Posts About ‘Easter’

Easter on the Grill, Part Deux

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Gyro Style Kafta Kabobs | Digital Dads

Last year the folks at Sam’s Club challenged me to design an Easter dinner menu entirely on the grill with ingredients I could purchase from Sam’s. With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having this year, I decided to keep Easter dinner on the grill and the heat out of my kitchen. For the menu I kept with the same general theme and have devised a similar Greek and Mediterranean inspired meal for my family.

While we are really enjoyed the spiced lamb sliders I made last year, I wanted to go in a different direction and searched for an authentic gyro seasoning recipe. After whipping up a big batch of the seasoning mix I added it to a lamb and pork mixture I ground myself from a leg of lamb and some pork shoulder. I covered the seasoned meat with lemon slices and let it get happy in the refrigerator for a few hours before fashioning them like kafta kabobs and skewering them to make it easier to grill.

A kafta kabob, a Lebanese dish traditionally made with beef, is essentially a meatball on a stick. I made these for my son’s first birthday party, which itself was a heavily Mediterranean inspired event, and they were a huge hit. I felt that the shape would be reminiscent of the layers of gyro meat you might normally find nestled into a lightly grilled pita.  To serve I stuck with the standard fare – some chopped grape tomatoes, pickled red onions, crumbled feta cheese and a cooling tzatziki sauce.

To round out the meal I’m sticking with simple grilled asparagus, but instead of potatoes I’m going to be serving up an orzo pasta salad with a pea shoot and pistachio pesto. I love making pestos because they are a simple and versatile way to add a lot of flavor to a dish without a lot of work. I generally avoid basil pestos because they can be quite overwhelming, which is why I prefer to go with other greens like arugula, parsley, cilantro, or something more unique like pea shoots. Pasta salads like this can be tossed together quickly for any occasion and the flavors can be adjusted to best suit your protein.

My test run went well the other night and I’m very excited for Easter dinner this year. If you haven’t already nailed down your Easter dinner plans, or if Greek and Mediterranean cuisine appeals to you, I hope that my menu has provided some inspiration.

Gyro Style Kafta Kabobs

Software

  • 3# leg of lamb, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2# pork shoulder, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 1/3 cup gyro seasoning mix
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Assemblage

  1. Grind the meat using a fine plate, then toss with the oil and seasoning
  2. Layer the lemon slices over the seasoned ground meat, then refrigerate for 30 minutes to several hours
  3. Soak wooded skewers in water for at least thirty minutes
  4. Form the meat into five to six inch rolls around the soaked skewers and toss on a hot grill
  5. Serve on grill warmed pita bread with chopped grape tomatoes, pickled red onions, crumbled feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce

Pea Shoot & Pistachio Pesto

Software

  • 1 package pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Assemblage

  1. Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil olive while food processor is running until desired consistency is reached

Orzo Pasta Salad

Software

  • 1 cup orzo prepared to directions
  • 3/4 cup pea shoot and pistachio pesto
  • 1 cup diced grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Assemblage

  1. Add orzo pasta and pesto to a large mixing bowl and toss to combine until the pasta is well coated. Use a little more, if necessary or desired
  2. Toss in the grape tomatoes, almonds, and feta, then refrigerate until ready to serve

Easter Dinner on the Grill

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011


At the risk of having to surrender my man card, I’m going to freely admit that grilling is the weakest part of my culinary game. Sure a medium rare burger on the grill is easy enough, but when it comes to organizing a whole meal it can be a little daunting. Plus, I only recently acquired a gas grill and have rarely used my charcoal kettle for anything more than a low and slow pork shoulder roast.

So, when Sam’s Club poked me in the inbox and double dog dared me to create an Easter dinner menu on the grill I had no choice to accept. After all, my pride was at stake.

When it comes to cooking I’m always up for a challenge and love thinking of twists on classic flavors. The first thing I had to do was think about what I wanted to the menu to look like and ham, a traditional Easter favorite, was an attractive option given my proclivity for utilizing pork products. However, I decided that I wanted to see what I could do with lamb and the bright Greek and Mediterranean flavors that usually follow. With the protein set the rest of my plan with respect to starches and vegetables would be dictated by whatever was fresh and in stock at Sam’s Club.

