Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tzatziki


I've never been to Greece.  It's definitely on my list; but for now, I have to settle for the lovely food in the Greek restaurants and various street fairs selling gyros and such.  But when you think about it, probably a LOT of the "ethnic" foods we enjoy here (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, etc.) are probably "Americanized" and may not be exact replicas of the real thing.  The point is, this may not be the authentic Greek recipe for Tzatziki, but delicious nonetheless.  - and honestly, if you enjoy something, it really doesn't matter if it's exactly the way it would be done somewhere else around the world.  You should make food that YOU and your family enjoy.  Food should be fun!  I adapted this a bit from one of Ina Garten's recipes.  


 
Click for Printable Recipe 

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • optional - 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded, minced
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt (not table salt)
  • 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar 
    • (can use white wine vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
    • (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp minced fresh dill
  • fresh ground black pepper

Step-by-Step:
The only imperative in this recipe is to remove LOTS of the liquid from the cucumbers so the final dip will be nice and thick.  Other than that, its a dump and mix recipe.

So let's start with that step first.  Peel and seed the cucumbers.  I used a small melon baller that worked great, but a small spoon would do the trick as well.  Ina doesn't peel her cucumbers first, but for my tastes, I find the skins to be too tough in this recipe, taking away from the "smooth, creamy" mouth-feel.
2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded, minced
Cut the cucumbers and then mince them really, really fine.

Now you are going to add what seems like an absurd amount of kosher salt to them.  This is going to draw out the liquid.  (Okay, to all my former students reading this.... what are you thinking right now?  Yes!  The water parties with the salt!  Yep, I knew you wouldn't forget that.)  

The first time I did this, I only added about half the salt.  Because this seems way too extreme.  Then I found myself adding more to the final dip.  So... if you are nervous about it, you can certainly go that route.  You can always add more later.
1 Tbsp kosher salt (not table salt)
Put the salted cucumbers in a fine strainer over a bowl or cup or something.  It's amazing, but that salt starts drawing out the water almost immediately!  It will literally start dripping.  Just let it hang out a while, while you are working on the other ingredients.  I think I let mine drain for probably 20 minutes or so before I got too impatient.  :/ 
So while the cucumbers are draining, let's get on with the rest.

Into a bowl, add your plain, Greek yogurt.  I like the Greek yogurt for this recipe for a couple of different reasons.  It's denser, thicker, and creamier than plain American yogurt (which you would have had to strain over a cheesecloth for HOURS to remove extra liquid).  Additionally, it has almost double the amount of protein of regular yogurt.  That's a definite plus. 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
Next I added the sour cream.  This is where you get to make a decision.  If you taste the Greek yogurt and the sour cream side-by-side, they are almost indistinguishable.  The sour cream may be just a little bit "stiffer."  So if you are limited on what's in the fridge, you could just opt to add more of the Greek yogurt.  I wanted that extra bit of stiffness and body for my dip, so I did add the sour cream. 
optional - 1/2 cup sour cream
To all this lovely creaminess, add the rest of the seasonings:  vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, and black pepper.
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp minced fresh garlic

1 1/2 - 2 tsp minced fresh dill

fresh ground black pepper
By this time, let's go ahead and try to extract the rest of the cucumber water.  By the way, ever wonder why fancy spas give you cucumber water and place cucumber slices over your puffy eyes?  Extracts from cucumbers have been show to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Pour out the minced, salted cucumbers onto a clean tea towel. 
Gather it up and SQUEEZE!!!!  And then squeeze HARDER!   You can see how much more of the liquid is coming out.  It's the same thing you've done to spinach all these years.
After you can no longer squeeze out any liquid from the cucumbers, add the cucumber "pulp" (well that's what it looks like to me at this point) into the yogurt mixture.
Now mix to combine.
Taste and adjust any seasonings.  More dill?  Pepper?  Salt? 

Of course you can dive right on in to the dip with some good pita bread, but it's best if you let the flavors marry for several hours or even overnight.  If you are making it for a party, I would suggest making it the day before.  

Serve as you wish.  I made this for a party at my son's school - sending him off with pita bread triangles, sliced cucumbers, and strips of sweet yellow and red bell peppers.  Oh how I wished for some Turkish shawarma to eat with it, or a nice Greek gyro to slather it on!  But that is way above my culinary expertise!  Haha!!

Did you enjoy this recipe?  I certainly hope so!

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Please visit my Recipe Index, where you will find tons of ideas of things you can make for/with your family.   Here are a few things to get you started!  Hmmm..  Let's see.  What shall our theme be?  
Since we've just visited Greece (at least in our mouth), let's do a sampling of different sorts of ethnic foods?  Just click the links to take you to each recipe.
Italian -
Mozzarella Caprese Skewers
Tex-Mex -
Beefy Mexican Cornbread
French - 
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Asian - 
Steamed Asian Dumplings
And down home on the bayou!
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
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Written Method:

The only imperative in this recipe is to remove LOTS of the liquid from the cucumbers so the final dip will be nice and thick.  Other than that, its a dump and mix recipe.  So let's start with that step first.  Peel and seed the cucumbers.  Cut the cucumbers and then mince them really, really fine.  

Now you are going to add what seems like an absurd amount of kosher salt to them.  This is going to draw out the liquid.  The first time I did this, I only added about half the salt.  Because this seems way too extreme.  Then I found myself adding more to the final dip.  So... if you are nervous about it, you can certainly go that route.  You can always add more later.  Put the salted cucumbers in a fine strainer over a bowl.  Just let it hang out a while, while you are working on the other ingredients.  I think I let mine drain for probably 20 minutes or so. 

So while the cucumbers are draining, let's get on with the rest.  Into a bowl, add your plain, Greek yogurt.  Next I added the sour cream.  This is where you get to make a decision.  If you taste the Greek yogurt and the sour cream side-by-side, they are almost indistinguishable.  The sour cream may be just a little bit "stiffer."  So if you are limited on what's in the fridge, you could just opt to add more of the Greek yogurt.  I wanted that extra bit of stiffness and body for my dip, so I did add the sour cream.  To all this lovely creaminess, add the rest of the seasonings:   champagne vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, and pepper.

By this time, let's go ahead and try to extract the rest of the cucumber water.  Pour out the minced, salted cucumbers onto a clean tea towel.  Gather it up and SQUEEZE!!!!  And then squeeze HARDER!   You can see how much more of the liquid is coming out.  After you can no longer squeeze out any liquid from the cucumbers, add the cucumber "pulp" (well that's what it looks like to me at this point) into the yogurt mixture.  Now mix to combine.  Taste and adjust any seasonings.  More dill?  Pepper?  Salt? 

It's best if you let the flavors marry for several hours or even overnight.  If you are making it for a party, I would suggest making it the day before.  Serve as you wish.  I served it with pita bread triangles, sliced cucumbers, and strips of sweet yellow and red bell peppers.

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1 comment:

  1. I made this recipe for my husband to add to the chicken gyros I made for the first time. He loved it. It makes a lot so I may split the recipe in half or use the extra as a dip. Thumbs up!

    ReplyDelete

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