Greek Souvlaki: In other words, meat on a stick, or kebabs.

Greek Souvlaki:   In other words, meat on a stick, or kebabs. 

Use bamboo skewers – and get them as long as possible.  You will need maximum length to maximise on ‘impact’.   Allow between one and two skewers per person.  If you are having a starter, main course and a pud, you might get away with one each… perhaps.  It’s all according to how delicious they are.

You must soak the skewers in water for a good couple of hours if you intend to cook these on a barbecue or on a gas grill.  If there is a flame likely to come in contact with the wood, they’ll burn.  At least if they have been soaked the burn will be reduced.  Some people soak them in wine.  I prefer to soak them in water and DRINK the wine….

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Snack, starter or main

Serves:         2

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find for two people:

  • 2 cheap (value) pork chops
  • Red, orange & yellow peppers (see method)
  • Red onion
  • Other things I haven’t thought of yet
  • Wooden kebab skewers
  • Oven (roasting) tin

Method:

  • You can use the supermarket ‘Value’ pork chops as they are probably the cheapest source of quick-cooking pork you’ll get. However, if you have a friendly (tame) butcher who can give you good quality pork at reduced rates, go for whatever is advised – they know more than you and I combined.  However, it shouldn’t really be all completely lean pork as a fat content is needed to allow it to remain succulent.  Remember that it is being cooked quickly and so doesn’t have sufficient time to become tender in the cooking process.
  • Remove the bone from the pork chops and then cut the meat into 2cm cubes. You can cheat by cutting it 2 by 1cm and then folding it in two.  This just makes the meat content look a bit more than it really is.    Perhaps this is a bit of a cheat, but hell, when money is a problem, what’s a bit of fair cheating between friends?
  • You’ll need about a red, an orange and a yellow pepper for 5 or 6 people sitting down to dinner – so about a half a pepper + per person – and a couple of large, round, hard red onions.
  • Peel the red onion by topping and tailing (removing the top and the bottom), cutting in half vertically and then just removing the dried outer layer of the onion.
  • Now take off each layer, one by one, keeping it ‘onion shaped’, in a dome sort of thing.
  • Put these onto a plate or into a bowl or dish to work from. The peppers should be cut in half vertically, the stalk and seeds removed and then each half cut again horizontally, then each quarter cut into two or three bits.  Try to retain the curved nature of each piece.
  • As the meal is ‘on sticks’ it is important to get the presentation right, so start with the pepper.
  • Stick the bamboo skewer through the pepper, skin side first, this will allow the curved nature of the pepper to encompass the pork (the next component) and provide a little moisture for it. Steam cooks meat nicely, especially when it’s flavoured steam, as the pepper will provide.  Pepper, pork, onion, pork, pepper, pork, onion, pork, pepper, pork… you can see the methodology behind it all.
  • Of course, if you want to, you can use mushrooms as well, peeled chestnuts (yummy – but a bugger to put onto skewers without breaking up) and all sorts of other things. As well as, instead of… well, you ring the changes as it’s your meal.  Don’t be slavish and just follow a recipe, use the method and then do as you please – and then, when people ask for the recipe you can say “Well, I didn’t really follow a recipe as such; it was something I just cooked up”  That’ll certainly get you points with the partner.
  • So what do you do with these skewers of stuff that you have in a great mountain on a plate? Well, if you can lay them on a large plate or a wide, shallow oven tin, that’s great.  If you do not have such a thing, use oven foil with the edges just turned up a bit.  Put some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar into a mug to make it about a quarter full, mix it up thoroughly and brush it liberally all over the kebabs.  More rather than less, and make sure that it does not separate before being brushed on.
  • Leave them there for as long as possible.
  • You then have a choice. If you have only enough for two people, do them in your big frying pan.  Perhaps you’ll use the grill, or even a slow barbecue (when the coals are not too hot and likely to start flaming).  You might have a griddle on your cooker, so use that.  If not, bung them into a HOT oven in the oven tin you used for the marinating.  No oven tin?  Use the foil on something ovenproof… just a baking try is fine if the foil is being used.
  • So how long do I need to cook them for? Ah, now, that’s a good question.  With direct heat (frying pan, grill, griddle) you’ll need to look at the meat as it’s cooking and see that it’s not red at all, perhaps 10 – 15 minutes, but with chicken you’ll really need to ENSURE that the meat is cooked.  With the oven you’ll manage to cook well in about 25 minutes if the kebabs went into a pre-heated oven.  If you turned on an oven as you put them in, allow at least another 5 minutes.  If it’s crisping at the corners, it should be fine.  What you don’t want to do is serve cubes of ‘biblical burnt offering’, as they say.  With oven-cooked kebabs it might just be nice to pop them into a frying pan/onto a griddle for a couple of minutes just to crisp the outsides, for good looks.
  • You have a choice of sauces to serve with them, but the Greeks don’t seem to serve them with a sauce at all in my experience.

