Tag Archives: yogurt

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Cucumber-Mint Yogurt Sauce

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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…

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Notes:

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?

Orange Blueberry Yogurt Bread

We nearly always have oranges at home.  To me, it’s no different than having lemons, limes, garlic and onions.  They’re all essential.  The only difference is that I can eat an orange by itself without having to do anything to it.  More often than not, though, the oranges end up in something I’m cooking.  Usually it’s a salad because we rarely eat salads with vinegar.  It isn’t that we don’t like vinaigrettes, but being able to grab a piece of citrus, quickly juice it, then combine it with a fruity extra virgin olive oil and some seasonings is so easy, and very delicious. Often, if I’m thinking about it, I grate the zest from the fruit as well — the intensity of the citrus oil adding that much more flavor to a salad dressing or a dish.

Although I do have a newer (ergonomic) version of the box grater, and also a small grater with a handle, there’s nothing like my Microplane zester, or "microplaner" for zesting citrus.  I’ve had mine for nearly seven years, and it’s still as sharp as the day I came home with it, marveling as I pulled it from my shopping bag.  I’d never seen one before, so when the woman at the cooking store offered it to me free of charge as a bonus for purchasing my very first All-Clad sauce pan, I thought nothing of it beyond the expected, "Wow!  Something free!"

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But then I used it, and life zesting citrus, or grating fresh hard cheeses like parmesan, romano, or mizithra has not quite been the same.  Of course, my knuckles haven’t been the same, either.  It’s so sharp, that I inevitably scrape at least one knuckle and it’s taken me until recently to realize that I’ve gotten the method of using this amazing utensil all wrong.  I expect my scarred knuckles to thank me from this time forward.

Do you have a microplaner?  If not, you need one.  When using one, instead of holding the item being grated over the microplaner and grating away, try holding the food under it.  Instead of moving the food back and forth across the teeth, move the microplaner over the food. Not only can you actually see the progress you’re making removing the zest from the citrus, you can relax that you won’t have to stop for first aide due to skinned knuckles.  I could go on and on about whether it’s best to grate upward or downward, but I’d rather discuss something that I’ve recently made using my microplaner.

I know this sounds like some kind of funky advertisement, but it isn’t.  It was supposed to be my entry to Jolen’s Culinary Adventures event:  "Tasty Tools" but I sort of blew the date.  You think it’s a problem to have noted on my calendar that this entry was to be due on the date of her round up?  Whatever.  One of these days, I’ll have a clue.

In the meantime, get yourself a microplaner.  You’ll never regret it.  Your knuckles might, but you won’t.  Besides, it will help you make this yummy bread.  Or is it a cake?  I’m not sure, but I did find the inspiration (um…I added blueberries?) for the recipe at Pinch My Salt and couldn’t resist whipping out my microplaner.  I just happened to have some pink navels that were dying to be made famous.

Pink Navels?  Yes.  I nearly crashed my shopping cart in the produce section when I saw them.  They’re beautiful!

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Orange Blueberry Yogurt Bread

2/3 c. butter, softened

1-1/4 c. sugar

2 eggs

1/2 c. plain nonfat yogurt

1/2 c. fresh squeezed orange juice and pulp

1 T grated orange peel

2-1/2 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. fresh blueberries

For the Glaze:

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1-1/2 T orange juice

more grated zest to taste

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 6" x 3" cake pan with a removable bottom.  Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom, place it in the pan, and butter it as well. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light in color and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the yogurt, orange juice and zest and mix well.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk quickly to mix ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are moist.

Pour most of the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the blueberries across the batter, then pour the rest of the batter over.  Place in the center of the oven on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center is clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing the cake to cool completely at room temperature.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, orange juice and zest until the desired consistency is achieved.  Poke holes in the top of the cake with a wooden skewer, then pour glaze slowly over.   Perch blueberries across the top if you wish, and then dust very lightly with additional powdered sugar.

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Notes:  The original recipe calls for a 9" x 5" x 3" loaf  pan that is supposed to bake approximately the same amount of time — 55-65 min.  I used a convection setting, kept a close eye on it thinking I’d have to take it out around 50 minutes and was surprised to find it not done.  I did place a piece of foil over the top after it had completed its rise to keep it from getting too brown.  I wasn’t going to make the glaze because I’m not a fan, but the intensity of the orange flavor was nice with this cake and I only poured as much as I wanted on it.  The blueberries went nicely with this cake.  Usually blueberries are something I see paired with lemon, but I couldn’t resist the orange, and there you go!

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The cake is perfect for breakfast or a snack, and very nice toasted.  It’s dense but very flavorful, and cuts into thin slices easily for sneaking a nibble or three when no one is looking.

Yummy!

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