Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)


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Throw away your ranch dressing! It’s awful for you.
Well, at least try this first.

This is one of the easiest, most delicious, healthy, versatile dips/sauces you can make, and I urge everyone to give it a fair chance.

Tzatziki: Tzatziki, tzadziki, or tsatsiki (Greek: τζατζίκι [dzaˈdzici] or [dʒaˈdʒici]; English pronunciation: /zæˈdziːkiː/)
You’ve probably seen tzatziki on top of your gyro, or served along side pita wedges as a part of a mezze.  Greeks do meze / mezze / mezzedes  like the Spanish do tapas:  small plates of food shared amongst diners.

IMG 1296 300x225   Tzatziki (Greek yogurt / cucumber dip)

Cucumber, lemon, fennel, yogurt

There are variations on this dip, but in general these are the ingredients:

  • Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani, which I love and is fat-free.  I also love the Total/Fage brand.  Whichever is on sale)
  • Diced cucumber, and additional sliced cucumber to dip/garnish
  • Garlic or garlic powder (if you don’t have time to let it sit overnight, use powder)
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt, pepper
  • Optional but delicious: dill or Fennel (I used fennel and loved this). I highly recommend these herb scissors I just received as a gift from my mom ( Beach Dazed) as they have 4 blades that slice your fresh herbs right into your bowl–no waste of flavor or herbs, and quite a time saver.
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    Fennel leaves

  • Parsley, mint, and olive oil are all optional enhancements.  Feel free to play around.

Greek yogurt, which is frequently fat-free, is high in protein (higher than other yogurts), has a thicker, creamier texture than other yogurt, and can be used as a substitute for cream and other products in baking and cooking.  For instance, replace cream, cheese, or coconut milk in a curry with Greek Yogurt.  It works, and is delicious. I’ve done it many times.
How I made this batch of tzatziki that had me “mmmmm-ing” with everything I dipped into it (zucchini fritters, dolmades / stuffed grape leaves, cucumbers, keftedes / meatballs, bread… etc.):

  1. Get a large container of greek yogurt and transfer to a larger bowl.
  2. Peel 1/2 of a cucumber, dice and add to the yogurt.
  3. Take the other 1/2 of the cucumber (skin on, if you like) and slice it thickly for dipping/garnishing
  4. Add a healthy squeeze of lemon (1/2 a lemon or less will do, to taste) to the yogurt dip
  5. Sprinkle in a little garlic powder (to taste, again, but tzatziki should be garlicky). You can add fresh minced garlic if you have time to let the dip sit overnight, to absorb the flavors.
  6. Chop 1/3 cup fresh fennel leaves into the dip, or dill if you have that.  I recommend using these herb scissors, they made my life SO much easier (above).
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste
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sliced cucumber, and tzatziki before mixing

Enjoy!! Use as a dip for raw veggies, meze foods, fritters, meatballs, pita or bread.  The prep time is only 5 minutes!

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Tzatziki served with Dolmades (grape leaves), Keftedes (meatballs), and Zucchini Fritters

May 3, 2011
Food, Kitchen Gadgets, Recipe

 
 

Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)


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I was craving Keftedes (Greek meatballs, which have fresh mint in them) for some reason.  As I was seeking out a recipe I came across a recipe for zucchini ‘keftedes’, or zucchini fritters.  This delicious vegetarian option contains feta (a brined cured Greek sheep’s/goat’s milk cheese), fresh mint, and fresh dill or fennel.  Dill and fennel are in the same herb family, so feel free to substitute and interchange the two.  The recipe called for dill.  I had fennel, so I used the tops off those.  I was VERY pleased.

Ingredients:

  • 1 med-large zuccini
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup minced leek
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh fennel (the feathery top part–or dill)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fine grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs–probably could sub for your own bread crumb mixture)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Tzatziki for dipping 🙂

How to prepare:

IMG 1254 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Grated Zucchini

Grate the zucchini, using the larger holes on the grater.  You will need to get the moisture out before making the fritters, as zucchini carries a lot of water.  You might know this if you’ve ever tried to make zucchini bread and it’s turned out sloppy and too moist.

The recipe called for grating it onto a clean kitchen towel, which I did.  It then said to sprinkle the coarse salt over the zucchini and let it sit for 30 min-1 hr.  I didn’t wait, and this still worked.  Wring the kitchen towel out as much and as firmly as you can, many times, to squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the zucchini.

Put the zucchini in a medium bowl and add minced leek, garlic, mint, fennel or dill, lemon peel, and black pepper.

IMG 1274 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Use Fennel in place of dill if you have it! delicious

*To chop your fresh herbs, consider getting one of these nifty tools — herb scissors! A very welcome gift from my mom (www.beachdazed.com).  They have four blades and reduce waste on fresh herbs by allowing you to chop them quickly and easily right into your mixing bowl. I loved having these for all the mint/fennel recipes I made this day.

