One of the most exciting purchases I made lately was a new cookbook, Jerusalem. I'd been eyeing it for a while, but never really got around to actually hitting the "buy now" button on Amazon. I finally did, and subsequently spent the next two days leafing through all of the gorgeous, mouth-watering pages, tagging each recipe with a "I MUST make this" note.
There is an amazing spice and imported goods shop in Hell's Kitchen that has every spice and grain imaginable, an assortment of olives, imported feta, and greek dips. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Michael and I ventured out there to build a Mezze plate of eats to go along with the lamb koftas and shepherd's salad I made that day.
Lamb Koftas (From Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem):
- 400g minced lamb
- 400g minced veal or beef
- 150g onion, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 50g toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped, plus extra whole ones to garnish
- 30g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- 1 large medium-hot red chilli, deseeded
- and finely chopped
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp ground allspice
- ¾ tsp grated nutmeg
- 1½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1½ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put all the kofta ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well. Now shape into long, torpedo-like fingers, roughly 8cm long (about 60g each). Press the mix to compress it and ensure the kofta is tight and keeps its shape. Arrange on a plate and chill until you are ready to cook them, for up to one day.
Heat some sunflower oil (I used Canola) in a large frying-pan and sear the kofta over a high heat; do this in batches so they are not cramped together. Sear them on all sides until golden brown, about six minutes for each batch. At this point they should be medium-rare. Lift out of the pan and arrange on an oven tray. Place the tray in the oven for about 5 minutes to cook the koftas all the way through.
Serve with warm pitas, shepherd's salad (below), baba ganoush, and tzatziki sauce.
Easy shepherd's salad*:
- 1 lb tomatoes, diced. (I used quartered cherry tomatoes, since those were the freshest. Get the best tomatoes you can find at the store)
- 3/4 lb cucumbers, diced. I used mini ones, since those are firmer and pack more flavor.
- 1 small red onion
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- generous drizzle of olive oil
- generous splash of red wine vinegar
- salt, to taste
First, dice your red onion. Place it into the bottom of the bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over it. This lightly pickles the red onion, taking away some of the sharpness. Add your other vegetables as you go, taking care to remove any watery parts of the tomato. When all the vegetables and herbs are added, mix it up and taste. Add the red wine vinegar, taste. When it's reached your desired acidity, add a bit of salt. For best results, let it sit, covered, in the fridge for a couple of hours until serving.
*The best part of this recipe is that it's not a recipe. Add olives, crumbled feta, chopped lettuce, even stale pieces of bread if you so desire. Mix up the herbs too, adding dill or mint. Whatever you do, get the freshest possible ingredients and it is guaranteed to be good.