Lamb Kofta and Harissa Yogurt Sauce

There’s a Lebanese restaurant in Cleveland, Taza, that J and I LOVE. We eat there nearly every time we’re in town. Until now, the recipe for their delicious lamb kofta has eluded us. This weekend when everyone else was grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, J finally managed to perfect this recipe with the help of Arabic Food Recipes kitchen.

Kofta Ingredients (plus our modifications):
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (fresh makes a HUGE difference!)
2 tablespoons grated fresh onion (we used white and about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric (we used slightly more)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (we used slightly more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
Cooking spray
Grill

Kofta Directions:
Combine cilantro and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. We used a spatula to combine it all. Shape into 12 oblong patties around pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Don’t try to make them too big, the weight will cause them to fall off the skewer. Spray a grill tray with cooking spray and set the skewers on the grill tray. Grill for about 10 minutes per side (you’ll know it’s time to turn when the edges are a bit crisp). Tip to flip: don’t lift the kofta, roll it over using tongs or two forks.

Harissa Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we’ll use more next time)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Harissa Yogurt Sauce Directions:
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit for about half an hour in the refrigerator. Mix again. Serve sauce with kofta.

My opinion:
I couldn’t stop eating this dish. When it was gone, I wanted more. The only change I’d make in the future is to add more spice to the Harissa Yogurt sauce. I can’t wait until we make this again.

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Lemon Thyme Scallops

I was a bit surprised at just how delicious this recipe from Cynthia Sass’s Cinch! book was. It smelled wonderful cooking and tasted even better.

Note: this recipe feeds one. Double if serving two.
Ingredients:
4 ounces (between 5 and 7) sea scallops
1/2 cup wild rice, cooked (we were out and I substituted white, not as tasty)
1 cup spaghetti squash (already steamed)
1 cup grape tomatoes (We used cherry tomatoes because grape wasn’t available at the grocery store)
1 tbs olive oil
2-4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs lemon juice
about 2 tsp thyme
optional: crushed red pepper and/or black pepper

Directions:
Divide olive in half. Put 1/2 tbs into a skillet and heat to medium (if you like a bit more sear on your scallops try medium high, but keep a close eye on the scallops). Add garlic and scallops, sprinkle with thyme (you can also add a bit of freshly ground black pepper or red pepper). Cook about 4 minutes per side. Flip. Sprinkle with thyme (and more black or red pepper, if you want) and cook about another 4 minutes. Scallops will turn opaque.

Add the rest of the olive oil (should be about 1/2 tbs) to another pan. Heat to medium. Cut the tomatoes in half. Sautee in olive oil until fragrant. Mix the steamed squash and rice together. Plate the squash rice mixture. Top with tomatoes. Remove scallops from the skillet and place on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle with lemon juice. Enjoy!

My Opinion:
I’ll probably add a bit more garlic and definitely the red pepper next time. The dish was flavorful and filling. I even had enough squash left over for lunch the next day!

Shrimp and Angel Hair Fra Diavolo

We were watching the Cooking Channel the other day and just happened to find an Emeril Lagasse show with a recipe that didn’t look impossible to recreate. We halved the recipe and had more than enough for three people (or two and a leftovers for lunch).

Ingredients:
1 pound angel hair pasta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional

Directions:
Boil water for pasta. Add pasta. Cook until pasta is just bendy, but very al dente. Pull pasta from water and place in a boil. If you choose to drain the pasta, make sure to reserve at least one cup of the pasta water.

Put saute pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions. Cook about 4 minutes until golden. TURN DOWN the heat to about medium. Wait about a minute and then add the garlic.

We didn’t wait and browned the garlic too soon. Some of it burned (not Good Eats). Then cook about 30 seconds to a minute. Then add the red pepper flakes and saute about 30 seconds. We accidentally used chili flakes because they looked the same, this made for more heat but less flavor. Now add the tomato paste and the tomato sauce. Cook about 3 minutes until the sauce is reduced by about half. This happened pretty quickly for us.

Add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are pink. Do not over cook the shrimp or they will be tough.

Add the pasta and the pasta water to the pan and coat with sauce. If you have Emeril’s essence, feel free to sprinkle a bit at this point. Plate and add parsley and/or Parmigian cheese.¬†The original recipe can be found here.

My Opinion:
This was delicious! We will absolutely be adding this to the regular dish rotation. It was ¬†spicy and very filling. Next time we won’t overcook the pasta and will add some more seasonings to the sauce. It was by no means bland, but a little Italian seasoning or basil would go a long way.