Excellent Greek Burger

I only know a few people who do not like olives, but I am not one of them. I love them. I love them stuffed, put in drinks, and placed in all kinds of foods. I think one of my favorite olives is the kalamata. Every time I pass by them in the market, I buy a small container of them. There is something about the meaty little things, and it probably has something to do with the perfect amount of saltiness and meatiness of them. So as I recently picked up a container of them, and I wanted to actually use them in a dish (rather than nibbling on them), and I immediately thought of a burger; a Greek burger.

Greek Burger with Tzatziki Sauce

So this past weekend was just beautiful in Milwaukee, and we were blessed to have our nephews over for a whole day. It was a perfect day for grilling and a great day to experiment with a new burger.


  • 1 1/2 lb of fresh ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb of ground sirloin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • red onion, thick slices
  • kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • tzatziki sauce
  • buns, toasted

Lately I have been grinding my own meat, probably because I am losing more and more faith in the common ground meat that you pick up in the market, and I would prefer to know that the cut of meat I am buying, is a bit more pure, in a general sense, plus I have a meat grinder attachment. So start by breaking down your meat into large chunks, and grind it down. Mix both meats in a large bowl with the minced garlic, mint, oregano, and salt and pepper. Now you have to make the choice here. Do you want to add in your olives and feta cheese at this point in time? I do not, as I prefer a bit of a nice presentation at the end, but the choice is yours.

Mix well, and form into patties. Depending on who you have over, you can shape the patties large or small. I was serving my wife, sister-n-law, and my nephews, so the patties were on the smaller side. Once formed, place them on a large plate and let them chill in the refrigerator for roughly 3o minutes.

Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill grates, and place the patties on the grill. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side. Before removing from the grill, place the crumbled feta on top of each burger. Cover, and cook just another minute or so, lowering the heat. The cheese will not melt, but it will soften and warm up.

During this time, place your buns on the grill to get some nice grill marks, warm them up, and build a nice texture.

Remove the buns and burger from the grill. Place one patty on a bun, place a slice of red onion on top, spoon in the tzatziki sauce inside the ring, and place the kalamata olives on top. Serve with homemade french fries with lemon zest and parsley.

Trust me on this one. The tender meat, and the lamb bring this burger up to the next level. Tzatziki sauce is a killer condiment as well, and now I am thinking it should be put on most every burger. Enjoy.

Homemade French Fries with Lemon Zest and Parsley

Homemade Crispy French Fries RecipeIt must be everyone’s all-time favorite. French fries. I do not know if you are like me, but I grew up on fries, probably due to the Sunday night meals at McDonald’s. The salty, crispy goodness that keeps you coming back for more. There are so many varieties, and so many options when it comes to french fries, that when you have a great batch, you know it, and when you have a bad batch, you know it.

My kids love french fries. They could probably eat them every night if they could. Sure, I buy the frozen four dollar bag of fries for them as they are quick and easy, but I also make them, homemade, and I make sure they know what they are getting. There is no rocket science to making good fries, but there is a process, and there are other options besides dipping these into ketchup. Granted ketchup is the preferred sauce by many, however you should never pass up things like garlic mayonnaise, mustard blends, or what I did, and sprinkled sea salt, a cracked pepper blend, as well as lemon zest and chopped parsley.

Lets get started on the french fries.


  • 4 large russet potatoes, cleaned, skin on
  • large bowl of ice water
  • 3 cups (or more) of Canola oil
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • sea salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Begin by taking your potatoes, and place it on your cutting board, length-wise. Cut it into about 1/2 inch strips length-wise. You should get about 4-5 strips. Lay them flat and cut into about 1/4 inch strips, or the width of how you want your fries. Repeat the process with the remaining potatoes.

Add all of the potato strips to the large bowl of ice water. Soak for roughly 45 minutes. Drain, and pat them dry with a large towel. Heat a large pot with the canola oil to roughly 350 degrees. Add the dry dries, in batches, and cook for only a few minutes per batch, roughly 4-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let place in a strainer to let any excess oil drain. Repeat the process until the rest is cooked.

Next, jack up the heat a bit with the oil, around 375 degrees. Add the precooked fries back in the oil and cook for another 3-6 minutes until nice and golden brown. Remove with the slotted spoon and let drain for about a minute.

Place in a large bowl and season with the salt, pepper, lemon zest and chopped parsley. Toss, and serve. The seasonings alone do not need any condiment on these, however feel free to work your french fry your style. You know how you like them. It’s hard to change, but the zest and parsley really take it to another level.


