As I sit to write this, the all-clear has been given and the rain has begun. I was busy reading my Psychology textbook when I heard what sounded like the tornado sirens, only very faint. This small apartment of mine has no place to seek shelter, save for the small bathroom, which is located in a stairwell. I turned on the news only to see what looked like a small storm cell; nothing that would produce a tornado. I guess this time of year they can pop up anywhere. Outside was eerily calm, as I’ve heard will happen before tornadoes. In my 5 years in Ohio I’ve never experienced one. One crazy thing: the neighbors across the street were standing on the sidewalk holding their baby, watching the clouds. I wanted to yell “Get that kid inside!” Some people.
Anyway, about an hour before the sirens, I just finished eating kofta, served up Greek. Kofta are spicy meatballs/kebabs from the Middle East/North Africa. They are often served with grilled flatbreads and tzatziki, a garlicky cucumber-yogurt sauce. I made my tzatziki last night to let the flavors really combine.
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
- 2 c Greek yogurt
- 1 lrg cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced (I used an English cucumber, shredded. No peeling or seeding needed.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2-3 pinches of salt
- 2-3 tsp white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar because it’s what I had.)
- 2 tsp chopped fresh mint
- 2 tsp snipped fresh dill
- salt & pepper to taste
- drizzle of olive oil, optional
Combine cucumber and 1 tsp salt in a colander. Let stand for 30 minutes, then press excess water out of the cucumbers, rinse quickly and blot dry. Mash together garlic cloves and salt until a paste forms. Combine the yogurt, cucumbers and garlic in a bowl with remaining ingredients (except oil.)
Combining the spices for the kofta made my kitchen smell like a spice market. Mmmm!
adapted from Food Network online
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
- 1 pound ground beef chuck or lamb
- 3 tablespoons grated onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil, for brushing the grill
- Tzatziki, recipe follows
- Grilled flat bread
Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, parsley, and spices.
Line a pan with aluminum foil. Divide the meat mixture into 28 rough balls (my pound of beef only made 16 meatballs.
Too big? I didn’t use skewers; I just grilled them). Mold each piece around the pointed end of a skewer (if you use wooden ones, soak them in water for 15 minutes before threading them), making a 2-inch oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. Lay the skewers on the pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Heat a grill pan over medium heat or prepare a grill. Brush the pan lightly with olive oil. Working in batches, grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki and flat bread.
In conclusion, this dish was wonderful. I loved the combination of spices. Maybe next time I’ll try it with lamb. My local market doesn’t carry lamb. Like I said earlier, I served this Greek-style, with tzatziki, lettece, tomato and Kalamata olives on (homemade) flatbread. So good!