"Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greeks can cook!

I know this to be true...because I have been surrounded by Greeks my entire life. And my Yiayia's AND my Papou AND my Mom AND my Dad and even my brother (he makes AMAZING spanakopita!) can all COOK!!! Especially my Yiayia Helen! She cooked Greek like no one's business!

One thing my Yiayia Helen really made fabulously was keftedes. Keftedes are these delectably rich and sinful fried Greek meatballs bursting with the savory fragrance of fresh herbs. Yeah, I said fried. They are for sure NOT low-cal or low-fat! Over the years my Mom has lightened them up a bit, using my Yiayia's recipe but substituting ground turkey for ground beef, and baking them in the oven rather than frying them.

There are as many versions of popular Greek recipes as there are little old Yiayias in Greece. Every family has their way of tweaking things. Well, the other night I just had a real craving for something my Yiayia would make. But it was hot. And humid. And I didn't want to turn my oven on. My solution? Greek keftedes style turkey burgers that we could throw on the grill. And a nice cool tzatziki sauce for topping them. And since they were so delicious I thought I would share the recipe with all of you!

The measurements provided are approximations. Greeks don't like to measure...we eyeball!

Here's what you'll need for the burgers:
* 1 lb. ground turkey
* 1 TBSP finely minced fresh spearmint
* 3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
* 3/4 tsp ground all spice
* 1/2 of a medium onion, very finely chopped
* a couple garlic gloves, finely minced
* a cup of seasoned bread crumbs
* sea salt and fresh ground pepper
* extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 of a small can of tomato sauce

Sorry I didn't take step by step photos. It was HOT on Saturday and I just wanted to get out of the kitchen! This is all the ingredients in the bowl ready to be mixed. And the best way to mix it...

Yep. Dig your hands right in. I can't even tell you what a big thing this is for me....touching raw meat. Ewwww! Even if I didn't blog it my husband knew he had to get a picture to show my parents. Otherwise they never would have believed it!

If the mixture feels too loose to form good patties you can always add more breadcrumbs.

This mix will form four nice and thick burgers, or maybe 6 average burgers. We went for thick! See the dents in the middle. Little trick I learned from Food Network. Helps them to grill evenly.

While Kevin put those on the grill....

"Hey! Get back to the grill!"

...I made the tzatziki. Tzatziki is a cool creamy cucumber and yogurt concoction commonly used as a dip or over gyros. And, again, it is as individual as the person making it.

Here's what I use:
* plain Greek yogurt, about a cup
* a few mint leaves
* dried dill, a few pinches
* a garlic clove or two
* a pinch of sea salt
* about a 1/2 cucumber, seeded

I just throw it all in the food processor and pulse away. It looks like this:

Give it a taste. See if it needs a little more of this or that. Keep it in the fridge till you are ready to use.

Finally! The burgers were grilled! And we sat down to enjoy them with homemade sweet potato "fries." (in the end I had to turn the oven on anyway...)

Sooooo delicious!!!!!!

Give 'em a try! Then let me know what you think!


carma said...

that sauce brings back memories of a little Greek place near where I used to work. Is it easy to find the "Gyro bread" you can tell I do not know the actual word! -- I swear I gotta whip up some of that sauce and make a veggie Gyro

Tania-Dreams2010 said...

Oh yum! Looks delicious! Thanks for the recipes too!

BONNIE K said...

It all looks wonderful. And I have a garden overflowing with mint.

Lora said...

um...that looks like all sorts of yummy. must.try.soon

blueviolet said...

I've never heard of them but wow, they look delicious!

Elizabeth said...

Hey, Kristen! Congrats on being featured by Beth at Laugh Until You Cry. I'm Greek, too, although I didn't grow up with much Greek food except on holidays. The tragedy of my father being Irish and only liking food with no flavor, such as boiled potatoes! LOL I'm taking this recipe, great variation!

2busy said...

Looks really good! I wish I had these ingredients on hand...

New England Girl said...

That looks absolutely delicious! But then again, my mouth started watering as soon as you mentioned spanakopita!

I spent a very lazy, enjoyable month on the Greek island of Paxos with some friends when I was in college. A close friend's family owned a little stone villa there and we all got to experience the joys of living like the locals while there. Every morning we would walk down to one of the island's only bakeries and get heaps of fresh spanakopita, among other Greek treats. I won't lie: I used to hoard the spanakopita. I haven't had any since and I miss it terribly.

Greeks can DEFINITELY cook. I had some of the best meals of my life on Paxos and Corfu. :)

Kathleen said...

This recipe looks delicious. I am doing to give this a try. I also must comment on the entry before this one....about the feet. I totally agree with you...feet are so ugly, I have never seen "beautiful feet". Nasty. Flip flops ? might as well go without, for all the support or protection they provide. In my perfect world, all feet would be covered. I am so with you on this!

Hugs, Kathleen

Christa said...

That looks yummy!!! :)

Melissa Miller said...

We *almost* made this sauce tonight for our grilled tuna steaks. We will try it very soon. It looks so delicious! Mmmmm....:)