I awoke from a period nap to find little Oma Cat under the covers.
I recently had a lamb gyro at an old-timey Mom n Pop diner in Riverside and got to thinking: Could I made my own gyro? Why should I have to wait until my next laundromat/strip mall visit and/or drunken quest for street food?
Obviously I don’t have the resources for a classic Doner Kebab spit of rotating lamb, veal and beef, but a chicken gyro isn’t uncommon. I got to searching on FoodGawker and found recipes for marinated chicken and homemade Tzatziki Sauce.
After this filling dinner, I decided that Chicken Gyros would be a regular summertime meal.
Ingredients: 1 lb chicken breast, lemon, 2 tbsp dried garlic, 1 tbsp oregano, 2 tsp dried dill, 2 tsp parsley, 3 tsp cooking wine, black pepper, 2 medium sized cucumbers, 1 large tomato, 1/4 red onion, half a bunch of green leaf lettuce.
How to Marinate Chicken: Rinse chicken breasts and place in a gallon plastic bag. Using the juice of 3/4 of a lemon, 2 tsp white cooking wine, 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp garlic, 1 tsp parsley and black pepper to taste, create a marinade. Let the flavors infuse for 1-6 hours, turning at least once. I baked my chicken at 350 F for 20 minutes, but would love to have that classic charred taste if we owned a grill.
How to make Tzatziki Sauce: Begin by peeling, seeding, and grating 2 medium sized cucumbers onto a tea towel. Then press as much liquid as possible from the grated cucumber into the towel. Combine grated cucumber and 16 oz of Greek Yogurt in a small mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp garlic, 2 tsp dried dill, 1 tsp parsley, the juice from a lemon wedge and 1 tsp of white cooking wine. Mix until uniform, seal with lid or plastic wrap, and let the flavors marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Prep for Gyros: I used store-bought pita bread this time, but have a few recipes for handmade bread I’d like to try in the future. During the last 10 minutes of my chicken bake, I added my pitas to the oven on a cookie sheet. At that time, I chopped my tomato, onion and green leaf lettuce. To plate, begin with chopped chicken, top with Tzatziki sauce, tomato, onion, green leaf lettuce, black pepper and more Tzatziki if you desire.
Notes: This meal could easily be made vegetarian by using Portobello Mushrooms in the same marinade. Or even better, learn to make Falafel!
Homemade pomegranate-infused vodka // Homemade simple vanilla syrup // Grapefruit juice // Lime seltzer // Poms
Ingredients: 2 cups vodka, 2 pomegranates, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp Mexican vanilla extract, bottle of lime seltzer, grapefruit juice, ice
How to make Pomegranate Infused Vodka: Remove the poms from pomegranate and place the seeds in a shaker glass. Splash the poms with a bit of vodka and muddle. If you don’t have a bartending muddler, a smaller glass or beer bottle will work. Once the juices have been extracted by muddling, add 2 cups of vodka to your muddled poms. Place your infusion in refrigerator and let the seeds soak for 1-3 hours. Before serving, strain the infused vodka twice with a mesh strainer.
How to make Simple Vanilla Syrup: I find simple syrup to be a bit strong and sugary, so I make a ratio that is half that of the vodka. Since I had 2 cups of vodka, I made one cup of simple syrup. Simple syrup is always a 1:1 ratio for sugar and water, so I added a cup of white sugar to a cup of water and simmered the mixture in a saucepan until the sugar was clear and dissolved. I then added Mexican Vanilla Extract, though a vanilla bean pod would have been ideal.
Recipe for cocktail:
In shaker, add:
1.5 oz pomegranate vodka
0.5 oz simple vanilla syrup
1.0 oz grapefruit juice
Shake, pour over ice and top with lime seltzer or club soda & lime. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Ingredients: 2 packages Nasoya Wonton Wrappers, 1 lb ground pork, 3 spring onions, 1 bulb garlic, 2” grated ginger, 1.5 cups baby carrots, 1/2 head small red cabbage, black pepper, white pepper, 1/2 tbsp red chili flakes, chicken stock, egg, soy sauce and Sriracha to taste.
