Tasty recipes and more

Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit Penso

Souvlaki is a Greek dish, made of marinated small pieces meat, grilled on skewers. However, as you can see here, it is also possible to prepare the dish using a grilling pan, without the skewers.
Though not part of the traditional herbs used in this dish, to compensate for the lack of smoky aroma in indoor grilling, I have added some roughly chopped rosemary to the dish. It burns when grilling and adds lots of aroma and flavor. If you want a more authentic dish, omit it.

The Souvlaki is traditionally served with Tzatziki – a tasty yogurt dip, and with fresh pita bread. The combination of the succulent grilled meat and the fresh yogurt-cucumber dip is just wonderful, and explains why this dish is so popular for so long.
I’m sure once you’ll prepare it, you’ll agree.

* Most Greek recipe call for use of pork shoulder. However, I’ve found that the pork tenderloin is better when not using an outdoor grill and skewers. If using both, you can switch to pork shoulder instead.
* Instead of pork, you can use lamb, beef or skinless and boneless chicken thighs.
* The Tzatziki tastes better when fresh, so it is best to prepare it just before serving.
* The best cucumbers for the Tzatziki are the small, seedless cucumbers, sold as “mini” or “baby” cucumbers, and sometimes also as “Persian” or “Israeli” (the version that is now grown in America was developed in Israel) cucumbers – depending on where you buy them. Whatever they are called, I highly recommend making the effort to find them, not just for this recipe but for any salad with cucumbers. They have thin edible skin, crunchy texture and wonderful fresh, sweet taste, and are great on their own as well, as a healthy and tasty snack.

Makes: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Grilling time: 10 minutes

For the Souvlaki:
1.5 lbs (700 grams) pork tenderloin
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Tzatziki:
2 “mini” cucumbers (see note above) diced into tiny cubes
1 garlic clove, diced into tiny cubes, or grated
2 cups thick plain Greek yogurt, at least 2% fat
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried mint
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1. The Souvlaki: trim the tenderloin and cut into 1” (2.5cm) cubes. Place in a bowl and add the garlic, rosemary, oregano, mint, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix well. Pour the olive oil on top, and mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit Penso
2. The Tzatziki: in a bowl, mix the diced cucumber, garlic, yogurt, mint, salt and 1 Tbs olive oil. mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add the rest of the olive oil on top and mix gently.
Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit Penso
3. Grilling: preheat a grilling pan on high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the pork cubes, in one layer. Grill on all sides, for about 10 minutes, or until the meat is done but still moist. Serve immediately, with the Tzatziki and pita bread on the side.
Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit PensoPork Souvlaki with Tzatziki Ronit Penso

Lemon yogurt upside down cakes Ronit Penso
With such abundance of juicy and tasty summer fruits, I had to use them in a cake as well. As it was hard to decide between using the ripe peach or the plums I’ve had, I’ve decided to opt for the “why choose?” solution, and made two cakes, using the same cake batter.

The lemony cake is the perfect addition to the fruits, and it is so quick and easy to make, and so tasty and impressive to serve, that I’m sure I’ll make it again soon, using any other fruits I’ll have.
I’m sure that once you’ll make these cakes, you will agree.

* If you only want to make one cake, simply cut the quantities in half.
* For easy mixing, use very soft butter. If you don’t have time to let the butter soften through, prepare the cake batter using a mixer.
* Don’t skip the semolina in the batter, as it adds an interesting texture.
* The cakes can be kept in the fridge, covered, for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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Feta and Scallions Stuffed Tomatoes Ronit Penso  Tomato and Bread Salad Ronit Penso

Summertime means lots of salads with fresh ripe tomatoes. However, sometimes it’s nice to use the tomatoes for other purposes, such as in the recipe here, for tomatoes stuffed with a tasty cheese mixture.
This doesn’t mean we’ll skip the tomato salad option altogether. Quite the contrary, the scooped inner part will be a base for a quick and tasty salad.

The tomatoes are at their best when served close to baking time. If you have other tasks to deal with, you can place the unbaked stuffed tomatoes for a couple of hours, covered, in the fridge, until you’re ready to bake them. Just remember to bring to room temperature before placing in the oven.
The same goes for the salad, it’s best when mixed just before serving, to keep the bread a bit crispy.

The baked tomatoes can be served as an appetizer, with a green salad on the side, or as a side dish, with grilled meats or fish.

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Boyos – Sephardic Savory Pastries Ronit Penso Boyos – Sephardic Savory Pastries Ronit Penso

After the quick and easy recipe post of last week, this week I have for you the very opposite…
The recipe here, from the fabulous traditional Sephardic cuisine, requires some preparation and practice. However, the result is so tasty and uniqe, that I’m sure once you’ll make and taste these wonderful savory pastries, you’ll want to make them again.

