Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Archive for the category “cucumber”

Greek Burgers

I must confess. I am a Fed. I work in a tall building in a big complex with uber security at the door and a locked work area with a bunch of cubicles around me. I am a little cog in a huge rolling maze of cogs, but I enjoy the work. Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer cooking all day, but for now I am content with my work, which is challenging and never boring. This time of year is pretty busy for me, reflected by the fact it is longer than usual between posts. I have not cooked for days, but no suffering occurred during the drought. Big D made some wonderful stuff in the evenings and there was enough for me to very much look forward to leftovers at lunch. It will be another couple of months before things slow down, so I make no promises, but I have some yummy ideas – don’t give up on me. I will persevere and post post post! Cooking relaxes me and I cannot stay away from it for long, no matter what. Take these burgers, for example. I had a burger like this at a hole in the wall restaurant somewhere in Alaska. I can’t remember where, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – I had expected a hockey puck with sour cream on top, but it was fresh and wonderful. With no lamb in sight my version is a tangy, filling meal that reminds me of my beloved gyros (pronounced ‘yee-rohs’ in my opinion). I had to negotiate with Little B to use the last of our Greek yogurt for tzatziki. She loves it with a little stevia, cinnamon and vanilla for dessert, but I finagled enough from her for the recipe.

Greek Burgers

½ cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp oregano, roughly chopped
½ cup mint, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp lime juice (or 2 packets True Lime)
2 pounds ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup feta, crumbled
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
1 English cucumber, sliced in ¼” coins
1 tomato, sliced
½ red onion, thin julienne

1 cup cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp mint, finely chopped
2-3 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, finely ground

First make the tzatziki – doing it right before the meal works, but doing it the day before is better. Combine all ingredients together. Chill until time to serve. For patties whisk together the first eight ingredients. Pour mixture over ground beef in large bowl. Remove your rings, bracelets and watches, then get your hands dirty making sure the egg mixture is well combined with the beef. Squish it and squeeze it until all the herby bits are distributed. Form meat into patties about 4” wide and 1” deep. In large frying pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add patties and cook until seared, about five minutes. Flip patties and sear the other side. Cover and cook to desired doneness. On a bed of spinach and a layer of cucumber coins (either on a bun or directly on a plate) place a patty. Layer toppings – tomato slices, a glop of tzatziki, feta crumbles and onion. Dig in!

Greek Layer Dip

We are moving! Actually, we are in the process of moving, literally. I am sitting on a bed in a hotel room, somewhere between Texas and Maryland. We should arrive in Maryland tomorrow, but in the meantime I am without a kitchen. Until I am again armed with a kitchen I will share with you some recipes I collected over the past few months but did not post.

The first one is a dip. Sometimes when a big gaggle of people are coming over I like making available a variety of appetizers so they can nibble as they trickle in to the house. One of my favorites lately, to go along with the ever reliable ranch or peanut dip, is a layer dip. It is high in fiber and very colorful. It can also substitute for a green salad if you have enough Greek lovers. What I like most about it is that if you work hard enough you can get every layer into one bite, but if you don’t, you still get a mouthful of robust flavors that will make you want to seek out another scoop full. With everyone’s vegetable gardens starting to grow (except mine, of course, since I have no idea where we will be living), the dip is a great way to use up some of the bumper crops later this year.

Greek Layer Dip

2 cups hummus
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)
2-3 cups raw spinach
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chopped oregano
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine in small bowl the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Set aside. Spread hummus on a serving tray in an even layer, about ¼ to ½ inch deep. Chop spinach into small pieces (and if you are using yogurt now is the time to combine the yogurt with spinach until well blended)*. Spread/sprinkle the spinach on top of the hummus, leaving a visible edge of hummus. Sprinkle olives on top of spinach mixture, followed by cucumber and tomato. Drizzle dressing on top of dip and add some more feta for garnish if you like, then serve. It can be prepared in advance and chilled until serving.

*If you are making the dip in advance I would recommend the yogurt not be used. Depending on the brand of yogurt, it can be a runny layer and will spread if put on the day before. It should be fine if made within an hour or two of serving. I have made it both with the yogurt and without – just sprinkling a layer of spinach makes it look a lot different, but still beautiful and you will still have a moist, dippable dip.


