Mediterranean-spiced Lamb Sliders
For the topping
Place the yogurt and tapenade (or olives) in a medium bowl and mix to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the sliders
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl and, using your clean hands, mix until just combined. Split the meat into 4 equal portions and shape each piece into a patty that is ½-inch-thick and roughly ½-inch wider than the burger buns.
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 450°F to 550°F). Rub grates with oil to prevent sticking.
Place the patties on the grill, close the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip each patty and cook with grill closed until the patties are firm to the touch. Remove to a clean plate and let rest in a warm place for a few minutes before assembling sliders.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of the topping on each top and bottom bun (you may have some topping leftover). Divide red onions and cucumber slices amongst slider roll bottoms, top with a patty, then garnish each with remaining ingredients. Top with the bun and serve immediately.
Whole-Wheat Slider Buns
Makes: 8 buns
1 cup low-fat milk
⅓ cup lukewarm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 large egg, at room temperature lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil
1 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour
1 ¾ cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the surface just begins to shimmer. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour water into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir, then add 1 tablespoon of the all-purpose flour. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk into the milk.
Next, add the egg; whisk well. Whisk in sugar, salt, and oil. Stir in whole-wheat flour. Using a dough hook on the electric mixer, make sure the flour is well incorporated. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Start adding all-purpose flour to the dough, about ⅓ cup at a time, beating well (with dough hook attachment) after each addition. When the dough is somewhat firm and no longer too sticky to handle, continue to ‘knead’ in the mixer for another 5 minutes or until the dough is no longer tacky to the touch. You may need to add more flour if the dough seems too moist.
Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Using a dough cutter or chef's knife, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and dust it with cornmeal. Shape the dough into tight balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Coat a large sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it over the buns, sprayed side down.
Set the buns in a warm, draft-free spot until they have risen by about half, 25 to 30 minutes. Gently press down on the buns, pressing right on the plastic, to flatten them a little. Let them rise for another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove plastic and bake the buns on the center rack until golden and crusty, about 25 minutes. The bottoms should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
In Your Glass
This summer entrée invites fun experimentation with wine. Some of Doug and Annette’s favorite bottles with this have been fruit-forward Pinot Noir from Burgundy, a Syrah-Grenache blend from the Rhône Valley or elegant reds such as Shafer’s Merlot. Ultimately you’ll probably be happiest with a wine offering juicy red and black fruit to go nicely with both the richness of the lamb and the savory Mediterranean flavors of the spices and toppings.
Grilled Corn with Lime and Queso Fresco
4 ears of fresh corn in husk with silk removed; soaked in water 30 minutes prior to preparation
2 limes, cut in half
4 oz. queso fresco
Heat the grill to medium high. Place corn directly onto grill and close the grill. Allow corn to steam for 5-8 minutes. Check doneness. When it is almost cooked, pull back the husks and place directly on the grill. Remove when grill marks are evident. Place back in husk pulling back one or two husks to reveal the corn. Squeeze each ear with juice from ½ lime and sprinkle 1 oz. queso fresco on top. Serve.