Lamb Gyros

gyro

My entire family loves gyros. Made with a spiced lamb, gyros are warm and delicious food.

I’ve been making my own gyros for years. While they are traditionally served on pita with tzatziki sauce, I’m allergic to milk and can’t have gluten. Plus, lately we’ve been eating a paleo diet.  I make a garlic lemon mayonnaise and serve them on a bed of arugula with a quick pickled red onion, chopped cucumber, and heirloom tomato salad. You can also serve the meat as a lettuce wrap with the quick pickles and mayo.

Gyros

  • 1 medium onion, chopped in food processor
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place onion in food processor and run processor for about 10 seconds to finely chop it.
  3. Place chopped onion on a tea towel, scraping the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula to ensure you get all the moisture.
  4. Wrap towel tightly around the onion and squeeze out as much moisture as possible over the sink.
  5. Return onion to food processor with garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  6. Pulse food processor for 10 one second pulses to chop and mix herbs.
  7. Add lamb to herbs in food processor. Process until the lamb and herbs are very well combined, forming a paste-like mixture.
  8. Press lamb mixture into a loaf pan.
  9. Place pan in a 9×13 baking dish and place in oven. Carefully pour boiling water into 9×13 inch pan until it comes about halfway up on the loaf pan (make a water bath).
  10. Cook until lamb reaches 165 degrees.
  11. Remove from oven and set loaf pan on a baking rack to rest, about 15 minutes.
  12. Unmold gyro meat and slice.

Quick pickled red onion recipe can be found here. Combine quick pickled onions with chopped cucumber and heirloom tomatoes and serve atop gyro. Serve on toasted pita if desired, or for low-carb paleo, atop a bed of baby arugula. Top with 1 cup of mayonnaise mixed with 2 cloves of garlic through a press and the juice of one lemon.

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Rice with Black Beans, Linguica, and Sweet Peppers (with Paleo adaptation)

black beans and riceThis is a quick meal to pull together if you’ve got cooked rice and canned black beans. In about 20 minutes, you’ll have a smoky, delicious dish with Portuguese influences. I love the Portuguese sausage, linguica, in this recipe, although you can substitute other types of sausage, as well.

  • 1 lb thin sliced uncured bacon
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers (red, yellow or orange), seeded and chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes (I use heirloom), chopped
  • 3 chipoltle chiles in adobo, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 pound cooked linguica, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon until fat renders. Remove bacon from fat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add onions and peppers to fat in pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about five minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until it releases its fragrance, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add chipoltle chiles and tomatoes. Stir to scrape any browned bits off bottom of pan.
  5. Add beans, linguica, paprika, cumin, thyme, and black pepper.
  6. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  7. Stir in rice and reserved bacon and cook to heat through.
  8. Season to taste.

For a paleo version, eliminate the black beans and rice. Replace the rice with riced cauliflower or spiralized zucchini.

Shrub Syrup

shrub syrupsThis week, I’ve been experimenting with a Colonial method of fruit preservation called shrub. Used as a way of preserving soft fruits for winter. Also known as drinking vinegar, shrub is acidic but very fresh and fruity tasting. It’s a terrific way to use those fruits that are less than attractive, to give you fresh fruit flavors all year long. Once the shrub syrup has rested in the fridge for a week, you can combine it with water or sparkling water for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage or add about an ounce to brighten up a cocktail.

If you first taste shrub as soon as you mix the vinegar and fruit syrup, you’ll immediately notice it is bright and vinegary. Over about a week of resting in the fridge, however, the sugar, fruit, and vinegar continue to ferment until it reaches a stable condition where the acids have mellowed and the fruit flavors shine with bright freshness.

I’m making three different flavors of shrub – blueberry balsamic, peach ginger, and raspberry champagne. The flavor varieties are really endless, however, once you get the basics down. You can use any type of a soft fruit – plums, nectarines, peaches, berries, as well as aromatic herbs and spices. I saw a recipe for blueberry cinnamon that uses a cooked syrup, for example, and I saw another recipe for a cucumber basil shrub.

Many recipes call for cooking a simple syrup, and then steeping it with the fruit before adding vinegar. I am using a non-cooked process, however, in which you macerate the fruit with sugar for a few days, and then strain the solids off and combine the resulting juice and residual sugar with the vinegar.

Peach Ginger Shrub Syrup

  • 6 organic peaches, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup super fine sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar or champagne vinegar
  1. Roughly cut peaches and mash them in a non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add sugar and ginger. Stir well to combine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Use a wire mesh strainer to strain solids into a large glass measuring cup. Press lightly on solids to extract all of the juice.
  5. Scrape any residual sugar from the bottom of the bowl into glass measuring cup.
  6. Pour vinegar into a sterilized one-quart mason jar (I sterilize in the dishwasher.)
  7. Pour juice and sugar from the cup into the jar.
  8. Seal tightly and shake to combine.
  9. Store in the refrigerator for one week, shaking vigorously once or twice a day to combine any sugar that settles to the bottom.