I set off on my journey Tuesday morning and with my new membership card in hand I was ready to assemble a grilled Easter dinner to remember. As you can see from my haul I had a very successful trip:


I was excited to see the nice leg of lamb roasts, as that was my desired protein, and then I spent the better part of an hour just perusing the aisles focusing on the fresh produce to hammer out the rest of my menu. In addition to the lamb I picked up some boneless country ribs, a potato medley, some campari tomatoes, a nice hunk of feta cheese, some yeast rolls, a tub of Greek yogurt, some hearty looking asparagus stalks, some enormous strawberries and a box of madeleines.

All told I spent about $75 at Sam’s Club for the ingredients for my meal. I had to hit one other store to pick up some fresh herbs, a package of pea shoots (my new favorite topping for burgers in place of lettuce) and a bottle of Prosecco, which brought my total for this meal to just over $100.

After returning from my shopping trip I sat down to finalize my plans and create the actual menu, which is:

  • Spiced lamb sliders with a mint and feta pesto
  • Potato skewers with a garlic yogurt sauce
  • Grilled asparagus; and
  • Grilled strawberry shortcake with a prosecco gelatin

While the menu is fairly simple, there was a decent amount of prep work to do. From making garlic confit that was used in the slider patties, the pesto and the yogurt sauce to grinding the leg of lamb roast and the boneless country ribs into a 70/30 ratio, I had a good deal of work cut out for me. I also finely chopped a herb mix of flat leaf parsley (also sold as Italian parsley), rosemary and thyme that I used in the yogurt sauce and with the garlic infused oil from the confit to brush on the asparagus and potato skewers just as they finished grilling.

With everything set to go…

…it was time to get to grilling.

And then the best part. Time to eat!

We are just at the beginning of the strawberry season here in Charlotte and these were ripe and sweet. The strawberries were hulled, cut in half and then skewered. They were on the grill for no more than 2 or 3 minutes, just enough time to warm them up and get their juices flowing. While they were on the grill I brushed on a mix of one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of port wine as a glaze. Combined with the fresh whipping cream, the airy madeleines and the crisp and cool Prosecco gelatin this was a great way to end the meal.

This challenge was a lot of fun and there are a great number of fresh ingredients to create a great meal at Sam’s Club. My family and I were very pleased with the quality of the lamb and after this test run there is more than enough to feed my family again on Easter Sunday. If you’re interested in giving anything here a go here are most of the recipes I devised for this menu:

Spiced Lamb Sliders

Software

4# Lamb
2# Pork
6 cloves garlic confit
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano or marjoram
2 teaspoons white pepper

Assemblage

  • Cube the lamb and pork and mix to combine, then refrigerate for 20 minutes
  • Using a coarse grinding plate run the cubed meat through the grinder and refrigerate for 20 minutes
  • Make a paste with the garlic confit and all of the spices and mix with the ground meat
  • Form into patties (2-3 ounce for sliders, 5-6 ounce if you prefer a full size burger), then refrigerate until an hour before ready to grill

Mint and Feta Pesto

Software

3/4 cup mint
1/4 cup parsley
2 scallions
2 cloves garlic confit
feta – four one inch cubes
lemon zest
olive oil – 1/2 to 3/4 cup from making the garlic confit
salt and pepper to taste

Assemblage

  • Add all ingredients except the oil in a food processor and pulse four to five times
  • Slowly drizzle the oil in until the desired consistency in reached
  • Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Software

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic confit, finely minced
1/4 cup herb mix – parsley, rosemary, thyme
1/2 shallot, finely minced
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Assemblage

  • Finely mince the shallot, set aside
  • Zest and juice half of a lemon, add zest to the cup of yogurt and macerate the minced shallots in the lemon juice for five minutes
  • When shallots are macerated add them and the lemon juice to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve

Prosecco Gelatin

Software

2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold white grape juice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup Prosecco

Assemblage

  • Pour 1/2 cup of the white grape juice into a small saucepan and quickly stir in the two packets of unflavored gelatin
  • Turn the heat on low and keep stirring until the gelatin fully dissolves, then add the sugar and stir until that dissolves
  • Remove from heat, stir in the remaining white grape juice and allow mixture to come to room temperature
  • When fully cooled, gently stir in the cup of Prosecco, pour into a rectangular baking dish and refrigerate until firm (approximately two hours)
  • When ready to assemble the short cake cut the Prosecco gelatin into small squares for garnish

Disclosure: Sam’s Club gave me a free one year Advantage membership to their store and a $50 gift card to use to shop for my grilled Easter dinner. I was not offered or promised anything else for my review of my shopping trip or required to use specific ingredients in my menu. All opinions are my own.

The shoe cables a repent reward near the visible.