Tag Archives: greek food

Homemade Gyro Meat

So I think it’s pretty evident that I’m on a Greek food kick.  First it was the homemade Greek salad, and then after seeing Emily’s tzatziki dip, I knew it was time to make homemade gyro meat and treat myself to quite possibly one of the best Greek salads I’ve had in a long time.

homemade gyro meat saladI don’t know what it is about Orange County, but we seem to be severely lacking in the Greek food department.  The closest I ever got was Chicken Dijon, but that has since closed and wasn’t the most authentic shop in town anyway.  If I wanted gyro, I was going to have to make it myself.

At first I wasn’t even sure I could make homemade gyro meat because I don’t have a rotisserie.  Then I stumbled upon this genius recipe on serious eats and realized I could turn my gyro dreams into a reality.

While this may not be exactly like the gyro meat you get at a proper restaurant, it’s pretty dang close.  Plus, from start to finish this recipe only takes about 40 minutes, so you’ll have delicious homemade gyro meat in no time!

homemade gyro meat wrapThe best part of this meat is how versatile it is.  I had it on top of my homemade Greek salad, and the Englishman enjoyed it in a wrap.  Paired with Emily’s tzatziki dip, some feta and olive oil, and it was perfection.

Now I need to plan a trip to Greece.

Homemade Gyro Meat (adapted from Serious Eats)


1 pound ground lamb

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground pepper

2 tbsp bay leaves

1 tsp herbs de Provence

1/2 onion, cut into large chunks

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced.


In a large mixing bowl combine your lamb, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper and mix well.  Place your bow in the fridge for about an hour to let the flavors marinate.

Preheat your oven to 300F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place your chopped onion and garlic on the sheet.

homemade gyro meat ground lambRemove your meat from the fridge and mold into a rectangular loaf.  The loaf should be thin and not too thick (about 1.5 in high).  Place bay leaves on top of your meat.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until the lamb is fully cooked through.  Remove from oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

homemade gyro meat slicesSlice your meat into thin strips.  Set your oven to broil and place meat back in the oven on a baking sheet and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the ends are nice and crispy.

Now it’s time to enjoy your homemade gyro meat!  It’s perfect in a salad, wrap or just on its own!

homemade gyro meat bowlIf you aren’t a big lamb fan this recipe also works well with ground beef.

Any other Greek food fans out there?  What do I need to make next?

Going Greek at Panini Cafe

I love, love, love Greek food.  Falafel, feta cheese, hummus, you name it, I love it.  What I don’t love is the severe lack of Greek Restaurants in Orange County.   Aside from my beloved Chicken Dijon, I’ve been less than impressed with the Greek food selection OC has to offer.

After some extensive googling and yelp searching I stumbled upon a small restaurant in Aliso Viejo – Panini Cafe, which described itself as a Mediterranean slash Italian restaurant.  The menu looked decent enough so the Englishman and I hopped in the car to check it out.

Panini Cafe is located in the main shopping center of Aliso Viejo.  There is a small cafe inside and then a delightful little patio area.  Since the patio was heated, we opted to sit outside and enjoy the mild weather.

We started with some drinks (pinot grigio for her, beer for him) and fresh pita and foccacia bread.  I really enjoyed the fact that the pita was whole wheat and not white.

For entrees I went with the Dolmadas (aka stuffed grape leaves with raisins, meat, and rice) and the Englishman went with the Moussaka (a classic Greek dish with eggplant and meat).  When the entrees arrived they were HUGE.  I’m talking easily feed 2 people huge.  Each entree came with hummus, a greek salad, and tzatziki dip.

Pile of Dolmadas

The Dolmadas were good but a bit too sweet for my liking.  I tried bites of the Englishman’s Moussaka and actually enjoyed that more.  Overall the food was decent (high marks for the hummus and tzatziki) but nothing mind-blowing.


But the price was right and the portions were plentiful enough that we had leftovers the next day.  If you do stop by Panini Cafe I definitely recommend splitting an entree or just sticking with appetizers – trust me, you get more than enough food here.

While this may not be the uber-delicious Greek food I was hoping for, it did hit the spot.  I feel a return trip is necessary, even if it is just for the whole wheat pita and hummus.

Panini Cafe

26611 Aliso Creek Road

Aliso Viejo, CA 92656