Category Archives: oregano

Beef Gyros

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek food. Regardless of the season the tangy Greek flavors of feta cheese, oregano and fresh dill inspire images of sun drenched Greek beaches. And this time of year, when the weather is especially gray and dreary, I find myself longing for a Greek Island getaway. When that isn’t possible, I head to the kitchen and cook up my own Greek feast.

These gyros, adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers, comes pretty close to channeling the Greek Island experience. Here beef is substituted for the traditional lamb (which is also delicious but sometimes difficult to find). The meat is marinated in a lemon-oregano mixture which ensures that every bite is juicy and flavorful. As a finishing touch the entire gyro is topped with Tzatziki Sauce- the yogurt, dill and cucumber sauce that Greece is famous for.

So here’s to getting your own dose of the Greek Islands. Enjoy!

BEEF GYROS

For the Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup cucumber, diced small

3 tablespoons fresh dill, diced small

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

For the gyros:

1 pound beef steak tips, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups salad greens

2 tomatoes, sliced

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

4 pita breads

  • To make the tzatziki sauce, place the cucumber and half of the yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  •  Add mixture to a medium sized bowl and stir in remaining yogurt, the dill, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Add additional salt, if needed  and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To prepare the gyros, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Add the meat to a zip top bag or bowl, and pour marinade over the beef. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 4 hours.
  • When you are ready to cook, set grill to medium low heat
  • Place the meat on the grill, (you can place meat on skewers if you prefer) and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until they are done to your preference.
  • Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
  • Evenly divide the meat on a pita shell, top with the salad greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and the Tzatziki Sauce.

Serves 4

 

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Greek Steak & Pepper Kabobs

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Here is a slightly different take on a “Fast Friday” dinner; it is still fast but it made in two parts. Simply marinade your meat in the morning–or even the night before–then pop the kabobs on the grill in the evening and dinner is served in a matter of minutes. These kabobs are tasty and remind me of the delicious grilled meats I’ve enjoyed in Greece. I used streak in this version but have also used lamb when I can find it or even chicken. Either way the flavors are fabulous. Serve the kabobs alongside steamed rice and dinner is served

GREEK STEAK & PEPPER KABOBS

For the marinade:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

Dash cayenne pepper

For the kabobs:

1 pound flank steak, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

1 large red onion, cut into chunks

  • Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag.
  • Add the steak pieces and allow to marinade for at least 2 hours or up to over night.
  • When you are ready to cook, lightly oil a grill and pre-heat it to medium-high heat.
  • Removed the meat from the marinade and shake off the excess.
  • Place the meat and vegetables onto metal skewers, alternating between the steak, peppers and onions.
  • Place the skewers on the grill and cook, turning every two minutes and brushing with the extra marinade until the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness. I cook my kabobs for 6 to 8 minutes.

Yields: 6 skewers

 

Oregano Chicken & Sausage w/ Orange-Tomato Salad

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Here is a quick and satisfying dinner option that I adapted from a Cuisine at Home recipe. The combination of sweet Italian sausage and chicken breast dusted with oregano is simple yet flavorful. What makes this dish special though is the salad; orange sections and grape tomatoes make for a refreshing and juicy contrast for the meat. The salad comes together quickly while the meats are cooking so don’t skip them. To complete the meal I serve this alongside brown rice; put a pot of it on to cook before you start the meat and everything will be ready to serve at the same time.

OREGANO CHICKEN & SAUSAGE w/ ORANGE-TOMATO SALAD

For the chicken:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, cut into bite sized pieces

Juice of 1 lemon

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Sprinkle the chicken and sausage with the oregano, salt and red pepper flakes.
  • Add the meat to the pan, cover and saute, stirring occasionally, until the internal temperature of the meat is 165 degrees. This should take a total of 8-10 minutes.
  • Off the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over the meat.

While the meat is cooking, make the salad.

For the salad:

2 seedless oranges, pith removed, sectioned and cut in half

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Serve alongside the chicken and sausages.

Serves 4

Sherry Marinated Duck Breast

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Here’s a recipe for duck inspired by allrecipes.com. Duck is one of my favorite meats and is incredibly versatile which makes it a fun food to cook with. This recipe produces a rich and flavorful dish and while it does involve a bit of planning ahead, actually requires minimal hands on time. You can marinate the duck first thing in the morning or even the night before you plan on cooking it then simply let it sit. The duck then sits in an herb infused bath of sherry. Be sure to use a good tasting sherry since the flavor is noticeable even after the alcohol cooks off.

Depending upon how much fat your duck has, you may end up with quite a bit of herb infused rendered duck fat. You can either use it as the base to saute some Brussels sprouts (as I did here) or you can save it for another dish…..perhaps some duck fat roasted potatoes. Add a starch, wild rice complements the dish nicely, and you have the perfect autumn dinner.

