Kebab – The Middle Eastern Hamburger

Bored with hamburgers? Try kebab! You make it just like hamburgers, just in a different shape. Here is a recipe for lamb kebabs that anyone can follow. You can also make it with beef.

Recipe: Easy Lamb Kebabs Two Ways

Kebab with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

Ground lamb meat (or beef) – if low fat, add 1 egg to mix

Cilantro (chopped)

Salt, Pepper

Instructions:

Mix together the herbs, spices and meat in a large bowl. Roll out the meat into long spheres (see picture below) and place on parchment paper or other non-stick surface.

Kebabs

There are three ways to cook the kebabs – on a grill pan (greased first of course), on a grill or in the oven. Your choice!  Grilling kebab on a cinnamon stick is also a fun way to mix things up. Here they are grilling on a pan:

Pan Grilled Kebab

And here they are baking in the oven:

Baking Kebabs

Yum! The kebabs are baked, now how to serve them? I suggest two different ways: with fresh tomato sauce, mashed potatoes and garnished with cilantro (as pictured on the top of the blog) or propped up on some fresh labane or thick plain yogurt.

Kebab with Yogurt

KEBAB TIP: While you can eat kebab with lower fat meat, it’s just tastier with fatty meat! If you can’t get fresh lamb meat, try mixing in lamb fat with beef.

Recipe for Goose Legs and Tips on How to Serve Goose

Duck, duck . . . goose?  Yep, for us wild game lovers goose is a tasty treat. But in order for your goose to not be over cooked, here are some and the easiest recipe ever!

Goose Leg

Ingredients

2 goose legs (fresh or frozen & thawed)

3 cups of red wine

1/2 cup dried apricots

Honey

Salt & pepper

Bay leaves

Spices (pick one or two of your choice- cinnamon, cardamom, cloves)

Instructions

Fry the goose legs (fat side down) until they brown. Add the wine, dried apricots and spices of your choice. Stir in a spoon of honey, a dash of salt & pepper. Let it cook for about an hour and make sure the wine doesn’t burn off. The goose legs should be resting in the liquid, but not completely covered.

GOOSE TIP: If you don’t like duck, you won’t like goose. The texture is a bit chewy (see below) and a generally unpleasant surprise for those who don’t love gamey birds. If you’re roasting a fat goose, you’ll have plenty of fat leftover to reserve and use in cooking later. Any sauce left over can also be frozen and used later. And one last goose tip: there’s not “much” meat on some geese – don’t expect hungry folk to subsist just on a goose leg & some fries. Serve it with a hearty soup or salad.

Pan Roasted Goose Leg

Raw Oats – Strawberry Muesli

Raw oats are awesome! They’re healthy, gluten free and don’t need to be cooked. Once you get over the initial “strangeness” of eating raw oats, you’ll love this high fiber and healthy breakfast. Muesli, a European cereal based on raw oats is loved in Europe – give it a try where ever you live! Don’t buy expensive store bought muesli, it’s easy to do it yourself and healthier.

Recipe: Strawberry Muesli

Strawberry Muesli

Ingredients:

1 cup raw oats

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup walnuts

2 Tbsp ground flax (optional)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Instructions:

Cover the oats with your choice of milk. Nut milk, rice milk, goat milk or regular cow’s milk will do the trick. Let them soak while you slice the strawberries thin. Add the strawberries and walnuts. Sprinkle with ground flax (optional fiber booster). If you like things a bit sweet, dust the mixture with some brown sugar.

TIPS on Raw Oats: Getting used to raw oats can take some time even for the most adventurous eaters. The texture can be a bit rough. The longer you soak your oats, the softer they will be.

Chicken Hearts: Recipe and Nutrition

What to do with chicken hearts? Eat them! If you’re on paleo diet, you have to try chicken hearts. Here are the highlights of chicken heart nutrition (per 1 cup or 145 grams), followed by a chicken hearts recipe:

  • 38 grams of protein
  • 73% of iron, 176% of B12 and over 20% of other B vitamins
  • 11 grams of total fat, 3 grams saturated
  • 351 mg of cholesterol (exceeds daily limit)
Recipe: Grilled Chicken Hearts

Ingredients

1 lb. (1/2 kg) chicken hearts

Metal or wooden skewers

Grill seasoning

Instructions

Skewer the chicken hears as shown in the picture while you pre-heat your grill (or ribbed iron pan). Sprinkle the chicken hearts on all sides with any kind of chicken grill seasoning or seasoning of your choice. We use a traditional Bulgarian grilling seasoning mix, but any dried seasoning that’s good on grilled chicken would be good on grilled chicken hearts (with the exception of citrus or dried herbs).

Grill until the hearts get crispy. Serve on the skewer. In order to eat them, hold one end of the skewer and slide the chicken heart off with your fork.

TIP: Where can I find chicken hearts? – Not every store will be overflowing (OK, or even sell) chicken hearts depending on where you live. In the Middle East, it’s no problem, but worldwide the availability varies.

– If you frequent a butcher, just ask:)

– Supermarkets that cater to Asian food (like 99 Ranch)

– Know any restaurants that serve them? Ask them where they get them.