While growing up in Milwaukee, there was not a whole lot of Greek food to be found. Sure, we had the common diner joints in the neighborhood (Omega) where you could get a roasted chicken, gyro, or a Greek salad, but beyond that you had to drive to the East side of town to get a really good Greek gyro. I really think that there needs something to be said about Greek food as the simple ingredients, really pays off in huge flavors. Whenever I am reminded of those flavors, I quickly turn to my pantry of ingredients to try to recreate something that is so wonderful. You have probably seen this with my homemade gyros on the grill, and as I really wanted to make the gyros this past week, I needed something quick and easy, hence souvlaki.  Don’t be startled by the sound of this dish as the name souvlaki is simply meat on a skewer, or what I like to say ‘meat on a stick’, and who doesn’t love meat on a stick?.  Souvlaki is basically a Greek kebob, typically made with pork or chicken.

Souvlaki Recipe

This dish is really easy to make, and you can have some authentic Greek souvlaki served up for your next game day in no time. You friends and family will certainly be impressed by the souvlaki served on warm pita, and what is becoming my favorite condiment right now, Tzatziki Sauce.

Let’s get started.

  • 2 1/2 pounds of pork shoulder, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • generous pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • Pita bread
  • Chopped tomatoes (optional)
  • Tzatziki Sauce (optional)
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

That’s it. Simple ingredients yielding huge flavors. Begin by mixing all of the dry and wet ingredients in a bowl. Take your cubed pork and place in a large ziplock bag. Add in the marinade and massage into the pork. Seal and place the bag in the refrigerator for nearly 30-60 minutes, longer if you can.

Take about 3-4 cubes of pork and place on a skewer. Repeat the process. When cooking, you have some alternatives. Grill, or place under the broiler. Depending on the season, you can do this indoors or out, which I really like. Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. Place your skewers on the grill and cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, moving your skewers accordingly.

You have options now. Serve your guests the skewers (great with beer) and have them eat the pork off of the stick, or remove the pork and place in warm pita bread with chopped tomatoes, Tzatziki sauce, and chopped parsley.

These skewers bring Greek flavors right in your very own home. No more of that family diner, or a road trip to a downtown location. Simple, fast, and fun.

Jalapeno Poppers

One of my favorite bar foods has to be jalapeno poppers. A jalapeno pepper, stuffed with cheese, and either deep fried, or baked, lends itself to be packed full of flavor. Granted it has been awhile since I have bellied up at a bar to enjoy a beer, a jalapeno popper appetizer, and a game, but the thought of these morsels has not escaped me.

I love the flavor of a jalapeno pepper. It has just the right amount of heat, and you can easily transform its texture from the solid crunch you get out of it, to a soft tender pepper, in no time at all. My preference when using jalapenos is to have a nice, crisp texture, allowing for full flavor and a bit more heat. Great examples of the use of fresh jalapenos can be found on my Stuffed Jalapenos recipe as well as Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup. These poppers were not exception to that rule.

Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]

  • 3 slices of good bacon, cooked, and crumbled
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8-12 large jalapeno peppers, cored (see below) and seeded
  • 12 oz can of good, amber beer (something you would want to drink)
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • white cornmeal
  • 2 cups of white cornmeal
  • wax paper
  • 3 cups of canola oil

You have a couple of options when coring and seeding jalapenos. You can do what I did and use an old school vegetable peeler and use the end to poke and dig around the core, using the edges to remove the insides, including all of the seeds. If you do not want to go this route, you can cut them in half, lengthwise, and remove the ribs and seeds.  This is an important step as you do not want your guests biting into a jalapeno seed, getting the hiccups, and having a real fire in their mouth. Continue this process with all of the jalapeno peppers.

* Be careful not to touch any body part with your hands. The heat from the ribs and seeds will actually burn if you touch the wrong spot on your body. Wash your hands with warm water and soap, thoroughly.

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, crumbled bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese. Next get your batter and dredging station ready. Get two bowls out and to one add the flour. Mix the seasonings into the flour. Add the beer until, close to 10 ounces until you have a really thick batter. To your other bowl add the white cornmeal.

Prepare to get messy. This part takes a bit of time, and can be fun for the kids if they are the type to want to get messy as well. The goal is to stuff the jalapenos with the cheese mixture, stuffing tightly just below the top. You can use your pinkie finger, you can use a chopstick, you can squeeze it in there. You will quickly figure out and define your own process for this. Once they are all stuffed, they will go into the batter.

Using your index finger and thumb, hold both ends of the jalapeno pepper, and mix into the beer batter. Make sure it is full coated, and let any batter drip off. Take the white breadcrumbs, and with your other hand, generously sprinkle onto the batter, making sure you coat the pepper. Place a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat this process.

Once the peppers have been coated, place the baking sheet into the freezer for about 45 minutes to one hour. This holds the batter together and ensures a nice fry.

Heat your oil to about 350 degrees. Place a few peppers at a time into the oil until they are nice and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and let any access oil drain on some paper towel, or wire rack. The batter that helped coat the pepper prevents any cheese from coming out. Pretty cool. Repeat this process. Plate and serve. The pepper is perfectly coated, with a great crunch and packed full of melted cheese and bacon. Crunch, heat, and deliciousness all around, this jalapeno popper is worth the time and effort.