Blueberry Balsamic Shrub

  • 2 cups organic blueberries
  • 3/4 cup super fine sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  1. Mash blueberries in a bowl and mix with sugar.
  2. Macerate, covered in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  3. Strain juice from solids and scrape any remaining sugar from bowl into a glass measuring cup.
  4. Pour vinegar into a sterilized one quart mason jar.
  5. Add strained fruit juice and sugar to jar.
  6. Seal tightly and shake well to combine.
  7. Refrigerate for one week, shaking a few times daily to dissolve any sugar.

Raspberry Champagne Shrub Syrup

  • 2 cups organic raspberries
  • 3/4 cup super fine sugar
  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  1. Mash raspberries in a non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add sugar and stir well. Cover and allow to macerate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  3. Use a wire mesh strainer to strain off solids into a glass measuring cup. Scrape any remaining sugar from bottom of bowl into cup.
  4. Pour champagne vinegar into sterilized mason jar.
  5. Pour juice and sugar into jar.
  6. Seal jar and shake well to combine.
  7. Refrigerate for one week, shaking the jar once or twice a day.

Shrubs will keep in your refrigerator for one year.

To use your shrub:

  • Add one ounce of shrub syrup to 8 ounces of water or sparkling water.
  • Use a jigger in cocktails. Avoid cocktails with citrus fruits because the shrub will be acidic and if you combine it with citrus you’ll have two times the acidity.

Produce that makes good shrub:

  • Blueberry
  • Dark cherry
  • Cucumber
  • Plum
  • Nectarine
  • Strawberry
  • Tomato
  • Blackberry

Herbs/Spices to add:

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Star anise
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice
  • Vanilla bean
  • Mint

Vinegars

  • White vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • White wine vinegar

Sweet Potato Zucchini Hash with Fried Eggs

tomatoesThis is my favorite time at the farmers’ market, because there are so many great organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs to choose from. I’m a huge fan of buying local produce at farm stands and farmers’ markets, because local food picked and sold at the peak of freshness has incredible flavors. Buying local also supports local farmers. This week at the market I purchased:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Zucchini (actually, a friend gave me some)
  • Fresh eggs
  • Chives
  • Onions
  • Thyme

These ingredients all came together this morning in a spectacularly fresh farmers’ market breakfast.

Sweet Potato Zucchini Hash with Fried Eggs

  • 2 tablespoons rendered duck fat
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, unpeeled, cut into a 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 zucchini, unpeeled, cut into a 1/4 inch dice
  • Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 eggs, fried over easy
  • 1 heirloom tomato, diced
  • Chopped chives
  1. Heat oil in a 12″ non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until transparent, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add sweet potatoes and zucchini. Spread in a single layer along the bottom of the pan.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables caramelize, about 30 minutes.
  6. Move hash to one side of the pan to keep warm. Increase heat to medium.
  7. Crack eggs into other side of the pan and cook to over easy.
  8. Mix together tomatoes and chives.
  9. Place hash on two plates. Top each portion with an egg, and then with tomato chive mixture.

Lettuce Wraps

lettuce wrap

The other day at the grocery store, I came across chicken thighs for $1.29 per pound. The catch was that you had to purchase a huge tray of them – more than enough to feed my family twice over. Still, it made sense to buy them since a smaller tray not on special cost exactly the same as the large tray.

Today, Jim smoked the thighs on the smoker for two hours at 275 degrees. In the last 30 minutes, he glazed them with a reduction of a cup of pure maple syrup, the zest and juice of an orange, a couple of tablespoons of gluten-free soy sauce, and a teaspoon of sriracha. As I knew it would, we had about half of the thighs left when we were done with dinner.

No worries – I have a plan. Tomorrow I will shred the thighs, toss them in the remaining sauce, and make lettuce wraps. Here’s my recipe.

Lettuce Wraps

  • Large leaves from one head of lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped chopped
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Meat and skin from six smoked chicken thighs, cut into chunks.
  • Sauce made from a reduction of 1 cup of maple syrup, zest and juice of one orange, 2 T gluten-free soy sauce (or coconut amines), and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sriracha (or red pepper flakes) (simmer until syrupy)
  • Shirataki angel hair noodles, rinsed and warmed in hot water, then drained (or some other gluten free noodle) (optional)
  • 2 scallions, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • Peanut sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan until shimmering.
  2. Add mushrooms and cook to brown, about six minutes.
  3. Add onions and continue to cook until transparent.
  4. Add garlic and cook until it releases its scent, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add chicken and half of the maple syrup sauce and simmer until chicken is heated through.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Rinse shirataki noodles (or cook some other gluten free noodle) under water in a wire colander.
  8. Place colander with noodles in a bowl of hot water and let sit to warm noodles until you are ready to serve. Drain well before serving.
  9. To serve, put chicken and mushrooms on a plate, along with portions of noodles, scallions, carrots, and bean sprouts. Put 2-3 lettuce leaves on each plate. Serve remaining maple syrup reduction and peanut sauce on the side.
  10. To assemble, put portions of chicken, noodles, vegetables, and sauce in the center of lettuce leaves and roll to eat.

Quick Peanut Sauce

In a blender or food processor mix until well combined:

  • 1-1/2 cups of peanut butter (or almond butter for paleo)
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (or coconut amines for paleo)
  • Juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp to 1 tablespoon sriracha (to taste or omit all together)
  • 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey