"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Spice of Life

We're in the midst of a major transition these days:  contemplating yet another move to a more permanent place (not just yet...but it's coming), ending old jobs and beginning new ones, and shifting from Spring and school days to carefree Summer.  And house hunting.  (Shudder.)  In the midst of all of this, this Life that is happening, the Mister and I are finding ourselves excited by all sorts of possibilities.  We're finding that our dream of a place to call home, near the waves, with a bit of space to grow things, to raise our Kiddos...this dream may actually be turning into a reality.  After months of forced attempts to make this dream work, of disappointing house hunting, frustrating job searching, ineffectual planning, we finally reached a point where we just let it go.  That fruitless act of beating our heads against a wall, in a vain attempt to make something happen when the timing was off, simply wasn't paying off.  We looked around ourselves, at our thriving children, our astounding community of friends, the beautiful area we're currently calling home, and decided Hey...this might be enough.  For now.  Apparently, merely finding peace with we're at, right now, was exactly where we needed to arrive, before change could occur.  (I believe this is one of those forest-for-the-trees moments...so difficult to see when you're mired in it...and so simple when you take a breath, step back, and let Life unfold.)

Suddenly, an exciting job offer came up for the Mister, in just the right location to make this little dream feasible.  Now our task is to wrap our heads around what this all means:  new schools, moving further from our well-loved people, finding home.  It's not going to be easy.  It's a little bit scary, really.  But this is exactly where we want to be.  New adventures await, and possibilities abound.  I love this stuff, I must tell you.  Looking back on all our travels and wanderings, it's always those moments of uncertainty in the outcome...but certainty that it's the right move...that Life is truly lived.  Taking that big leap is what stokes our fire.  It's how the Mister and I found each other in the big, wide world.  It's how we've managed to live in some amazing places around the globe, and meet so many interesting, dear people.  And now, we get to do it again.



Lucky us.

When we married, the Mister and I wrote our vows, and the main point of what we promised to each other was that together, we would live a life filled with love and adventure.  And how.

So, with all this exciting stuff going on around us, I must admit I do not always find the time for an exciting meal.  A great deal of energy is being spent (well-spent, without a doubt) on realizing a dream, sometimes leaving little, at the end of the day, for meal-planning.  (Or grocery shopping.)  Thus, a simple meal is in order.  And who to turn to, other than Mr. Nigel Slater, for inspiration?

From Appetite, this dish is referred to as "a fragrant, healing bowl of rice...Food to soothe and revive."  What could be more appropriate?

I do hope you enjoy it.  And remember, allow yourself the freedom to adapt, in order to feed your appetite,  in the recipe, and in Life.

Fragrant, Spiced Rice - adapted from Appetite

peanut or vegetable oil
one small onion, or half a large one
basmati rice, 2 cups
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a few cloves garlic, bashed, but left whole
few slices of fresh ginger
5 to 8 green cardamom pods
cinnamon stick
4 or 5 cloves
pinch of chili flakes, or one whole chili pepper
handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

You can prepare this rice two ways.  One, use a saucepan, and begin by sauteing your onion.  Or, if you're rather busy, cheat, and use a rice cooker.  You can either start by sauteing your onion on the stove, then adding it to your rice cooker, or just start it off in the rice cooker itself, to really make things simple.  If you solely use your rice cooker, you won't get much in the way of caramelization, and you may have to prop something down on the little button that flips between "warm" and "cook" to keep it cooking.  But it does work.  Just so you know.

Whichever method you decide, begin by gently cooking off your onion in a tablespoon or so of oil, with a bit of salt, until softened and translucent.  Add to this the garlic, ginger, and spices (not cilantro), and allow to cook briefly, to bring out their essential oils.  Stir in the rice, and chili, and add the recommended amount of water (from either your bag of rice, or your rice cooker).  I use 1 1/2 cups water to 1 cup of rice, yours quite likely, may differ.  This is not a problem.  Season with sea salt, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, without stirring.  Again, follow your recommended cooking times on your rice packaging, your rice cooker, or go with experience.  Once the liquid is absorbed, gently stir the rice, and re-cover for about 10 minutes (or up to an hour in the rice cooker).

Delicious.  We served ours with some roasted veggies, and it was just about perfect.

