Friday Recipe Exchange: Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

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Tonight is a bit hodgepodge. While I was away, faithful contributor, Joshua D (Yutsano) sent me two tasty recipes to share. I was grateful, because lately I feel like I’m walking on ice and cannot get my feet under me long enough to cook, much less blog about cooking. I’m sitting on a folder full of great vacation pictures and some fun food stories that I can’t seem to find the time to blog about. I struggled with tonight’s featured recipe, finally settling on lamb, but not sure where I wanted to go from there and then I remembered that JeffreyW has been working for quite a while on perfecting his gyros.

And there it was, I knew what I’d feature tonight. What’s on your menu this weekend? Anything new and fun cooking in your kitchen? Be kind and share your inspiration, so I can find mine.

Moving on to tonight’s recipes, starting with Joshua D and Cilantro Lime Hummus, recipe here.

From Ruemara, thoughtfully shared by Joshua D, Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Soup, recipe here.

And if making a gyro loaf seems a bit too labor intensive, this Spicy Lamb Burger (click here) would work as well with pita and Tzatziki sauce.

Now the featured recipe, inspired by JeffreyW (pictured above):

Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Food processor, loaf pan, baking dish

Ok, these are the general directions, but JeffreyW has been playing with perfecting the preparation, so click here and here for lots of step-by-step photos and his tweaks to make the perfect loaf.

In a large bowl, combine ingredients until well mixed and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Remove to food processor and process until a fine paste. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Place meat mixture into a loaf pan, pressing down on all sides. Place the loaf pan in the baking dish and add water to the baking dish to create a water bath. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove and rest covered with foil for 30 minutes. Slice and serve

Serve with:

  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
  • 4 to 6 pieces soft pita (not pocket pita)
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Finely sliced onion
  • Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
  • Mint sprigs

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Can I just say, thank goodness for Men Who Cook here at What’s 4 Dinner Solutions, I don’t know what I’d do without you  – TaMara

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Curried Lamb

DSC_4238 (1600x1060)We wanted to do something a bit different with some lamb meat we found the other day.  This recipe looked fairly easy and I had everything for the curry mix except cardamon.  A quick search found that nutmeg and cinnamon would sub for it so I went that way, using about a half tablespoon of each in lieu of the cardamon.DSC_4239 (1600x1060)There was quite a bit as it turned out but I went ahead with all of it even though I was short of the lamb called for in the recipe, I only had 1-1/4 lbs.  Didn’t make a huge difference.  Stir all that with the lamb added back for a minute and then add the broth.DSC_4240 (1600x1060)Bring it to a boil then cover and simmer for a while.  Mine went an hour and a half, maybe longer, before the lamb was tender enough to suit me.  I took the lid off and increased the heat to reduce the gravy at the end.  The recipe suggested stirring in yogurt and lemon juice before serving but I decided that wouldn’t be pretty enough.  LOLDSC_6969 (1600x1060)There are many curried lamb recipes that had more veggies, potatoes and tomatoes were often mentioned and there are many variations in the range of curry spices.  Curries are a whole ‘nother thing and you can spend lots of time exploring them, they amount to an entire cuisine.  This one today wasn’t particularly hot with the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne but you can certainly suit your own taste.

Greek Salad

DSC_6492 [1600x1200]We needed to finish out the ground lamb we had thawed so gyros were in order.  I looked for suggestions for a side and saw mentions of a Greek salad in several places.  A search for “Greek salad” turned up one from Rachael Ray.  It turned out rather well, I think.DSC_6496 [1600x1200]

Gyros

DSC_5772 [1600x1200]Still using Alton Brown’s recipes for these.  Mrs J has been on a mint eradication jihad in her front garden and has had some success, enough that I couldn’t find any to garnish the plate tonight. She also dug out an old gnarly rose bush that the mint was growing up through.  DSC_5769 [1600x1200]I did alter his method a bit, informed by my reading from the Serious Eats web site.  I kept the lamb cold for the processing, it was nearly so cold that the paste was stiff enough that my machine had all it wanted to spin.  I have no idea if the “leakage” of liquids from the loaf was affected for good or ill.  I cooked it in a 300 oven until the thermometer reached 165 which was higher than the second fellow recommended.  I did do the slicing and broiling trick to get a bit of crisp on the meat.DSC_5771 [1600x1200]And I did add some mayo to the tzatziki, again influenced a bit by the Serious Eats discussion, but it otherwise was Alton’s recipe.  I can’t say it helped any and I’ll leave it out of the next batch but YMMV, as the kids say these days.  I will note that his Food Lab blog is the place that taught me how to do French fries right.  Enjoy!DSC_5777 [1600x1200]

