Although I’m a fairly exploratory cook, rarely hesitating to try something new and different, I understand that this is a very relative thing, with some considering leaving the pieces of chopped onion in their marinara a bold step. That would not be what I’m referring to. I would also not have in mind the liver my mother used to put on our plates — fried in bacon fat and onions, dry and mealy textured. To eat and enjoy that ever would require bravery beyond the call of a foodie’s duty, and a persistent fear that one’s palate would be forever ruined by its presence in one’s mouth.
But I digress.
I’d say that at this point in my life, Saveur is deserving of some of my tastebuds’ wanderlust, each month setting food in front of my eyes I may have not known of before. And although I have to admit it will take quite a bit more — well, guts — to try all the cuisines I’ve read about in the years I’ve enjoyed Saveur, I do try two to three recipes each month.
As odd as it may seem last month, with “American Crab” plastered across the front of Issue Number 111, it was the article, “Bold Flavors, Ancient Roots,” that captured my attention over and over again. Perhaps it was the dark, richly colored fava bean stew — something I knew I wanted to try. Or maybe it was just another temptation to wallow in yet another area of the Mediterranean, something I’ll always enjoy.
The best four years of my childhood were spent in the south of Spain. And although Spanish cuisine is quite different from that of other countries surrounding the Mediterranean, I will always be drawn to anything that comes from that region.
One of the recipes featured in the article on Cyprus is Souvlakia Hirina or “Pork Kebabs with Cucumber-Mint Yogurt Sauce.“ It caught my eye because I continue wonder about savory dishes laced with not only oregano and thyme, but cumin, and cinnamon. At one point, cinnamon in any dish containing meat isn’t something I’d spend time wondering about, dismissing it as something that belonged in baked goods. But I’ve learned that there’s very little I don’t like to eat, as long as the flavors push my thinking about what constitutes great flavor.
For a change, I made the recipe exactly as written. Scary, don’t you think? But quite tasty — and perfect for the barbeque…
Okay, so I lied. We put this on the grill instead of under the broiler. It seemed like a no brainer and it paid off. The meat did turn a bit red from the wine, but that doesn’t interfere with good flavor. The cinnamon was definitely noticeable, but subtle, and very nice in the combination of spices. The cucumber yogurt sauce was interesting. I’m used to dill being in yogurt sauces, and so it took a bit of getting used to. The recipe makes quite a bit, so unless you’re one to really pile on sauces, I’d cut the recipe in half.
This would be a terrific starter, grilled on smaller skewers, or sauteed, then each piece pierced with a pick ready to dip. Don’t forget to buy or make some pita bread. It’s terrific that way.
The salad is just another one of my impromptu dinner salads. Roast the fresh corn either on or off the cob. You can do this on the grill, then scrape it off, or scrape it first into a dry skillet until caramelized. Choose whatever greens you enjoy and add them to your salad bowl. Par boil green beans, then a soak in cold water to stop the cooking. Add them to the greens. You can also either grill or saute the greenbeans after the parboil, but make sure not to overcook them. They need to have a bit of a crunch. Add chunks of fresh tomato, chopped green onions, the corn, and sprinkle on some fresh feta. The dressing is my usual extra virgin olive oil and lime with salt and pepper.
Not exactly Mediterranean inspired, but healthy, right?