Shelby and I were craving Mazari Kebab & More last night and called in a little take-out. She got the Lamb Kebab and I got the Chicken. I doubled up on the eggplant side because it's so luscious!
Shelby and I left Virginia when we were young. I was 18, she was 19, and we had a baby. It's hard to remember but I'm pretty sure I thought I knew everything at that age. It was when we were on our own I started to play around with recipes from a Betty Crocker cook book my grandparents sent us. My grandfather was an employee of General Mills a long time ago and the plant he worked at closed down. The cool thing though, is that he received gift boxes from the company for years and years afterwards because of the closure. The cook book being of those things he received and my grandmother sent us when we were young and making our way into the world. It's something I cherish.
What's that have to do with beefteki? I guess not a whole lot but when I think about this recipe, I think about our young family starting out and learning we didn't know everything. We ended up in Germany while I was in the army, we say it was the best three years of our lives. We loved the culture, being centrally located in "The Continent", and Greek food! Yeah, we ended up eating a lot of Greek food and stuff similar to it. There were a lot of Greeks and Turks living in Germany and our time there allowed to enjoy things like beefteki, donner kebabs, etc... Ah, the memories of drinking downtown and grabbing a "gyros" (that's what we called the donner kebab over there for some reason) and having garlic, death breath makes me warm and fuzzy inside.
The Beefteki though, that was something Shelby fell in love with! We would always go to a gasthaus next to the Bahnhof in a small town called Parsberg. I'm pretty sure it is this place called Taverne Korfu, it's where Shelby discovered the Beefteki! The owner at the gasthaus was very kind, I always remember him smoking a cigarette near the bar. It was cozy, a place where you could nurse a beer all day and no one say a word about it. Our kids were still babies and he would give them treats. Sometimes he would take one of them into the kitchen for a piece of candy. I wish I knew his name...his daughter (I assume) worked as the runner and behind the bar. Sometimes other families would see the kids and then invite them to sit with them and buy them ice cream. It was our first experience with communal seating too. Here in the U.S. we're used to getting our own table, keeping separated from the other diners. We liked being part of the "economy" as it was called. One thing I learned is no matter where you go in the world, if you're cool, they'll be cool. Oh, one thing the taverna owner would do is correct my German. I remember once time having to say "81" (the menu item number I ordered a lot) in German what seemed like a million times before he would take my order.
I still wonder if they're still there, I'd love to find out one day...
After coming back to the States in the 1990s we couldn't find a restaurant that served anything like the Beefteki we had in Germany. Searching online back then didn't net any hits, the huge boom in food sites hadn't arrived yet. I did manage to find enough Greek recipes that I was able to put together a basic recipe to build on. So over the years I tweaked my original recipe to what it is here. I originally started using a mixture of veal and lamb, then eventually phasing the veal and using just lamb. I mention that because beefteki is normally made from beef (I guess the name makes that obvious.) I think you can find a bunch of them now but there's no need for that. You have my once secret recipe to make and enjoy at home!
You need to serve this with my Tzatziki recipe linked here. Yes I said "need"! Let's start cooking, this is what you'll need.
- 1 lb Ground Lamb
- 1 Small Onion, finely minced
- 4-8 oz. of Goat or Feta Cheese
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Mint
- 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Tsp Dried Parsley
- 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
- 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 1/4 Tsp Cumin
- 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Dress Beefteki with:
- 1 Lemon sliced in wedges
- Olive Oil
Before You Start:
- I always grill these. I guess you can try these in a skillet to get a nice crust on them, but the smoke and grill marks are part of the deal here.
I don't need to tell you to heat the grill up first before using it right?
- I listed 4-8 ounces of goat or feta cheese, add as much as you like! I prefer soft goat cheese but feta is just as good.
- This recipe doubles-up well too, make a ton of it. I get about four beefteki per pound of lamb. You'll be happy you did.
- Some times the heat makes the cheese ooze out a bit, this is OK! It's kinda sexy actually...
- Add all the ingredients - except for the cheese - into a large bowl and mix it well to incorporate all the spices and herbs.
- Once mixed make a football shaped portion in your hand and then push your thumb int the center to create a space for the cheese.
- Add a tablespoon or two of cheese to the center of the beefteki then fold or pinch it closed. Ensure it sealed so the cheese doesn't cook out.
- Brush with olive oil before placing on the grill.
- Cook for several minutes on each side till desired doneness.
I hope you enjoy my famous (famous in these parts at least) Beefteki recipe! It's something I never thought I'd share but it's something the world needs.
I have fallen in love with The Stockpot's Lamb Burger Salad. Oh, here's what I'm talking about.
The Stockpot was formerly a pop-up in the area that moved into brick-and-mortar within the past year. I used to grab a soup from them at the Old Beach Farmer's Market on the weekends - just across the street from where they are now. Knowing how good their soups are, I knew their shop menu would have to be super too. I try to explore items other than soup when I visit now.
I first tried the Lamb Burger Salad when I was flying solo for lunch. Shelby had a lunchtime commitment that day. A straight shot down I-264 to the Oceanfront, I was there in no time. They have pastries, toasts (open-faced sandwiches), wraps, salads and much more! The Lamb Burger caught my eye right off the bat. I ordered it and while I was waiting, owner Ann Galante, kindly gave me a bowl of their soup du jour - Chicken Tortilla. It was delicious, love the broths they make in house.
