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Grape leaves make tasty dolmades May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Recipes.
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By early May, in the vineyards of Greece, tender, young grape leaves are collected in vast quantities and brought into the kitchen.

While fresh and vibrant, some are used immediately to prepare the popular specialty we have all come to know as dolmas, or dolmades. The remaining leaves are wrapped in bunches of 50 or so in aluminum foil and placed in the freezer. That way, no matter the time of year, parties won’t be, in the culinarily correct vernacular, “dolmades challenged.”

If you have a source for fresh, chemical-free grape leaves, then you are lucky. To use in this recipe, they need only be rinsed; cut the stems off at the base where they encounter the leaf. To store future batches of leaves, simply stack up to 50 leaves and wrap tightly in foil. Remember, if you use leaves that have been packed in brine, they need a thorough soaking and rinsing before you can proceed with this recipe.

Dolmas with Lamb, Lentils and Fennel
3⁄4 cup lentils
1⁄2 cup uncooked medium-grain rice
11⁄2 cups finely chopped onion
1⁄2 cup finely chopped fennel bulb
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 pound ground lamb (as lean as possible)
1⁄2 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 tablespoon ground cumin
11⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
30 to 40 fresh grape leaves, stems removed
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Lemon Sauce (recipe follows)

Method >
Place the lentils, rice and 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes; remove from heat.

Saute the onion, fennel and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are transparent and tender; remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine cooled onion mixture and lentils with the lamb, beef, cumin, salt, allspice and pepper, mixing well.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto stem-end of a grape leaf; fold stem-end over filling, then fold sides of leaf over filling to enclose and, from stem-end, roll leaf jelly-roll fashion. As leaves are filled and rolled, lay them, seam-side down, in the bottom of a heavy skillet, fitting them together neatly, but not too tightly (they will expand slightly as they cook). Because this recipe makes about 30 or 40 dolmas (depending on size), you will either have to use two skillets, or cook dolmas in two batches.

Mix the chicken broth and lemon juice in a container. Pour enough broth mixture over grape leaves so they are just covered; add 6 garlic halves to skillet. Place a heavy oven-proof plate, slightly smaller than skillet diameter, over the top of dolmas to keep them from moving around and unrolling during cooking. Cook at a slow simmer over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, just until meat has cooked through and dolmas appear slightly plumped. (If your lamb is particularly high in fat, you may have to spoon off some of the broth toward the end of cooking as fat is released from meat.)

While dolmas are cooling, prepare Lemon Sauce.

Dolmas may be served hot, cold, or at room temperature. The sauce can be set out for dipping, or drizzled over dolmas before serving. Dolmas will keep in the refrigerator (cover them with a bit of cooking liquid and perhaps some olive oil) for up to 3 days, or frozen for 6 months. Makes approximately 30 to 40 dolmas.

LEMON SAUCE: Whisk together 2 egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan, over medium heat, then whisk in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, stirring until smooth. Add 1 cup of hot cooking liquid from dolmas, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Reduce heat. Stir a couple tablespoonfuls of hot broth mixture into egg yolks, then slowly add egg-yolk mixture to broth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice and continue stirring and cooking until sauce has thickened a bit more. Stir in 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley. Adjust seasonings, adding salt if desired. 


UEFA Champions League Final in Athens > Liverpool vs. AC Milan May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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The last time Liverpool and A.C. Milan squared off, the soccer world was blessed with one of the best matches ever played. Soccer fans will be hoping for an encore of that match when the two teams clash again on May 23 in the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece.

This game is a rematch of the 2005 Champions League final, which Liverpool won on penalty kicks. That UEFA game is remembered by anyone who saw it because Liverpool staged an amazing comeback in the second half after falling behind 3-0. Liverpool scored three dramatic goals in a six-minute span and topped A.C. Milan 3-2 on penalties, with Smicer netting the game-winner.

A.C. Milan enters the rematch as a slight favorite after a mediocre season in the Italian Serie A. They finished in fourth place, 32 points back of first-place Inter Milan, due in part to a point deduction instituted because of match fixing. The player to watch for A.C. Milan is Kaka. The Brazilian striker scored 18 goals in 45 games this season and is the leading goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League with 10. Other dangerous players on A.C. Milan include striker Alberto Gilardino and Gennaro Gattuso, who is the leader of the team both on and off the field. Milan last won the Champions League back in 2003, when they defeated Juventus on penalty kicks after going scoreless in regulation and extra time.