Bean’n’bacon bung-in:

Bean’n’bacon bung-in:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         2: Easy

Find:

  • 2 cans of different beans
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Pack of cheap bacon bits from the supermarket or town market
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Seasonings
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Cut up the bacon bits, discarding the fatty bits and rind. Throw into a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Slice the onions rustically (great big bits) and throw that in as well.
  • Fry for about 10 minutes, to get the bacon crispy.
  • Rinse both cans of beans under the cold tap (especially if one of the bean types is red kidney…. rinse really well).
  • Pour off the fat into a cup (see Tricks’n’Tips for what to do with it afterwards) and put the beans in the frying pan. Add the can of chopped tomatoes.  Get to be all bubbling and nice.
  • Season to taste – you might want to put some sweet chilli sauce in it…… serve and eat.
  • Lovely with a few good pints and a few good mates.

Bacon-wrapped Steak Pattie Rounds:

Bacon-wrapped Steak Pattie Rounds:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This is a good way to use up left-over meats.

Find:

  • 500g some sort of steak, raw or cooked (or sausages, or something left over…)
  • 200g streaky bacon in four pieces – they need to be as long as you can possibly get; to be wrapped around the four formed patties. Keep this in mind when sourcing the streaky bacon.
  • 2 slices bread for fresh breadcrumbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Mick’s Terbs (See Tricks’n’Tips)
  • 1 egg
  • Dollop whole grain mustard or horseradish sauce
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan or grill

Method:

  • Make the breadcrumbs (See Tricks’n’Tips). Cut the steak up to allow it to process easier, trimming off any fat or other unwanted bits at the same time.
  • Roughly slice the onion.
  • Put both into the processor and blitz for a time. Add the breadcrumbs, herbs, mustard, egg and seasoning, then blitz again for a while.  You are trying to aim for a mixture that will form fairly stable balls of meat mixture.  If it’s too loose, add breadcrumbs.  If too dry, add a little oil.
  • Form into four round patties of equal diameter and thickness. Wrap the streaky bacon around the circumference of each of the patties, pinning into place with a cocktail stick.
  • They can be fried in a little oil for about 15 minutes, turning several times to avoid burning, or grilled/griddled for the same time, occasionally being turned over and drizzled with a little vegetable oil to keep them moist.
  • Serve with new spuds & veg or a simple salad, rice or whatever you wish.

Gammon & Pineapple:

Gammon & Pineapple:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:      As many as….

Rating:         1:  Very easy

An easy standby.

Find:

  • 1 gammon steak per person
  • Can of sliced pineapple (usually contains about 5 slices – you only need 1 slice per person, unless you’re crazy about pineapple)
  • Grill

Method 1:

  • Heat up the grill and cook the gammon for about 5 minutes each side, plop it onto a plate and put a slice of pineapple on top. There can’t be many things easier.

Method 2:

  • As above, but grill the pineapple at the same time. A very light sprinkling of sugar on the pineapple will help, and will also make it look nice.

Pitta Pockets:

Pitta Pockets:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:        See text

Rating:         2:  Easy

Don’t forget the humble pitta bread.   They pull apart down the centre and can be filled with all manner of goodies.

Find:

  • ‘Value’ supermarket pitta bread
  • Leftover sausages or other meat
  • Leftover beans – red kidney, baked, Bernoulli, …..
  • Anything else that might suit a pitta bread – not soup . . . .

Method:

This method is a little bit vague due to the number of possible variation for fillings. 

  • Chuck your leftovers in a pan, whatever they are – probably with half a roughly chopped onion – heat ‘em up and pop them into split pitta breads that have been lightly toasted.
  • Grab hold and eat.