The recipe here is from my maternal grandmother, who grew up in the Sephardic community of Izmir. Here is an interesting quote from Wikipedia, about the origins of the pastry: “Virtually all sources agree on the Judeo-Spanish roots of boyoz. It is a contribution to İzmir’s urban culture by Sephardic Jews evicted from Spain after 1492 and who settled in large numbers in a number of prominent Ottoman cities of the period, among which İzmir stood out as one of the primary destinations. These explanations on the roots of boyoz are confirmed by the presence of a pastry very similar to boyoz in the culinary traditions of such other offshoots of Spanish culture as Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico, where they are common especially in the diet of Sephardic Jews, usually with cheese and spinach fillings.”

Unlike what the first sentence in there says, that Izmir “is practically the only city where it is prepared for commercial purposes and follows the original recipe”, Israel, where the majority of the Jews from Izmir moved to, is another place where the pastries are sold commercially and are well known and loved all over the country, by people of all origins.
For more information about Sepharic origins, check out this post.

The pastries are traditionally made for weekend brunch, and served with fresh small diced vegetables salad, yogurt and hard boiled eggs on the side. They are also perfect for mid-week breakfast, lunch, or even a light dinner.
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Pineapple, Plum, Hazelnut and Coconut Crisp Ronit Penso

Fruit crisp desserts are not the prettiest desserts around, but what they lack in beauty, they have in flavor, texture and ease of preparation.

The following crisp is a somewhat nontraditional one, as I’ve added hazelnut meal and coconut to the crumbs mix, on top of the more familiar oats and flour. Instead of regular sugar, I used coconut sugar, that some claim is healthier than regular sugar. I’m pretty skeptical about that, but as I already had it, and I planned to add coconut to the crisp mixture, it made sense to use it. However, soft brown sugar can be used just as well.

I liked the combination of pineapple and plums, both in flavor and color. If no fresh ripe pineapple is available, use frozen or canned in natural juice.

Unlike in most crisp recipes, here I did not combine the fruit with sugar prior to adding them to the baking pan. This makes the crisp less syrupy and less sweet, which I personally prefer. If you’re into sweeter and more syrupy crisp, you can mix the cut fruits with 1/3 cup sugar and let sit for 15 minutes before adding to the pan.

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Flourless Roasted Vegetables Mini Bakes Ronit Penso

These easy and tasty mini bakes make use of any roasted vegetables you may have, whether especially made for the dish, or any leftovers you have from other dishes. The bakes contain no flour, which makes them perfect for gluten-free guests.
They are basically baked omelet with tasty and colorful additions, and therefore perfect for breakfast, omitting the need to fry individual omelets. If you have less people to serve, you can cut the amount in half. If this is still too much for your needs, you’ll be glad to know that these tasty morsels can keep well, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 5 days. They will, obviously, become a bit denser with time, but will be just as tasty. Pop them in the toaster-oven for a few minutes and serve hot, or at room temperature. They are also great cold, as a light snack, with a green salad on the side.
Here I’ve used  a combination of roasted eggplants, carrots, celery, zucchini, onions and cherry tomatoes. Feel free to use any other roasted vegetables you have.

Note: for best results, do not use per-grated cheese. It contains additives that help keep the cheese separated in the bag, but change the texture – and flavor – of the cheese when baked. Nothing like a real cheese that you grate prior to using.

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Crispy Pizza with Feta and Arugula Ronit Penso

Usually, even when I try to make the same recipe twice, I end up with a different version of some kind, and the following pizza is one of the examples for this habit. The original post from last year, included toppings such as fresh mozzarella cheese and Andouille sausage, along with peppers, onions and oyster mushrooms.
I made the dough exactly the same, as it is really the best and most crispy one I came out with. The same goes to the cherry tomatoes sauce, which I like better than regular tomato sauce.
However, as I’ve found wonderful goat milk Feta cheese in the market, the first change I’ve made was to use it instead of the mozzarella. Once I’ve done that, it made sense to go with more Mediterranean flavors, so I’ve added cured black olives instead of the sausage, and once the pizza was ready, I topped it with a handful of arugula leaves.
Obviously, the result was quite different than the original, but very good on its own right.
I plan to make this recipe again, exactly the same, but somehow I feel that the next version will also turn out a bit different…

To make the recipe easier to follow, instead of sending you to the original post, I’ve copied the original recipe and photos here, and only changed the topping ingredients to the ones I’ve used here.
As you can see, the basic recipe goes a long way. Feel free to improvise according to your likings.

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