Guinness Lamb Stew

DSC_5396 [1600x1200]We had plenty of lamb left over from that crockpot leg of lamb yesterday so it seemed a no brainer to make an Irish stew for St Pat’s Day.  This one started with browning bacon in the pot.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel and cut up a carrot and potato to brown in the bacon fat.  I had plenty of onion from the dish yesterday or I would cut one up to go with the other veggies here.  (If you are starting with fresh lamb pieces you would brown them in the bacon fat before the veggies go in.)  Let the potato get a little color,  then add a tablespoon of tomato paste and a good sprinkle of flour and stir that for a minute to cook the flour a bit.  Now add beef broth and a bottle of Guinness or whatever other dark beer you have, and then dump in the leftover lamb that you’ve pulled apart or cut down to bite sized.  Add back the bacon and a spring of fresh rosemary and a bay leaf.  Simmer for a couple of hours, then serve with some nice crusty bread.DSC_5397 [1600x1200]

Kai Lan (Chinese Broccoli)

DSC_5384 [1600x1200]Long time fan, first time eater.  We see this stuff all the time anymore.  I was aware of the name but had never eaten any.  It always looked good to me and I finally took some home yesterday along with the Napa cabbages I bought for the kimchi.  I surfed around and found the Cantonese name for the stuff on Wikipedia and Google found several recipes.  I wasn’t going from any particular recipe that I saw, just had a general idea of it.  Some recipes said to stir fry the greens but most thought that blanching was the way to go and that’s how I handled it today.  Three or four minutes in salted boiling water brings out a lovely green color.  The sauce is minced garlic and ginger root sauteed in a little oil, then add Chinese cooking wine, light soy, oyster sauce and sesame oil.  I plated it as you see but you can toss it together first if you would rather.DSC_5388 [1600x1200]Today it was a side for a small leg of lamb that cooked nearly all day in the crockpot.  Lots of garlic and rosemary with a cover of chicken stock and white wine.  I added an onion and a carrot for additional flavor.  Strain those out and reduce the gravy after defatting it.  I added some corn starch to thicken it more.

Recipe Exchange Updates, Rosemary and Author Wiley Cash

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Kirk Spencer had a terrific suggestion in an email this morning. We were talking about bamboo skewers (and how you MUST soak them before grilling to avoid flaming kabobs) and he said he’d used rosemary stems as skewers. I thought this sounded just wonderful. Maybe a lemon marinated chicken skewered on rosemary. It wouldn’t need much other seasoning, that’s for sure, and of course you’d really need to like rosemary. Lamb would probably hold up well with that type of seasoning.  Yum. Can’t wait to try on something.

Now for some news on the Thursday Recipe Exchange. This week it will be postponed to Friday because the wonderful Wiley Cash will be live blogging over at Balloon-Juice about his book A Land More Kind Than Home tonight. And since I post the recipe exchange specifically to be cross-posted over there, a changed seemed prudent.

Friday night is where it’s going to stay for the time being, because of some special events planned at B-J on Thursdays. I’m good with that, hope you are, too.

Back to Mr. Cash, first of all, has there ever been a better novelist’s name? I read his book when it first came out and gave it as gifts over the summer. It’s worth a read, sets a beautiful North Carolina mountain scene as the backdrop to a dark mystery. It’s a quick and compelling story, told from the perspective of several characters in the first person.

I think that covers everything. Hopefully Kirk and I will have a big cooking announcement in the coming weeks.

Until tomorrow….

Gyros

Some of my favorite fast food.  I bought a 5 lb brick of the lamb loaf already cooked and sliced, and froze it in meal sized portions.  There is enough left for one more meal for the two of us.  I like the nan loaves but they are not ideal for gyros, at least these aren’t.  They are just a tad thick, and they break rather than fold.  Great flavor, though.