Monday, June 4, 2012

Celebration Tzatziki

Greek Dinner: Shrimp kebabs, flat bread,
sauteed chickpeas, tzatziki, salad and
wine of course
The past 3 weeks have been filled. literally.  I spent 2 weeks gallivanting around Denver and Aspen with my dear friends Megan and Katie.  We hiked, biked, sang, drank mojitos, got grumpy, made up, went to a few final classes, and most of all enjoyed precious time together.  Then one week ago, we graduated.  In caps, gowns, and hoods we became doctors.  The past week has been a celebration with family, and my wonderful mom just left Thursday.  The house feels empty, but peaceful.  As much as I want to enjoy lazy days planning my upcoming trip to Germany (4 days) and South Africa (3 1/2 weeks), I have a looming task of studying for my national boards.  That makes the celebration a little bittersweet. The last few weeks have also been filled with cooking: baked salmon, pasta salad, tacos, homemade pizza, and much more.  However, everything was a whirlwind, and I failed to take any photos.  This weekend I made two celebration dinners: roasted chicken and salad on Saturday, and a Greek spread yesterday.  I spent the weekend celebrating my love for cooking, my wonderful life in Aspen, my dear husband, and all of the love and celebration that has surrounded me for the past 3 weeks, and really the past 3 years.  Thank you to all of my dear friends and family.

Tzatziki is a Greek favorite.  While it is simple to make, good recipes seem to be lacking.  This recipe is based on one from Kalyn's Kitchen. Do not put the yogurt in the food processor, as the heat and the mechanical action will break down the protein and make runny tzatziki.  For a fun variation, substitute mint leaves for the dill.

Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
  • 1.5 cups Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt, strained as described below)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1.5 T)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 T salt for cucumber
  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. If you don't have Greek yogurt: place a piece of cheese cloth over a fine mesh strainer and spoon in yogurt.  Allow the yogurt to drain 1-2 hours until thickened. 
  2. Peel cucumber, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) 
  3. Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Rinse well and wipe dry with paper towel.
  4. In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. 
  5. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. 
  6. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)
  7. This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.
Rushing in the wind.
Getting my hood.
My love and I.
Dear friends.
Sisters the weekend after graduation.

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