Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant inspiration’

From Dish Gwen:

I’ve never been much of an eggplant fan. The texture is mushy, the flavor isn’t really there, and my sister claims it makes her mouth itch. But last summer I happened to eat dinner at an excellent Italian place (Emilio’s on Houston) and had one of the best pasta dishes ever, and it just happened to have lots of eggplant in it. And it’s pretty simple to make!

– 1 lb eggplant, cubed or sliced into small rounds (no more than 1.5” across)
– ½ cup fresh mint, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, diced
– salt
– olive oil
– thin spaghetti, cooked al dente


Slice up your eggplant and toss it in a bowl with lots of salt (enough salt to coat each piece of eggplant completely). The salt serves two functions: 1. It makes the eggplant salty and delicious; and 2. It draws the water out of the fruit, which improves its texture. Let the salty eggplant sit for about 15 minutes, then dab it off in a towel to remove the excess water and salt.

On medium/high, heat a sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then toss in the garlic and eggplant. The eggplant should sizzle and once it’s golden brown on all sides, toss in the spaghetti and mint. Turn off the heat and toss everything together gently, then serve! A delicious, easy summer dish!

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From Dish Erin:

I had the opportunity to go to Istanbul recently, an item on the bucket list I’ve been wanting to check off for a long time. Yes, it’s rich with history, yes it’s exotic, yes I had a blast. But most of all, I ate my way through the capital of the former Ottoman Empire. And it was delicious. One of our favorite dishes was Iskender Kebab, aka lamb kebab with savory yogurt sauce, spicy tomato sauce and unctuous pieces of toasted pita bread. It’s spicy, savory, and full of texture and though I ate it about 10 times in 5 days, the moment I got back to the states I tried to recreate it in my American kitchen. Fun fact: the name of the dish comes from Alexander the Great, whom the Persians called “Iskender.”

The actual Iskender Kebab is made on a spit and slow roasted for 2 full days, so I took a necessary shortcut and grilled it instead.

1 yellow onion
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic
Blend of spices: paprika, cumin, ground coriander, a touch of cinnamon and turmeric (optional)
3/4-1 lb top round lamb cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup Greek-style natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons water or chicken stock
1 baguette sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 long fresh green chillies

Puree the onion, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil and spice mixture in a food processor. In a bowl, pour over lamb and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate.

Combine the yogurt and half the garlic, another tablespoon of lemon juice, and a touch of S&P in a small bowl. Cover and place in the fridge.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until soft. Add the paprika and chilli and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato sauce and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place pieces of bread in a bowl and pour a little olive oil over, then season with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Place on a pan and bake until crispy on outside, but soft in the middle, about 6-7 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Thread the lamb onto 4 skewers.

Preheat a barbecue or large grill pan on high. Add the lamb and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. When the lamb is about halfway done add the 2 large chilis to the pan and roast, turning every few minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Divide the bread and chillies evenly among serving plates. Remove lamb from skewers and place on top of bread. Dress with even amounts of yogurt and spicy tomato sauce.

Afiyet olsun! (Bon Appetit!)

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From Dish Nicole:

About 7 years ago I moved to New York City and my first apartment was in Astoria, Queens. While it wasn’t exactly the west village brownstone I’d envisioned, it was still a good starting point. One of the great things about living in Astoria was/is the diversity in restaurants and cuisine. Astoria is typically known for its Greek population but there are other hidden gems. One of my favorite restaurants I found almost a year after moving to the neighborhood, and I could have kicked myself for not getting to Mundo sooner. This place was just my style: small, great music, a super friendly staff and a killer menu (tapas style with a mix of Mediterranean and South American flavor). My favorite item on the menu was and still is their ever-popular Red Sonja. Red Sonja is a Turkish dish made from red lentil and bulgur wheat served on lettuce with fresh lemon. It might not sound appetizing but I assure you it is. It was recommended on my first visit and now I get it every time I go back. With the weather warming up, healthy and light meals are on the brain so I thought I would try to make these babies at home. I perused some recipes online and put together what I think is similar to Mundo’s version. Here is what you need:

1 cups red lentils
2.5 cups water (2 for cooking lentils and additional ½ c reserved for when you add in the bulgur wheat)
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
3 scallions thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
Lemon wedges to garnish
red or green leaf lettuce to wrap up the patties

To start, place the lentils in a saucepan and add the hot water. Bring it to boil, half covered. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off. Add the bulgur, tomato paste, salt and cumin, mix well. Let the mixture sit and absorb the water for about 15 minutes until all the moisture is absorbed and the mixture is dry, stirring occasionally.

Next you will want to combine the lentil and bulgur mixture with the parsley and scallions in a large bowl. Let the mixture cool for an additional 10 minutes. Mix in the olive oil and take about a walnut size of the mixture into your hands and with wet hands, shape it as patties.

You can either serve it warm or chilled.

Serve the patties on the lettuce, squeeze on a little lemon juice and eat ‘um up taco style. Deeeeelish.

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