Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's all Greek to me.

I have a friend that doesn't eat cute meat. That is, animals that she would have as a pet, she won't eat. Now I agree to the extent that I probably wouldn't want to eat a cat (I love my pain in the ass cat), but if I was in a country that ate cat I guess I would try it. What I have found is that the cuter the animal the more delicious it is. Lamb, pork, rabbit, all delicious. I think it's a healthy attitude to have if you're connected to where your food comes from. If you don't want to think about eating animals, be a vegetarian. Okay, so who's still reading? Good, you either have a healthy sense of what you eat and a good sense of humor, or you're completely disgusted by me and you're one of those sickos who can't stop looking at car crash victims. Either way, glad you're here! I am such a carnivore I truly have no idea how I managed to be vegetarian for 8 years. Perhaps I'm making up for those years but if you give me the choice of animal or vegetable I will almost always go with the meat. So anyways... Greek food! How's that for a segue?!

I wonder how upset Greek chefs get when the clueless order a gyro (jai-ro)? It's pronounced (yeer-ro) you vlakas uncultured kolodaktilo is probably what they say. Most people that have ever eaten Greek food knows what spanakopita is. You know, spinach, feta cheese, and spices wrapped in phyllo dough. Kreatopita is a meat version of those delicious Greek pies usually involving lamb. Now, phyllo is a little bit difficult to work with. You have to be pretty quick and careful because it's paper thin and dries out quickly. If you lay some plastic wrap over the dough and then keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel you'll be fine. Try making this dish and you will impress even your most jaded of Greek friends! At least the meat eating ones.

Kreatopita

1/2 cup EV olive oil
1 large onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pound ground lamb
2 packed cups wilted spinach *
1/2 lb Greek feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
kosher salt tt
fresh cracked black pepper tt
20 sheets of phyllo, thawed
olive oil for brushing


* To wilt the spinach, briefly blanch in boiling water about 2-3 minutes. Removed from the water, drain, and wrap in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the water. Set aside.

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground lamb and brown. Remove from the heat and let come to room temp. Mix in the spinach, spices, 1 egg, dill, and feta. Combine well.

Take out one sheet of phyllo. Lay it flat, brush it with olive oil. Lay another phyllo sheet over the top. Brush with olive oil. Repeat until you have 12 sheets stacked on top of each other. Brush an 8" cake pan with olive oil. Lay the 12 stacked phyllo sheets inside so that it fits into the bottom and corners but still comes up the sides and sticks out. Now stack the 8 leftover sheets of phyllo the same way you did with the bottom sheets. Fill the bottom shell with the lamb mixture. Cover with the top 8 layers and tuck in the excess dough down inside the bottom layer. You can cut away some dough if there's too much. Brush the top of the pie with the other egg. Bake for 35 minutes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What to eat when the banks collapse. vol. 1

My wife and I always joke that at least I have the cooking skills so if we ever end up homeless at least I can cook up a tasty pigeon. No, it's not that bad over here but things are a bit tough right now. Money is tight and business is slow and I'm constantly trying to think of ways that I can put my cooking and food planning skills to use. We're buying less pre-prepared food and trying to be less impulsive in the grocery market. I started making a weekly plan of food that I can cook that will last us a few meals on the cheap. It's actually quite simple to make amazing, delicious meals for not much money. Sometimes it takes a little more effort but it's worth it. I started off this week with some of my Irish roots (actually I married into being Irish). In Seattle you should buy your brisket at the lovely Market House Corned Beef at the bottom of Capitol Hill. You have to admire a place so dedicated to producing one quality cut of meat for the past 50 plus years. Beautiful corned beef for about $3.99 a pound. Market House Corned Beef - 1124 Howell St- Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 624-9248.



Corned Beef and Cabbage

6 lbs corned beef brisket
1 1/2 lbs yellow onions, thickly sliced
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 lbs red potatoes, peeled and halved
2 heads cabbage, cut into 6 wedges ea.
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/2 cup Guinness Irish stout
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 Tbsp dill seed
3 bay leaves

Here's the easy part. Place everything except for the onions, carrots, potatoes and cabbage in a large stock pot and cover with water. Give it a little stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 3 hours. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, and place the cabbage on top and continue cooking for 40 more minutes covered or until the cabbage and potatoes are fork tender. Season if needed with kosher salt. Slice the corned beef across the grain. Serve with cabbage and vegetables and a good dollop of Dijon or course-grain mustard.

what to do with leftovers
corned beef sandwiches (Reuben!)
corned beef hash and eggs
corned beef soup
corned beef croquettes
Irish tacos

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Haitian feast.

When I lived in Miami I never really appreciated what I had around me. Sure I ate all the Cuban food I could eat and I definitely ate my fair share of seafood. Unfortunately I can count the amount of times I ate Haitian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Dominican, or any of the many other ethnic foods Miami has in spades on my fingers and toes. Perhaps my family was just a little too white Cuban bread to go out for something as obscure as Nigerian food, or maybe I was a little too busy skateboarding to care. Lucky for me I did at least get some tastes to remember. I bought some local organic goat meat at the farmers market a few weeks ago and decided that I needed to make a Haitian feast.

Hatian Curried Goat
I found a traditional Haitian curried goat recipe that seemed to have as much Jamaican influence as Haitian technique. The goat meat was stewed in a curry that was almost more of a Jamaican jerk sauce than a curry. To make it my own I tweaked the amounts of onion, ginger, garlic, cumin, chilies, allspice, and cinnamon. I also added a little bit of lime and coconut milk.

Pigeon Peas and Rice
This pigeon peas recipe has a bit of a Puerto Rican influence to it. It makes sense that all of these island that are so close to each other have such similar influences. I rendered some bacon and sauteed onions and garlic in the bacon grease. I then stirred in the rice until the grains got glossy. Then I added the canned(drained) pigeon peas and coconut milk. Brought up to a boil and stuck it covered in a 375 degree oven for 30 mins. Yummy.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
This is almost a southern soul food dish with some African influence. I love okra. I know a lot of people who don't seem to care about this mysteriously slimy vegetable. In the south they cut them up and deep fry the delicious little snacks. This dish is so easy. Chop fresh okra (you can use frozen) and stew it with diced tomatoes, chilies, salt and pepper. I of course added bacon because it was sitting there staring at me. I have no self bacon control.