Liverpool pulled off a big upset over Chelsea in the Champions League semis, which is exactly what they did two years ago when they won it all. Liverpool had a somewhat disappointing season in the English Premiership where they finished the season in third place, 21 points back of Manchester United. Liverpool’s top player this season has been the towering 6-foot-7 striker Peter Crouch, who scored 19 goals during the season including a team-high six in the Champions League. Steven Gerrard is also a scoring threat whenever he has the ball, while A.C. Milan will also be looking to stop Dirk Kuiyt and Xabi Alonso.

With no World Cup or Euro tournament this year, many soccer fans are calling this game the match of the season. If Liverpool and A.C. Milan can deliver even half the drama that the 2005 final presented, soccer fans and bettors alike should not be disappointed.

Massage rubs away the pain May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology, Health & Fitness.
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Massage is probably one of the oldest therapies known.

It was practiced in China as early as 2,700 B.C.

In ancient Greece, Hippocrates advocated rubbing as a treatment that can bind a joint that is loose and loosen a joint that is hard.

Greek wines making name for themselves May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World, Wine And Spirits.
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Chances are you’re familiar with a few already. They range from bright and food-friendly reds to complex and age-worthy whites and seductive, aromatic roses from Greece.

In fact, pronouncing them might be the only obstacle. “Half the people come in here and say ‘What’s Greek wine, is it good?,'” says Telly Topakas, owner of Parea Wine Bar & Cafe in San Francisco. “They’re choking on it a little, so I’ll say it slowly and break it down for them phonetically, and they get it.”

Allow us. Here are some grapes to say, try, buy, and ultimately, embrace. They’re all vying to be your Next Big Thing. So, if you find a white to rotate with your staple chardonnay, or a new blend for July’s barbecues, we’ve done our good deed. See you on the beach!

Xinomavro > Xinomavro is the king of native red grapes in northern Greece, and means “acid black.” Don’t let that deter you. Whether blended or on its own, Xinomavro can produce wines of great range and character, from a modern, fresh and clean style, even a great rose, to its unmistakably age-worthy and complex characteristics of red fruit, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and spices. Greece’s wine renaissance is in full swing, and a new crop of talented winemakers is making it easy to forget the pine nightmare that was Retsina.
Pronounce it > KSEE-no-mav-ro.
Eat it with > Greek salad. It stands up to the olive oil and lemon.
Producers > Kir-Yianni, E. Tsantali, Alpha Estate.
Where to find > Parea Wine Bar & Cafe, 795 Valencia St., S.F., 415-255-2102; Du Vin Fine Wines, 2526 A Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, 510-769-9463.
For fans of > Dry, tannic reds.

Aromatic whites > If you crave medium to full-bodied wines with exotic floral and white fruit aromas yet crisp acidity, the whites of Greece are for you. Assyrtiko hails from the island of Santorini, where the volcanic soil produces wines of body and high acidity. Think juicy wines that can cleanse even the most difficult-to-pair South Asian meal. Malagousia is a rare variety grown mainly in Macedonia; imagine white peaches spritzed with jasmine. Moschofilero, a gray-skinned grape grown in central Peloponnese, has vibrant acidity, violet aromas and makes a superb rose. These are the wines of romantic myths.
Pronounce it > Assyrtiko: a-SEER-tee-ko; Malagousia: mah-lah-gou-ZYA; Moschofilero: mos-ko-FEE-le-ro.
Eat it with > Vegetarian Indian dishes.
Producers > Domaine Gerovassiliou (Malagousia); Ktima Pavlidis (Assyrtiko); Antonopoulos (Moschofilero).
Where to find > Parea, S.F.; Du Vin Fine Wines, Alameda; www.Allaboutgreekwine.com has useful audio pronunciations.
For fans of > Aromatic, exotic whites.

One of the Greek vintages, which are becoming voguish and are drawn from such consonant-heavy, indigenous grapes as moschofilero and xinomavro. Greek wineries are developing modern techniques and modern techniques don’t come cheap. You will be particularly pleased when you have landed to a Greek cabernet sauvignon, Tsantali Mount Athos Agioritiko Avaton, which happens to be the state wine served at the Kremlin.

