Culinary Challenge: Mediterranean Night

I think it’s fitting that we channeled the Mediterranean the night of a snow storm. We woke up to 9+” of snow this morning. The government is off, schools are off, and M and I are both working from the house. Hey, at least the dog got to enjoy the snow.

austin-snow

As a reminder, M and I wrote down 12 dishes or types of cuisine. We’ll pick one out of a jar each week and have an evening themed around our selection. Last time was British Night.

After last week’s bartending faux pas, I decided to let M take the reins on our evening beverage. He elected to make “Americano‘s” which require exactly nothing we had in our liquor cabinet. So, if anyone has recipes to use up a $30(!!) bottle of Campari, please share. They were a bit bitter at first, but the taste grew on me as I got used to it.

americano

Our meal consisted of an appetizer, entree and dessert. In hindsight, I should have spent the snow day cooking instead, but hindsight’s 20/20, right? For an appetizer, I made a recipe I had hanging around from Bon Appetit: Zucchini Keftedes with Feta and Dill. I followed the recipe exactly, except I added an additional egg to the mix. It just did not seem wet enough to hold together. Good thing I did as even with the extra egg, they were very delicate to handle. We both really enjoyed these. They are basically an herby-zucchini fritter. The feta cheese gives these a nice contrast and the edges of the fritters get crunchy when they fry.

zucchini-fritters

For our main course, I made Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara. These sound much more complicated than they actually are. The muhammara is something I will absolutely make again. It would make an awesome dip for pita chips. The muhammara recipe calls for pomegranate molasses. Since I was already buying tahini for this dish, I didn’t want to buy another condiment. I used equal parts honey and balsamic vinegar as a substitute. We both really enjoyed these and they are something I’ll definitely make again.

First, you combine greek yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

yogurt-sauce

Then, combine ground lamb (or beef), chopped mint, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper in a bowl. I used my mini-Cuisinart to finely dice the herbs and seasoning since I already had it out.

lamb-kofte-1

Mix it up like meatloaf and form it into 1.5″ meatballs. I let these sit in the fridge for a few hours also.

lamb-kofte-2

Next, dice some roasted red peppers (jarred is fine). Saute those in some olive oil until lightly browned. Add in water and pomegranate molasses (or equal parts honey and balsamic vinegar). Let it reduce and then mix in some chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Remove from the skillet and keep at room temperature.

muhammara

Wipe out your skillet, add in a tablespoon of onion and a thinly sliced onion. Saute until caramelized. Remove to a bowl and keep warm in the oven.

onions

Wipe out your skillet once again and brown your mediterranean flat bread for one minute per side. Keep warm in the oven.

flatbread

Finally, cook your meatballs on the stovetop for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.

kofte-3

To serve, spread your yogurt sauce on the flat bread. Top with several meatballs, muhammara, onions and some crumbled feta.

lamb-kofte-4

For dessert, I made a baklava. Making this brought me back to the days I worked for a caterer in high school. I was always in charge of making the spanakopita, which is a spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo. Phyllo isn’t the easiest to work with initially but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. I made a half batch of these (even thought they are soooo good) and we’ve both been snacking on them over the last day.

baklava

I’m really enjoying trying new recipes and exploring different ingredients. Next week, we’re making Fried Chicken… YUMMMM.

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2 Responses to Culinary Challenge: Mediterranean Night

  1. […] challenge. After cooking over the course of two days (and several hours the day of) during our Mediterranean Challenge, I decided it would be wise to switch this endeavor to a weekend day. (Smart girl, over here.) The […]

  2. […] and took the dog for a mid-day walk. We hadn’t done that since the Fall, but the weather, as I might have mentioned, has been awful all winter. I probably waited a little too long for juice […]

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