Friday, October 30, 2009

"Gyros" and a caulflower casserole

I never know how to pronounce the word "gyro", but I know I love to eat the delectable sandwich that is the gyro. Who knows how anyone even creates the huge slab of meat that the merchants carve off? (no really, anyone know...cause I'm dying of curiosity...I'd love to have a rotating slab of lamb/pork/beef spinning around in my kitchen) There are a total lack of middle-eastern restaurants in York, but we do have many Greek-owned restaurants and we even enjoy monthly "Greek Festivals" at the local orthodox church, so I can occasionally find them, but I have always wanted to create something similar at home. I'll be the first to say that the result is pretty far from the commercially-prepared version, but beggars can't be choosy. At the very least, this dinner is a variation from "normal" and my kids don't burst into tears when I tell them what we're having (which sometimes happens when I announce other dinners...I guess they have never heard the saying "beggars can't be choosy").

I first tasted this cauliflower "casserole" (so named because I couldn't think of anything more descripive) at my mom's house. Basically, it's nothing more than a tangy cheddar white sauce covering perfectly cooked cauliflower and topped with a crunchy, butter panko crust. See, "cauliflower casserole" is so much more condensed, at the very least! I'll be the first to say that I don't usually enjoy casseroles. As much as I hate doing dishes, I can't get on board with my entire dinner mixed together in one pot (unless it's soup).

"Gyro" Sandwiches
3/4 lb ground lamb
3/4 lb ground beef
4 cups thinly sliced fresh spinach
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 small jar roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled feta
pita bread (I usually buy "pocket" pitas, and garlic flavored)
Yogurt topping:
2/3 cup greek yogurt (or plain, fully drained)
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped coarsely
1 cucumber,seeded, and chopped coarsely
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
salt, pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. Place half of the mixture into loaf pan. Sprinkle feta on top. Cover feta with remaining beef/lamb mixture.
2. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Drain fat. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 25 minutes. Let meat mixture "rest" for five minutes.
3. While the meat is baking, mix yogurt topping.
4. Wrap pitas in aluminum foil and warm in oven during the last 25 minutes of cooking time [of the meat mixture].
5. Assemble sandwiches: cut pitas in half, separate sides and fill with meat mixture and yogurt sauce.

Cauliflower "Casserole"
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces and cooked barely
2 T flour
2 T butter
1 1/4 cups milk
1 bag shredded cheddar (I use Cabot)
freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup panko
4 T melted butter

1. Layer "cooked" cauliflower in a greased baking dish (9x13).
2. In a saucepan, melt butter, sprinkle flour and stir until smooth. Slowly add milk and stir until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add pepper.
3. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower.
4. Mix melted butter and panko and sprinkle over cheese sauce.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

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