Monday, June 15, 2009

And ANOTHER cool-kitchen supper

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled lamb patties
  • whole-wheat pita
  • lettuce and tomato
  • quick pickled onions
  • herby yogurt dressing
Here's another supper that will keep your kitchen nice and cool, assuming your grill doesn't run out of propane halfway through cooking the lamb like mine did. Oy. (I finished them under the broiler for a couple of minutes, and they were fine. But still.)

I think I've told you that we've been eating a lot of lamb lately, and we've discovered that we really kind of love it. For the patties, I mixed ground lamb with some minced onion and garlic, chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, a bit of olive oil (the ground lamb I buy tends to be VERY lean), salt, pepper, chili powder, and some whole coriander and cumin seeds that were toasted in a dry skillet and then ground to a powder with the mortar and pestle. (Hey, if you've got ground cumin and coriander in your spice cabinet and you can't be bothered to toast and grind whole spices, use what you've got. I'm not here to force anyone to toast and grind spices, though I do think that adds a nice extra layer of flavor.)

The lamb mixture was formed into balls slightly bigger than golfballs and then flattened into patties. Think of them as mini lamb burgers, if you will -- slider sized, rather than burger sized. I grilled them for about 5 minutes per side over medium heat, or I would have if I hadn't run out of propane. Grrr!

The pita was purchased, and the lettuce and tomato was (were?) just leaves of romaine and sliced vine-ripe tomatoes (from the store, because my garden sucks this year AGAIN).

I've made these picked onions before and they are seriously addicting. All I did was whisk together a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar, maybe a third as much olive oil, and a tiny bit of sugar. Then I tossed in some thinly sliced red onions and just let them sit, stirring/tossing occasionally, while the meat cooked. So good!

For the dressing, all I did was mix some plain Greek-style yogurt with some minced garlic, chopped fresh herbs (mint, cilantro and parsley) and fresh lemon juice.

You can assemble these however you like, but I like to stuff a pita with a couple of lamb patties, some romaine and a couple of slices of tomato, then top it with the pickled onions and drizzle the yogurt dressing on top. This is seriously one of my favorite dinners that I've ever made, people. It beats takeout any day!

Here's the timeline. A LOT of this can be done ahead of time, like even the day before.
  • Up to one day ahead, make the yogurt dressing and stick it in the fridge.
  • Also up to one day ahead, make the pickled onions (you CAN wait until pretty much the last minute on these, if you don't want to make them ahead).
  • And hey, while you're at it, you could totally make the meat mixture ahead of time and form it into patties, refrigerating it on wax-paper-lined cookie sheets until you're ready to grill.
  • For that matter, you could wash and portion out the lettuce ahead of time, too! Wow, this timeline is pretty useless, eh?
  • Okay, at some point you will need to grill the lamb patties. This will take about 10 minutes total.
  • While the lamb is grilling, slice your UNREFRIGERATED tomato. You know not to refrigerate your tomatoes until after they're sliced up or in a mixed salad or something, right? They'll retain a lot more flavor if you keep them out of the fridge as much as possible. So yeah, do this one at the last minute.
  • Take the meat off the grill, lay everything out so folks can build their own pita, and serve it up!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A cool-kitchen supper

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled shrimp
  • garlic bread
  • grilled asparagus
  • green salad "bar"
Oh people. It is already SO HOT here in central Texas. Too hot to sit outside while the food grills, unfortunately. The good news is, this meal pretty much cooked itself on the grill while I sat inside in my nice, cool, air-conditioned kitchen! Yes!

I deviated from the script a bit with this shrimp. We love our usual recipe, but I've been making it like once every 10 days or so and wanted something just a little bit different. So I mixed together about 1/2 cup of canola oil, 1/4 cup EVOO (I would have done ALL EVOO, but I was running low), a few glugs each of Worcestershire and hot sauce, a tablespoon or so of honey, the juice of one orange, one lemon and one lime, a bunch of minced fresh garlic, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper and poured it over two pounds of peeled jumbo shrimp. This marinated in the fridge for about 4 hours before I threaded the shrimp onto skewers and grilled them for 5 minutes per side over medium heat. They were really good!

The garlic bread was purchased at the store. I wrapped it in foil and stuck it on the top rack of the grill to warm up while the shrimp was cooking.

The asparagus was dead easy. I grilled it on a grill screen after I'd pulled off the shrimp. I drizzled it with EVOO and sprinkled it with salt and pepper, then grilled it for maybe 8 minutes total, tossing it around with tongs to brown it all over. Yum! This is my favorite way to eat asparagus (roasting it in the oven is a close second).

The salad bar was just chopped romaine, sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, and wedges of tomato.

Easy dinner, and the house stayed nice and cool! Good thing, because it was about 98 degrees out on the patio -- yikes!