Tag Archives: cucumber

Tzatziki, Greek Yoghurt Sauce

Wake up your meals!  Fish, chicken, lamb, beef, it matters not.  Put a new spin on lunch and dinner with this Greek classic, Tzatziki; a thick spread of tangy yoghurt, cool cucumber and the savory snap of garlic made smooth and mellow with the addition of fruity olive oil.  As someone married to a Greek, I have a tendency to overlook…almost forget tzatziki and this is one sauce which makes all your meals taste oh, so much better.  All over Greece incredibly thick, plain yoghurt is served at breakfast but come lunchtime and dinner?  It’s always tzatziki, in every kitchen, on every menu.  Incredibly good for you, this yoghurt dish is the best natural probiotic on the planet.  You won’t know how good it is for you, though, when it’s wrapped up with in soft pita bread with lamb, lettuce, tomato and french fries in a perfect gyro.  Remember how much you like gyros?

Well, it’s because of the tzatziki making everything all runny and yummy.  I’m not sure why it makes everything taste so much better but grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef on skewers, never mind shrimp are positively mind bending with the addition of this sauce.  In Greece it’s served as a side or as an appetizer with other delectable tidbits to dip into.  Fried calamari, steak tips, fried pork chunks and grilled octopus become stellar alongside tzatziki.  I served it yesterday for Easter dinner and it flew out of here.  I use only Fage 0% fat yoghurt, in the large container.  It’s so rich and thick I only like the 0% fat.  There’s a first.  This sauce is so easy to prepare plus can also be made one day in advance of serving.  With summer right around the corner you’re going to really love tzatziki.  Enjoy!

Here’s an easy tip to get ALL the excess moisture out of the cucumber.  And you want the cucumber as dry as you can get it otherwise you risk a watery, thin tzatziki,  which nobody likes.  Drape a clean dish towel over a large bowl.  Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the peeled cucumbers over the towel so the shreds fall right into the towel.  When you’re finished grating, gather the corners of the towel and, over the kitchen sink, twist and squeeze the ball of grated cucumber until there is no more liquid dripping out.  Isn’t that great?  I know.  In fact, I have one dish towel set aside that I use only for squeezing grated cukes.  This recipe is still fabulous the following day and can easily be halved.  Tzatziki is served often with a Greek olive or two on top and a quick drizzle of olive oil.

Tzataziki, Greek Yoghurt Sauce

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 35.3-ounce container of Greek yoghurt, any excess liquid on top drained off
  • 2 seedless or “English” cucumbers, grated and well-drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Taste for salt, cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving.

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A bit of Istanbul

Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s that time of the year again. Grab your passport, sunscreen, cute walking shoes and sunnies because we’re off to Istanbul. It’s been wonderful here. It’s hotter than hell but dry, not that muggy, sticky humidity we have at home, so your hair looks great.  We’re going to put in 4-5 miles walking everyday. You’ll get in a decent workout and see some great things. I’ll put in the recipes when I get home and figure them out so in the meantime let’s go explore through photos.

20140801-230220-82940879.jpgHagia Sofia. Very little Christian Orthodoxy is left. Mosaics, icons, everything went when Christianity was outlawed.

20140801-231636-83796350.jpg The Grand Bazaar. I was in seventh heaven! Jewelry, scarves, shoes, books, hardware, pots and pans, leather goods, furs and for me…spices!

20140801-232237-84157551.jpg And, yes, I bought bags of sumac, za’ater, and an asssortment of herbs and spices I mixed together to use when I get home. Now I wish I had bought more.

20140801-232617-84377853.jpg Never in a million years did I imagine my beautiful, perfumed jasmine tea looked like this! Is this not gorgeous?

20140801-233107-84667184.jpg Liturgy at the Patriarchate. The seat of Christian Orthodoxy. Now I am at home.

20140801-233408-84848188.jpg Full of love, peace and joy.

