Lamb köftas with pita bread

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! Mine was packed with yummie things and culinary experiments. I tried an australian fruit cake, and added way too many nutmeg and cinnamon ánd baking soda… I also made a fruity cake topped with a homemade crunch. The crunch was really the best bit, because the bottom was so soggy…

Anyways, let’s not dwell on that. On to the good stuff! We had a great tapas board with some of my favourite things: strong blue cheese and jamon iberico, cured ham, originally  from Spain. This cured ham just melts in you mouth! It is definitly not the cheapest jamon, but if you have it just once in a while it feels like such a treat. It is smooth, rich, soft, savoury and salty.

This Spanish cured jamon is made from black Iberian pigs who roam the Spanish country side and feed on acorns, grass and herbs. The acorns are important for the flavour of the jamon. The curing process  that follows can take up to 48 weeks which really makes for spectacular flavours. But I didn’t start this post wanting to write about jamon…

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We went out to try a new café, where they served decent wine and a very decent lamb burger. Look at the size of that one! I was barely able to finish it but I hung in there… I love it when pub food is not too complicated yet fingerlicking good. This lamb burger is the perfect example. The meat was so soft and tender.

 

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Lamb! More of that please!

For this recipe I was both inspired by the good quality minced lamb my mother brought me, and dried oregano another friend gave me. This is Greek oregano we are talking about, so sundried over there and brought back here to liven up our Dutch dishes. Wow does that taste different! So much more flavour then dried oregano from the supermarket. So if you or any of your friends is planning to go to Greece, get them to bring you some oregano! And good quality olive oil, some olives …

 

 

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Lamb köftes

4 persons

Ingredients

  • 500 grams minced lamb
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 75 grams crumbled feta cheese
  • pepper, salt
  • 1,5 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1,5 tbsp chopped  fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh or sundried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground paprika
  • pinch of allspice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

> If you do not have fresh herbs, you can use dried herbs.

 

1. Chop up the onion and carrot. Put it in a big bowl and mix with all the herbs, lamb, pepper and salt.

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2. Add the crumbled feta cheese. Feta is a white cheese from Greece, and considered one of the oldest in the world. I like mine as matured and tasty as I can get. I also prefer feta made from sheepsmilk (as opposed to cow or goats milk).

3. I am not using any eggs or breadcrumbs for this recipe, but I found it hardly needed it. Instead of forming a meatball and frying them off in a pan, I squeezed a shape out of the meat with my hands and put them in a lightly oiled oven dish. In a pan the might have fallen apart, but as an ovendish this is not an issue.

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4. Put them in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until they are sizzling and golden brown.
I served them with a quick greek salad, some homemade pita’s, yoghurt dip and an aubergine dip.

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I will give you the recipe for the pita bread as well!

 

Pita Bread

Ingredients

  • 300 grams of wholemeal flour
  • 200 grams of plain flour
  • 10 grams of dried yeast
  • 10 grams of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of carroway seeds
  • 350 ml tepid water
  • 30 ml olive oil plus some extra

 

 

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  1. Sift the wholemeal and normal flour together.
  2. Add the yeast, salt and olive oil. Put the yeast on one side of the bowl, and the salt on the other. Don’t let it interact until you start mixing the dough.
  3. Start combining with one hand while you slowly add the water with the oter. You may need more water, just keep adding a little water and keep mixing with your hand.
  4. The dough should be a little sticky, but definitly not too wet. After a minute or so it should stop sticking to your hands.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and rub some olive oil on your kitchen counter. Start kneading the dough for a full five minutes.
  6. When the dough becomes soft, elastic and smooth put it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfoil and a clean tea towel.
  7. It is proving time. Give the dough at least 90 minutes, it should double in size.
  8. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back for a minute and incorporate the cumin and carraway seeds. Divide the doughinto six portions. If you want smaller or bigger pita’s you are ofcourse free to adjust the quantity and size.
  9. Start rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. Sprinkle some flour on your workbench. Once you have rolled out the dough into a flat cirkle, leave it to prove for another 30  minutes. I think they should be about half a centimeter thick. I just sprinkled flour over each pita and put them together on a oventray. If you do not sprinkle flour over it, they might stick together.
  10. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry off the pita’s, a few minutes on both sides should do it. The pan should be really hot. I put my oven to a 100 degrees celcius were I kept the pita’s warm until they were all ready.

 

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Greek Salad

Greek Salad. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? I thought so too. But after visiting Greece on holiday I realised it is simple yes, but there are definitly some do’s and don’ts if you want your Greek Salad to taste as authentic as possible. I went to the Island of Crete, changes are ‘authentic’ will taste different on other islands, but I can only offer you what I experienced.

> Buy good quality extra virgin olive oil. That doesn’t necessarily needs to be the most expensive one, it just needs to be a good one. It rarely is one of the cheaper ones though!

> Look for tasty olives. The simple one from a can usually doesn’t hold a lot of flavour, so start looking for ones that do. Most of the time they will still have their pits, and I personally prefer the darker kinds, such as kalamata olives. If you have a deli nearby where you can taste them before you buy, perfect!

> Try to get real Greek feta, not something that says ‘white cheese’ on the package. Also, there is feta-like cheese on the market made from cows milk, and the flavour is just not as good as the goat’s cheese kind, I think.

> See if you can get some proper Greek oregano, or dry your own oregano. The flavour of freshly dried herbs, as opposed to store bought, is very noticable!

> Then buy cucumber and juicy, flavourfull tomatoes.

Start chopping and mixing! On the island of Crete we also had a lovely take on Greek salad with enormous chuncks of avocado and thinly sliced red onion. The village we drove into was surrounded by enormous avocadotrees. We sat down at a tiny cafe and a sweet Greek lady made us one of our favourite salads to this date. She mixed in fresh avocado, red onion and her own olive oil. What a treat!

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Feta cheese
  • Oregano
  • Freshly ground pepper, salt
  • Olive oil extra virgine

Optional:

  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Diced avocado

 

The recipe itself is so simple! Chop it rougly and mix all the ingredients together. Find a nice dish or serving bowl and it’s ready to serve!

I made Greek Salad this weekend to serve it with a lamskofte and pitabread. My next post will be all about lamb!