(mirror-posted at CedarWrites today)
As I am working my way through this blog series, I am tapping authors of all sorts for recipes and dishes. There will be traditionally published best-sellers, at least one who is better known for graphic art than prose, an editor, and independent authors. In some ways this was conceived as a way to help promote the lesser-known authors, ones who I know of and sometimes have reviewed their books, but a little more publicity never hurt anyone. Stephen Simmons is one of the latter. You should really check out the Galileo Syndrome.
I read and reviewed his book when it came out, and really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it if you are looking for science fiction that is as much about exploring what lies within the mind of a savant (two of them, really) as it is about exploring space. The title refers to the infamous scientist who was not jailed for, as popular myth would have it, his scientific beliefs as much as for his abrasive personality. What more could he have done with someone to cushion society from him and vice versa?
Now that I have given you food for thought, let’s get started on the food for the belly. When I asked Stephen for a dish to prepare, he asked if I had ever made souvlaki. I hadn’t, but the First Reader has very fond memories indeed of eating it hot, fresh, and garlicky from street vendors. Of course I was going to try making it! Also, it’s perfect as summer heat makes cooking indoors rather miserable right now.
I served the souvlaki with a quick tomato and feta salad dressed with greek vinaigrette, tzatziki sauceand flatbreads. I didn’t bake the flatbreads because having the oven on at 450 deg F for pita breads was just too… too steamy for me!
I remembered to take a picture of my grill ignition system this time.
I will only bother grilling over charcoal or wood, and I never, ever, allow lighter fluid anywhere near my grill. When I got this little guy (it’s so small!) this spring, the First Reader was very dubious. He’d only ever had lighter-fluid flavored food from charcoal grills, and was hinting that a nice gas grill would be better, wouldn’t it? I got my stubborn on, because I knew it was a nasty taste that had been left in his mouth, and I could show him what it ought to be like. The chimney you see in the photo allows for lighting the charcoal briquets (I sometimes use uncompressed charcoal, but this is cheaper and easier to find) with paper crumpled under them and a match to light that. It takes 15-20 minutes to start.
- 2-3 lbs meat (lamb, goat, beef, or pork, but you could use chicken)
- 5-6 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Juice of one lemon, and zest
- handful of fresh oregano
- 7-8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp peppercorns, crushed or ground, but fresh
- 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 4 tbsp white wine
Cut the meat into roughly 1 1/2 inch cubes, removing any connective tissue and fat (particularly if you are working with lamb or goat, as they will add more gamy flavor than most people prefer). Set the meat aside in a gallon ziploc.
Place all the marinade ingredients (everything but the meat) in the blender. Pulse until the herbs are pureed.
Pour the marinade into the ziploc, press the air out, and seal.
Place the meat in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, and up to two days. The longer, the more flavor gets in the meat.
Put the meat cubes on skewers, discard the excess marinade.
Grill the skewers, turning at least once, for about 3 minutes to a side.
Serve and enjoy!
The souvlaki met the First Reader’s approval. His only note was that it wasn’t as garlicky as he remembered from Greece. I have already updated the recipe to reflect this, as I put 4-5 cloves in the marinade. But I will have to try it again very soon to see if that is enough. He insists. *laughing* Or it might be he just wants to do this again. Only he wants to try to find goat to do it with, that’s what he was eating over there most of the time. We had lamb, and not a good cut, so it was lamby in places and in others mostly herbal, lemony, and delicious. A worthy meal of a good writer. Thanks, Stephen! And thank Karen for her tzatziki recipe.
And what evening by the grill would be complete without toasting marshmallows over the dying coals? Because we can, that’s why!