Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Juicy Lamb Slider Lettuce Wraps

A week ago Roy and I were in beautiful sunny southern California visiting Jenn.  I love to go to the restaurants there because it's easy to find one right on the beach and most of them have outdoor seating.  If there is a sight evening chill to the air, it doesn't matter because fire pits on the patio are big out there. On the night before we left she took us to one she called the best kept secret around.  It's in an area that's not as trendy but the view of the ocean was terrific.  We got a great table out on the deck and watched the surfers riding the waves as the sun went down. I ordered the lamb sliders which were dressed up in a hot and sweet little sauce. They weren't bad, but we all commented on wouldn't it be nice if they were just served with good old tzatziki sauce... So, when I got home, I had to make lamb sliders and see what I could do to make them really tasty.  Rubbing them with the lemon spice mixture makes a huge difference and I even added some of it to the yogurt sauce.  I pickled the red onions in vinegar for a few minutes to make it a bit more fancy.  Serving them as wraps with lettuce instead of a bun is a nod toward cutting back a bit after having a bit too much fun eating comfort food this winter.  They were so tasty, I didn't even miss the bread!

Ingredients for Four Lamb Slider Lettuce Wraps:

1 pound ground lamb
1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, put through a press (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon finely diced white onion
1/2 cup diced cucumber 
4 good sized Boston lettuce leaves
4 tomato slices
1/2 medium sized red onion
1/3 cup white vinegar
4 toothpicks if desired


Divide the ground lamb into four portions and fashion into patties.Squeeze the lemon and put the juice (about 1/4 cup) in a bowl. Add the garlic, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  Set 1 tablespoon of the mixture aside and spoon the rest over both sides of the burgers. Rub the mixture into the meat. 

Grill over medium heat for six minutes per side. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the burgers are cooking, thinly slice the red onion and place it in a bowl with the vinegar. Let it sit for at least five minutes or until ready to serve the slider lettuce wraps.

Spoon the Greek yogurt into a bowl and add the reserved 1 tablespoon of lemon spice mixture, the white onion, and the cucumber.  Stir to combine.

To assemble, place the burger on a lettuce leaf, top with a tomato slice, then the slice, and finally the red onion slices.  Secure with a toothpick if needed.

It's fun to put the lettuce, tomato, onions, sauce, and burgers out on platters and let people put together their own wraps.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Piperade - Basque Base for Poached Eggs

This post is my variation on piperade, a traditional Basque dish.  I make it with different colored peppers and use a Serrano pepper for the heat instead of the customary Piment d'Espelette.  It's impressive looking enough for company but it is really just a humble affair - just some sliced and sauted vegetables. Of course everything is better with an egg on top and hopefully the video above will take away any fear about how to poach one. I also use piperade as a sauce for pizza, pasta, and Italian sausage by using 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes instead of the Serrano and adding  in 1/4 teaspoon each of oregano,  basil, rosemary, and fennel seeds.

Ingredients for Four Servings:

4 to 8 eggs: 1 or 2 per serving
1 onion
2 bell peppers:  I used 1/2 each of green, red, yellow, and orange
1 Serrano pepper  
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
3 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Core and dice the tomatoes.  Set the tomatoes aside.  Peel and slice the onion. Core, remove seeds and membranes, and slice the bell peppers. Discard the membrane and seeds from the Serrano peppers and dice.  Place the oil in a large pan or skillet and add all the bell peppers, Serrano pepper, and the onion. Over medium low heat, saute for about 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetable mixture are tender but not brown.  Peel the garlic clove, put it through a press or mince it finely.  Add it to the pan and continue to saute for another 30 seconds.  

Add the tomatoes to the sauted vegetable mixture. Over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, cook for about 10 minutes. The piperade is down when the tomatoes break down, most of the liquid has evaporated, and the mixture is thick. Transfer to serving dishes and top with poached eggs.