Life is a grand adventure.  Eat it up.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How I Cook

I've been thinking about recipes lately.  I have a love/hate relationship with recipes, and cookbooks.  On the one hand, I adore pouring through the pages of a new cookbook.  I love reading ingredient lists, envisioning some new flavor combination that I've never thought of, being transported to foreign lands simply by reading about their foods, drooling over gorgeously styled food photos.  But then, we have the other hand.  My rebellious hand, I suppose.  And this hand despises being told exactly how one must prepare a meal, with exactly this type of cheese, sliced or diced using exactly this tool and this technique.  This hand much prefers to use recipes as inspiration, or guides.  (And this hand also does not style food gorgeously.  We eat family style, and I haven't yet discovered an inner desire to toil over arranging food just so, in order to get a good shot.  People are hungry here.)

There are rather a lot of italics in this post today, aren't there?  Strong feelings here, people, strong feelings.

Anyway, this inner struggle with the whole recipes-as-rules thing kind of defies logic, as pertains to this here blog.  I mean, here I am, in all my hypocritical glory, pushing recipes on you fine folks, while I contradictorily proclaim a  disdain for them.  Add to that my self-awareness that I am not some genius chef, just a woman who likes to feed people...what right have I to tell anyone how to cook?  Hm.  Ponderous.

(Just so you know, that was the rebellious hand speaking up there, the other one does enjoy recipes, especially for baking, and as long as they're not too incredibly stringent.)

Cue the perfect book to read, for this conflicted state of mind:

I have raved incessantly about Tender, and now you'll have to bear with me and my new-found passion for Appetite.  This book predates Tender by a good few years, but the gist is the same:  Cook creatively.  Simple as.  Mr. Slater generally gives brilliant suggestions for meals and foods that work well with one another, leaving precise amounts up to you, the cook, to decide.  He outlines pantry ingredients, spices, equipment, with the main point being:  You don't need every single damn gadget and fad food in your kitchen.  You don't need to revere those cookbooks that claim that theirs is the only way of doing something.  Instinct is key, and the way to develop that instinct is to spend some time playing around in the kitchen.

I think that's what I love most about cooking...aside from the obvious practicality of feeding myself, my family, and my friends, it's an amazingly creative outlet.  If you allow it to be.  If you ignore that inner voice that tells you to follow the rules, because so-and-so knows what they're doing, and you don't.  (I think my "inner child" is an uptight, anal-retentive tattletale, who still fears getting grounded for breaking the rules.  Delve into that one.  Actually, don't.)  A meal that turns out well is so satisfying, when you're using ingredients that you have on hand, and cooking with all your senses.  Smelling...touching...tasting...It's a pretty sensuous gig, cooking.  Get into it.

My uptight hand would like to interject here, and say that the rules are there for a reason.  Certain foods need specific cooking times, in order to not only taste good, but to be safe.  Some spices marry well with others, while some decidedly do not.  This is where recipes come in handy:  there's a wealth of wisdom to be gained from other cooks.  There is also a wealth of wisdom to be gained from experience.  From getting your hands dirty.  And it's a heck of a lot of fun.

Here's what I came up with last night:

One rather un-styled photo, of a barley pilaf.  I probably should have removed that cinnamon stick, but oh well.  By the way, there is no mention of barley in Nigel Slater's book, but I had some in the pantry, and went with it.  I will give you the ingredients and amounts that I used, but please, for the love of all that is right, play with your food!  If an alternative spice or veggie sounds more appealing, use that instead.  Hard and fast rules have no place here.

Barley Pilaf - serves 4, as a generous side

1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken), or water, about 2 1/2 cups
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
4 or 5 cardamom pods
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground coriander
bay leaf ( I used fresh)
grated lemon zest from about 1/2 large lemon
sea salt and black pepper to taste
couple handfuls fresh or frozen peas (if frozen, defrost under cold water in a colander)
few handfuls baby spinach, to serve
dill, or another fresh herb, minced, to serve

In a medium sized pot, heat a tablespoon or two of butter, over a moderately low heat.  Cook off the onions, with a bit of sea salt, until they're softened and translucent, about 10 or so minutes.  Add the spices (cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom), and stir over a medium low heat, for about a minute, until you can smell them.  Add the barley and stir to combine.  Add in your stock or water, a bit of salt and pepper, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil.  Cover and lower heat to simmer.  I started off with 2 1/4 cups of chicken stock, and added more as cooking went on, and the grain was getting dry, but still not fully cooked.  Just keep an eye on it, and top up with a bit more liquid, if needed.

