From Too Many Chefs -

June 9, 2004

The tomatoes fell off!

Unlike Barrett, we are intentionally kitchenless in our cooking lately. The weather in Paris has finally turned summery and on Monday we uncovered the grill and started enjoying the terrace. I didn't bother with photos on Monday as the food was nothing very interesting - hamburgers and sausages and potato salad. Last night, however, I thought of our loyal readers and came up with two competing recipes for lamb kebabs: Moroccan lamb kebabs from the Epicurious site and what I'm calling Caesar's Kebabs (my own invention). After trying them both, I really don't know which was better - both were delicious and very healthy when propped over a crunchy Iceberg lettuce salad.

One of the things I really appreciate about the Epicurious site is their system of allowing readers to rate the recipes. Sometimes reading the comments can be very edifying, often they are humourous, and even when they are really...well, brainless...they have a certain unintentional humour. In the case of these lamb kebabs I was impressed by the fact that none of the comments I read suggested improvements and all were raves: 100% would make it again according to Epicurious. That's a pretty good record.

Personally, I omitted two ingredients - the couscous side and the dried apricots which should have been grilled on the skewers with the meat. This was only because I didn't have the ingredients in the cupboard: with these exceptions once the lamb was purchased everything else was already in my kitchen, which is another plus.

Moroccan Lamb Kebabs

1/3 cup olive oil
juice from 1/2 a medium lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 tsp grated lemon peel (oops, omitted that too because I'm lazy and had already tossed the lemon half)
generous grinding of black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 thick lamb cutlets, cut in cubes

Whisk all the ingredients except the lamb in a bowl to blend. Add the lamb and toss. (Epicurious says to halve the sauce and use half to marinate and half to baste - personally, I don't see the point in dividing the sauce, as the basting sauce is going to cook on the meat before you eat it anyway...) The longer you can allow this to marinate, the better. Cooking after work, I didn't really have the luxury to wait very long before threading the skewers. I threaded the meat with alternating pieces of onion and red pepper and a tomato at the end to make five kebabs. Grill to preferred doneness - about 8 to 10 minutes.

This was the first time I have tried to imitate the kind of kebabs you find in North African or Lebanese restaurants and it was very similar and very tasty. The spices went exceptionally well with the lamb. The onions were still crunchy, but cooked enough so that they were mild and the grilled tomato was very sweet, a very nice compliment. Next time I'll get the apricots, though, and try them! Also, I just reread the comments and realized there was one very good suggestion: serve with tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt/garlic sauce). That would have been even BETTER.

Caesar's Kebabs

Not surprisingly, the genesis of the name of this dish came from the leftover home-made Caesar's salad dressing I found in my fridge. I wanted to use red wine, anchovies and rosemary for the second half of the kebabs, but I hate opening a tin of anchovies when all I need is one or two. (I can eat a few more, but there are limits to how many I can consume in a sitting and they just don't keep well even in the fridge!) So for this recipe (no real measurments) I took a couple of Tablespoons of Caesar's salad dressing and mixed them with a glass or so of red wine, a few sprigs of rosemary (chopped) a slice of onion and some pepper. Marinate for as long as possible and thread on the skewers with a tomato, chunks of mushroom, slices of red pepper and a few onions. I love the mix of rosemary, anchovies and lamb and they combined particularly well with the mushrooms.

So there you have it: a light summer meal that even Weight Watchers would approve. (But please don't ask me how many points...!) Chocolate for dessert, I think...

Posted by Meg in Sussex at June 9, 2004 8:07 AM | TrackBack

I do wish we could use our porch for grilling, but as you've seen, the pigeons have taken it over and are using it as a bathroom.

Posted by Barrett on June 9, 2004 at 10:05 AM

Don't we all agree that this needless complaining and obstacle placing is far beneath a TooManyChef?

In other news, that recipe sounds like a winner, Meg. Is yours a gas grill or a charcoal one? I would wonder about the gas grill and the kebobs.

Posted by Bryan on June 9, 2004 at 10:08 AM

It's a gas grill with volcanic rocks. Why does this make you worry about the kebabs - the taste or blowing ourselves up? (Trust me, when we first put the grill up the latter was a concern...) We don't notice any gas taste on the food, but then it's been a long while since I had the luxury to use a strictly charcoal grill.

On a similar note, I no longer notice that popcorn popped with sunflower seed oil does not have the same delicious corn taste as it does when popped in corn oil. Obviously long absence from the US has corrupted my tastebuds!

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 9, 2004 at 10:12 AM

Oh, and in reply to Barrett's negative comments, I have a positive response: isn't guano a fuel substitute??

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 9, 2004 at 10:13 AM

I'm easily discouraged when droppings are involved. It's one ingredient I have no intention of mastering.

Posted by Barrett on June 9, 2004 at 10:17 AM

I was going to suggest you use your cast-iron grill pan and short skewers when I realized the issue is academic as you are supposed to be a VEGETARIAN. I'm not sure it would work as well without the lamb...

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 9, 2004 at 11:44 AM

Grilled tempeh would take the place of the lamb, I think.

Posted by Barrett on June 9, 2004 at 1:15 PM