"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Marthe Troly-Curtin

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Greek Style Kebebs Tzaziki Barbecue Dip

For any healthy bbq lamb recipes my suggestion is always to start with a barbecue marinade to add flavour and tenderise the meat at the same time. It’s a lot lighter on the calories than sauce and imparts just as much flavour.
This particular marinade is fresh from the Mediterranean Greek islands and as with a lot of Greek food it’s rich in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Great flavours and really easy to prepare, just mix up and away we go.
I plumped for chops in this menu idea but it great as a kebab too, just chop up some steaks, marinate as instructed and thread onto skewers.

1 Kg or 2 lbs lamb chops
75ml or ⅓ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
Juice of one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons cut into wedges
Sprigs of fresh parsley for garnish
Place the lamb chops in a marinade bowl and pour over the mix of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Marinate for 2 or 3 hours turning occasionally. When hot coals are ready, place the chops on the barbecue and season with salt and pepper and grill for 10 – 12 minutes turning once
There really isn’t much more to say other than serve with the lemon wedges and a couple of sprigs of parsley for garnish. If doing the kebabs, take the easy option and slide the meat into a pitta with some salad and a dollop of yoghurt or Tzaziki .
Tzaziki Barbecue DipTzaziki barbecue dip is a super healthy menu idea to kick start any BBQ cookout and it’s easy to prepare too.
I was first introduced to Tzaziki on the Greek island of Paros many moons ago by a guy called Nick. He was a plumber from Clevedon near Bristol, England, and he was enjoying a fine life of long hard work in the winter and seriously long holidays in the summer. I wonder if he still does it?
We sat at a restaurant and dipped bread into a plate of tzaziki and a plate of eggplant salad – what a great way to start a meal! So refreshing on a hot summers day.
I now use dips like these with some vegetable cruditées as a great healthy start to any barbecue. Alternatively just slice up a few pitta breads and the result’s just as good.
1 medium cucumber peeled and finely chopped
225ml or ½ pint yoghurt
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Pour the yoghurt into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Give it a stir and chill for at least one hour to let the flavours come together.
If you’re a garlic fiend like me, you may want to add another clove and dip your bread!

Nichola’s BBQ Lamb

This brilliant BBQ lamb recipe came to me from my good friend Nichola. It’s ideal for the barbecue grill and had a wonderfully tasty marinade.

The roots of this recipe must lie in Spain because it’s heavy on paprika and with chilli and garlic to complete the mix it’s got to be a winner. There’s more paprika in the sauce and the combination of flavours achieved with the herbs is out of this world.
TIP - Add the herbs to the sauce at the last minute, maintain their structure and don’t wilt.
I’ve chosen to use a boned shoulder but you can butterfly a small leg and get equally good results.

Ingredients for the marinade:-

  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Juice and Zest of 2 lemons
  • One teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped

Ingredients for the sauce:-

  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 level teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large handful of mint roughly chopped
  • 1 large handful of coriander roughly chopped

Cut into the deepest part of the lamb to create an even surface and place it skin side down in a roasting try. Pour over the marinade, rub it into the lamb and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
The coals on the barbecue grill need to be pretty hot and when ready slap the lamb on skin side up (this should minimise the chance of a flare up) and sear for 10 minutes. Flip it over and give it another 10 minutes.

Cooking time will vary a little depending on how thick your piece of lamb is and of course how you like your lamb cooked. When done to your liking, pop the lamb skin side down into a roasting tray and pour over the sauce. Let the meat rest for 5 – 10 minutes and then serve and enjoy.

MINT JULEP With Bourbon Mint Barbecue Sauce

This recipe calls for baby back ribs... I think it would be perfect for lamb or goat ribs...

Source: Raichlen on Ribs by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2006)
Method: Indirect
Yield: Serves 4
2 teaspoons iced tea mix (made with sugar, not artificial sweetener)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons dried mint (peppermint or spearmint)
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
3 tablespoons mint jelly
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 racks baby back ribs (4 to 5 pounds total)
Bourbon Barbecue Sauce (see below)
You'll also need:
2 cups hickory chips, soaked in water to cover for 1 hour, then drained
(optional-only if using a charcoal grill)
MAKE THE RUB: Place the iced tea mix, sugar, mint, paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
MAKE THE GLAZE: Combine the mint jelly, lemon juice, butter, bourbon, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often, and cook until the mint jelly is dissolved and the mixture is syrupy, 5 minutes. Set the glaze aside.
PREPARE THE RIBS: Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs: Turn a rack meat side down. Insert a sharp implement, such as the tip of a meat thermometer, under the membrane (the best place to start is right next to the first rib bone). Using a dishcloth or pliers to gain a secure grip, pull off the membrane. Repeat with the other rack.
Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with rub, rubbing it into the meat. Cover the ribs and store in the refrigerator while you set up your grill.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Arrange the ribs, bone side down, in the center of the grate over the drip pan away from the heat. If working on a charcoal grill and using wood chips, toss half on each mound of coals. Cover the grill and cook for 1 hour.
Brush the ribs on both sides with the mint glaze. Recover the grill and continue cooking until the ribs are well-browned and cooked through, yet tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, 15 to 30 minutes more, or 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours in all. Brush the ribs once or twice more with glaze, and if using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals as needed. When the ribs are cooked, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.
Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board, and cut the racks in half, widthwise, or into individual ribs. Serve at once with the Bourbon Barbecue Sauce on the side.
Bourbon Mint Barbecue Sauce
Yield: About 1-1/2 cups
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup mint jelly
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the ketchup, chili sauce, mint jelly, bourbon, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke in a heavy saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer the sauce until thick and richly flavored, 8 to 10 minutes, whisking from time to time. Correct the seasoning, adding a little more vinegar for tartness, sugar for sweetness, and salt and pepper to taste.
© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort

LAMB STEAKS With Feta Cheese Sauce

Source: Raichlen’s Indoor Grilling by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2004)
Method: Direct
Yield: Serves 4
4 lamb steaks (each about 1/2-inch thick and 6 to 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Greek)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Feta Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)
1. Place the lamb steaks in a baking dish and brush both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle the oregano and garlic over both sides of the steaks, then season them with salt and pepper. Let the lamb marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill to high.
3. When ready to cook, place the lamb steaks directly on the grill grate and cook until nicely brown and to the desired degree of doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare; 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium. To test for doneness, use the poke method: When cooked to medium-rare, the meat should be gently yielding.
3. Meanwhile, place the onion and parsley in a bowl and stir to mix. Set aside until ready to serve.
4. Transfer the lamb steaks to a platter or plates and let rest for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the onion and parsley mixture over the lamb and serve the Feta Cheese Sauce on the side.
Feta Cheese Sauce
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
3 ounces feta cheese, drained and crumbled (about 6 tablespoons)
1/4 cup milk or water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
About 3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea; optional) and freshly ground black pepper
Place the feta, milk, olive oil, mayonnaise, paprika, and hot pepper flakes in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the cream and lemon juice and puree just to mix; overblending the cream may cause it to curdle. The sauce should be thick but pourable.
If it’s too thick, add up to 1 tablespoon more cream. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice as necessary, and salt and pepper, if desired, to taste.
© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits with Goat Cheese and Chives

Ever wonder what the difference is between scones and biscuits? The light, sweet scones enjoyed in England are nothing like the heavy, somewhat dry scones we usually have here in the states. They are more like our biscuits, but sweet. Of course "biscuit" in England means what we here would call a cookie. So confusing.

I set out to make a light, savory scone, and in the process learned that, at least here in America, what I was making would more normally be called a biscuit. Here, therefore, is a recipe for delicious buttermilk biscuits, made with goat cheese and chives, and shaped into wedges (the shape of American scones). You can shape them any which way you like. Oh yes, and as for the difference between scones and biscuits? Here in America, scones tend to be a little heavier and drier, made with an egg, sweet, and usually including fruit such as cranberries or raisins. Biscuits are usually savory, light and fluffy, and made with buttermilk. But the distinctions are blurry, even here.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of freshly chopped chives (can also use chopped green onions)
1 5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup buttermilk (plus an extra tablespoon for finish)

1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.

2 Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using fingertips, rub butter into dry ingredients until coarse meal forms. Stir in the chives. Add cheese and buttermilk; stir with fork just until a sticky dough forms (bits of cheese will be visible in dough).

3 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 times with floured hands. Do not over-knead! Form into a round, about 3/4-inch to an inch thick. Cut the round into 8 wedges. Use a pastry brush to brush on some extra buttermilk over the surface of the wedges.

4 Arrange wedges about 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased large baking sheet and bake in middle of oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Makes 8 large biscuits. Best eaten just baked and warm, with a little butter.

Recipe adapted from combining various recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit.

Simply Recipes

Pastitsio with the cream sauce

18oz short-cut macaroni
2 eggs, beaten
12oz grated kefalograviera cheese
(hard yellow cheese)
2 tbsp butter
14 oz minced beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 14oz tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup mixed vegetables (frozen)
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

For the cream
2.2 lb FAGE Greek Strained Yogurt
3 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp semolina
Salt and pepper
Dried breadcrumbs

Heat the oil and fry the minced beef with the onion and the garlic. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes
to reduce the sauce. Add the vegetables and parsley and simmer for another ten minutes.

Boil the macaroni in a large saucepan. Drain the macaroni and toss it in the butter. When the butter has melted, add the beaten eggs and half the cheese and mix well (keeping the other half of the cheese for the cream).

Mix the FAGE Greek Strained Yogurt, eggs, oil and semolina in a blender. Add the seasoning and the remaining cheese and mix well.

Spread half the macaroni mixture over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then add a middle layer of the minced beef mixture and a final layer of macaroni. Top the pastitsio with the cream sauce and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes at 350F.

Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing

From EatingWell Magazine September/October 2007

Finely chopped raw broccoli is tender and mild--here it's tossed with a creamy dressing, meaty chickpeas and sweet bell pepper.

Makes 4 servings, 1 cup each
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and finely chopped (about 3 cups)
1 7-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1. Whisk feta, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and pepper in a medium bowl until combined.
2. Add broccoli, chickpeas and bell pepper; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 122 calories; 3 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 11 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 4 g fiber; 260 mg sodium; 324 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (140% daily value), Vitamin A (50% dv), Folate (22% dv), Calcium (15% dv).
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day


1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped canned jalapeno peppers
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 green onion, white and green parts, sliced
1 teaspoon lime juice


Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add cranberries; return to a boil. Gently boil cranberries for 10 minutes without stirring. Pour into a medium glass mixing bowl. Gently stir in remaining ingredients.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on salsa. Cool at room temperature and refrigerate. Best if served at room temperature. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Per Serving: (2 TABLESPOONS): Calories 47(2%DV), Sodium 13mg(1%DV), Pot. 17mg(<1%DV), Total Carb. 12grams(4%DV), Dietary Fiber 1gram(3%DV), Sugars 10grams, Vit. A 21 IU(<1%DV), Vit. C 2mg(4%DV), Calcium 1mg(<1%DV), Dietary Exchange: Fruit 1