Told you it would be a little bit vague, but you get my meaning.       Pitta bread is very versatile so use your imagination.  Bacon, ham, cheese, beans, tomatoes….. it’ll all go in.

Shepherd’s Skins:

Shepherd’s Skins:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Serves:        AMAR

Rating:         2:  Easy

  • Mince mixture as above for Lamb Mince’n’Onion Thingymebob
  • Potatoes for baking
  • Grated cheese for the topping
  • A splash of milk
  • Seasoning
  • Any extra veg as desirable

Method:

  • As Cottage Skins.

Cottage Skins:

Cottage Skins:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Serves:       As many as…..

Course:        Snack/Lunch

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find:

  • Mince mixture as above for Beef Mince’n’Onion Thingymebob
  • Potatoes for baking
  • Grated cheese for the topping
  • A splash of milk
  • Seasoning
  • Any extra veg as desirable

Method:

  • As baked Spud Skins, but with the mince mixture mixed with the scooped-out spud.

Baa-Baa Burgers:

Baa-Baa Burgers:

PICTURE 24

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

For 4 people, Find:

  • Lamb mince, a supermarket pack of 400 to 500g.
  • 1 Onion (I like red, you can choose your own colour – perhaps blue?).
  • Extras, like herbs, pine-nuts, sun dried tomatoes….?
  • Oil (Avoid Teak, 3-in1, Engine, Baby…..)
  • Seasoning
  • Large-ish mixing bowl (mine’s plastic)
  • Frying pan
  • Your hands; washed

Method:

  • Finely chop the red onion.
  • With a fork, break up the lamb mince as much as possible into a bowl with the onion.
  • Mix it all together, firstly with a fork. Then use yer clean mitts (your well-cleaned hands, to the uninitiated) to really scrunch up the mince & onion together.  Season it well – add plenty of ground black pepper (beware of using white pepper), a good amount of sea salt and a pinch (or two… or three… or however many you wish) of dried Mick’s Terbs…… oh yes, sorry, mixed herbs (see Tricks’n’Tips).  Mix/scrunch in really well.
  • You can put in other things as well, like roasted/toasted pine-nuts or finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, etc, should you wish.
  • Go on – use your initiative – but just don’t put everything in all at once, like I did when I was learning to cook. It was ‘orrible when I did that.
  • Now, this is a great opportunity to really let out the inhibitions. Really scrunch it up to your heart’s content – it is important to mix it all in well.
  • Form the mixture/scrunchture (is that a word?… I don’t think so – but it ought to be) into balls, making multiples of four if you have four people (multiples of three if you have three people, etc) out of the amount you have there in the bowl. Really press the mixture into those balls.  Use lots of pressure.……. go on, squeeeeeeeeeeeeze!
  • Ok, so now you need to flatten the balls into a sort of thick burger shape (yes, thick – duh). Really try to make the burgers stay stuck together.  It has to be thick.
  • Make ’em into the shape of sheep….. Everything will then be SHEEPSHAPE! (Aw….forget it!)

If it all goes ‘tits up’ (an oft-used technical term within the high-class catering industry to denote a plan that has not quite worked out correctly), put the whole lot back into the bowl, sqidge it all up again (an oft-used technical term within the high-class catering industry to describe…….) and add an egg that you have broken into a cup and mixed up with a fork, so that it’s all…. er….. mixed; then go back into super-scrunch/sqidgey-hand mode.  The egg will make it a little more fluid – a softer mixture.  Try making the balls again, then the burger shapes.  This time it’ll all be great.  Trust me.  They do benefit from having about 30 mins+ in the fridge after shaping, if you can do it – especially if they’re for the barbecue….

  • When you have the number of burger shapes you want, put a frying pan on the heat and put a little oil in it.
  • Put the burgers into the frying pan and as soon as the sizzling starts, turn it down to almost minimum.
  • Keep the burgers just sizzling a bit for about five minutes or so, or longer if necessary. What you are doing is forming a crust on the bottom (that is THE bottom, not YOUR bottom), so that they will stay in the burger shape when you gently turn them over using two utensils – two forks, a fish slice and a fork, a big spoon and a fork…… whatever.

GENTLY I said.

If they break up, you’ve been too brutal – then you’ll just have to serve up Crispy Fried Lamb Mince Pieces (see the section called ‘Oh Bugger…. PANIC! ’ in Tricks’n’Tips). 

