't try to make a homogenous paste; it should be somewhat coarse. Add the vodka or rum, if using. Drizzle with oil and stir to mix, but don't try to completely incorporate the oil into the spread. Transfer the spread to a shallow serving bowl, drizzle with more oil, if desired, sprinkle with the mint and serve.

Per serving (based on 8): 152 calories, 4 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrates, 13 gm fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 239 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Garides Saganaki

(Shrimp Baked in Tomato Sauce With Feta)

4 to 6 servings

"Shrimp saganaki (from the Turkish sahan, meaning 'a large copper dish') is not a traditional recipe. It was probably created in the early 1960s as tourists began to flood the Greek islands. The sauce is scrumptious, so make sure you provide plenty of fresh crusty bread for dipping."

From Kremezi's "The Foods of Greek Islands":

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