It’s from Mount Athos, which is an all-male monastic community in Halkidiki peninsula, Northern Greece. Mount Athos is known for its “Avaton” which means no females are allowed to enter. No women are allowed, including many female animals. 

If you ever happen to visit Mount Athos, you will admire several priceless relics on display in the Mount Athos capital of Karyes, including the first founding charter of the autonomous monastic community bearing the signature of Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Tsimiskis, an artifact shown only to dignitaries. You should also tour the Mount Athos Protato Cathedral and the monasteries of Iviron and Stavronikita.

Vodafone and RealNetworks sign agreement May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Vodafone and RealNetworks have a multi-year global partnership today to support Vodafone’s music services across Europe.

The agreement will make RealNetworks’ mobile music services, including Internet radio-style streaming music and the ability to purchase and download full songs, available to Vodafone customers in Europe. These services are available today from Vodafone in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Romania and the UK. The Internet radio-style streaming music service is available in France.

The Vodafone partnership provides Real with a foundation to deliver its full portfolio of digital entertainment services to Vodafone customers. In working with Vodafone, Real will leverage the technology and expertise it has gained in operating music services around the world. This includes the platform gained through today’s acquisition of Sony NetServices, whose technology center and infrastructure in Salzburg, Austria, will continue to support delivery of music services to Vodafone customers, as well as the capabilities gained from its acquisition of WiderThan, a global leader in providing digital music services that can be delivered to, and synchronized across, customers’ mobile device and their PC.

With the addition of Vodafone as a customer, RealNetworks now has 12 music on demand customers with more than 196 million mobile subscribers in 11 countries. Real’s Technology and Product Solutions division provides services on an ASP basis to more than 75 communications carriers in 37 countries worldwide.

Related Links >


Marcos Baghdatis knocked out May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Cypriot tennis star Marcos Baghdatis was knocked out in the first round of the Hamburg Masters yesterday losing to new German hope Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 3-6.

The defeat was the fourth time in five Masters events that Baghdatis has been knocked out in the first round as the young Cypriot struggles to find any consistency this season.

Kohlschreiber also defeated Baghdatis two weeks ago in the semi-finals of the BMW Open in Munich, who then went on to win the tournament.

The 23-year old Bavarian was pleased with his performance: “It was really good fun. The first win in Munich was very important. I had a good feeling coming from Munich, but I knew I had to start from zero again here. Straight in the first round I got a tough draw. I’m overjoyed that I could show great tennis again. The audience supported me really well. That gave me a lot of strength and confidence.”

Cyprus to announce tenders for natural gas supply May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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The government is set to invite tenders to bid for the construction of a land terminal in Cyprus to provide the country with natural gas, in an effort to meet its obligations to the European Union, which it joined in May 2004.

Speaking after a ministerial committee meeting on the matter, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Michaelides said the land terminal is expected to be ready in about seven years from now.

“The three units which the Cyprus Electricity Authority (AHK) now operates using diesel or crude oil are expected to be converted to receive natural gas by 2009 when the fourth unit will be delivered,” he said, warning of millions of pounds of losses if these units continue to operate for five or six years on traditional fuel. “The government disagrees with the Electricity Authority on the matter. We have to, through tenders, give the opportunity to anybody who feels they can provide our market with natural gas as early as possible to submit his proposal and we shall decide accordingly,” the Minister said.

Michaelides said that EAC does not agree with this process. “The ministerial committee believes that we have to proceed with all the necessary ground work to construct the land terminal for natural gas but at the same time to see if we can secure the supply of natural gas through a floating unit, since the land terminal is not expected to be ready before 2014-2015,” he explained.

Responding to questions, he said EACshould come out in the open and say that the land terminal can be constructed earlier, if it believes this is so, and it should also explain how this can be done. The Minister said that the timeframe for the construction of the land terminal for natural gas is the reasonable assessment reached by experts in this field and government advisors who have taken all factors into consideration.

“Everybody has the right to his own opinion but what I disagree with is the warning of a strike by AHK personnel trade unions before the government takes its final decision on the matter,” the Minister added.