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Chopping the herbs with herb scissors





Stir in panko and egg, then the feta.
 

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Mixing all the ingredients together

Mix, and then form into 2″ patties, and place on a baking sheet that you can place in the refrigerator to chill.

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Zucchini friters made, ready to chill for an hour

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Zucchini fritters before cooking

Chill fritters at least one hour . I chilled them for 3.
Add 1/4 ” of grapeseed oil (has a high smoke point, so it’s good for frying, plus it’s healthier than many other oils) to a nonstick frying pan, and heat.

IMG 1286 300x225   Greek Zucchini Fritters (vegetarian Keftedes?)

Frying zucchini fritters in grapeseed oil

 

Add the zucchini fritters and fry for several minutes on each side until light golden brown.  Check to make sure they aren’t sticking shortly after adding these to the pan.

Place fritters on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb some of the oil.
Serve with tzatziki, greek yogurt, and fennel or dill garnish.

These turned out so DELICIOUS I think I will make these again, but in a much bigger batch.  I got 14 fritters out of this batch.

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Finished zucchini fritters! YUM!


Food, Kitchen Gadgets, Recipe

 
 

Fruit Chips…


I’ve always been a sucker for kitchen appliances and cooking. I love cooking shows, recipe scavenger hunts online and watching cooking clips on YouTube. So, when I saw an array of vegans and vegetarians sucking the moisture out of fruits by way of YouTube, I couldn’t wait to try it. Initially, it was the videos of raw wheat bread that got my attention. I ran out to Walmart and purchased mason jars in an effort to make my own sprouter. I was successful in creating a home made sprouter but my attempts to sprout wheat berries for my raw crackers didn’t turn out so well… my crackers tasted like grass… o_O… Don’t ask…

But… my fruit chips turned out magical. Let’s just say, that my lovely girlfriend ate ALL of the banana chips in one sitting and although she isn’t a total slobbish eater, she is far from an overly heath conscious eater.

So, I purchased a Nesco dehydrator from Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $60. I did look at the $40 Oyster dehydrator at Walmart but I opted to spend the extra $20 for 2 reasons; 1. The Nesco dehydrator has an adjustable temperature gauge so that you can change the temperature at which you dehydrate, which is great if you are a raw foodist and 2. The Nesco dehydrator comes standard with 4 trays but you can buy extra trays if you need to dehydrate more stuff at once.

And as with any new toy, I had to try it out as soon as I got home. We had 3 brown bananas sitting on the counter which were totally ready to be stored in File 13 but I figured what the hell. I sliced all three bananas up into about 1/2 thick slices and laid them out on the dehydrator tray. I sprinkled the slices with a few pinches of sea salt and turned the dehydrator on. I let it run over night and by the next morning, I had yielded banana chips. They were a little brown from the oxidation process that bananas usually encounters from the air hitting them but that had nothing to do with the taste. They were absolutely fabulous! I did read an article stating that if you dip the slices in lemon juice before you dehydrate it will allow them to keep their color without affecting the flavor. I will be sure to try this technique the next go round. I followed up my banana chips by dehydrating some pineapples and strawberries.

The process is quite simple. Gather your fruit and cut into slices to your liking, but be mindful that they will shrink so don’t cut them too small. Lay them out on your dehydrator tray and turn it on. It may take quite a few hours but the reward is well worth the wait. Try dehydrated fruit in your oatmeal, trail mix or as a stand alone snack!

photo 300x179   Fruit Chips...

April 19, 2011
Food, Kitchen Gadgets

 
 

Must-Have Kitchen Gadget: Food Processor


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I use a food processor and/or blender in many recipes to make creamy soups, sauces and stuffings. There are many more uses for these tools, but the bottom line is, it comes in handy to someone who likes to cook.

Someone recently asked what I use / recommend.

I work with the following:
Cuisinart BFP-10CH PowerBlend Duet Blender and Food Processor




The reviews on this product aren’t that great, but it’s managed to do the trick for me for a few years of moderate usage. It could probably be much better at crushing ice and stirring things about to blend them properly, but I wouldn’t know because this is all I’ve had. On the upside, it’s a blender and food processor in one. I use the blender bit for things that are soupier and will mix around better (more liquid), and higher-volume jobs. The food processor is great for garlic/herbs and other things that need to be more precisely ground.

However, a quick browse through amazon found this:
Cuisinart DLC-4CHB Mini-Prep Plus 4-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel




It has much higher reviews and is half the price, if you’re just looking for a food processor.

Good luck! If anyone has a brand they particularly recommend, let me know!

April 12, 2011
Kitchen Gadgets