I admit that growing up, we didn't eat a lot of food from different ethnicities. I'm not sure why. Maybe my parents just didn't care for it themselves?
I know a few years ago, when I was home visiting my parents, we were out on my dad's boat on Lake Washington. We went up to Kirkland - a posh little yuppy town - and we had dinner at a Greek restaurant. It was more like a cafe. It was their first experience having souvlaki and gyros! I couldn't believe it!
There was this little cart outside the Navy Exchange in Hawaii that my husband and I used to frequent whenever we were there. This guy made the *most* delicious gyros in the world. I salivate when I think of it. There's a place here that makes pretty decent gyros too which work in a pinch, but I love making these.
What's the difference between souvlaki and gyros (pronounced year-oh)? Souvlaki is pieces of chicken or lamb grilled on a kabob, where the meat on a gyro is a pressed beef/lamb roast that is put on a rotisserie and slow cooked. The meat is then carved away into thin strips and put on a pita with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and tzatziki sauce.
So.. now that you know, here's how you can make them yourself!
I started this marinade this morning when I woke up. The lamb needs to marinate for at *least* 8 hours. If you work, prepare the marinade the night before and let the lamb soak overnight in the fridge.
In a bowl, put 1/2 cup lemon juice, 4 tsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp oregano, and 6 cloves minced garlic.
Cut up lamb into 1" pieces.
If you're afraid of using lamb, DON'T! But if you really don't think you can make yourself eat it, use beef. My daughter thought this was steak. I didn't tell her anything different either. She ate it ALL!
Put the lamb in a large ziploc and dump in the marinade.
Easy enough, right?
Now let's make the Tzatziki sauce.
Tzatziki is a traditional, popular sauce in Greek cuisine. There are a lot of different versions out there. This one I like quite a bit. You can make the sauce up to two days ahead of time. It holds quite nicely in the fridge. Here's what you need to do.
You want to start by straining about 2 cups plain yogurt. If you can find greek yogurt, which is made with sheep's milk and has a much lower milkfat ratio. From what they "say"... it's also much creamier than any kind of yogurt you find here in the states. Since I couldn't find it, I used your basic run of the mill Dannon. *gasp*
What I did is line a sieve with some paper towels and spoon the yogurt on top. You can easily use a coffee filter, but since I don't drink coffee, I don't have any of those. The straining will take a couple of hours. So put in the sieve and then sit it in the fridge while it does its work.
Look how much liquid came out of that yogurt! It's very important to strain this so your tzatziki isn't super runny.
Put the yogurt in a bowl and discard the liquid.
Juice one lemon.
Take one cucumber and slice lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. I would have had pictures of this step, but my camera battery decided to run out of juice on me. Once you seed the cucumber, cut into pieces and put in a bowl with 1 tsp kosher salt. This will draw out the liquid from the cuke. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
If you use an English cucumber, you don't need to worry about de-seeding.
You're going to need 1 Tbsp dill weed. I'm sure fresh would be better. This is what I use.
Put everything into a blender. Crack in some black pepper and hit whichever button you prefer. You want a nice smooth sauce.
Transfer sauce to a bowl. Cover and let sit in the fridge until ready to use.
Now for the pitas. You can buy them from the store if you really don't want to make them. I have always wanted to try it. They were very easy to make and they are soooo moist and delicious compared to storebought. I highly recommend making them.
In a bowl, put 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tsp sugar and 4 tsp (2 pkgs) yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast is nice and foamy.
In a large mixing bowl, put 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 cups whole wheat flour, and 2 tsp kosher salt. Mix with a spoon.
(No pictures of this next step because my camera died)
Make a well in the center of the flour/salt and add the water/yeast, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 3/4 cup warm water. Use a dough hook and allow the dough to come together. If it's too dry and not pulling together, add a little more warm water until it's forming a ball.
Pull from the bowl and knead on a floured counter for a minute. Drizzle some olive oil into the mixing bowl. Put the dough back into the bowl and rub it around. Then flip the dough over so that the oily side is facing up.
Cover with a towel and let rise until double (approx. 1 hr).
Punch dough down. Knead on a counter.
Roll each ball out into a circle. I think I made these too big. They were the size of dinner plates. LOL
You might want to make them slightly smaller.
Spray cookie sheets with PAM and put the rolled pitas on them. I only made 6 pitas and put the rest of the dough in the freezer so I can make them later.
Cover and let sit for another hour. They'll get bubbly but won't double.
Bake in a preheated 500! degree oven for 4-5 minutes. When you turn on the oven, make sure you put the rack on the lowest level in the oven.
They should be slightly golden on top. Pull from the oven and let cool.
You can store these pitas in your fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 6 months.
Once the pitas are done, spark up the BBQ!
Aren't these skewers awesome? I got them from my husband for my birthday. Love them.
Skewer the marinated lamb onto the skewers. Don't overcrowd otherwise they might not cook all the way through. Put on the bbq and grill until they're cooked.
Cut up some lettuce.
Dice up some tomato. Ignore the Frankenstein job I did on these. The baby was being very fussy tonight so I had to chop up one handed. NOT an easy task!
Here's how our platter looked. I brought out some feta cheese and kalamata olives to enjoy with our souvlaki. See how honkin huge those pitas turned out? We wound up cutting them in half and then making our "gyros". Paige doesn't understand all of these fancy words so I told her they were like tacos.
We enjoyed our souvlaki with some couscous. I would have really loved to make loukoumades, which is a donut like dessert. Fried dough with honey drizzled on top, dusted cinnamon, and sesame seeds but I just didn't have the time or energy once I got dinner made.
Looks like I'll have to make those another time and share them with you!