Sunday Family Dinner

Our Big Fat GREEK Sunday Family Dinner – OPA!!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As it turned out, the only Sunday we could have our June Family Dinner was on the same weekend of our big seester and B.I.L.’s wedding anniversary party………..

The same event that we were slated to cook/bake the entire menu as well as prep the decor and floral arrangements.

No big deal right? Good thing we’re robots.

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner


But our monthly Family Dinners have become a tradition and I was determined to still make it happen without having to add any extra stress.

An easy, low-key menu was a must…..especially if we could prepare things in advance.

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

Enter Ina Garten to save the day!

I happened to catch an old episode of hers on TV where she was fixing up a Greek/Mediterranean spread to enjoy at one of her friends’ fabulous new homes. Nearly everything was made in advance and she just carted it over to the house when it was dinner time.


June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

And on another note, that woman has some pretty spectacular buddies in some amazing industries! Lighting specialists, florists, chefs, cheese makers,  vintners —I need to run in her crowd!!

But I digress….back to the food.

So with a loose Greek themed menu, we were off to the races.  For appetizers, we snacked on flaky, buttery, golden Spanakopita. I actually made them 2 weeks beforehand and stored them unbaked in an airtight container in the freezer. The day of our dinner as we sipped on chilled vino, I put them directly from the freezer into a preheated oven. 35 minutes later, our tummies were doing a happy dance.


June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As for the main menu, what’s easier than grilling? Especially if we can task the boys to do the grill work!

MAN LIKE FIRE. <insert curmudgeon caveman voice>

And since we were going Greek, we marinated chunks of lamb and chicken in Greek yogurt with tons of lemon juice, rosemary and garlic. The proteins bathed in the marinade overnight which I think helped to reduce any extra gaminess lamb is known to have as well as keep the meat tender.

Of course, the recipe is Ina’s and can be found here but I added about 1/4 cup of minced garlic to the recipe. No garlic?! Not me!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

We served the chicken and lamb with an easy cucumber and fresh dill tzatziki sauce.


June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

And how could we have a Greek outdoor feast without Pita Bread? Pita is something that is surprisingly easy to make (despite my first apprehension) and also can be made in advance. We ended up grilling the Pita to warm them but I think next time it would be better to toast them lightly in the oven because they got a tad crunchy for my liking. The recipe I used can from The Kitchn  can be found here.

I’d also be doing a disservice to the sis if I didn’t talk about the light Greek Salad she whipped up with feta, cucumbers, olives, fresh dill, tomatoes and red onions –it was our MUCH needed veggies!


June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

As for dessert, we kept things relatively light –especially since we all inhaled a TON of desserts at the anniversary party the night before. So we opted for a simple Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta and topped it with a fresh fig & berries compote.

The panna cotta was a cinch to make and had similar tart flavors to Vietnamese yogurt. As for the compote, it was nothing more than cooking the figs, strawberries, and raspberries down with about 1/2 cup white wine, sugar and a bit of vanilla.

Truth be told, I was surprised how much I did enjoy dessert considering it was a last minute addition to the plate but it was  yuuuummmmmyy!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

All in all, despite how crazy tired we were from the night before, Sunday Family Dinner was quite the success.

Lounging in the backyard, dangling our toes in the hot tub, sipping on vino, naps in the sun and good food with the family. The perfect way to spend a Sunday FUNday and nothing to it but a bit of work ahead of time.

Until next month – OPA!!!!!!!!!

June 2014 Sunday Family Dinner

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio
Appetizers: Spanakopita
Entrees: Grilled Lamb and Chicken Kebab with Fresh Dill Tzatziki Sauce, Fresh Pita Bread, Grilled Veggies, Greek Salad
Dessert: Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Fig and Berry Compote


Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Gelée

Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Gelée

I never realized how much I fancied Panna Cottas.

Which is strange really. I love crème brûlées, yogurts, custards. All very similar in texture.

Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Gelée

But then I stumbled upon a few posts for panna cottas that were flavored with tropical fruits. And then it dawned on me. Why wouldn’t I love it?!

This Lychee Panna Cotta turned out so lovely. It had a nice lychee flavor that was subtle and slightly floral—and had a wonderful smooth texture. Since I used the lychee syrup when I pureed the fruit, I only added a tad of sugar and used whole milk.

Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Gelée

I decided to up the “tropical ante” by pairing it with a Guava Gelée since I thought the two flavors would pair so well together. And the striking color from the guava was so pretty against the white panna cotta.

Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Gelée

However, I might have been a tad overzealous when plating. I’d cut the Gelée amount in half and suggest only a spoonful of it next time as to not overpower the subtlety of the Panna Cotta.

But with that said, this would make a delightful treat on a warm sunny day. 🙂

Keep your eyes peeled for Friday’s post. It made me very happy to bake it—and best of all, Eat It!

Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Gelée

Serves 4-5


Panna Cottta:
1 20-Ounce Can Lychees, in light syrup
¾ Tablespoon Unflavored Powdered Gelatin
2 Cups Whole Milk
¼ Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Sugar

4 Tablespoons Guava Paste
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
¾ Tablespoon Unflavored Powdered Gelatin
½ Cup Water, plus 2 Tablespoons

Prepare the panna cotta. Pour water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin in. Allow the gelatin to bloom—about 5 minutes. In a food processor or blender, puree the lychees with the syrup until it is liquefied. Strain the liquids through a sieve. In a saucepan, add milk, sugar, and lychee liquid. Place saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is just dissolved but do not let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Allow the panna cotta mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes before pouring into glasses/serving bowls—dividing evenly. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 3 hours.

While the panna cotta is chilling, prepare the gelée. Pour 2 tablespoons water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin in. Allow the gelatin to bloom—about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan on medium low heat, combine guava paste, honey, and ½ cup water. Stir and cook until the paste has melted and the ingredients have combined. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and gelatin. Mix until everything is completely dissolved. Allow the gelée to cool to room temperature. Spoon or pour over the panna cotta that has been chilled for 3 hours. Return to the fridge and chill for an additional hour.