Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PAST RECIPE: Braised Leg of Lamb

© Constantine William Spyrou

My absolute favorite meat of all time has to be lamb. When cooked right, its got this really deep and just primal meaty flavor that can't be achieved by any other meat. My favorite way to have it is braised in a traditional Italian style. I put my own Greek and sort of Asian spin on a braised leg of lamb last year for a church picnic, and it literally flew off the table (that 6 pound lamb was gone in 6 minutes. Literally). I decided to write up the recipe for it so I can remember it and because it's an absolute favorite that will wow crowds for any feast. This is a really simple, traditional Italian-style braised lamb, just with some spices and other things mixed around to lift the dish up to something that I really enjoy. 

Recipe will serve up to 12 people.


1 6 pound leg of lamb, boned, rolled, and tied
1 head of garlic, all the cloves taken out and peeled
1 bottle red wine
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to season
6 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
2 tablespoons Dried Rosemary
2 tablespoons Marjoram
2 tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
1 tablespoon Dried Mint
6 bay leaves (1 per pound)
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons dried Basil
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
2 tablespoons Ground Fennel Seed
4 tablespoons Oregano
2 roughly chopped onions
2 roughly chopped carrots
2 roughly chopped stalks of celery


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Create some deep cuts into the lamb leg and stuff each of these cavities with the garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper and half of the spices, and rub lightly with olive oil.
2. Place a roasting tray on the stove (this will take up two burners!) and place on high heat. Lightly dust the lamb with flour, add olive oil to the tray, and sear the lamb on all sides until they all get a nice brown color. This should take around 15-20 minutes. Remove the lamb from the roasting tray and use the tying string to help adhere the rosemary sprigs to the lamb.
3. In the roasting tray, add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery, and saute off. When the onions start becoming translucent, add the wine to deglaze the roasting tray. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and the remainder of the spices.
4. Place the lamb leg back on top of the roasting tray so that it rests over the vegetables and isn't sticking to the bottom of the tray. Make sure that at least a fourth of the lamb is covered with liquid; if it isn't, add some more chicken stock to balance it out. Cover the roasting tray with foil in a tent-like formation to help the lamb steam.
5. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for around 7 hours. When it's done, remove the foil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Remove the twine, and serve.

I served this with the braising liquid as a sauce, and the two combined were an extremely flavorful punch, especially with the garlic. Try this one out at your next feast!

I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe! Let me know what you think, and try it at home and tell me what changes you would make! Enjoy! =) 

NEW RECIPE: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Grapefruit and Pomegranate Glaze and Chili Orzo

© Constantine William Spyrou

My favorite technique of cooking has to be roasting, because the long cooking times result in delicious, juicy meat that can't be replicated in flavor in any other way in my opinion. Whether it be beef, lamb, chicken, or pork, or any meat in between, roasting just gives it an incredible flavor that comes from the slower cooking time on the meat. It's also where I first cut my teeth on cooking. Roasted leg of lamb was one of the first dishes I made, and it was pretty much the best thing ever. Ever since then, I've just loved to roast things.

This is a roasted pork tenderloin, nothing too fancy about it. The main reason I wanted to work with pork actually is that its sweet and almost buttery flesh goes great with sweet fruits and vibrant, citrusy flavors. I have actually just discovered that I love grapefruit (turns out I was eating it wrong all those years before, grapefruit is actually quite delicious if you take all the bitter membranes off first and eat it by segment!). I wanted to showcase the brightness of grapefruit and contrast it with the sweet pork and some tart pomegranates (another favorite fruit of mine) and let those shine on one plate. Paired with a chili orzo to give a nice sweet and spicy flavor to the dish, this will be one to remember for sure! 

Recipe can feed up to 6 people comfortably.

