The Oldest Festival in Austin + Mediterranean Recipes

Mediterrean Festival Food_Shish Kebab with Red Wine PairingI thought we should all start this day off by remembering the time¬†that I noshed a chicken shish kebab from Phoenicia Bakery¬†topped with lots of creamy tatziki like it was my job. My job. Yes! I love Mediterranean food! Maybe you remember that Lebanese dinner party!?! So fun. Or the greek gyro? Or the time my friend taught us to make lamb dolmas? Or the time I nailed a good homemade recipe for Grandma’s Hummus, yes THAT one! I love the freshness and herby goodness that often comes with Mediterranean food! In case you are as into this kind of food as I am, this weekend is the 83rd St. Elias Mediterranean Festival! You heard right that would make this the longest running festival in Austin. In town that loves it’s festivals, I think this one should get a little more recognition! So here I am to tell you about it!

I met up with Sandra Spalding from Twin Liquors earlier this week and she gave me a great tip for pairing food and wine at the festival this weekend, her favorite is a salty savory shish kebab, usually served with cooling yogurt pairs wonderfully with the full bodied elegant reds of Lebanon, specifically the Ixsir Red! Needless to say, I tried it out last night and indeed it’s delicious in case you were wondering!

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Semi Homemade Lunch-able

This is one of my secret favs. Simple, throw it together and little bit nostalgic all at the same time. I mean who didnt secretly like lunchables as a kid? As adult, the slimy meat weirds me out and the laundry list of ingredients is well, weird. But never fear! I’ve got just the thing!

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It’s easy, it’s kind-of homemade… I mean crackers are not something I usually make at home the reg.

For my semi-homemade lunchable, you’ll need:
Hummus- I make my own using this recipe
Crackers- I went with Triscuits this time
Baby bell peppers
Sharp white cheddar
Cucumber slices
Baby carrots

Throw it all in a little container and it’s perfect for lunch at work, or a snack, or a picnic or road trip… Or I could go on. You get it, they are great for everything!

You could switch your semi-homemade lunchable up and add grapes or berries or even a little protein.

Enjoy!

Super Simple Greek Gyro

Growing up I loved Oreos. I do not use the word loved lightly either. My madre always kept them in a pink glass jar on the very top shelf in the cabinet. The jar was exactly large enough to hold an entire package of Oreos minus one, because obviously you must eat one while unpacking them. My mother’s attempt to hide my beloved Oreos only turned me into kitchen-climbing-ninja-monkey. I’m a total pro at scaling cabinets, pantries, the dairy case at the grocery store… You name it, my petite stature does not keep me away from my goodies!

Of course, that was until one day I sank about 12 Oreos in a glass of milk and ate myself sick. My sweet, crumbly, chocolatey cookies never quite had the same appeal. Eventually the longing for Oreos went away almost completely. Every now and then I like to enjoy a few crumbled Oreos on my coffee gelato, but that’s about as far as it goes.

It seems that in my life in general I have this same over indulgence issue. I get super excited about a new food or project, but then I burn out fast. I think it’s just my personality, to go all in. Then I wind up bored, restless and ready for the next big thing. As I get older, I find this happening less and less. I still get super excited, but I’m better at gauging my expectations and knowing what will ultimately leave me satisfied time and time again.

And what leaves me satisfied time and time again? Greek food. It’s true. It’s so good, healthy, filling and brings in some unique, fresh flavors. After a week hiatus , I was eager to get back in the kitchen, my happy place. And what better welcome back meal than a semi-homemade gyro.

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Best thing about this recipe, it’s quick, healthy and a lot of the ingredients can be bought fresh, but already prepared. This is perfect for those of you wanting to try your hand at a simple weeknight meal.

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For this recipe, you’ll need:
1 1/2 lbs thinly cut beef or lamb
Naan
Marinated kalamata olives and feta (in the fine cheese case)
Cucumber
Red onion
Hummus
1 teaspoon of each: kosher salt, ground mustard, cayenne, coriander
1/4 teaspoon all spice

Whisk dry spices together.

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Massage the spices evenly into all sides of the meat.

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Heat in a skillet over medium high heat.

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Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Since the meat is thin, it should cook quickly.

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At an angle, thinly slice the meat into strips.

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Load up the naan with your favorite hummus , then stack on the beef, cucumber, onions, olives and feta.

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Now dig into your hearty Greek gyro that took you about 20 minutes start to finish to make!

Enjoy!

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