Saturday, 7 July 2012

Jimmy Kofta

We found Jimmy Kofta.  He's alive and well and in our kitchen.

Seriously, though, ever heard of koftas? Kofte?  Kufte?  This many-spelled word is basically a middle-east-meets Mediterranean meatball on a stick.  Really.  I've seen them just packed on a stick without being made into a meatball first.  Imagine what that looks like.  Poop on a twig.  So don't do that.  It's not pretty.

Koftas can be made of  beef, bacon, lamb, chicken, paneer or even game meats, mixed with eggs, onions and spices.  Sometimes they are a mixture of hard-boiled egg and meat.  This may be where the scotch egg came from, originally.  For flavour, think exotic combos like saffron or allspice or classic mediterranean with just olive oil and oregano.  They can be baked, broiled, barbecued, fried or even roasted in a tagine.  They are totally versatile and flavourful little gems.  But putting them on a stick makes meatballs barbecue worthy, and unlike hamburgers, you aren't tempted into serving these on buns.  They're a nice change from hamburgers on the bbq.

Personally,  for this version, I went for a simple Mediterranean flavour.  Nothing too crazy, let the meat stand up for itself.  They were delicious.  They were so well received that many spice variations may follow.  So here's the first and original version....

And as for the cauli-orzo salad?  This is a Mediterranean twist on "pasta" salad.  I actually liked this a lot better than the original starchy cold pasta or rice salads because with them, the starches always seemed to soak up all the sauce/oil and become sticky unless it was just drowning in mayonnaise.  I didn't want a mayonnaise salad here.  I wanted to taste the nice EVOO and the roasted tomatoes and the sharp olive flavours.  I wanted a clean, crisp taste and this sure fit  the bill.  The cauliflower does not soak up the oil at all.  It stays oh-so-nicely coated in oil without becoming all sticky.  Now, if you are avoiding all dairy, omit the goat cheese.  Its a beautiful touch, but its not the most important ingredient in it.   Definately make the salad first, and let it chill in the fridge so that all the flavours meld together.

This makes 6 generous portions.

Cold Cauli-Orzo Salad


1 head cauliflower
2/3 c olives, any kind, sliced
1/3 c sundried tomatoes
1/3 c EVOO
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs dried basil
2 cloves garlic
small pkg goat cheese (113 g)
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste


Coarsely chop cauliflower.  Bring a very large pot of water to a full boil, then drop in cauliflower for exactly 6 minutes.  You are only going to "blanch" the cauliflower here; it will only be halfway cooked at this point.  Remove from heat, dump into a strainer and immediately run cold water over the cauliflower to stop the cooking process. 

Now, while the cauli is drying in the sink, get everything else prepped.  Chop the sundried tomatoes.  Mix all the other ingredients in a large salad bowl,  crumble in the goat cheese. 

In small batches, "rice" the cauliflower with your food processor.  Or chop it crazy-fine if you don't have one.  I use my food processor daily.  You should get one if you don't already have one.  Mix the riced cauli in with the rest of the ingredients, stir well to combine and put it in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.  This will keep for several days in the fridge.

So just let it meld.....

And move onto the koftas.

Beef 'n Bacon Koftas


2 lbs ground beef
1 cooking onion (or 2/3 c spanish onion)
2 stalks celery
3 tsp dried thyme
5 slices bacon
2 eggs
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
olive oil for basting


Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Finely chop onions, celery and bacon.  Wisk eggs, then mix all other ingredients (except basting oil) and form into 1 1/2 - 2 inch meatballs.  I think I got 49 meatballs.  Thread them onto wooden skewers.    Place  the skewers on a rack over top of a baking sheet.  Brush the tops with olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn the skewers over and baste other side, then bake for about 5 minutes more.  If you want the meatballs browned, turn the oven to broil at this point and keep an eye on them.  Remove when browned.

This would be perfect on the bbq.  Unfortunately, I can't use a bbq.  I burn everything. 

And voila!  Serve over cold Cauli-Orzo Salad.  Prepare to be thanked by your hungry family.

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