Sunday, September 30, 2012


Growing up eating Dutch, German, and Polish food, I knew nothing about Greek food except for the fact that Greek food was my favorite carnival/craft show/festival food. Tzatziki Sauce, the yogurt-cucumber sauce served on top of the meat was jewel on the crown in my opinion.  When I started to go to luncheons at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids and after I bought their cookbook, I found out how easy it is to make the sauce and the skewers of meat. This recipe became one of our favorite things for Tom and I to make for parties on the deck.

The Souvaki booth at the Art Festival in June in Grand Rapids.

There are many good Greek seasonings available in the seasoning section of the grocery stores.  I use a Greek seasoning that I purchased at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church's November luncheon. 

Souvaki can be made with chicken, beef, pork, lamb or goat.  When I make it with beef, I use a cheaper cut of meat and tenderize it with Adolph's Meat Tenderizer available in the meat section.  The tenderizer is all natural as it is made from an enzyme, papain, found in papayas.

When I serve this for dinner, I have had guests return for lunch to have the left-overs from the night before.  My family, going back to at least my Grandpa K., have always made extra food so no one would ever leave our home hungry.

Chicken, the usual amount is 1/4 pound of skinless, boneless meat per person, I make more
Olive oil
Greek seasoning
Lemon juice

Ingredients:  Chicken, or meat of choice, olive oil, Greek seasoning, and lemon juice.

Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.  Place meat pieces in a bowl and sprinkle on olive oil.  Seasoning with Greek seasoning and sprinkle with lemon juice.  Mix all together well.  Cover, refrigerate, and let the meat marinate all night or at least 8 hours.   Thread meat on skewers.  According to Tom, grill over a medium-hot fire for 15 to 20 minutes depending on heat of your fire. He flipped them every 5 minutes to brown each side. When meat is 160°, remove skewers to serving platter.  Serve with Pita bread, Taztziki Sauce, and garnishes.  We use lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber slices, onion, black olives, and Giardinier for garnishes.

Cut meat into bite-sized pieces.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle Greek seasonings.

Squeeze lemons and sprinkle juice on meat.

Mix well.  Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Thread  meat on skewers and grill.

Tom's cousin, John, grilled these Souvaki.

Matt wanted Tom to write a cookbook about grilling as Tom was a master.  He cooked everything on his Weber grills, he had three, to perfection.  After he died, I went through our blog and found directions for most of his creations.  Here are his directions for Kabobs.

TOM'S DIRECTIONS FOR GRILLING KABOBS Tom grilled ours over a medium-hot fire for 15 to 20 minutes depending on heat of your fire. He flipped them every 5 minutes to brown each side. When meat is 160°, remove skewers to serving platter.

So golden brown, so delicious.

Remove meat from skewers and serve in Pita breads with Easy Tzatziki Sauce plus garnishes of your choice.  Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!
This is one of my favorite sauces.  It is not only luscious on Souvaki, it is wonderful on hamburgers, used in place of mayonnaise in wraps, spread on sandwiches or used as a vegetable dip.  My version uses the minimum ingredients.  You can also add lemon juice, olive oil or dill.  I start my sauce by making yogurt cheese so the sauce is nice and thick so I don't have to drain off any of the delicious grated cucumber juices.  I like to use English cucumber as I like the green skin in the sauce and sometimes cucumbers have a tough skin which doesn't lend itself to using in a sauce.
 See all the ins and outs of making yogurt cheese or Labna at:
1 (32oz) container of plain yogurt without gelatin in the list of ingredients
3/4 to 1 c English cucumber
2 cloves garlic
Salt, to taste
White pepper, use black if you don't have white pepper, to taste


Ingredients:  Plain yogurt, cucumber, garlic, salt and white or black pepper.  If using Greek yogurt, I add a little honey.

Ingredients:  Plain yogurt, cucumber, garlic, salt and white or black pepper.
Put a coffee filter or a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer and put the strainer over a bowl.  Add yogurt and cover.  Let yogurt drain in the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.  Remove yogurt from the filter or cheesecloth and place in a bowl.  Grate the cucumber and mince the garlic.  Add to drained yogurt and stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover.  Refrigerate to meld flavors.  Serve chilled.

Put a coffee filter or a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer.

Put the strainer in a bowl, add yogurt to the filter-lined strainer.  Cover yogurt.  Refrigerate overnight, if possible.

Remove yogurt from refrigerator and place in a bowl.  Remove cheesecloth or filter.

The yogurt cheese.

In a food processor or on a box grater, grate cucumber.

Grated cuke.

Mince garlic.

Add cucumber and garlic to yogurt cheese.


Salt and pepper to taste.


Mix together.


Cover and chill to allow flavors to meld.  Serve over Souvaki, burgers, in wraps and sandwiches.
Tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, and onions.

Extras, if desired:  Black olives and Giardinier.

Pita bread.

Slice tomatoes.

Slice cucumbers.

Slice onions.

Shred lettuce.


Put tomatoes on top of meat.

Add cucumber slices and onion.

Top with lettuce.

Slather with lots of Tzatziki Sauce.  Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This is a different post than what I have done before as there are no pictures of how to make the recipe.  My Facebook friends from The Westsider's Club want a recipe for Cincinnati Chili.  They are eager to make some chili.  I don't really care for the Cincinnati-style chili so I am posting the recipe without the pictures. 