Tools: food processor, mixing bowl, bowl for sealing “glue”, regular skillet, sided-skillet, 1 large stockpot, 1 medium stockpot, paper towels to keep rolling area clean, and a friend to help you fold wontons!
PS: this recipe could easily be made vegetarian by substituting the pork with tofu, bok choy or more mushrooms, using a vegetable stock for soup, and sealing the edges with cornstarch and water, rather than egg. However, the Nasoya wrappers are not vegan, as they are made with egg.
Dan didn’t have work until 3 pm today, as he is working an overnight, so I enlisted his help to make our lunch: Pork, Cabbage, Carrot & Mushroom Wontons.
I’ll begin with the wrappers: I didn’t make these by hand. In the organic/tofu produce section of the commissary, I picked up two packages of Nasoya Wonton Wrappers. This made my process a lot easier and allowed me to make two dishes: Fried Wontons and Wonton Soup.
How to make the wonton stuffing: I sauteed 2 spring onions, 2” grated ginger, 1 bulb of minced garlic and 1/2 tbsp of red chili flakes in sesame oil. Once the onions were translucent, I added a pound of ground pork and cooked until brown. Meanwhile, in my food processor, I shaved up 3 handfuls of baby carrots and half of a very small red cabbage. The food processor vegetable mixture was moved to a large mixing bowl with some black pepper and Sriracha to taste. I then put my browned pork and half a box of mushrooms through the food processor and then combined all of the ingredients in my mixing bowl.
The top left photo illustrates “How To” roll a wonton, though if you need any help, Chow has a great instructional video on YouTube! Don’t overfill- 1 teaspoon is the perfect amount! For the “glue” to seal the edges, I used a slurry of water, egg and a little sesame oil.
If you’re going to fry the wontons: fill a sided skillet or pot with an inch of oil and bring to medium heat. Add wontons with a slotted spoon very quickly. Total cooking time is 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through. I fried up about 8 wontons at a time, leaving room for easy flipping and easy monitoring. The noodle should be golden brown before you transfer your crispy wonton to a paper towel. Serve with soy sauce and Sriracha.
If you’re going to make wonton soup: prepare two stockpots, one large, one medium. Bring the large stockpot to a boil with just water; you’ll be cooking the wontons in here. Meanwhile, bring your medium stockpot to a low boil with a meat or vegetable stock of choice; I used chicken and seasoned it with black and white pepper. When your large stockpot reaches a boil, add the wontons, lightly scraping the bottom with a spoon so none stick; make sure to use well-sealed wontons in your soup, as the sloppy ones will fall apart. Once the wontons rise to the top, they can be removed with a slotted spoon and added to your chicken stock. Serve with sliced spring onions, Sriracha or soy sauce.
It’s already hitting the upper 80’s with a bit of humidity here in Jacksonville, so I’m preparing for a summer of easy meals, especially when my outdoor job at the YMCA begins.
While this meal isn’t fast or easy, it *is* classic summer grub: pork ribs and corn on the cob.
How To: Rinse a rack of pork ribs with water, pat dry and season with a dry rub of: garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper. Making a dry rub isn’t science and amounts depend upon the cut and size of your rib rack: I tend to use more garlic and cayenne pepper than anything else (2 parts garlic, 2 parts cayenne, 1 part salt, 1 part black pepper, 1 part oregano, 1 part paprika). Then I roast the dry-rubbed ribs low & slow (200 F) for 4.5 hours; brush with OrganicVille BBQ sauce (or your sauce of choice, I like this one because it is lower in sugar) and broil for 30 minutes, flipping and brushing again halfway through. The sauce will caramelize and char up in your roasting pan, but trust me, it won’t taste burned.
To make the corn on the cob: Husk, rinse and oil with butter (or leftover bacon grease); then season with oregano and black pepper. I kept the husks on for food styling “reasons”, so I covered the husks in tinfoil while in the oven. I put the corn under the broiler at the same time as the ribs, broiling both for about 30 minutes. This last broiling step could be accomplished on the grill, if we had one.
Dinner was accompanied by whiskey-ginger ales and a mini watermelon for dessert.