Grains don't follow exact rules with cooking times.  I suppose this can depend on the age of the grain, and who knows what other factors.  My barley took about an hour, yours could take anywhere from half an hour, to an hour.  If your barley finishes cooking before the rest of your meal is ready, simply turn off the heat, and cover with a lid.  It'll stand just fine, for a while.

Once the barley is cooked to a texture you like, it should still have a nutty bite to it, turn off the heat, and leave covered for 5 or 10 minutes.  If, near the end of cooking time, you still have a substantial amount of liquid left, remove the lid, and turn the heat up a bit, minding that it doesn't burn, so the extra stock cooks out.

Stir in the zest, dill, and peas, and check seasoning.  If you'd like a richer dish, throw in another tablespoon of butter, or a glug of olive oil.  I served our pilaf up over a bed of baby spinach, which wilted down nicely from the heat of the barley.

We really should eat barley more often.  It is so dang tasty, and good for you.  For leftovers, this can be served at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice over it, or reheated, maybe with a grating of parmesan.

Get your hands dirty.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

With a Bit of Luck

I had a decent bit of luck yesterday.  I popped in to a couple of thrift shops, and hit the jackpot.  I have to say, I have mixed feelings about thrifting, just so you know.  I know it is a good thing.  I suppose there are two ways of looking at it:  One way:  Thrifting is an act of granting new life to an object that would otherwise end up at the dump, or on an episode of that Hoarders show.  Another way:  Sorting through someone else's cast-offs can be kind of, well, gross.  First of all, there's that smell in there.  You know the one.  Decay/musty grandparents/neglect...it's not a pretty smell.  And then it's so completely overwhelming to me, all that stuff to sort through.  There is so much crap hiding those few treasures, and it takes a certain mood, and a certain level of tolerance to manage a successful thrifting adventure.  I don't always manage it.  I can't always handle it.

Yesterday, though?  I managed quite nicely:

Score number one:  a canning pot and jar lifters.  I'm on a mission to can this summer, and when I learned how freaking expensive the set up is, I kind of nearly wet myself.  So, this one?  Major score.  Whopping $12 score.  And you can't tell in the photo, but it's blue.  I love blue.

Also pictured are some retro pillowcases, to be repurposed into pajamas, perhaps, after seeing this post on elsiemarley.  That funky green floral is maybe awaiting its destiny as a skirt for the Girl, a la any one of the awesome tutorials on Made.

Used linens are a tricky one for me.  On the one hand, it feels a little weird to reuse old linens.  I'll tell you what though, that old adage "They don't make it like they used to" has merit.  Cotton is not the same as it was in days past.  And I do, after all, have a washing machine.  So there you go.

Speaking of linens...I've been searching for a new duvet cover for, oh, about four years now, to no avail.  Mind you, I've been looking for a new one, not a used one.  Our two duvet covers (one winter weight, one summer...a nifty trick I picked up in New Zealand) are looking rather worn, and I've been searching high and low for something unique, but coming up empty-handed, time after time.  And then, I stumbled upon this:

Not the cat, although he obviously approves of this new-to-me duvet cover.  As far as I can tell, it's brand, spanking new too.  I love it.  It looks so much like a Lotta Jansdotter print.  Who knows?  Maybe it is.

Cool, right?  But then, I saw another, and I couldn't decide...so I bought both.  $12 each.  One for our room, one for the guest room.  Sweet deal, and both look as if they've never been used.  (Phew.)

Perhaps those old, worn duvets of ours will find new life as sets of curtains, for the Boy, and the Girl.  Time will tell.

A couple other bits and bobs caught my eye, that I couldn't pass up:

With a bit of luck, that tripod may just improve my occasionally, ever-so-wobbly photos...well, maybe a lot of luck...

This jar was just too perfect to not buy, don't you agree?  I dig it.

So, a good day of thrift, all in all.  Oh, I managed to buy several books as well...mainly for the Kiddos.

Good stuff.  Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

These Days

Life is pretty fine around here, these days. 

We are completely blissed out on the sunshine...

 ...gleefully swinging from trees...

...taking full advantage of bike trails, a la Monday morning rides, just the Mister and me...

...eating my favorite way, simply, outdoors, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style (so named by the Kiddos), Hello, sunshine food!  Radishes, dill butter, and salt...

