Sunday, July 5, 2009
"kofta" with "tzatziki" and "skordalia"
This is fake middle-eastern/Greek (middle Greastern?) food. Even though I get asked if I'm Greek about as often as I say the phrase "just graduated from college"... "degree in Classics..." I am not Greek, team. So these recipes don't come from my Yia Yia (grandmother, for all those who don't share my woefully stunted but still somehow able to impress the occasional Greek 5-word-Modern-Greek-vocabulary)... I made them up. Fake Greek food is super forgiving and raw garlic will heal whatever ails you. And scare off vampires. Which is good if you still do a double-take when entering a dark room after finishing Dracula a few weeks ago.
Well, start off with some delicious mezes. Make these first and you can snack on them as a dip or throw it on yer pita when you're done.
a container greek yogurt (straining your own yogurt is NOT EASY for the record)
handful of mint
Peel the cucumber, then slice it the long way and scoop out the seeds. Dice, then throw a few pinches of salt on there and let chemistry do its work.
The squeeze out all that osmosized moisture (taste to see that they still don't taste salty, if so, give them a rinse) and throw your cukes into the yogurt. Now add about a handful of chopped mint and-- if you want-- some chopped raw garlic. I used a whole clove and combined with the skordalia (below) it made a pretty tangy supper. Up to you, I guess. Stir.
a russet potato
Pierce your potato all over and nuke it for 5-6 minutes until it's "baked"-- alternatively, boil it until it's done. Either way, rub off the skin and plop the potato guts in a bowl. Mash mash mash. If you own a ricer (???) now is the one time a year to use it. You want satiny glop that is unidentifiable as potatoes. Drizzle in a healthy amount of olive oil to get the perp talking-- 1/4 cup even-- keep mashing, mashing, mashing. It should start to look kind of glistening and delicious. Add a little water, now. Consistency is of a creamy dip, not of mashed (or even riced!) potatoes. OK. If you have a garlic press, that's awesome-- press 2 cloves and add them in. Otherwise, chop the cloves as fine as you can. You know how hard you worked to get that restaurant quality consistency! Don't mess up now!
Now for some meaty deliciousness to fill a gyro with lettuce and red onions, or just flying solo...
a package (a lb?) ground lamb-- if your supermarket doesn't carry it pre-ground, you can ask them to grind up some lamb. Apparently, you are supposed to ask butchers to hand-grind chuck, too, for your burgers, otherwise you are a total philistine, but I haven't had a taste test yet, so... there.
2 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp salt
Mix up the meat with the spices, gently. Lamb is tough enough as it is, natch. Form into little patties or tubular sausages. Cook 'em up in a pan until they are done-- a little pink is okay, but rare is probably not delicious.
BONUS ROUND-- PITA CHIPS
Duh, you can make your own pita chips. Less awesome than making crackers from scratch but still awesome. Cut your pita into wedges with scissors and put on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (and paprika, cumin, allspice, whatever)... bake at 400 for about 5 minutes-- they should be crunchy and not burnt.