SHERRY MARINATED DUCK BREAST

2 duck breasts, skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 teaspoons basil

Salt & pepper

  • Using a sharp knife, score the fatty side of the duck breast into a grid pattern, cutting all of the way through the fat but not into the meat.
  • Combine the olive oil, sherry, brown sugar, oregano, rosemary and basil in a large sealable, non-reactive container. (A large plastic Ziploc tub works well).
  • Add the duck, fatty side down, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
  • When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove the duck from the marinade and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Set aside.
  • Pat the duck completely dry, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place fat side down, on a cold cast iron skillet.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the fat to render from the meat for about 5 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking for an additional to 4 minutes. The hash marks on the duck should have contracted into a crispy brown diamond pattern.
  • Drain the fat from the pan and reserve for another use.
  • Flip the duck breasts over and pace the skillet in the oven for about 10 minutes for medium-rare meat (130 degrees on a digital thermometer) or to your desired level of doneness.
  • Remove the duck to a cutting board and allow to rest for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • While the duck is resting, bring the reserved marinade to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the volume is reduced by half.
  • Serve topped with the marinade.

Serves 4

Greek Village Salad

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Last summer I was lucky to take not one but two trips to Greece. The first trip was to the Ionian Islands of Cofru, Paxos and Antipaxos. The second trip included the town of Meteora and the city of Thessaloniki and several villages in between. The geography was varied but the one thing that held true regardless of our locations was the food. Whether eating at fancier restaurants or simple mom and pop operations, all of the food was simple, fresh and delicious. Fish was a mainstay when we were near the sea while inland grilled lamb reigned supreme. But the one item that was guaranteed to be on every menu was a village salad.

The actual ingredients in a village salad may vary depending upon location but cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese were mainstays. Oregano, whether fresh or dried was often included. Some salads may include peppers or onions. Because we were there during the steamy days of July all of the ingredients were local, super fresh and tasted so wonderful. I actually ate a salad as an entree at more than one meal.

I’ve attempted to recreate the salad on numerous occasions but some how the salads never taste quite as good as they do in Greece. But by using the freshest of ingredients; vegetables bought at the farmer’s market rather than the grocery store, feta cheese and olives from a Greek importer rather than mass produced products that come to Belgium from Greece via the United States, the results are pretty darn good.

GREEK VILLAGE SALAD

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby cucumbers, cut into coins

1 cup mixed Mediterranean olives

3/4 cup feta cheese, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in a large bowl.
  • Gently fold in the feta cheese taking care not to crumble the cubes
  • Drizzle the oil over the top of the salad, sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. Toss well to combine.

Serves 4

Mediterranean Trout

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Fish doesn’t need to be intimidating to cook.  In fact, it is surprisingly easy and since it cooks quickly makes for a fast dinner.  Fish filets are nice but if you want to really impress your guests serve them a whole fish.  You can either serve a large one for the table or an individual fish for each guest.  Your fish monger can clean them for you making preparation even easier.

Think of the combination of vegetables I’ve used as a method rather than an exact recipe using and substituting whatever vegetables you like or have on hand.  If you don’t have capers substitute black olives or use both.  I like oregano but you can also use thyme, basil or a combination of all three.  Experiment with different combinations until you find a winning one for your family.  It really is that easy.

I served this with buttered baby red potatoes but mashed potatoes, orzo, or Israeli couscous would also be good.

MEDITERRANEAN TROUT

4 whole trout, cleaned, scaled, rinsed, and patted dry

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 large eggplant, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, divided

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Juice of 1 lemon plus 8 lemon slices

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat four pieces of tin foil with spray and place a trout in the center of each foil piece and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Thinly slice two of the garlic cloves and distribute the garlic slices and 8 slices of lemon evenly inside the four fish.  Generously season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper.
  • Place the tomatoes, eggplant, green and red peppers, zucchini, fennel, and onion in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Mince the remaining two garlic cloves and add them to the vegetables along with the capers, lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, and oregano.  Toss well to combine all of the ingredients.
  • Evenly divide the vegetables over the top of each fish.
  • Tightly wrap each fish with the foil to create packets.  Be sure to seal the edges so that the juices don’t escape.
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake the fish for 35-40 minutes.  Take care when opening the packets since hot steam will escape.

Serves:4

Spicy Pear Poached Chicken w/ Chunky Apple-Pear Sauce

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SPICY PEAR POACHED CHICKEN w/ CHUNKY APPLE-PEAR SAUCE

For the sauce:

1 sweet red apple, peeled, cored and sliced

1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cinnamon stick

4 whole peppercorns

For the chicken:

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup pear juice

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

  • In a small saucepan, combine the apples, pears, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns.  Add 1/4 cup of water.
  • Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is hot and the fruit cooks down.  Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Combine the oregano, paprika, ground cinnamon, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish.
  • Dredge the chicken breasts in the spice mixture and set aside on a plate.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the chicken to the pan and cook until it is browned, approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the chicken and continue to cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  When it is hot, add the onions and cook until soft and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add the pear juice to the pan and stir to removed any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the skillet.  Add in the chicken broth and stir to combine.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, an additional 5-8 minutes.  At this point you can cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and allow the chicken to sit for up to one hour.
  • When you are ready to serve, place one chicken breast on each plate.  Remove the cinnamon stick and peppercorns from the apple-pear sauce and divide the mixture evenly over the top of each chicken breast.

Serves 4

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