...feeling downright impressed with homemade hot dog buns (well, sausage buns, actually), with this recipe, shaping them like this.  You should make some too...

...and feeling inspired by the opening of this gorgeous bloom in our yard...although we have no idea what it is.  Does anyone know?  

These days are full.  May yours be as well.

Here's to the sunshine!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Delight

I have in my hot little hands, my friends, an absolute score of a cookbook:  Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries.  This book is divine, full of beautiful family recipes and remembrances, and stunning photographs.  I own another of her books, Venezia:  Food and Dreams, and it too is a work of art.  Falling Cloudberries is, for me, a little more accessible though, with recipes I can easily make, and ingredients to which I have ready access.

For dinner last night, I made one of Kiros' recipes, for Chickpea, Feta, and Cilantro salad.  A perfect salad.  The huge amount of fresh herbs; parsley, scallions, cilantro, and mint......the bright acidity of lemon...the salty creaminess of feta...a bit of heat from chiles...What else needs to be said?  In short, this salad was an utter delight.

I did some minor adapting, as you do.  Rather than one can of chickpeas (garbanzos), I used two, and therefore squeezed an additional lemon over it.  I didn't bother increasing the amount of herbs or feta, and it didn't suffer one bit.  And, I must admit, I cut the amount of olive oil by half.  I couldn't quite wrap my head (hips) around a whole entire cup of olive oil.  Delicious or not, it is getting on to summer, people, and these curves don't need any extra padding.

Without further ado, a simply delightful salad:

Chickpea, Feta, and Cilantro Salad - Adapted from Falling Cloudberries
 - serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side


*Note*  I have adapted the salad somewhat from the original.  That's what you do with cooking.  Especially salads.  Get inspired, and adapt a recipe to meet your needs.  Go for it.

2 - 14 oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 Tbs for cooking onions and garlic
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of red chili flakes, to taste (or fresh red chili, chopped finely)
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
4 large scallions (green onions), chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
juice of 2 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, over moderately low heat, and gently sauté the onions with a sprinkle of salt, until they are soft, translucent, and golden.  Don't fry them over a high heat, you don't want to brown them, but rather sweeten and cook them slowly.  This took about 10 or 12 minutes for me.  Now add the chopped garlic and chiles and cook for a few seconds longer, just until you can smell the garlic.  Add the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the chickpeas.  Leave to cool completely.

Once cool, add your chopped herbs, feta, lemon juice, and olive oil, and stir gently to combine.  Taste for seasoning, remembering that the feta will add quite a bit of saltiness to the salad.

Serve at room temperature.  This will keep for a day or two in the fridge, but after that, the herbs will darken and go mushy.  To eat leftovers, let the salad come back to room temperature before serving, and perhaps add a little drizzle of olive oil if the chickpeas have absorbed it all.

Have a delightful day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cheap & Cheerful

Do you know about this?

Fred Meyer is now stocking a selection of sea salts, at their olive bar.  The above container of sel gris, (half of which I've used already), cost me a whopping $2.70.  For roughly a third of a cup.  (The weight got ripped off the sticker, so I've no idea the exact amount.)  How cheap, and how very cheerful, is that?

Among other varieties, I noticed a Hawaiian Pink, a Hawaiian Black, fleur de sel, and of course the sel gris.  I don't know about you folks, but that makes me all sorts of stoked.

Sel gris is grey salt, aka Celtic sea salt, and is typically harvested in France.  It's a lovely, rather moist salt, with a much more complex flavor than regular table salt.  And it's usually a hell of a lot more expensive.  (Which does beg the question:  How is Freddie's able to sell it so cheaply?  Hm.)  I love sprinkling this stuff over a buttered baguette, perhaps with some thinly sliced radishes.  Or over some tasty homemade ricotta, atop a slice of bread.  Oh, heavenly.

Using just a bit of what tends to be thought of as a luxury food really makes a difference in a meal, don't you think?  Whether it's a sprinkle of a gourmet salt, a grating of fine cheese, or a glass of good wine...it makes the meal special.  And why not?  Every meal can be special, if we just take a wee bit of time to make it so.  So much the better when we find a good deal, that doesn't break the bank.

And I do love salt.

