Tag Archives: West Michigan Co-op

Lamb Souvlaki with Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Greek Salad

Okay, so it’s not really souvlaki because the lamb’s not skewered, but that’s  the name of the recipe so I’m sticking with it. This recipe came from ABC Hobart, a radio station in Tasmania, Australia.

As usual, I improvised. For one thing, it’s hard to find good pita bread in West Michigan at the last minute without going to Mediterranean Island in Grand Rapids, so I actually used flour tortillas as a substitute. (These also work well to accommodate Bill’s wheat allergy; even though the tortillas are made with wheat, his reaction to tortillas is less severe than for pita bread.)

Where’s the lamb, you might ask? It’s hidden under the salad. Basically, the tortilla (or pita) serves as a holder for the halloumi and the lamb; then you pile the Greek salad on top. It’s a great dish to make in the summer because of the cool salad components. And, there’s not much cooking to do. I included this recipe in my “Food Over a Fire” category because all you need is an iron skillet for cooking the lamb and browning the cheese. Bill and I actually prefer making this dish with ground lamb, which doesn’t need to be marinated. This lamb is from Creswick Farms, via the West Michigan Co-op, until our lamb order from Lubbers Farm is ready in the fall.

Once it was browned, I drained the fat and continued frying it until was nice and crispy, then added ground cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper. (I omitted the oregano in this step because I planned to add fresh oregano leaves to the salad component.)

Next, I heated up the tortillas on a griddle and put them on plates, covered, to keep warm. (You could do this in a skillet over a campfire or wrap them in foil to warm them slowly.) Then I cut the halloumi cheese into slices between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick (so they don’t fall apart) and fried them in a very light coating of olive oil until nicely browned on both sides.

Then I cut the cheese slices down the middle in order to distribute them on the tortilla.

Next, I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on the cheese and sprinkled the ground lamb all over the tortilla.

Meanwhile, I combined tomatoes, olive oil, salt, fresh lemon juice, cucumbers, fresh chopped oregano, and fresh chopped mint in a bowl to create the Greek salad. The herbs came right from my garden and the vegetables are from the Holland Farmers’ Market.

For the final assembly, I put mixed greens on top of the tortilla-halloumi-lamb mixture and added the Greek salad, garnishing with kalamata olives.

Stay tuned for my next lamb recipe showing how I used up the leftovers!

Pork Steak on the Grill

During oven season, which–in Michigan–runs from about September through May, Bill and I like to braise pork steaks, which we have been buying from Creswick Farms through the West Michigan Co-op until we get our meat order at Lubbers Farm later this summer.

Now that it’s grilling season, I wondered how I could cook pork steaks outside, since they are a relatively new entity in my world. (I’d never heard of them until I bought half a pig a couple years ago). 

Last weekend I got this idea: Why not grill a pork steak the way we grill a ribeye? Both steaks are from grassfed animals so the key is to grill them for a short period of time. Bill insists the one-minute sear per side is key, and I agree–that’s how it stays moist.

At first I was inspired by Muzzy’s Magic Texas BBQ Rub, which is made of: sugar, chili pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, onion, celery, cumin, and black pepper. With sugar as the lead ingredient, it was a bit sweet for me, so I decided to use the rub in combination with the Grilled Grassfed Ribeye Steak recipe I posted in March. Here’s how I improvised:

I mixed the rub with about a teaspoon more paprika, then added some more salt, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. After rubbing the meat with garlic and olive oil, I sprinkled the spice rub on both sides.

For the pork steak, we seared each side for one minute on a very hot grill (around 500 degrees) with the center burner off. Then we cooked each side for 3 minutes (for a one-pound,  3/4-inch steak). After that, we let it rest, covered, for at least 5 minutes.

Instead of the balsamic-caper vinaigrette from the recipe, I simply squeezed some fresh lime juice on the meat before serving. We couldn’t believe how juicy the meat was!

For sides, we had saffron risotto and roasted asparagus (done in foil on the grill before we put the meat on).


Supporting Local Suppliers: Good, But Not Good Enough

I’ve heard pretty good things about The Winchester on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So Bill and I stopped there last night after our food pick-up at the West Michigan Co-op. Normally, our tradition is to eat at the Electric Cheetah when we pick up our food, but this time we diverted from our routine to taste something different.

As I seem to harp about every time I go out to eat around here, The Winchester–like many other restaurants–is lacking in menu descriptions. While there were some references to local suppliers such as Mud Lake Farm (our CSA) and Sobie Meats, not every meat on the menu is listed by its source.

This is what I’m trying to encourage restaurateurs to do. It’s great that The Winchester includes a disclaimer at the bottom, which says they “proudly serve meats from Sobie Meats of Grand Rapids, Mud Lake Farm of Hudsonville, and Ingraberg Farms of Rockford” (although the latter two are produce suppliers, not meat suppliers). I love that they list their primary suppliers. But what about the Mahi Mahi in the Fish Tacos? Is it sustainably caught? And the Pulled Pork isn’t described as local, like the “ground local beef” in the Tavern Burger and the “braised local lamb” in the Gyro.

When I asked our server if the ground beef was grassfed he said it was pastured. That gave me comfort, although I wasn’t sure if that meant the cow was pastured for its whole life or just part of it. If it is, indeed, grassfed, why not add this attribute to the menu description? It would be so much easier for us consumers to get all the information we need in one place, and to believe that the restaurant’s intentions are to accommodate not only local businesses, but also good animal welfare practices.

In the end, I opted for the Mixed Greens from Mud Lake Farm and the Butternut Squash Pierogies with braised cabbage. I’m glad I did because, when I looked up Sobie’s Meats on the web today, their website describes their products as “Locally grown beef & pork; prime-cut steaks; fresh chicken; homemade kielbasa; sausages; jerky; bacon; hormone free.” All good selling points, but just a hair away from letting me feel good about eating Sobie Meats.

Don’t get me wrong….I love the idea of supporting our local businesses. I’m just looking for that next step away from feedlot meat to grassfed meat.