For the Orzo: 

2 packages of orzo, cooked to package specifications
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons chopped birds-eye chilies (thai chilies or red jalapenos work as well, depending on how spicy you want the dish to be. Birds eye is in the middle, jalapenos are the mildest, and thai chilies are the spiciest)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper to Season
1/4 cup chopped parsley

For the Glaze:

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (brown sugar or regular sugar also work, but turbinado doesn't burn as easily)
1/4 cup Pomegranate juice
Segments out of 1 1/2 to 2 grapefruits
1/4 cup honey

For the Pork Tenderloin:

2 1- 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloins (make sure to trim the silver skin off of these, they will make it tough!)
Salt and Pepper to Season
3 tablespoons dried sage
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (This is a mildly flavored neutral oil that won't overpower like olive oil will)


1. Preheat your convection over to 425 degrees F.
2. Blend the grapefruit segments so they form a nice juice.
3. Place the turbinado sugar, pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and honey into a medium sauce pan. Dissolve the sugar, bring to a boil and boil the miture for 3-4 minutes. Set aside to let it cool.
4. Rub the pork tenderloins with the salt, pepper, and grapeseed oil.
5. Add some more grapeseed oil to a pan, and sear the pork tenderloins on each side. This should take no more than 15 minutes to get a nice browned color on all sides.
6. Rub the pork with the lemon zest and sage, then transfer to a roasting tray and lightly cover with about half the glaze. Bake off for around 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145-150 degrees F.
7. As the pork roasts, cook the orzo according to package instructions. If you want to make sure the orzo doesn't stick, add a little olive oil to the boiling water before adding the orzo.
8. Mix together the chili vinaigrette by adding the olive oil, red wine, and chopped chilies together. Add in the mustard and whisk vigorously until well combined. Season with salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined once more.
9. Add the vinaigrette and fresh chopped parsley to the orzo and combine well.
10. When the pork comes out of the oven, cover it lightly with the rest of the glaze, and leave to rest for about 5-10 minutes. Serve thick slices of the pork over a small bed of the chili orzo. Finish with any leftover glaze if you have it.

This dish really brings together sweet and spicy in a way that is just elevated to a new level with elements from the vinaigrette and glaze combining to harmonize in a beautiful way, with the fresh parsley and buttery pork leading the charge to get the flavors to work so well.

I hope you really enjoy this dish! Let me know if you try to make it and what you think in the comments! As always, enjoy! =) 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Mexican Chicken Fried Rice

© Constantine William Spyrou

The great thing about food is that you can mix and match ingredients from different cultures in so many unique combinations that thousands of variations of thousands of dishes are made all over the world. Each family has their own way of doing classic dishes, such as lasagna or meatloaf or even how they cook their steak. For our family, our main variation dish has always had to do with rice. Rice is a highly universal food that comes from multiple cultures. We tend to use Jasmine rice and serve it with anything from Arabic lamb kibbeh (meatballs) to Thai yellow curry chicken and even a classic marina bolognese sauce. Fried rice is another major variation our family likes to cook, and we've added everything from leftover ham and steak to edamame to a fried rice dish before. That gave me the idea to create a Mexican style of fried rice with my favorite cuisine- Greek! 

Now, I do realize that I have done fried rice in the past, but hear me out. This is more of a combination of two different rice dishes rather than a fried rice dish. This dish combines the traditional fried rice with a savory, tangy, and delicious arroz con crema. This traditional Mexican side dish is made with sour cream (which will be replaced by Greek Yogurt in this recipe) and vegetables and cheese. All of these things go really well with eggs, and that gets really showcased in this creamy and delicious dish. Served with grilled chicken mixed into the rice, this will really be a treat! 

Recipe makes 8 servings.

