What do you do to prepare for a baby? We’ve talked about it endlessly this summer, and I have no doubt you’re out there thinking, “my goodness, has she still not had that baby yet?” Tell me about it. But really, how do you get ready? Do you try to figure out learn how to cook respectable meals in a minimum of time? Do you cook and freeze weeks worth of lasagna and enchiladas to ensure you don’t go hungry when the baby demands all of your attention? Do you use your remaining unscheduled time in the kitchen to bribe labor and delivery nurses?
Among the many slightly absurd ways we’ve been getting ourselves ready, we decided that we needed to clear out our DVR queue last week, to make room for all of the shows we’ll likely be missing the first runs of. And what needed clearing out? Episodes and episodes of Barefoot Contessa, it turned out, and it was some dangerous stuff. All of a sudden I was bookmarking recipes in threes, despite knowing that it might take me months or longer to get to them. And I was totally willing to wait until I hit the episode where she goes Greek.
I’ve had the fiercest Greek food cravings since I’ve been pregnant. I started drooling about six months ago somewhere between the grilled haloumi and broiled saganaki and lemon-rosemary grilled lamb chops and the yogurt, my word, the yogurt, and have not been able to stop, thus not four hours after we’d watched the Greek episode, Alex and I were at the market, getting what we needed to recreate these recipes that night. Alas, the photo mojo was not with us that evening, so you’ll have to forgive the less-than-appetizing representations but trust me, these two recipes should be made — at once! hurry! — before you are forced to put your grill away for the season.
P.S. The sunset that night was far prettier than the food so feel free to feast your eyes on this instead, and imagine how lovely it was to watch that while washing down the food with beer, wine and (siiigh) club soda.
Yogurt-Marinated Lamb Kebabs
Adapted, barely, from Ina Garten
The yogurt-marinated lamb kebabs were ridiculously juicy and tangy and the tzatziki was, hands down, the best I have ever eaten. Throw in some Mediterranean Pepper Salad, Spanakopita and Homemade Pitas and you will never, ever get rid of me. Thus, you’ve been warned.
1 pound plain yogurt (regular or lowfat)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing grill
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
5 tablespoons fresh whole rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds top round lamb
1 red onion
Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cut the lamb in 1 1/2-inch cubes (you’ll have about 20) and add it to the yogurt, making sure it is covered with the marinade. Cover the mixture plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to two days.
Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals. Spread the coals in one tight layer on the grill. Cut the red onion in 8 pieces and separate each piece into three or four sections. Loosely thread three or four pieces of lamb onto skewers alternately with sections of onion. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb cubes with salt and pepper. Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning two or three times, until the lamb is medium-rare.
Serve with salad, grilled pitas and tzatziki (below).
Almost exactly as Ina Garten makes it, because it is perfect (even if sour cream and vinegar might make it a tad less traditional)
14 ounces Greek yogurt (Ina recommends Fage Total; I recommend whatever you like best, and yes, I use full fat, always)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Grate the cucumber on a box grater (or in your food processor, if you like to get things done in one hundreth of the time!) and squeeze the grated cucumber with your hand to remove some of the liquid. (Pressing it in mesh sieve with a spoon to extract the extra water or wringing it in cheesecloth also work well.) Add it to the yogurt along with the sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and stir. Serve with grilled pita wedges.