Yesterday I posted a recipe for tzatziki, that cucumber and sour cream side that mates blissfully with protein. Here’s a matching Middle Eastern treat: meat kebabs filled with both meat and spices. The meat flavor is not lost amidst all these ingredients, but there surely is a spice assault on your mouth. The Middle Eastern dedication to mint and cinnamon is something I find incredibly appealing.
No, Suzen and I do not have trees with cinnamon bark. But we do have mint, a large patch that has spread out from a few simple plants. It is a weed. We cannot control it. So we simply look for recipes that use it. Like this one.
If you are making this dish for a main course, you can be in portion control. If you present these as appetizers, then please do be sure to have made double what you think you might need. Because you will need all of them and more.
If you think potato chips are addictive, just spread these on your table and watch what happens.
Herbed Meat Kebabs from Balaboosta
Yield: serves 40
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Shape the ground beef mixture into well-formed balls (golf ball-sized) using your hands or use a small ice cream scoop. Brown them on all sides in canola oil in a skillet.
Then transfer them to an oiled sheet pan and baked them at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.
If serving as a main course, or as an appetizer, you can optionally take 3 or 4 and skewer them before serving.
Source: Balaboosta by Einat Admony
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/5 for1/15th second at ISO‑3200
Cool. Refreshingly cool. Tzatziki, a combo of sour cream and cucumber, is a side dish that is a hallmark of Middle Eastern Cuisine. It should be on all our plates as well. Here you see it paired with meat kabobs [yes, the recipe is coming tomorrow!]. But tzatziki is a striking accompaniment to proteins of all shapes and sizes. Think of those cucumber notes reverberating with salmon. Or chicken. Or, even, on top of a burger.
Contrast in color, flavor and temperature is an easy way to generate excitement on your plate. This tzatziki can be made in seconds. Well, technically, over 60 seconds, but it is quick. And, as noted in the recipe, while it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, it really is best fresh from your cutting board.
In the ingredients below, there is a range for the amount of garlic and cucumber. The low numbers are from Einat Admony’s Balaboosta and are her genuine proportions. If you do happen to look at other recipes, they generally tend to be more generous with these ingredients. Try the recipe with lower amounts and adjust to your own taste and the intensity of your fresh ingredients. You can always add garlic, but it’s tough to subtract.
I’ve tired the burger with tzatziki. Loved the idea. Even better is dipping the fries into it. That’s probably not an ancient Middle Eastern custom.
Yield: about 2 cups
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ to 1 cup finely chopped unpeeled cucumber
- ½ to 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Keep the tzatziki chilled until ready to use.
It's best used that day, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Source: Balaboosta by Einat Admony
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/5 for1/30th second at ISO‑3200