Have a well-seasoned day, my friends.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Whey-ing In

 This post feels a little backward to me, because ideally, it should follow another one.  However, that supposedly preceding post is not yet ready to be shared, and I am just a wee bit stoked on what went down around here for dinner last night.  Who needs chronological order anyway?

To backtrack, seeing as how we're bending the whole time-continuum thing right now, I learned how to make homemade mozzarella last weekend.  (!)  But, I'm feeling like another go, or even two, would be smart, before I post the how-to.  Never you fear, though, I will indeed be making mozzarella again soon, and often, so the recipe will appear in the not so distant future.

The interesting thing with making mozzarella is that you're left with a rather huge amount of whey afterward.  I asked my culinary guru friend, M, what we should do with the stuff, as it shamed a shame to throw it out.  She sent me a link from The Prairie Homestead, with sixteen ways to use it up.  (Sixteen!)  Some are downright wild (hair rinse?), and some are freaking awesome...

Like making ricotta.  

And using it in bread.  

Waste not, want not, right?

So, that's what I got up to yesterday, and it was pretty fun.  And pretty tasty.  I will say that it's a bit of effort, but to me, the end result made it completely worthwhile.  Besides, how often can you say that you've not only made your own cheese, but that you've used the "waste" to make even more cheese, and bread?  On top of all that goodness, it turns out, whey is really good for you, packed full of enzymes and protein and all sorts of lovelies.  You can even water it down and fertilize your garden with it, by the way.  It's like magic, this stuff.

Here's the lowdown on the bread, and it's easy-peasy.  I substituted the whey left over from making the ricotta (recipe follows), for the water in Pain Ordinaire.  So, this whey had technically been through cheese making not once, with the mozzarella, but twice.  Since the ricotta is made from the leftover albumin protein in whey, my understanding is that this second-time-around whey would be kind of drained of protein.  (Don't quote me on this.)  I'm guessing then, that substituting the initial (mozzarella batch) whey, would result in a higher protein bread, and I'm definitely going to try that next time.  This though, worked perfectly in the loaves.  The dough was a dream to work with, light and pillowy, and the end result was an incredibly soft textured crumb, but still with the lovely crisp crust.  If you're just crazy enough to have some whey around your kitchen, you should definitely throw it into your next batch of bread.  I'm telling you.

That brings us to the ricotta.  I've made it once before, but it was somewhat eh.  Not bad, just nothing to get worked up about.  As I learned in this recipe from Fias Co Farm, ricotta is traditionally made with leftover whey, not milk, as I'd done in the past.  Hence, it's name:  ricotta.  Twice cooked.  I had about half a gallon of whey, which only made about a third of a cup of ricotta.  So, fair warning.  It is, in my humble opinion, about quality here though, not quantity.  The cheese was gorgeously creamy, and held its own perfectly spread on bread, with a bit of sel gris sprinkled over it.

My initial instinct was to pair the ricotta with a beautiful caramelized onion jam that M brought me, and top it with baby arugula.  It was delicious, and pretty, but the jam rather overpowered the ricotta, so I went with just a bit of ricotta and salt after that.

Ricotta - adapted from Fias Co Farm

*Note*  You don't need exact amounts here, just use whatever you've got, but know that my half gallon only made about 1/3 cup.

Whey, leftover from making mozzarella (using rennet, rather than an acid)

Two large pots, appropriately sized for the amount of whey you're using
 - one for cooking the whey in
 - one to set the sieve over, to drain the ricotta
a large, fine-mesh sieve
a thermometer that reads at least up to 200 deg F (I just used my meat thermometer)
very fine cheesecloth, called butter muslin, or a light tea towel (I used the towel) to line the sieve

Set up one of the pots in the sink, with the sieve over it, and cloth lining the sieve, for draining.

Over medium low heat, bring your way slowly up to 200 deg F, checking the temperature fairly regularly, stirring from time to time.  If you're whey begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, don't scrape it up, just leave it, and gently stir the liquid.  It took about half an hour (give or take) for me to get to 200 deg, but your time will depend on how much whey you're using.  At about 180 deg, I noticed the whey thickening very slightly, and by the time it reached 200 deg, there were lovely, cloud-like clumps floating at the top.  (The ricotta)  At this point, carefully pour the hot liquid into the cloth-lined sieve, and let the majority of it drain through.  Then, tie up the four corners of the cloth, and leave it to drain thoroughly for a couple of hours.  Scrape the ricotta into a dish, and salt to taste.  You are now the possessor of one gorgeous bit of cheese, which will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

