Allison's parents went to Turkey a few weeks ago and brought back some spices for us. Translation: Mediterranean Night at the Redmons! Woohoo!
This meal was great and I'm the most proud of the fact that there wasn't a recipe in sight! It all came out of my brilliant noggin.
First up? Stuffed Grape Leaves. They're a lot easier to find nowadays...if your local big grocery store doesn't have them, you could find them at a Middle Eastern store. I'm seriously spoiled in Houston...there are 3 Middle Eastern/Indian stores within 5 minutes of my house!! Anyway, I just pulled them out of the jar, rinsed them, and then made my only BIG mistake...I forgot to boil them first. They're still fine if you eat them like this, but they're tough.
For the filling I made about a cup of Basmati rice, cooled it off a little and added chopped mint (the more, the better!), parsley, salt, pepper, and oregano. I also sauteed some ground beef with onions, garlic, and a pinch of the meat spice the Livingstons brought us and combined that with the rice. Not completely conventional for grape leaves but it's really good.
After that I wrapped the filling in two leaves and rubbed them with some olive oil. They make great appetizers...but seriously, don't forget to blanch the leaves :-)
Ok, main course - Beef Kabobs and Grilled Tomatoes!
I bought some great skewers at the Middle Eastern store - rounded ones aren't so good since whatever's on it tends to spin around when you move it on the grill. The ones I bought are HUGE - flat, probably 3 feet long and an inch wide. Unfortunately I only bought 3 so I had to use a gimpy rounded one :-)
I've taken to not grilling all my ingredients on one skewer (beef slice, piece of onion, piece of pepper, beef slice, etc.) I do an entire skewer of peppers, and entire skewer of onions and one of beef. That works better for me since those ingredients don't all necessarily have the same cooking time or need the same heat.
Next is one of the best things EVER - Grilled Tomatoes. I finally have a handle on how to do these right (like the Persian Restaurant down the street :-) Its very easy - I just slice them in half and top them with some olive oil. I would usually put salt and pepper on the tops but this time we used the tomato seasoning that the Livingstons gave us. I don't know what's in it, but it's UH MAY ZING. It helps to have a really hot side and a kind of hot side to the grill. I put the tomatoes face down on the really hot side. Absorb the amazingness below:
After they have some nice grill marks, I put them on the kind of hot side and that's where they stay for the rest of the time, turning over once. They're juicy and spicy and unimaginable.
Onward with the beef and veggies...just some salt and olive oil on the peppers and onions and the beef spice from Turkey on the meat. Then throw them on the grill!
Throw on some parsley and it's possibly one of the best dinners we've had in a long time. I seriously can't wait for leftovers.
Hopefully this hasn't bored you to tears. I feel like I'm force feeding all of you boringness. I guess that's what a blog is for :-)
P.S. - Yes, I cater and No, you can't afford me ;-)