Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Happy Easter! Greek Lamb Chops with Tzatziki Sauce, Greek Salad and Cheese Blintzes

 May joy fill your day,

Hope light your path,

And the many blessings of Easter 
warm your heart...


 
Wishing you a Happy Easter!!

 

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, and Easter is this weekend.
Time flies when you’re in a Covid-19 induced mind fog and, basically, time has lost all meaning.


But, even though we’re not enjoying our usual holiday traditions or large get-togethers, we’re still here and that’s something to celebrate.

Hoping you and yours stay safe and well!
 

Hints:

If you’re preparing a meal for two, here’s a marinade for 3/4 pound lamb chops:
1/4 Cup olive oil                        
2 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder, more or less
salt and pepper to taste

Lamb chops are best when they are medium – medium rare (62ºC / 145ºF).
The meat should be blushing pink in the centre.
Be sure to allow them to rest before serving so they will stay juicy.


Wondering what to serve with Greek lamb chops? Here are some ideas:
Mashed potatoes or garlic baked potato wedges
Asparagus, marinated white bean salad or buttery carrots
Greek salad with feta cheese and pita bread


About that Greek Salad…
In Greece it is called horiatiki (Village Salad) and has cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, Kalamata olives, green pepper, and Feta cheese, with a dressing made from olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and seasoned with a little dried oregano.
But no lettuce.
Greeks eat seasonally, and that means fresh. A Greek Salad is usually a summer dish. Since lettuce only grows in Greece during the winter months a traditional horiatiki does not include lettuce.

Feta is Greece's most famous cheese and, according to many recent reports, it's also the healthiest cheese in the world. Mainly made from sheep or goat milk (often combined), Feta cheese is nutrient-rich.

If, in your household, a salad isn’t a salad without lettuce, just add it and enjoy.
Zorba won’t be visiting with the salad police.


Tzatziki Sauce is also excellent as a dressing for gyros or Greek Salad, or as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables.


A box of phyllo usually has 24 leaves in it.
If one set of blintzes has one leaf more or less, no problem.


                        Tzatziki Sauce

Place in a food processor or blender
8 ounces plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, peeled (1 teaspoon garlic powder, more or less)
salt and pepper to taste
Process until well-combined.
Transfer to a separate dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavour.


                        Greek Lamb Chops

Place in a large bowl
1/2 Cup olive oil                        
1/3 Cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
4 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Add
2 pounds lamb chops
Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes, the longer the better.

Heat a griddle pan or outdoor grill.
Cook the lamb chops for 3 to 4 minutes per side until they are almost charred.
Stand the chops up to allow the fat to render and crisp up.
Remove the lamb chops from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Garnish with lemon slices or wedges before serving.


                        Greek Style Cheese Blintzes

Makes 12 blintzes

Place in a medium bowl
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 Cup orange marmalade
1 large egg
Beat until smooth.

Melt
1/2 Cup butter or margarine

Unroll on waxed paper
8 ounces phyllo leaves
Place a damp towel over the leaves when not layering and brushing with butter or margarine.

Place on a cutting board
1 phyllo leaf
Lightly brush with melted butter or margarine.
top with another phyllo leaf and brush with melted butter or margarine.
Repeat with another 6 leaves.
Cut into thirds.
Using 1/4 of the cream cheese mixture in total, spoon mixture on each portion.
Roll up the 3 blintzes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Repeat 3 times with the remaining phyllo, cream cheese mixture and melted butter or margarine.

Preheat oven 375º F
Brush tops with remaining melted butter or margarine.
Bake 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox / Bourbon Chicken

 

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday is the start of the Year of the Ox.
Think of it as a second chance to make - and KEEP - New Year's resolutions!
The festivities last until the full moon rises, about two weeks from now.
Your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.


There are many traditions observed over the New Year period:
    •    Decorate your house with apricot and peach blossoms,
                 symbols of new beginnings.
    •    For happiness and wealth eat persimmons.
    •    Do not cut your hair or use sharp knives or scissors on New Year’s Day
                 as you may cut off good fortune.
    •    Wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.
    •    Give red envelopes to friends and family for good luck and prosperity.


There are also food traditions and meanings:
Traditional dishes are steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings
Uncut noodles is a symbol of longevity
Fish and chicken are symbols of prosperity
Oranges and tangerines will give you luck, wealth, good health, and a long life

Many people avoid meat on the first day to bring good luck in the New Year.
Day seven is the birthday of human beings. Long noodles (for longevity) and raw fish (for success) are traditionally eaten on that day.
On the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens to settle their stomachs.
The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival and eating leftovers.


Covid-19 has brought changes to our lives over the past year.
One of the simple pleasures of being a senior is going to a mall for a bit of mall walking, doing some shopping, maybe seeing a movie and enjoying a meal at the food court.
I believe that food courts are so much better than restaurants.
We don’t have to choose a particular type of food, but can enjoy Chinese and Italian food at the same time.
Does it get any better than that!

Our local mall has a Chinese outlet next to a Cajun one, and they seem to be operated by the same family, whose members could often be found cheerfully handing out samples of Bourbon Chicken in pre-Covid times.
It is actually a Cajun dish named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Whatever… it’s delicious and easy, so we can enjoy it, even during the pandemic.


Hints:

Don’t have boneless, skinless chicken breasts? This recipe also works with pork.

If you want more of a kick, add more bourbon.

If you want a thicker sauce, double the cornstarch water mixture.

This recipe makes enough for two, but it’s easy to increase if you're feeding the family.
Don’t worry about the kiddies - the alcohol burns off.
If you’re cooking for more than two people fry the chicken in batches and remove the fried pieces to a bowl. If the chicken is crowded it won't brown as nicely.
Return the browned chicken to the pan before adding the sauce.


                        Bourbon Chicken

Cut into 1-inch cubes
two chicken breasts (about 10 ounces)

Place in a small bowl
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Place in a large skillet
1 tablespoon canola oil
Heat and add the chicken.
Sauté until fully cooked and browned.
Add
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the bourbon sauce to the chicken and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

While the chicken is simmering, place in a small bowl
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Stir together and slowly add the mixture to the sauce.
Stir frequently until it thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Garnish with
sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired

Serve immediately with rice or pasta and vegetables.

                           ~~~
If you’d rather not cut the chicken, here’s an easy variation that feeds four.

                        Bourbon Chicken

Place in a large skillet
3 tablespoons oil
Sauté
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
Remove garlic and onion from skillet with a slotted spoon.
Add
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Brown on both sides.
Add
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons bourbon
salt and pepper to taste
the fried garlic and onion
Stir all together.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear.

Garnish with
sesame seeds and chopped green onions, if desired

Serve immediately with rice or pasta and vegetables.