If there ever was a food that doubled as good for me AND a comfort food, it would be hummus. My favorite dipping implement – beyond the most perfect of breads, freshly made naan – would be cucumber. Especially the English cucumbers, which seem to hang on to their smaller seeds so much better than their seedier American cousins. My sister in law makes flavorful batches of hummus, sprinkled with freckles of olives, red peppers and tons of garlic. I adore the versions she makes, but I lean towards making a more conservative, basic hummus….well, except for the cilantro. After a day or so the lemon juice really latches on to the chickpeas and yum! I use hummus to substitute for all kinds of spreads and abominations, such as mayonnaise, ketchup, and secret sauces. Just try it – a ham and cheese sandwich with a layer of hummus on the bread. You will never go back to mayo and mustard. Well, you might, but when you do you will remember the hummus.


2 16-ounce cans chickpeas

1/4 cup lime juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 Tbsp tahini

1 tsp salt

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 Tbsp olive oil

Drain chickpeas but retain the liquid. Set aside about a dozen chickpeas for use later as garnish. Place chickpeas and all other ingredients except olive oil into a food processor. Start the processor and slowly add liquid from the chickpeas to the mixture – you should add just enough at the beginning to help move the ingredients around for blending. When the ingredients are smooth add more liquid until the desired texture is achieved; typically something like peanut butter, but some like it thinner. It usually does not take more than ½ the reserved liquid. Serve chilled or at room temperature – prior to serving sprinkle with the reserved whole chickpeas and drizzle the olive oil on top. Compliment the hummus with pita chips, olives, tomatoes and cucumber. Definitely scoop it up with fresh naan if you have a source for it.

Greek Salad On A Stick

I will start by saying these toothpick-mounted wonders are the closest I got to making football shaped food this year. I actually watched quite a bit of the Super Bowl today. Good game, considering I did not feel strongly about one team or the other winning. I don’t watch much professional American Football these days; mostly because I don’t have a TV at home, but even more because any attempt I make to do something for hours at a time is frequently interrupted by a lively 2 1/2 year old daughter. When I weigh time with Little B against watching football, Little B always wins.

Greek salads are things I can just eat and eat, especially with some hot grilled kebabs on top. My favorite of all time is at Papouli’s in San Antonio – they have a killer dressing. The tanginess of the dressing, olives and feta just pull me in, and are much less bad for me health-wise than my other salad love, blue cheese dressing. Yes, I know blue cheese dressing is not a salad – I need the lettuce and tomato and cucumber to hold the dressing – but the calorie and fat load of blue cheese dressing can wreak havoc on almost any diet.

I saw this idea somewhere last year but for the life of me cannot remember where. I think it was here, but it was a while back. I tried to give credit where it is due, so I get kudos for trying, right? I have made these wonderful little appetizers a number of times and love the juiciness with the dressing added. The whole stick of salad can fit in one bite. Whoa! Heaven! I sometimes include onion, but usually not because some of my nearest and dearest have a hard time with raw onion, so I present the recipe without. I most recently served these along with my smorgastarta and they were a great compliment.

Greek Salad On A Stick

24 toothpicks

1 block feta cheese, cut into 24 cubes

24 grape tomatoes

24 kalamata olives, pitted

1 English cucumber or 3 mini cucumbers

¼ cup olive oil

1/8 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

Whisk together the last six ingredients. Set aside. Slice cucumbers into thick slices, about ½ inch in length, then again in half or quarters, depending on cucumber size. I have found that all four elements fitting on the toothpicks is directly related to the size of the cucumber pieces (or the squishiness of the olives, but that can only go so far), so do a test ‘pick before cutting up all the cucumber. Start with putting on toothpicks the tomato, followed by an olive and cucumber, ending with the feta. Place all the filled toothpicks in a deep plate or bowl that will just hold the completed ‘picks. Drizzle dressing over the ‘picks. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Before serving move the ‘picks to a serving dish and again drizzle the dressing over the ‘picks. If you use fancy decorated ‘picks, the top of which won’t look good slimed with dressing, you may need to spoon the dressing over them with a spoon.

Post Navigation