 

Labeneh: Greek Yogurt’s Cooler Cousin

Greek yogurt is huge all over the world, but its Levant cousin, labaneh, can be much tastier and has a much more sophisticated texture and flavor. What Americans and Westerners eat as Greek yogurt, isn’t really what the Greeks eat. When in Greece, a yogurt is generally thick, fatty and usually comes from sheep’s milk. It’s sour, it’s complex and it’s good. While Greeks do eat yogurt for breakfast with sweets like honey & walnuts, in the Levant it’s not eaten with sweets. Here is a simple appetizer with the complex flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. Do not use Greek yogurt in this recipe! Commercially produced Greek yogurt is too mild, not fatty enough and has a gel-like texture, not a creamy texture.

Labaneh Greek-Levantine Appetizer

Labaneh Snack

Ingredients

Labaneh (Here is a great labaneh recipe, 2 ingredients: yogurt & salt!)

Cucumbers

Mixed Nuts (mostly pine nuts & walnuts, some pumpkin & sesame seeds)

Kalamata Olives OR Cured Black Olives

Olive Oil

Sumac

Zatar (optional)

Instructions

Start dry toasting your nuts on parchment paper. While you are going this, spread labaneh onto the middle of a plate. Slice and arrange the cucumbers – peeling is optional. When the nuts are starting to smell toasty, take them out and sprinkle them on the labaneh and arrange the walnuts as in the photo above. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sumac & zatar and then decorate with Kalamata olives.

Kalamata Olives TIP: Kalamata Olives are extremely tasty, but also more difficult to take the pit out. Save yourself the trouble and preserve more olive by eating them directly off the pit.

Gadget Must: Food Thermometer

Don’t have a thermometer for food?  You are DEFINITELY missing out – here are a few reasons why you should get a food thermometer.

Why buy a food thermometer?

  1. Jamming!  Making jam is so much fun and it’s even more fun with the help of a thermometer.  While I love surprises, jam isn’t exactly supposed to be a runny mess or hard as a brick.  Temperature does matter with jam and even though I can “see” when a jam is finished, the thermometer has proven me wrong on more than one occasion.
  2. Farenheight or Celcius?  Doesn’t matter, just flip the switch.  I like to make not only jams, but syrups, confits, dulche de leche and more – the recipes aren’t always from American sites.  With the one little click, my thermometer has gone metric.  Be sure yours has the same feature before you buy.
  3. Check your oven temperature!  We couldn’t figure out why nothing was cooking until we bought an oven safe thermometer – BINGO!  Our oven was lying to us!  So instead of getting a new oven, we keep the oven safe thermometer in the oven and rely on it for an accurate temperature reading.  An accurate temperature is a must for baked goods.
  4. Tricky to cook meat.  Since we don’t buy factory farmed meat, our chickens don’t come symmetrical and our turkeys don’t come with a pop out timer.  After drying out many a bird trying to cut into it and see if it’s done, I now use a thermometer.  I also use it when I think my husband is undercooking meat:)  There is no arguing with the thermometer!  Check out this convenient chart for done temperatures or indicators.
Category Food Temperature (°F)  Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160 None
Turkey, Chicken 165 None
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops 145 3 minutes
Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165 None
Poultry breasts, roasts 165 None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165 None
Duck & Goose 165 None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165 None
Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145 3 minutes
Fresh ham (raw) 145 3 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat) 140 None
Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs Cook until yolk and white are firm None
Egg dishes 160 None
Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers 165 None
Casseroles 165 None
Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque. None
Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking. None
Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. None

So now that you’re going to get a food thermometer, which one should you get?  There is a really great guide to food thermometers that can help.  We have two in our house, a digital instant read and a dial oven safe.  You can probably find one that fits all of your needs, we only have two because our oven’s temperature gage does not match the actual temperature.

Thermometer TIP: You can also check the temperature of your refrigerator.  We found out that our 20 year old beast of a fridge actually does not get as cold as it’s supposed to.  This is why our well planned and seemingly well executed attempts to work with pastry dough failed!  While it’s cold enough for most stuff, delicate and sensitive items can easily ruin.

Good Idea Gone Bad: Minty Pop

So this summer I got all into making popsicles.  Coconut milk & berries.  Peach with Greek yogurt.  Even plain old water & cucumber “spa” pops.  And in a love of creative spirit, I decided to experiment and make a minty pop.  It seems attractive, the idea sounds good, but frankly, this was disgusting!

Here is why a minty pop (at least how I did it) is a bad idea:

  • The mint leaf was stringy and ruined the texture of the pop.
  • The mint leaf, when consumed in giant chunks, tasted bitter.
  • The mint flavor did not disperse, it stayed in the giant leaf.
  • It was hard to eat the mint leaf because parts stayed frozen to the pop.

I’m not giving up on minty pops, I will definitely try again – just not any time soon!  And don’t be discouraged from doing DIY mint flavors, just take into consideration that plopping a giant bitter leaf into a popsicle isn’t the way to do it.  Happy pop making!