Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Are You Sure? That's a Lot of Food.

Esperia Grill - Brighton, MA

     I hadn't seen Karl in forever, so one evening we to talking rowing and eating foods. 2 of my favorite things to do. Esperia Grill in Brighton gets voted Best Greek Food by Boston Magazine and The Improper Bostonian pretty consistently, and even though I used to live in Brighton, I had never been. It's a pretty tiny restaurant, and when you walk in there is a big long take out counter right in front. Everything looks incredible and the smells just cannot be put into words. 
Saganaki (top left), Falafel ball (bottom left) and pita.
     They're known for their gyros, kabobs and rotisserie chickens here and I really couldn't decide what to get, so I got a kabob and a half of a chicken. Yes. Both meals. In addition to a greek salad, saganaki (fried cheese) with pita bread, and a falafel ball. After all the words came out of my mouth the waiter furrowed his brow, shook his head and said, "That's a lot of food. Are you sure?" I said, "Uhhhh ... yea." Please do not question my choices Mr. man. It was comical. Sometimes situations like that remind me that I'm not "normal" and make me feel good. I wasn't upset. 
Lamb Kabob and Pita on bottom and the
half chicken on top.
     Anyway, I was a little bummed they didn't light the cheese on fire for us to see because this was Karl's first saganaki experience. But the cheese itself was great. It had a great top crust and was perfectly soft. Delicious wrapped in a pita. 
     The falafel ball was decent, but not exceptional. It was green like the one I got from BenjYehuda in Chicago once with Mary. I wanted the crust to be thicker and hold up to my bite a little better. This one crumbled a tiny bit. 
     The lamb kabob was basically a bunch of big chunks of lamb that were tender and slightly rare, just like I like, lying in a bed of tzatziki and grilled vegetables. This pita was exceptional. It was so soft, thick and had these grilled edges and areas that were full of a toasted pita with butter flavor. And the combination of the succulent, juicy lamb with the cool, herb-y, lemony fresh tzatziki was perfect. I don't know what it is about those flavors that pair so well together. 
      The last addition was my half of a chicken. Admittedly, I knew I'd be taking it home, and I knew I probably wouldn't be back for a while so I had to get it. This bird was coated in herbs. I mean coated. I love chicken skin and this just took it over the top. It had such rich, savory flavors and the meat felt clean, as in not greasy and sticky. The meat was tender, broke apart easily was was extra juicy. It was beautiful. I'd say I weirded Karl out by my superfluous excitement about the quality of the bird, but I'm sure he's used to it now. 
     Overall, it was absolutely delicious. I was so happy and satisfied and Karl was too. I can't help it to the satisfaction I got from Greek Corner with Mary a while ago though. That was nirvanic (<my invented word again), but I'm not sure if that was because we were starving lightweights coming from a Saturday practice or what. We also didn't really eat meat then. So the comparison becomes unfair. Sounds like we are due for another carnivorous Greek Corner visit.


Lamb and Hummus Bowl - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

     Finally I cooked something exciting! Kind of. This recipe for a baba ghanousch bowl came from Closet Cooking. Go look at his photo. It's just beautiful. Mine is quite lack luster and you can't even see half of the things in it. So basically this is a bowl of heaven. He put baba ghanousch in the bottom, but I wanted to do hummus. He also suggested greek yogurt on top but, honestly I forgot, but I think it's ok. It let the feta creaminess show. On top of it you put some ground lamb you cooked up in a pan with some spices. Top it with some tomatoes, parsley, and feta cheese. Boom. My childhood. I took a pita and just pinched a bit of the mixings and ate it like that. I've had day dreams since of what it would be like to actually construct it like a burrito. The combination of every single one of the flavors is harmonious. The lamb is rich with flavor and hot, while the tomatoes and parsley are fresh. The feta is salty and the hummus is smooth. It's really a genius idea and super easy.
Lamb and Hummus Bowl

Lamb and Hummus Bowl

For the lamb:
1 pound ground lamb
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons mint, chopped (I used dried mint)

For the toppings:
1-2 cups hummus
2 cups tomato, diced
1/4 cup feta

1. Mix the lamb, garlic, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, cook over medium-high heat until cooked and slightly caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and mix in the parsley and mint.

2. Assemble the bowls and dig in with pitas or a spoon.


Vegetable Purses - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

     A while ago (I'm talking over a year ago), Mary and I went over to Antonia's for dinner and she made these wonderful little things called Vegetable Purses. She found the recipe on My San Francisco Kitchen and I knew that someday I wanted to make them for myself.  They're nice and light and a actually much easier than they look. They'd be much easier if you just bought phyllo dough too. I love the combination of roasted veggies inside. I tossed in a few extra savory herbs like rosemary.
Vegetable Purses

Vegetable Purses

Phyllo dough:
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
⅔ cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large zucchini squash, cubed
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup light crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Red pepper sauce:
1 red bell pepper, roasted
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp basalmic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, add vegetables and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Transfer to a baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Throw in your whole red pepper for the sauce too and cover in a thin layer of olive oil. 

3. Remove from the oven and lower heat to 350 degrees F. In the meantime, add phyllo dough ingredients to a bowl and mix by hand (or use a stand mixer).  Knead for 10 minutes.

4. Cut into four equal pieces, and roll out as thin a possible.

5. Divide the filling among the sheets of phyllo dough, placing the filling in the center and then topping with feta cheese. Gather the four corners of each phyllo sheet and bring together. Press in the center and twist.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and tie each purse with one chive for decoration.

7. For the sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and blend to desired consistency.
Makes 4 purses


Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies
     I've made these eggless, sugarless, flourless cookies before and they've generally just been ... meh. I half expected the same out of these cookies, but I was way far off. These were awesome! I think the fact that I used decently ripe bananas aided in the sugar issue. I found this recipe off of a blog called My Little Table.

Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 – 7 ounces dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. 

3. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond or oat flour, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. 

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. 

5. Drop dollops of the dough an inch apart onto am ungreased baking sheet.

6. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!


Pumpkin Scones - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

Pumpkin Scones
     I'm still slowly working my way though all that pumpkin puree I made back in January. I pull a jar out of the freezer on occasion with no real plan for it, but just a hope to use it at some point within the week. One morning I woke up and realized I had the time and energy to make these pumpkin scones Stef posted a while back on her blog Energy Neutral. She calls them "healthy" so I assumed they may be a little bland (due to a lack of butter and all that much sugar) but I was so wrong! They were fabulous! They had the perfect dry texture but maintained a decent amount of moisture inside. Unlike my pumpkin bagels, I could taste more of the pumpkin flavor in these, which was nice. I made a few changes to her recipe in that instead of using almond milk (that I didn't have), I just used a little bit more pumpkin and a dash of water (my pumpkin is already pretty watery to begin with). I also used coconut oil instead of canola just because I was curious as to what that would taste like and I was a big fan of the switch. Anyway... just look at how pretty these are and try them out yourself!

(Healthy) Pumpkin Scones

2 1/2c whole wheat flour
2 1/2t baking powder
2T brown sugar
3T coconut oil
5T pumpkin puree
1t vanilla
1/2c almond milk
1T ground flax seeds (soaked in 3T water)

1. Preheat oven to 425F. 

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and sugar. Cut in the pumpkin puree and oil using a knife. Flour mixture should be very dry and it should resemble course crumbs. Mix in vanilla, flax seed, and almond milk. 

3. Knead dough 5 or 6 times, then break into 3 large lumps. Cut the lumps into quarters. 

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Let harden or enjoy immediately!

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