20140801-233723-85043809.jpg Time to eat. I’m starving.  We started with an assortment of dips. Cucumber and cheese with a real kick. Roasted peppers and cheese. Fava. The last one was the big surprise. Ground almond with cinnamon. On crusty bread. Fabulous! See you tomorrow!

Greek Salad, or as we say, Horiatiki Salata

Mention the name “Wilson” to my son, James and my niece, Elizabeth, and I guarantee a couple of slow smiles will spread across their faces.  We took both of them to Greece for the first time in 2002.  Having Elizabeth with us meant James had company when he was dragged from museum to museum, (ya seen one 600 B.C. amphora, you’ve seen ’em all).  And for us, the adults, it meant we were forced to work on our vocabulary.  Traveling with a genius will do that.  I bought them a soccer ball here, stateside, for them to bat around by the pool, in the sea or on the beach.  And we named it “Wilson”.  It was a huge hit.  There was always a lively, bordering on violent, game of catch going on, usually in the water.  Until the day James hurled the ball, not to, but at Elizabeth and, tiny thing that she was, instead of catching the ball, she dodged.  Over the side of the pool it went, down, down, down the service drive, down, down, down, now we’re scrambling, rolling, rolling, down the hillside hotel property.  Gone.  And landed somewhere on the field next to us.  The private property field. The completely fenced in field.  We trudged through the resort, dripping wet, to rescue Wilson.  We had to.  It was Wilson!  At the front gate of the field, all three of us stood sizing up the situation.  The wild grasses were WAY taller than they had looked, so far above at poolside.  Then that all-american practically kicked in and I said, “How hard can it be? It’s a ball, for crying out loud.  C’mon.”  The driveway wasn’t paved and we had to lie down right on the dusty ground and shimmy under the bottom of the gate.  THE BOTTOM OF THE RUSTY, CORRODED, TETANUS COVERED, GONNA SLICE YOU TO RIBBONS gate.  Oh, Lord!!  We all shimmied under without any bloodshed and started ever so gingerly walking.  Carefully planting each foot, one in front of the other, it just got creepier and creepier! There were all kinds of weeds and grasses I had never seen. The children became more and more quiet as we progressed further into the field and further away from civilization. Well, it felt like that, anyway!!  And then, my personal tragedy hit. I heard a “POP!” as I stepped down HARD on something.  Something pod-like.  Something big.  Big and full.  Something big and full EXPLODED, spewing wet, gooey stuff ALL over the tippy top of my inner thigh.  Yeah.  My inner thigh.  Right by my cootchie.  Sweet Jesus, I wanted to scream!  It was gooey!!  And I had children with me!!  How we did it I don’t know but that just spurred us into “find the DAMNED ball, ’cause we’ve got to get out of here”!!  What a relief when Elizabeth’s voice rang out,  “I found it!  Here he is!! He’s over here!”  She grabbed that ball and we just hauled out of there!!  And you have NEVER seen two children and one adult shimmy under a gate so fast!!!  No bloodshed and back to the pool!!  Oh, happy day! In Greece, the following is the salad we eat at just about every lunch and dinner…day in, day out.  It is the quintessential Greek salad.  And never, EVER with lettuce.

On my mother’s honor, THIS IS THE GATE!! We must have been crazy!!

Greek Salad – Horiatiki Salata

Yield: 4 servings

  • 5 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 bell pepper, seeded, ribs cut out, cut in 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 12 Kalamata or greek olives, or 3-4 per person
  • good olive oil
  • 5-7 oz. slice or wedge of Greek feta
  • 1 tbls. dried Greek oregano, (if you can’t get Greek domestic or Mexican will do. But Greek is sweeter.)
  1. In a good-sized bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cucumber and olives.
  2. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over salad and toss.
  3. Sprinkle all but a little oregano over salad, toss and top with feta.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over feta, sprinkle with remaining tsp. oregano and enjoy with warm bread!