24 September 2009

Perfect Summer Lunch with Tzatziki

First of all - Happy Birthday to my sister, Laura, today!!

Phew. I am still trying to get caught up from my weekend in Chicago. In case you missed it, Laura posted many more details and pictures on her blog about our adventure. It truly was a wonderful, whirlwind trip, and I am really happy I got to do with my big sister. It was like our last big adventure before I move away (and really, we haven't had any super-cool-adventures since she had kids, so that was extra fun too!). Anyway, go check out her blog if you are interested in more U2 pictures or her ode to Rick Bayless - who 110% totally deserves his reputation as a Mexican Food God. O I wish I could live closer to his restaurants... so freakin' tasty.

But life goes back to normal in Ohio... well kind of normal...I was back and forth to my little brother's house last week for my niece's birthday party and other visits. My sister in law made awesome food again - especially, as usual, the delicious Kielbasa and Sauerkraut and a really tasty Jello creation with cranberries that I am going to have to get the recipe for! Also, my roommate is moving out since I am getting ready to move to Massachusetts to be with my boyfriend. Which in turn means I need to get my butt in gear and start packing. I have no official moving date, but there is a tentative closing date on his house which is my current guiding light - October 30th. Understandably, my blogging and cooking are sporadic at best with my inability to concentrate on anything.

But in true procrastination mode, onto food! Greek food in fact. Greek food always seems really complicated to me - I rarely feel like attempting to make it at home. Which is pretty strange considering much of it is simple and easy to throw together. I think this must be one of my mental blocks, of which I seem to have many! :) I think Greek food does dips better than any other cuisine other than maybe Mexican. Anything you put in a food processor and can schmear on pita or vegetables, makes me so happy. I was flipping channels (more procrastination!) and noticed a tv chef making tzatziki, I decided I should try it at home - how hard could it be? I am thrilled I took the plunge.

I had a large container of my favorite Greek yogurt in the refrigerator- Fage 0%- and I decided to drain some of the yogurt overnight. I have always heard that yogurt gets even better with draining, and I must admit it was shocking how much thicker and creamier a no-fat yogurt can become. It was like thicker whipped cream cheese, or a really dense ricotta. I could have eaten it with a little salt on crackers on its own. But I went ahead and consulted a Martha Stewart book and adapted her Tzatziki recipe to suit my tastes. The cucumber and dill are such a lovely combination. You should try it too - so yummy on any vegetable or bread, and I discovered I love it on hard-boiled egg whites! (I give my dogs my hard-boiled egg yolks since I don't care for them, but it would probably be tasty on the whole egg.)

adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, The Original Classics
(my changes are in red)

Makes 1 Quart

This Middle Eastern condiment is often paired with spicy foods; yogurt tames the heat of chiles and spices.

3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (I coarsely shredded on a box grater and used large pickling cukes - so no need to seed or completely peel)
2 t kosher salt
2 c plain yogurt (I used Fage 0% and drained it overnight in a paper-towel lined colander set over a bowl in the refrigerator)
2 t minced garlic (I used one small clove) 2 T minced fresh dill
1 T minced fresh mint (I ommitted and subbed in 1 T fresh basil)
1 T extra-virgin olive oil (I accidentally omitted, but the drained yogurt didn't need it)
1 T fresh lemon juice

In a colander, toss cucumbers and 1 teaspoon salt. Place colander in sink; let drain 20-30 minutes. Press cucumbers to extract the excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl; mix in yogurt, garlic, dill, mint, oil, lemon juice, and remaining salt. Chill about 1 hour for the flavors to blend; serve at room temperature. (I added freshly ground pepper and added the salt to taste)


Laura said...

I have been on a Middle Eastern food kick (another recipe coming up sometime in the next several days) and have been thinking I wanted to learn to make tzatziki. I must confess it would never have occurred to me to drain Greek yogurt! It is so dense already!

Looks fabulous. Thanks for the bday shout out and links. :)

Grace said...

i'm CRAZY about tzatziki, and greek food in general. i've never even bothered attempting to recreate anything except tzatziki at home, and it's still just not as good. excellent use of fage, though--that's some good stuff!