Monday, May 23, 2005

Garlic = Great Greek Dips

Had some friends over on Saturday night, and contrary to my usual behavior, I tried to tone down my usual ritual of slaving all day and preparing way too much food. Of course, it's still important to me to serve up delicious edibles, but after spending the past couple of weeks on compulsive house-hunting, it was a nice change to be able to sleep in on Saturday and still have time to run errands and clean before our guests arrived. (Not that I'm complaining about all the delicious meals we sampled in Jackson Heights while hunting!) Anyway, I served tzatziki and skordalia -- two classic Greek dips, along side toasted pita pointes, carrot sticks and blanched broccoli spears. (I must also mention that blanching broccoli before serving it for dipping makes it wildly more appealing than raw broccoli -- the brilliant green spears were perfectly crisp, without the woody texture of raw broccoli.)

adapted from

2 C low-fat plain yogurt
2 medium sized cucumbers
1 T salt
1/2 C low-fat sour cream
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T fresh dill, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Place yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Allow to drain on counter for 3 hours (or overnight in the fridge).
2. Cut cucumbers in half and remove seeds. (I use a spoon to scrape them out.) Grate cucumbers on box grater, toss with salt, and place in fridge for 3 hours.
3. After 3 hours, squeeze grated cucumber to remove as much water as possible. In the end, I think I had 1/3 the volume of cucumber once the water was removed.
4. Mix drained yogurt, grated cucumber, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and garlic in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate to allow flavors to meld.
Yields about 2 cups.

adapted from

1 lb russet potatoes, scrubbed
8 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 C almonds
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C water
5 T fresh lemon juice
3 T white wine vinegar
4 t salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Boil potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes).
2. While the potatoes cook, combine garlic, almonds, and olive oil in a food processor until they are well combined and fairly smooth.
3. Rinse potatoes in cold water until cool enough to handle (you can just let them rest, but if you're trying to speed things up, this is a good strategy).
4. Rub skins off of potatoes, and roughly chop potatoes. Depending on the desired texture, you can put them through a potato ricer, in the food processor, or mash them by hand. (I used a potato ricer.)
5. Combine garlic mixture with potatoes, stirring until well combined. Add lemon juice, vinegar, and salt, stirring again. Season to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (The garlic flavor will mellow a bit with time.)
Yields about 4 cups.