I finished my soup right as my salad arrived and I was excited. I love food, I get excited over it (see name of blog.) The burger smelled wonderful and the dish itself was beautiful. Nice colors, bright roasted tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, and mixed greens lightly tossed with a dressing I'm still trying to figure out. As you can see in the photo up top, the burger sits upon this lofty throne of goodness waiting to be bathed in a nice, light wasabi dressing.
I intended on eating half of it and taking the other half home to Shelby, but I ended up eating the whole thing. I reasoned that the greens would wilt and I would buy her a fresh one soon - I did a week later ;) Take a look at the burger:
Try it yourself. Better yet, try everything they have, it'll be worth the few pounds you put on.
With the weather getting cooler, I tend to start using my Dutch oven a bit more.
You'll need a Dutch oven if you don't have one! All kinds of good stuff you can cook in those things.
A suggestion before you start: search Lancashire Hotpot to get an examples of the neat patterns people use with their top layer of potatoes. You'll see what I mean when you check out the photos.
2 lbs. Lamb, cut into approx. 9 pieces
3 cups Beef broth
16 oz. Mushrooms, sliced or halved
6 Medium potatoes, thinly sliced
2 Medium onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 Medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
Bouquet garni (I used thyme, savory, rosemary, parsley, rosemary)
2 Bay leaves
Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Collect the ingredients and prepare all vegetables. I know, I know, obvious right?
Well I don't do this half the time and I end up doing things in the middle of cooking when I should have had prep work done already.
2. Preheat oven at 380 degrees. For the first hour the hotpot is in the oven it will cook on high. After an hour reduce heat to 320.
3. Start layering your potatoes, vegetables, and lamb. Season as you go along with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence--be careful not to over season.
About halfway through layering add your Bouquet garni and bay leaves.
The top layer is supposed to be a layer of potatoes arranged in a fancy pattern. This potato layer will be browned after the dish is done.
4. Pour beef broth over the lamb and vegetables in the pot. If you haven't seasoned the hotpot, do so now. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 5-6 hours.
5. Remove hotpot from oven. Test meat to make sure it's tender and ready. When the meat pulls apart easily with a fork, you know it's done.
6. Crisp top layer of potatoes. Spritz olive oil or brush melted butter over the potatoes and broil, uncovered until potatoes brown and are slightly crispy.
Alternate method: I removed the potatoes from the hotpot and places them in a casserole dish. I then coated them and broiled separately from the meat and vegetables.
...just put it on your plate and eat it.
Recently we went out out for our 23rd Anniversary and we decided to try the newly opened Braise in Virginia Beach, VA. Chef Bobby Huber is a staple in the culinary scene in this area and I’ve heard good things about his food. We ordered a couple of appetizers—a softshell crab & “lobstah” and scallops with apple butter. They were very pretty but I’ll honest and say the flavor was little flat. The softshell crab was kind of tough and the lobster—hate to say it—bland. I got to try a sample of cheesy grits and they were great. For our entrees we ordered the BBQ lamb shank on bleu cheese polenta and a seafood plate. The lamb shank was cooked perfectly but I thought the sauce drowned out the flavor of the lamb. I loved the bleu cheese polenta. Shelby’s seafood was very good.
Another thing that bothered me a little was that our server seemed a little out of it. I don’t know, maybe it was because they were busy but her disheveled appearance didn’t help; she was very nice though. I’d like to try again after they get their legs under them and see what happens next time.
Having lunch at Leila’s Mediterranean Groceries and Deli, Virginia Beach, VA. From top to bottom: Baba Ghanoush, Lamb Gyros, Lamb Shawarma, assorted olives, and more.
A hidden gem in the city. The store is on the corner of a tiny shopping strip in a part of town that could use a little attention. We found it a few years ago by accident; we were driving down the boulevard and it caught my eye.
Inside there are spices, oils, cheeses, and other odds and ends from the Mediterranean. One of my favorite things to get in the store is the Kalamata olives they have in self-service bins. There is a good assortment and they’re priced well. My wife and I also tell people this is the place to go if you need hard to find spices from the region. I remember I had a hard time finding sumac but I found it at Leila’s. They buy in bulk so they allowed me to take as much as I needed and charged me by weight. That was great, otherwise I would have had to buy a pound of the stuff and I’m not sumac that much.
There are hookahs, dairy, and grains available. We buy cous cous from here if we’re near and I know we need it. Very good price and it’s nice to purchase at a small shop. If you’re in the area stop by and check it out. Here’s a link to it on the map.
Judy’s Sichuan Cuisine in Virginia Beach has been generating a lot of buzz around its authentic style of cooking. We had the Roasted Duck Braised in Beer, Stir fry Lamb with Cumin, and a Sichuan Sausage. The Sichuan Peppercorns make your tongue and lips tingle. Very good. If you’re in the area, you need to try it.
Lamb tacos Shelby made tonight. Dressed with a Greek yogurt & cucumber sauce, red pepper & onion relish in red wine vinegar, and feta cheese.