a peek inside the fishbowl

03 Sep, 2011

A Greek dinner meal plan, and my fave tzatziki recipe, er tzadziki, tsatsiki (?), CUCUMBER DIP

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

So that was a lot of new patron posts eh? :) I want to re-iterate that I only take on patrons I personally support, ones that I really like and I know you will too. My blog patrons help keep this boat afloat and if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t be here. Thank you Fishies, for your continuing support! Now on to regularly scheduled programming. :)

Although the calendar says it’s September I’m still holding on to summer. One of the ways I do that is by eating summer; fresh peaches, corn, big salads, and of course, BBQing everything in sight. (Everything edible that is.)

One of the meals that reminds me of summer is what we like to call faux-Greek around here at Casa Fishbowl. Faux, because it lacks a few hallmarks of Greek cuisine based on our family’s gastronomical preferences. There are no olives or tomatoes in any part of this meal (although it doesn’t mean it has to be the case for you).

This is a whole meal plan (woot!) but I’m just going to write out the recipe for the tzatziki part of it here. But if you’re looking for a great dinner, copy ours. Our faux-Greek dinner almost always includes the following:

  • Pork tenderloin marinated overnight in a lemon/olive oil based marinade and BBQ’d, then sliced in medallions (I just toss the marinade together but it’s a bit like the recipe here.)
  • Couscous salad with cubes of feta and cucumber added to it, along with toasted walnuts, lots of fresh parsley and an olive oil-based dressing. (Sort of like this recipe but I make my own dressing.)
  • BBQ’d greek bread… use the thick round Greek variety, not the thinner pitas. You can also make your own! Whatever you decide, brush the bread with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and oregano on each side, and toast them on the BBQ. Yum. Slice into quarters before serving.
  • Sliced raw cucumbers
  • and tzatziki for dipping

In cookbooks, tzatziki is sometimes referred to as a Greek salad or Greek sauce, and I guess it could be, but I prefer to dip my hot BBQd bread in it.

Sidebar: a word about tzatziki pronunciation. I say tat-zee-key. What about you? :)

Homemade tzatziki is LEAPS AND BOUNDS nicer than the store-bought stuff. Next time you’re at the grocery store check out the ingredients on a container of tzatziki. It’s probably sour cream based and contains thickeners and other stuff you don’t recognize. Do I need to mention that the homemade variety is easy to make, is a lot cheaper, and tastes so fresh and good that it sings of summer? I didn’t think so.

Andrea’s amazing homemade tzatziki recipe

You will need:

  • 1 peeled english cumber, or one or two regular field cumbers (peel and scoop the seeds out first)
  • one 750g container of Balkan style yogurt. I prefer Astro for this recipe.
  • one or two cloves of garlic, minced
  • a teaspoon of so of white vinegar (eyeball it)
  • a pinch of dill and mint (dry or fresh, whatever you have)
  • a pinch of sea salt or two

First, deal with the yogurt part. You can do this the night before. Dump the whole container into a fine strainer or a not-so-fine one that’s lined with cheesecloth. Stick it overtop a bowl and put it in the fridge and leave it until the next day. (Note: if you forget to do this the night before you can also let it strain on the counter for a couple hours. Works fine.)

Grate the cucumber into a second strainer.

cucumber dip

Use a spoon to press out some of the excess liquid. Toss with a pinch of salt and let it sit there for 30-45 minutes. Go do something else for awhile.

A note about the yogurt. What you’re doing here is making something called yogurt cheese. Yogurt cheese is thick and creamy and is used a lot in Weight Watchers recipes and in other dips and spreads. It’s great because it takes on the flavours of whatever you’re putting into it.

If you’ve done the overnight yogurt method it will be very thick and there will be a surprising amount of liquid in the bottom of your bowl. If you did the “OMG I forgot we were having faux Greek tonight” method it will have more of a sauce-like consistency… which is fine.

Dump out the yogurty water and put the yogurt cheese into a clean bowl. Add minced garlic, a dribble of white vinegar, all of your herbs, a pinch of salt (optional), and blend it well. Dump out the water that’s collected under the draining cucumbers and put them to the yogurt mixture too. Give the mixture a satisfying stir and serve it up.

Note, you can make this the day before. The flavours will have settled and if you used two cloves of garlic you’ll definitely taste it more.

And there it is, my amazing tzatziki recipe! It is one of my summer favourites. I hope it becomes one of yours too!


2 Responses to "A Greek dinner meal plan, and my fave tzatziki recipe, er tzadziki, tsatsiki (?), CUCUMBER DIP"

1 | Jen_nifer

September 3rd, 2011 at 11:19 am

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I pronounce it tat-zee-key as well.

2 | Maranda

September 4th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

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I say “tat-zee-key” too, and I’ve never made it before, but I’ve always wanted to. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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