My sister/cousin married into a Cincinnati family and this is their old family recipe.  The original chili was created by a man who was an immigrant from Macedonian which is why the chili is made with Middle Eastern spices.  It was originally called spaghetti chili.

Cincinnati Chili is served on a bowl of spaghetti.  There is a special "WAY" Cincinnati Chili is ordered.  The chili itself can be ordered as just a bowl of sauce which is called a "Bowl".  If you order, "Two Way", you get spaghetti and chili.  "Three Way" is chili, spaghetti, and cheese.  The cheese is always a very finely shredded yellow cheese.  An order of "Four Way" is spaghetti, chili, cheese, and chopped fresh onions.  "Five Way" is spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and kidney beans.  The beans are not put into the chili, but served on top.  Oyster crackers are always served on the side with the chili no matter which way you order it.

Cincinnati Chili is also sold as a sauce for Coney Island hot dogs.  It is similar to the Coney Sauce served in Detroit and also the sauce/chili sold at Tony Packo's in Toledo.  Remember Klinger in M.A.S.H.?

Margaret's tiny perfect printing.

Gita usually doubles recipe and freezes half for later use.
 2 lb. ground beef
1 quart water
2 medium onions, grated
2 (8oz. each) cans tomato sauce
5 whole allspice
1 ½ t red pepper
1 t ground cumin
4 T chili powder
½ oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 whole cloves
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ t salt
2 T vinegar
1 large bay leaf
1 t cinnamon
In a four-quart pot, crumble ground beef into water.  Stir until beef separates to a fine texture.  ( I mash the meat with a potato or bean masher instead of stirring it)  Boil slowly for 30 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 ½ hours.  Stirring frequently.  (It may be covered during the last hour if desired consistency is reached.)  Refrigerate overnight.  Skim off fat.  Reheat.  Serve over spaghetti; add drained chili beans, sprinkle with chopped onions and grated cheese or serve over hot dogs on buns.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Yogurt cheese is not glamorous, but it is a real workhorse in the kitchen.  To make yogurt cheese is very simple and the end product is a wonderful substitute for sour cream in appetizers, salads, main dishes, desserts, or on baked potatoes. If the yogurt is allowed to drain long enough, it produces an end product with a cream cheese-type consistency which can be spread on bagels and used in recipes calling for cream cheese.   


A 32-ounce container of yogurt yields 2 cups of yogurt cheese.  The liquid drained from the yogurt, whey, is rich in protein. It can be used in making bread, muffins or soup.  I use to feed it to Katrinka, my beautiful German Shepherd.  She loved it.   Katrinka is gone now, but Izzy has taken over the "drinking the whey" job.

Fat-free mayonnaise mixed half and half with yogurt cheese is much tastier than just fat-free mayonnaise for chicken and tuna salads.  With a little mustard added to the mayonnaise and yogurt cheese, you have a great dressing for potato salads. The addition of herbs makes delicious dressings and dips, all very low fat.  I make Ranch Dressing using yogurt cheese, buttermilk and a packet of seasoning mix.   


In the Middle East yogurt cheese is called Labna. It can be whisked and sweetened with vanilla or finely grated lemon or orange zest to sweeten it to use in desserts.   A touch of honey can also be added for sweetness.  For fruit salads, I add a little vanilla extract to the yogurt cheese for a very low fat dressing. 


The brand of yogurt that you use to make the cheese is important because some brands contain gelatin. Gelatin binds the whey up; therefore, it will not drain off making it impossible to make yogurt cheese. NOTE: If you are going to use the yogurt cheese for cooking, you can stir in a tablespoon of cornstarch per cup of yogurt cheese to stabilize the yogurt when it is heated.


Plain nonfat yogurt or low-fat yogurt, a brand that does NOT list gelatin as an ingredient

Paper coffee filter or a double thickness of cheese cloth

Strainer, sieve or colander

Yogurt without gelatin in the ingredient list, coffee filter or cheesecloth, strainer, and bowl in which to place the strainer.

Line strainer with coffee filter or cheese cloth; place on a bowl.  Put yogurt into lined strainer.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate. Allow liquid, the whey, to drain from the yogurt until yogurt cheese is desired consistency.  The longer it drains the thicker and more like cream cheese than sour cream it gets.  

Line a strainer with a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth.
Put yogurt into the filter.

The whey separated from the yogurt cheese after refrigerating the yogurt overnight.

The yogurt cheese.

Remove the filter or cheesecloth.

 The yogurt cheese is ready to use for sauces, dressing, desserts, or baking.
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!

Last summer I made yogurt cheese out of the new, to me, Greek yogurt.  Now I don't know what happened.  Is Greek yogurt more sour?  I was excited to make the yogurt cheese with Greek yogurt as I was using it to make Greek Tzatziki Sauce, yogurt cucumber sauce, to serve with my Greek Kabobs. 
I took a taste of the yogurt cheese made from the Greek yogurt and my mouth puckered up until my lips looked like Donald Duck's beak or bill.  I guess a duck's beak is called a bill.  Anyway I looked and sounded like Donald Duck.  I was shocked.  I quickly put in a little honey to tone down the sourness and then proceed to make my sauce.  Tom's cousins were waiting to dinner so there was no time to waste.
I haven't tried using Greek Yogurt since then, but I know it has become extremely possible.  If you try making yogurt cheese or Labna with Greek yogurt, please, let me know how it comes out for you.   

 Making Tzatziki last summer with Greek yogurt.