  • Fry for another five minutes on the other side until they are thoroughly cooked.

(I said COOKED not F……; you want a crust, not a cinder!).  Serve with…. er…. anything

  • The excess will freeze well, so you can make ‘em, cook ‘em and freeze ‘em to eat at a time later on. Good economy.  More money for the pub.

Pasta Bolognese:asta

Pasta Bolognese:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      40 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This basic mixture is a very good one for many mince-based meals.

Find:

  • A batch of cooked pasta
  • Small pack beef mince (400g)
  • Onion
  • 1 carrot (size as you wish – you’ll find that large ones are bigger than small ones….)
  • ½ a green pepper (or could be a different colour)
  • 100g chopped bacon bits (streaky is nice)
  • 1 or 2 cloves crushed/chopped garlic
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Dollop of tomato puree
  • Red wine if you have it
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan

Method:

  • Break up the mince with a fork as it is dropped into the pan and fry over a high heat to colour the meat. It will produce an amount of fat which should be poured off and dealt with as in Tricks’n’Tips.
  • Turn the pan down to a medium heat.
  • Chop the onion, carrot, bacon, pepper and garlic finely and soften on a low heat with the mince for 5 mins.
  • Add a can of chopped tomatoes, pour in a glass or so of red wine and add good squeeze or dollop of tomato puree.
  • Season well with black pepper as the tomatoes will certainly benefit from it. Leave the salt until you taste it later – the bacon will add a certain amount, and you can’t take out salt once it’s in.
  • Put the pan onto the lowest heat possible; lodge a lid half-way on and just simmer for about 30 mins, stirring as necessary to avoid it sticking to the pan.
  • Season to taste and use it to make whatever dish you are doing. It is ready for both Lasagne and Bolognese as it is now.
  • Spaghetti is the traditional one but I personally find it too messy.
  • Use whatever pasta you like – dammit, you’re eating it.
  • Serve it up, eat it, enjoy it.

Cheesy Turkey Burgers:

Cheesy Turkey Burgers: 

(This recipe may be made with any meat, but we’ll use turkey for now).

This recipe is flexible.  If you only have a little turkey left over it will feed less people than if a lot of meat is available.  Thus, you will need to vary the quantities as necessary. 

Use your brain – it will work, honest.  The recipe, that is; I don’t know about your brain!

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Main

Serves:        See text

Rating:         2:  Easy

 

Find:

  • Left-over cooked turkey (or whatever meat you have)
  • Onion
  • Hard cheese (no, ol’ feller, that’s not a comment, it’s an ingredient),  grated
  • Worcester sauce, as you have cheese….
  • Garlic
  • An egg
  • A little flour (Flour, that is; not flowers!)
  • Seasoning
  • Optional – Whole grain mustard
  • Oil (Avoid Teak, Castor, Engine, Body, Baby……)
  • Burger Baps (bread rolls)
  • Tomatoes & Salad as required
  • A Wally (that’s a gherkin for those uninitiated in the fascinating world of the Wally)
  • Sauces; ketchup, mayo, brown sauce, mustard……..
  • Food processor
  • Frying pan

METHOD:

  • Put the onion (coarsely hacked just to give it a start) and the turkey into the food processor with the Worcester sauce, seasoning, egg, whole grain mustard and half of the cheese.
  • Process (blitz) the contents to a thick consistency.
  • Sprinkle a little flour onto a cleaned surface; take a handful of the paste, firstly making a ball and then pressing it into a burger shape (not too thick) on the floured surface.
  • Your aim is to make burger shapes (they can be square ones if you are using sandwich bread instead of rolls) of the paste, lightly dusted with flour. (Make ‘em elephant shape if you wish….. or if you have what we know as ‘bridge rolls’ around here, shape them in a penile fashion…..! )
  • Fry these in oil for 3 to 4 minutes each side then take them out, load them with the cheese (and more Worcester sauce), transferring them to the grill to have the cheese gooified (or just carefully return them to the pan, turned down to the lowest heat, if you haven’t a grill – or are just too lazy to put it on….).
  • Serve them in baps or bread with whatever salad, sauces, etc you would like.
  • Take that, Makkidoos! (coarse reference to a certain fast food chain….or even ALL fast…….)