Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Homemade Gyro with Tzatziki

Gyro Salad
I've lived mostly without gyros for the last 12 years in California.  In Chicago, there's a gyro joint on every corner.  In Humboldt County, there's one place and it's in the next town over.  It's the reason I wanted to figure out how to make falafel, which is one of my most favourite recipes... but these gyros are definitely going to rival the falafel. 

Now gyros are traditionally made with beef and lamb, but we don't eat a ton of beef and I'm not a huge fan of lamb, so my initial gyro recipe I thought I'd try going outside that box and used pork and turkey.  They were freaking amazing!!!  Thinking that beef and lamb must be better, I took my exact recipe and followed it again with the beef and lamb.  It was okay... but I gotta tell ya, I hands-down preferred the pork and turkey mix. 

Don't want the carbs you get with pita bread?  Gyro salads are also soooo delicious!

Listening to some No Motiv - "So What"... song is super catchy and keeps repeating in my head.  -jen


HOMEMADE GYRO WITH TZATZIKI
Time: 10 minutes to prep, 1 hour to rest, 1 hour to bake, couple hours to cool 
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  A lot
Equipment:  Food Processor

Gyro Loaf Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped large
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 pound ground pork, lean
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 4oz pancetta (cubed if you can find it)*
  • olive oil 
  • tomatoes, onion, cabbage or lettuce, cucumber, pita bread to make sandwich 
Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce) Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a cucumber 
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of cumin (optional)
*I used bacon the second time I tried the recipe, and it made everything taste smoked, not like gyro, so I would not substitute bacon.  You can use sliced pancetta if that's all you can find, it's just going to get ground up anyway.

Slushed garlic and onion
Gyro Loaf:
In a small bowl combine salt, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cumin and black pepper.  Set aside.  In the food processor add the chopped onion and garlic.  Process until slushy.  My food processor wouldn't process the two pounds of meat at once, so I added one of the meats to the onion and garlic, half of the salt and herb mix and processed until a paste.  Remove and set in large mixing bowl.  Then add the second pound of meat, the pancetta and remaining salt and herb mix to the food processor, process until a paste.  Combine both batches in the mixing bowl and with your hands, mix until both meats are thoroughly blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  (Great time to start making the tzatziki and getting your cucumbers draining!)

Preheat oven to 325 Farenheit.  Line a baking sheet with foil and brush with a light coating of olive oil.  Form meat into a loaf shape that's about 2" thick in center of foil - try to keep it uniformly thick so it cooks evenly.  Make sure you've packed it firmly to eliminate holes when slicing.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.  (A meat thermometer is a fantastic cooking tool!)

Remove loaf and let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.  Cut into thin, almost shaved slices.  (If you can bare the wait, we recommend cooling the loaf completely, then refrigerating for a few hours.  It helps in cutting the slices super thin.)  Brown slices on both sides in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Only takes a minute or two.  Serve on a warmed pita with lettuce or cabbage, cucumber, tomato, onion and tzatziki! 



Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce):
If using an English/seedless cucumber, leave skin on.  If it's a regular, waxed cucumber, peel to remove waxy skin.  Cut in half and reserve one half to slice or dice onto gyro.  Cut the other half lengthwise and using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard - you still need to do this if you're using a "seedless" cucumber, that's where a lot of the liquid is.  Grate both deseeded cucumber quarters and set in a strainer over a bowl that will catch the liquid.  Toss grated cucumber with 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the liquid drain out.

In a small mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, cumin (optional), the drained cucumber (squeeze out remaining juice and discard) and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt.

Not only great on gyros but great in salads or as a dip for fresh or roasted vegetables, great with grilled meats.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Asian Meatballs with Citrus Sauce and Quinoa Cabbage Salad

I was craving Asian-anything the other night - I didn't care if it was Chinese or Thai or Vietnamese or what.  I think I kind of drew from a lot of different Asian cooking influences when I made these meatballs and they came out so bomb!  They remind me a little of the filling you get in pot stickers, and are, in fact, very similar to our pot sticker recipe, found here.  Lots of veggies in these suckers!  In fact as I was chopping all the veggies up and throwing them in the bowl for pics, Justin asked where the meat was?  He didn't see that it was in the bottom of the mixing bowl... just covered with a ton of vegetables.
 
The citrus sauce was Justin's idea.  I was just going to do a wine sauce, but we had some oranges and lemons on hand and I really liked the idea of the bright citrus flavour to go with the meatballs.  Way tasty!  And all served with a cold quinoa and Napa cabbage salad... because you're going to have enough cabbage for both the meatballs and the salad!  Might as well use it all up!  ( actually only used 1/2 the Napa cabbage and sauted up the other 1/2 with the rest of the red onion the next night!)  But the quinoa and cabbage salad was a great contrast - I liked the crunch and lightness of the raw cabbage, cucumber and onion in the salad to go with the meatballs and sauce.  It all came together really well and satisfied that Asian food craving!

We'll be headed to a DS-13 show next weekend, so let's listen to a little Swedish hardcore with, "I Don't Wanna Be A Skinhead".  Neither do I, dude.  Neither do I.  -jen


ASIAN MEATBALLS
Napa Cabbage
Prep Time:  about 25 minutes
Cook Time:  30-40 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes: 60 meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 cups finely chopped Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots (3 medium)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced celery (2 medium)
  • 1 cup finely diced green onions (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup finely diced Anaheim or bell peppers (2 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used 3/4c cilantro, 1/4c basil, 1/4c mint)
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (1 tbsp for less spicy - 2 tbsp just has a small kick)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese mustard
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • canola oil for frying
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the canola oil and mix until combined.  If you have a food processor, I recommend throwing all the veggies into that to get them super-fine diced.  While it's not necessary, the meatball will hold together better the finer the veggies are chopped. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Form 1.5 tablespoons of mixture into balls.  In a large skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom and heat to medium-high.  Brown in batches.  Space balls evenly in pan so that they're not touching.  I only browned tops and bottoms.  Remove browned meatballs and set on a paper towel to remove excess grease.  Once all meatballs are browned, arrange on baking sheet.  (Don't rinse out that skillet!)  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached.


 
Citrus Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth (you'll want 3 cups total of juice, wine and broth)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (and 2 tbsp water)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (used the same ones as in meatballs: cilantro, basil, mint)
In the skillet that you browned the meatballs, you'll want about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.  My pork was lean, so I had to add oil to the pan - if you got higher-fat pork, you may have enough oil in the pan remaining or you may even have to remove some.  Saute onions until translucent and tender.  Add garlic and saute for another minute.  Add your 3 cups combined of citrus juice, wine and broth to the skillet as well as the soy sauce and the citrus zest, making sure you scrape those browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.  Bring to a boil and let reduce for about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water to make a slurry.  Whisk this in to the sauce until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed and stir in fresh herbs.  Serve over Asian Meatballs with Quinoa Salad (see recipe below).

QUINOA CABBAGE SALAD
Cook Time:  20 minutes
Rest Time:  20 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes: about 5 cups
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 and 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced 
In a large sauce pan, over medium-high heat, add quinoa and cook about 2 minutes to toast - you'll see the quinoa start to turn a darker, golden brown and you'll smell that nutty, toasty deliciousness.  Stir in chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, than cover, lower heat, and simmer for a total of 18 minutes, stirring half-way through.  After 18 minutes, turn off heat and let rest with lid on for another 10 minutes.  Uncover and fluff with a fork.  Transfer to a large serving bowl and let cool another 10 minutes.  Stir in Napa cabbage, diced cucumber and diced onion.  Serve at room temp or chilled.