5/17/12:  Correction:  I originally posted here that I read that whey will keep, refrigerated for six months...not true!  I just pulled out some whey to make another round of ricotta, which was only a week and a half old, and it was absolutely rank.  Not sure what the story is there, but I guess my best advice is to use that mozzarella whey up within a couple of days, to make your ricotta.  Or fertilize the garden with it!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Thousand Words

So, I had a sort of epiphany this morning.  I've been debating two recipes that I'm rather excited about, and have been having a bit of trouble deciding which to share.  One is ready.  One, I have to admit, needs some more work.  And the photos I have of this recipe are utter rubbish.  Those utterly crap photos led me down a little meandering path of thought.  It turns out, this is a good thing, because I was able to see a few things about myself, and this blog, a little more clearly.  You see, I've been privately berating myself about my measly posting of late.  A mere one post a week.  For a while now.  I have all sorts of excuses for my slackness, of course.  Busy...lackluster photos...uninspired writing...blah, blah, blah.  And I realized, with a figurative slap to the forehead, that those less than perfect photos are really holding me back from saying what I want to say.  Here's the thing:  I am not a photographer.  (I know, you're shocked.)  Sure, I enjoy looking at other blogs with beautiful pictures of food.  You know the photos I'm talking about:  an ordinary hunk of cheese, a simple wedge of cabbage, a humble slice of bread that is so picture-perfect that you're drooling jealously over not only the food itself, but the talent that went into taking that lovely shot.  And thinking about all this, I was able to see something kind of important.  The reason I began this blog was not to show off my (imagined) photography skills, but to write about the things I love.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for me, it's the words themselves that light me up.  The words, and the food, of course.

So, my friends, having done my bit of confession this morning, I'm hopeful that I will no longer let my sad high school photography class-level shots stop me from writing.  (I took that class because there was a cute boy in there, and many of my photos were ridiculous shots of my feet in different locations...oh dear, it is confession time, isn't it?)  I'm hopeful that my rather middling talent in this arena will no longer stand in the way of the words.  Because I do love words.  And food.

Saying that, I actually am fairly happy with the shots I took of this recipe...

See?  That's not entirely terrible.
Moroccan Spiced Turkey Patties.  I found the recipe via Splendid Table's weekly newsletter, and it originally hails from James Villas' From the Ground Up.  And it is something special, I must say.

I altered the recipe somewhat, substituting golden raisins (sultanas) for the black ones, because I'm funny about raisins in my food.  I don't know what it is exactly, they just don't do it for me.  It's mainly a texture thing, I believe, and so this led me to also chop up the sultanas, so that there was a small burst of sweetness, rather than the offending chewy pop you sometimes get with cooked dried fruit.  I also made the patties falafel-style, into little balls, and grilled them, rather than the pan-fried patties suggested in the recipe.  You see, I had a Mister wanting to try out the new barbecue/smoker, so it worked for us.  That's the thing about recipes, isn't it?  You find something that interests you, and adapt it to suit your fancy.

And these definitely suited my fancy.  Super easy, super quick, a dish that would be a fantastic crowd-pleaser, especially if you want a little something unusual to replace the standard burger-as-barbecue-fare.

Go to it, people.

Moroccan Spiced Turkey Patties with Herbed Yogurt Sauce - adapted from From the Ground Up


1 1/2 lbs ground turkey, preferably dark meat, or a mix of light and dark
1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Herbed Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne
small bunch of chopped herbs:  mint, cilantro, green onions (green parts only)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Patties:
Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently with your hands to combine.  Don't overmix, or the meat will become tough.  Form the meat mixture into roughly two inch balls, and grill (or fry) until the inner temperature reaches 165 deg F.  This took us about 10 to 12 minutes over charcoal, but may differ for you, depending on your cooking method.

For the Herbed Yogurt Sauce:
Combine all ingredients, and check for seasoning.  You can easily vary the sauce by adding fewer herbs, more cayenne...it's up to you.

Serve the patties on warmed flatbreads, or pita, with some shredded lettuce, and a few vegetables.  I sliced some yellow pepper, cucumber, and pickled beetroot.  Spoon over the sauce, and enjoy.

I may not take the photos that are worth a thousand words, dear people, but I can certainly yammer on that long.

Have a lovely day!