We had an amazing afternoon with Tagyn and Diego at A Christmas Carol – Diego, whom I drove crazy asking to say “dulce de leche” and “Feliz Navidad” about 50 times (he’s 7 and speaks Spanish) brought me a batch of homemade shoe soles – like small, oval, sweet pancakes native to Mexico, with a ketchup-shaped bottle of – something I’ve forgotten the name of and just realized the bottle is on the back seat of the car, and I’m in my PJs and it’s a hundred below outside – it’s like dulce de leche, only darker and better, with a cooler name. We dipped into the stash when the lights went down and squirted caramel on our shoe soles and tried to eat them without getting busted.
Up to that point, you understand I had eaten exactly this: leftover biscuits toasted with butter and mandarin jam, nut balls, ham pickings, Clodhoppers and coffee. We dragged our feet on the way back to pick W up from Mike’s Mom’s (his first time staying there with both his Mom & sister – he requires a team effort) and so stopped at Beano to get a cafe mocha, just because we could.
Which was delicious, but didn’t make us feel much better. After some chaotic Christmas gift returns (that’s what you get for being on the ball and buying stuff early – it ends up being broken) and a stop at the grocery store for my segments (4!) on BT tomorrow morning, we got home at close to 8 more wanting something that didn’t resemble chocolate than actually being hungry. We had leftover edamame walnut dip and mini lamb burgers with tzatziki while I made stuff for tomorrow.
Mini Lamb Burgers in Mini Pitas with Tzatziki
These would make great full-sized burgers too, but the rich lamb and feta is perfect for nibbling.
1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup currants
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt & pepper
mini pitas, cut in half crosswise
Roll them into meatball-sized balls, and flatten them a little into tiny patties. (If you are doing a lot, put them all on a rimmed baking sheet and then squish them down by pressing another sheet on top of them.) If you like, you could freeze them at this point and bake them from frozen. Otherwise they could be frozen after they are baked.
Bake at 425°F for about 10 minutes, until they are cooked through.
To serve, stuff into half a mini pita with a few leaves from a box of spring greens and a glop of tzatziki.
Regular yogurt, preferably thick Greek yogurt, is far superior to the runny low fat or fat free varieties that are most commonly found at the grocery store. Even ‘full fat’ yogurts generally only contain about 3 grams per half cup, and it’s much more delicious and satisfying. If you like, strain the yogurt through some cheesecloth for several hours to thicken it. (Save the drained-off liquid to use in pancake or muffin batter.)
1 small cucumber, peeled if necessary
1 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups good quality plain yogurt, preferably Balkan-style
Salt & pepper to taste
Grate the cucumber with a box grater onto a double thickness of paper towel. Gather up the cucumber in the towel and squeeze out as much excess water as you can.
Combine cucumber, garlic, yogurt, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir until well blended. If you like, add a squeeze or lemon. The garlic flavor will intensify the longer it sits. Makes 2 1/2 – 3 cups.
Per 1/3 cup: 45 calories, 1 g total fat (0.6 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.5 g protein, 5.6 g carbohydrate, 3.7 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g fiber. 20% calories from fat
Instead of cookies today I’m offering up another small sweet (and only because you got two cookies yesterday) – Mike is a huge fan of maple fudge. And fortunately my friend Marty Curtis, who owns Marty’s Cafe in Muskoka, has a maple fudge recipe in his new(ish) book, Marty’s World Famous Cookbook. (In it, his World Famous Butter Tart recipe, which is not allowed to be reprinted. Sorry. But trust me, people come from all over for these – they even won the Toronto Star’s best butter tart competition.) Digging up a link to that mandarin jam recipe, I just stumbled upon a muscovado fudge recipe that looks pretty damn heavenly too. Mike just may find both in his stocking. He has been pretty good this year, don’t you think?
Muskoka Maple Fudge
From Marty’s World Famous Cookbook. This is also good with nuts – add about 1/4 cup chopped walnuts while creaming the fudge.
2 cups (pure!) maple syrup
3/4 cup 10% cream (that’s half & half)
2 Tbsp. butter
Grease an 8″x8″ pan.
In a saucepan over high heat, combine all the ingredients and bring them to a boil. (Do not cover.) Bring the temperature to between 235F and 240F on a candy thermometer, and then drop a little in cold water – it should form a soft ball. Remove the heat and monitor the temperature until it drops to 110F. Beat with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula until creamy. Pour into the pan and cool, then cut into squares.