Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gyro-Style Chicken Salad

Last summer, while visiting Nick and Beth, we ate at a small Greek diner that makes very yummy gyro's. Greg and I both thought we should try to re-create the flavors at home. After doing a bit of research on the gyro and Mediterranean spices, making this dish at home seemed really easy, and in fact, it is! Greg and I have been making this at least every other month since this summer - it's so flavorful, makes a large amount (left overs), and has a great variety of textures.

Well, a gyro is basically a sandwich with pita bread, often with tzatziti sauce. The fillings and type of pita vary a lot based on location. To make this, we picked the filling ingredients that sounded best to us, with no goal of making sure the dish was regionally correct to anywhere. We actually combined several regional gyro's for this recipe.

For this picture, we did forget one ingredient that made a huge flavor difference, feta cheese! We normally crumble a tsp or so for each serving. The extra saltiness really helps to bring the other flavors together. Must remember feta for next time. I'm also excited to use produce from our garden this summer! Hm, just picked tomatoes...yum!

Recipe: Serves 6-8
1.5 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 large potatoes of 4 small potatoes
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans - drained and rinsed
1 C. plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, 2 tsp grated, the rest sliced into thin rounds
1 tomato, sliced in to rounds, then quartered
1 lg. white onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced/grated
salt & pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 dash cayenne pepper

-In a large pan, coat with EVOO and turn to medium heat. Add 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Add salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, parsley, ground mustard, cumin, rosemary, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper.

-Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and chickpeas. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stir often. You may have to turn the heat down to medium low. Add chicken, cook until chicken is done, again, stir often.

-While chicken is cooking, make the tzatziki sauce by grating 2 tsp of cucumber and one clove of garlic into Greek yogurt. Add a bit of black pepper, stir to combine.

To serve as a pita, spread yogurt sauce on the inside of a pita half, place tomato and cucumber slices inside, then a bit of crumbled feta cheese. Add chicken and potato filling. Enjoy!!!

To serve as a salad, mix chicken and cucumber slices in with chicken mixture. Drizzle with yogurt/tzatziki sauce, sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve pita triangles on the side. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Bread

While looking at my Google Analytics, I noticed that most people who came to my site via a search engine did so by looking for Sweet Potato Cake . This is a tad ironic, since Rebecca baked and shared her recipe! Thanks Rebecca! Anyway, this made me look up more recipes for sweet potato cakes and breads. Most seem fairly standard: pureed sweet potato, nutmeg and cinnamon, eggs, vanilla ,sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour. This recipe caught my eye because of there is Zucchini added in! And, both vegges are grated. At first I did not want to try this because I thought grating sweet potato would be hard, but cleaning my food processor might be worse. Come to find out, the sweet potato was easier to grate than the Zucchini!

The original recipe from Bon Appetit called for all white sugar, only all purpose flour, just cinnamon for spice, and veg oil. I substituted 1/2 C. whole wheat flour, used half brown and half white sugar, added fresh nutmeg and clove, and used part apple sauce, part melted butter for my oil. These muffins turned out beautifully! The texture was nice and light, and the color of the zucchini nicely showed through. If anything, they were also a bit too sweet, I might cut back a bit on the sugar next time, especially if I'm using applesauce as an oil.

Recipe: makes 24 muffins or 1 9x13

1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. clove
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. melted butter
1/4 C. apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 C. grated zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
1 1/2 C. grated sweet potato (1 small sweet potato)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-grease muffin tin or 9x13
-grate veggies, set aside.
-Combine flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, set aside.
-In a separate bowl, add sugars, melted butter, apple sauce, vanilla & eggs. Slowly add dry ingredients to this bowl. Once almost combined, add zucchini and sweet potato. Continue to stir until just combined.
-For muffins, bake 15 minutes, for bread, bake 1 hr 20 minutes.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Brownies

Friday night Dan, Rebecca and Clara came over for dinner. Our meal was OK (some bad coconut chicken soup, some great sweet potato stir-fry), and Winter Olympic Brownies for dessert! Dessert of course, was eaten while watching the opening ceremonies. Nothing like eating fatty, sugary brownies to celebrate world-class athleticism and international peace.

I used my standard brownie recipe + a hand full of chocolate chips. Once the brownies were baked, I placed a paper cut-out of the Olympic rings on top, then dusted with powdered sugar. Yum!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Egyptian Lentil Soup

Please, do not judge this soup by how it looks. That is an awful, awful shade of green, I know...but it tastes so good! I acquired a selection of lentils on a recent trip to Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor has what Lexington lacks - a year round market. One of the market stores had a greater selection of lentils than Whole Foods can ever hope to carry in their bulk section. One treat I left with was just about a pound of yellow lentils (actually orange, but turn yellow when they cook) and another pound or so of very small black lentils. I mixed the two for this soup, knowing well enough that they color would be interesting (but like I tastes wonderful), I may get the yellow lentils again, to make this with just yellow. I'm sure it would be rather pretty.

I've had Iranian lentil soup before, lovingly called Ash by a high school- friend's mother. And I remember this soup tasting so good, and being so filling. I tired to look up a recipe for Ash, only to learn that "ash" is Persian for soup. So, since 2003 I've been wanting to know the secret to this delicious soup of my high school study evenings. And, I found it!!!! The secret is a combination of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fresh parsley. It was a wonderful surprise to discover that!!!

Anyway, the recipe is derived from a recipe that was derived from someone's grandmother's recipe (this does make me wonder how authentic it now is, but it does taste just like my friend's mom's) that I found on epicurious.

I made a few changes to the spices, by consulting my Flavor Bible, but other than that, I stayed true to most of the recipe.

1 lbs dry yellow lentils - rinsed
1 medium carrot - chopped
2 red potatoes - chopped
1 large onion - chopped
1 large tomato - seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cloves of garlic - minced
salt and pepper
2 14.5 cans of low sodium beef broth
fresh parsley

1 C. dry rice
whole wheat pita bread

-Start cooking rice by bringing 1.5 - 2 C water boiling. Add rice, cover, turn to simmer for 45 minutes. Set aside.

-Place lentils, carrot, potato, and tomato in a stock pot. Add water until there are 2 inches of water covering the contents. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, puree and remove from heat.

-Add EVOO to a skillet. Then add cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper. Once fragrant, add onion and saute until the onion starts to turn light brown. Add minced garlic and turn to coat. Then add onion to puree before the garlic burns. Stir to combine.

-Warm pita bread. Drizzle with a bit of EVOO and a little salt.

-Spoon rice into a bowl, pour the lentil soup over the rice. Add 1 tsp fresh parsley to each bowl. Serve with pita bread.