For the Chicken:

4 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup Mexican Oregano
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Salt and Pepper to season

For the Rice: 

6 cups jasmine rice, cooked
6 whole eggs (DO NOT BEAT THEM)
2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup diced roasted poblano chili (To make this, fire roast a poblano pepper over a burner until all of the skin is blackened, then peel off the skin and remove the seeds and stalk. Dice. )
1/4 cup sweet corn
Salt and pepper to season


1. Combine all of the spices for the chicken and the lime zest/juice and marinate the chicken with it by massaging it into the meat gently. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to combine.
2. Place the toasted sesame oil and canola oil in a hot pan, and cook the chicken thoroughly. This should take about 5-6 minutes.
3. This is the crucial step! When the chicken is almost done, crack all 6 eggs into a small pot and add the butter. Slowly heat the eggs, whisking them vigorously and continuously as the butter melts and the eggs become scrambled and creamy. When they look about 90% done, take the stove off of the heat and combine the Greek Yogurt with the eggs. The eggs will finish cooking due to carryover, so there is no need for the pot to go back on the stove. Season the eggs, stir, and set aside.
4. When the chicken is fully cooked, take it out of the pan.
5. Add in the onions, bell peppers, green onion, and poblano chili. Let the vegetables sweat for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with soy sauce and chicken stock. Season the vegetables as well.
6. Return to the chicken to the pan, and cook for about 1 minute, mixing thoroughly with the vegetables. Do the same with the eggs right afterward.
7. As soon as the eggs enter the pan, add your rice and corn and mix well. Add more soy sauce and pepper to your liking, and serve with fresh chopped green onion and cilantro leaves as a garnish.

The creamy style of cooking scrambled eggs is really what brings this dish to the next level and makes it almost a luxurious, risotto-style fried rice. Adding in the fresh vegetables and garnish also elevates it to that next level.

I hope you enjoy this dish! Let me you know what you think, and if you make it at home, tell me how it turns out! Enjoy! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

NEW RECIPE: Spicy Zatt'ar Chicken Hash

© Constantine William Spyrou

Sorry it's been a while guys! I'm taking a lot of classes this quarter for college and have had very little time to actually go onto the computer and do normal human being things. Really, all I do right now is eat, study, sleep, and try to have a social life (you can guess how well that works). Honestly, though, I'm keeping my nutrition at optimal levels, and it's helping me stay energized and not fall asleep in class!

One of the main reasons that I pull that off is I get a good breakfast every morning. Usually, it'll be rice and tofu or some other protein and carb combination. Having breakfast all the time got me thinking about unique breakfast combinations I could make. Now, one of the classic carb and protein combos has to be corned beef hash, but hash could be done with just about anything. I decided to craft a breakfast hash that has chicken and zatt'ar in it! Zatt'ar is a Middle Eastern spice that is very similar to thyme. It has a great, deep flavor, and goes especially well with chicken. It's traditionally served brushed on top of pita bread with olive oil and baked, so I tried my best to get similar flavors to that by roasting the chicken beforehand with the zatt'ar, and adding as many levels of roasted flavor as possible. I also like to eat spicy in the morning to get adrenaline flowing, so this breakfast hash is going to have a little kick!

Recipe will make 8 servings of hash.


2 pounds boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup zatt'ar spice mix
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons sambal oelek (spicy chili paste)
2 pounds parboiled potatoes (I prefer smaller potatoes such as Yukon Gold for this hash)
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons rosemary
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced tricolor bell peppers
Salt and pepper to season
1-2 poached eggs per serving of hash (up to the liking of the person eating)
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, the zatt'ar, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper until well mixed. Rub the chicken breasts in this mixture, and bake for 20 minutes.
2. Chop the chicken coarsely and add to a mixing bowl. Add the parboiled potatoes, rosemary, a little more olive oil, crushed garlic, onion, bell peppers, sambal oelek, and some more seasoning to taste. Combine until well mixed, but don't overmix! You want to have the great texture of the chicken in there.
3. Place a small amount of olive oil in a hot pan. When it starts to smoke, add in a portion (about 1/8th of what you have made) of the hash mixture into the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, ensuring that the sides are nice and crisp. After your first flip would be a good time to poach the eggs for that serving.
4. Place the hash on a plate, lay the poached eggs over the top, and garnish with the fresh cilantro.

Pre-roasting the chicken allows the toasted flavor of zatt'ar to really come out and shine in this dish, especially with the brightness of the lemon bringing it to the forefront. This dish is really all about the zatt'ar, which is quite delicious and works with all of the ingredients beautifully.

I hope you enjoy this dish! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)