Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot Weather and Meals...

The weather has been so hot all of my baking has come to a screeching halt.
I am making cajeta about every three days and canning that, so I try to make mealtime simple.Tonight we ate very late, around 10 pm. We took a siesta after lunch, so the timing actually worked out pretty good.
We have had a few meals cooked on the grill, but unless you start the grill after sundown, it is just too freakin' hot to stand out there by a hot grill in the blazing sun!
A lot of the time, I have found what works easiest here is to cook the meat the night before and just keep it in the fridge until needed the next day.
A lot of our meals have been cool salads topped with chicken or steak cut into strips. A healthful balanced meal!
Also, Greek or Middle-Eastern food---PERFECT for hot weather!
A favorite here is a menu roughly like this:
Pita Bread
Greek Beef Strips
Greek Yogurt
Greek Spinach
Herbed Goat Cheese (I make that myself) of Feta (also make feta)
Salad Greens
Tomatoes with olive oil and snipped herbs (marinate overnight)

I set it out as a buffet and everyone fixes their plates with what they want.

Here are some quick and easy recipes for making your own Greek buffet:
1 can Garbanzo(chickpeas) beans
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons tahini (ground sesame seeds, if you do not have any, increase sesame oil to 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A pinch of Salt
Drain and reserve liquid from garbanzo beans. Pour beans in blender and add remaining ingredients.
Puree until mixture is smooth and of the right consistency, adding reserved liquid from beans as needed.
Serve with pita bread or pita chips.

Greek Beef:
1 pound beef cut into bite sized pieces (You can use skirt steak, any steak, even slice part of a roast into small pieces for this, it will get tender)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
3 tablespoons vinegar (red wine vinegar is best for this) OR 1/4 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced dried onion or 1 teaspoon raw onion minced
1 teaspoon beef bouillon or one beef bouillon cube mixed with one cup water until dissolved
1 tablespoon corn starch or 1 tablespoon flour
Mix vinegar (or wine) with ginger, cloves cinnamon, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, onion and beef bouillon water.
Marinate beef in water for one hour (or longer...I have even marinated overnight, but one hour is the minimum)
Remove beef from liquid (SAVE LIQUID!) and brown in 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter until brown.
Pour marinade liquid into pan with beef and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on medium low.
Mix tablespoon corn starch (or flour) with 1/4 cup water until well dissolved, add to pan and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens on medium heat. You want the sauce very, very thick. It may take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook it down.
When done, serve alongside pita bread, etc.

Greek Spinach is simple spinach cooked with garlic. You cook it in a searing pan or skillet instead of a pot with water.Just plop a pat of butter in, add about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of minced garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and cook a bunch of spinach until wilted. If you are using frozen spinach, let it thaw out first, squeeze as much liquid out as you can, then toss it in the pan with the butter and garlic.Heat thorough and serve hot.

Herbed Tomatoes
Two tomatoes, diced small
Finely minced herbs or dried herbs: Oregano, chives, garlic, marjoram and dill or a combination to your liking.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix all of the above together and marinate, covered, overnight.
Good to add to pita sandwiches or on salads or on crustinis

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