Sunday, May 8, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Lamb Kebabs

Tonight Kyle and I will have our families over for a Mother's Day dinner celebration and inspired by our upcoming cruise, we are going to have a Mediterranean themed feast! One of my more recent favorite library finds was the Williams Sonoma Family Meals cookbook, which featured this amazing recipe for lamb kabobs.

The meatballs are grilled, so they have that great smokey flavor. However, the meat stays super moist because of the fat content and the amazing ingredients you pack into the meatball.

We stuff pitas with the creamy cool raita and juicy meatball. Last time I also made a couscous dish with a recipe I found in my Food Network magazine. Tonight, we will have a yummy Mediterranean salad, hummus, and my dad is making a spanikopita and stuffed grape leaves.


For the raita

  • 3 1/2 cups plain yogurt, or 2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 small English cucumber 
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed 
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more, to taste (optional)  

  • 3/4 cup minced yellow onion 
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro  
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground lamb shoulder 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • Vegetable oil for grill rack 
  • Pita bread rounds for serving 


To make the raita, if using regular yogurt, spoon it into a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth placed over a bowl and refrigerate overnight, stirring the yogurt before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning you will have about 2 cups of very thick yogurt and 1 cup or more of yogurt water. Discard the water and spoon the yogurt into a bowl. If using Greek yogurt, spoon into a bowl.

Peel the cucumber, halve lengthwise and scrape out any seeds with the tip of a small spoon. Grate on the large holes of a box grater-shredder or in a food processor fitted with the shredding attachment. Squeeze out the excess water from the cucumber with your hands until almost completely dry. You should have about 1 cup. Add to the yogurt.

Add the garlic, mint, cilantro, salt, cumin and cayenne and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the favors to blend, then taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Have ready 3 or 4 flat metal skewers, or soak 3 or 4 bamboo skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, cilantro, mint and parsley and mix well. Add the lamb and sprinkle with the cumin, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Quickly and gently mix with your hands to combine all of the ingredients evenly.

Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, and shape into ovals. Drain the bamboo skewers, if using. Pick up a patty, stick the skewer lengthwise down the center, then repack the meat in the same shape around the skewer. Repeat, threading on 2 or 3 more ovals, depending on the length of the skewers, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Place the skewer on a tray. Repeat until you have filled all of the skewers. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up the meat before grilling.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack. Season the kebabs lightly with salt and pepper. Place on the grill rack and cook, turning once, until golden on the outside and cooked through but still juicy, about 10 minutes on each side.
Transfer the skewers to a serving plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Then slide the kebabs off the skewers and serve immediately with the pita bread and raita. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).

And now a tribute to some of the amazing women in Kyle and my life: HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

My Grandma Sumida who taught me how to say "thank you" before I could talk by waving my arm up and down. I am still able to get a lot more out of life by remembering to say, "thank you"!

My Grandma Nomura who taught me how important food can be for bringing a family together; always having spaghetti, Chinese pretzels, stew, or some other type of delicious dish on hand for family gatherings regardless if it was a planned or spontaneous event.

My mom, who taught me that a little bit (or a lot, in some cases) of salt can make anything taste good.

Kyle's Mom taught him how to make simple, yet delicious dishes so he could learn to cook for himself.

Kyle's Aunt Julie, who has always been like a second mother to him, taught him the Husky Fight Song "Bow Down to Washington" when he was a little kid; that passion for the Huskies and good food encouraged us to start hosting our own tailgates this past year, where we can combine his two favorite passions into one.

Kyle's grandmother taught him that good food can always be the highlight of a great family get together.  Everyone can always count on her delicious sushi for all of our family events or homemade kim chi.

This is one of my favorite photos of my mom and I.  I am just being self indulgent at this point!
A big HAPPY MOTHER'S Day to all the other wonderful women in our lives--you are all special and make our world and life happier because of your love and care.

Happy Eating,

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