Archive for the ‘dips’ Category


my love affair with middle eastern food continues… kefta is a classic middle eastern dish of spiced lamb and beef [or just lamb or beef], and is found in countries all over the middle east. variations occur in north africa, the mediterranean, central europe, asia, and india. kefta can be prepared as burgers and cooked with olive oil in a pan, or it can be patted onto skewers and grilled. i made burgers, since although it would have been great to pat the ground meat mixture onto skewers, it would have been difficult to photograph alone. i mixed my own seven spice blend from whole spices which i roasted then ground, it made a huge difference in the depth of flavor. often kefta is served in pita bread as a sandwich with a yogurt sauce and tomatoes; we had it as small burgers with a cucumber yogurt dressing and sliced tomatoes.


the seven spices in this blend are allspice, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, fenugreek, ginger, and nutmeg [this is different than chinese 5- spice]. to make the spice blend, combine equal amounts of the whole spices [allspice, cloves, black pepper, and fenugreek] into a pan and put on medium-low heat to toast. i used 2 heaping tablespoons of each. the fenugreek is smaller and heavier by volume and will sink to the bottom. it also burns quickly, so watch it closely and stir constantly. when it starts to get hot it will smoke a bit; remove from the heat immediately and pour spices into another bowl that is not hot and stir to cool the spices. put the spices into a spice grinder; a small, dedicated coffee grinder is perfect. grind spices until they are very fine. put back into the bowl and add the ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg [2 T each]. mix well and put into an airtight container. keep in a cool dark place.


to make the kefta, combine one pound each ground lamb and 90% lean ground sirloin. you can use varying amounts of lamb and beef, some use 1/3 lb lamb to 1 lb. beef. i like more lamb. add 3 T finely chopped parsley, one very finely minced *very small* yellow onion [or 1/2 normally small onion], 2 finely minced cloves of garlic, 1 t of the 7- spice blend, 1/2 t sumac, 1/4 t ground nutmeg, 1/2 t sea salt, and ground pepper to taste. mix well with your hands. you can refrigerate the meat at this point if you are not ready to cook.

when you are ready to cook, shape the meat mixture into oblong burgers. if you want to grill on skewers, a traditional preparation, take each oblong burger and squeeze it around a wood or metal skewer. squeeze the meat at the bottom, moving it little by little up the skewer until it is evenly distributed in a long cigar shape. i stole the photo below from another blog.

pan- fry in some olive oil or grill the kefta until medium. i like it medium- rare, but it is traditionally cooked more to medium.

i served the kefta with sliced tomatoes, and a cucumber yogurt condiment [below].

combine 1 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup sour cream [i used low fat]. you can use just the yogurt, but the sour cream adds a little depth and richness and mellows the sour taste of the yogurt. add about 5″ of an english cucumber, diced, zest from 1/2 a lemon [wash it], 1 T of lemon juice [about 1/4 lemon], chopped parsley or cilantro, 1/4 t sea salt and freshly ground pepper.


Read Full Post »

this dip is so easy, and so hearty. i love roasted eggplant, and the beans add more protein. just eat it with toasted bread and wine…

cut 2 eggplants in half lengthwise. rub with olive oil, and place in a well- oiled baking pan, cut-side down. bake at 400 degrees until the eggplant is soft, and the pan is caramelized.  remove eggplant and scoop out the pulp, make sure to get all of the brown pieces in the pan, and put into a food processor with the blade attachment.

add about 1 c of cooked white beans [cooked dried limas, great northern, whatever…], 2 cloves of fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste, juice of one half to 1 lemon, and 1 1/2 T of sesame oil. puree until smooth. garnish with olive oil and chopped parsley. serve with crostini [toasted or grilled bread rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil].

Read Full Post »