Easy Homemade Tzatziki

Easy and delicious, that’s what this homemade tzatziki is!  I use my homemade yogurt for it, and strain it to make a Greek yogurt.  It’s great for dipping lightly grilled pita, and for souvelaki.  You just have to plan a few hours ahead so you can strain the yogurt, unless you’ve bought some already thick Greek yogurt.

What you need:

2 cups yogurt, not low-fat

cheesecloth for straining

1 clove garlic, minced (or more if you like it really garlicky)

1/2 english cucumber, grated

salt and pepper to taste

fresh mint, optional

What you do:

1.  Line a sieve with cheesecloth and place the yogurt into the cheesecloth.  Refrigerate for a few hours or over night to and allow it to drain.  Pour off the liquid that is drained.

2.  Grate the cucumber and squeeze it so you get as much liquid out of it as you can.

3.  Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and optional mint.  Mix it all up.

I like it best when it’s not served straight out of the fridge, so if you keep it in the fridge, you might want to take it out a little while before serving.

Homemade Yogurt

For the last few years I’ve been making my own yogurt.  It’s really easy to do, it is way cheaper than buying yogurt (1L of yogurt for the cost of a litre of milk), and it tastes amazing.  I eat it for breakfast most mornings, but I also use it to make yogurt cheese, dips, and as an ingredient in many recipes like this, this, this and this.  I also eat a lot of yogurt as a source of calcium, because as a person who is lactose intolerant I am always trying to include calcium rich foods in my diet.  The culturing process eats up most of the lactose, so it doesn’t hurt me.

The brand of my yogurt maker is Deni, and I like it because it’s the perfect size for a quart canning jar.  I just took out the little jars and insert that came with the machine, and make it in the big jar – fewer jars to wash up!

What you need:

1 litre milk, I use whole or homo, from Avalon Dairy

1/4 cup plain yogurt or yogurt starter

What you do:

1.  Heat the milk in a pot, stirring to avoid scorching.  Heat until just before it boils (110F if you want to be exact).

2.  Let the milk cool to room temperature.

3.  Mix a little of the cooled milk into the yogurt, then add a little more milk, stir it in, then mix all the rest together.

4.  Put the milk into a clean jar and screw the lid on tight.  Place it in the yogurt maker.  This keeps it a constant temperature.  I like to keep it in for 8 hours, but you can keep it in up to 12 hours.  It will taste more tangy the longer you keep it in

5.  Refrigerate the yogurt to stop the process. You can eat it a few hours later. I like to just cut up some fruit and put it in a bowl with the yogurt – a delicious and healthy breakfast or snack!

Avocado Yogurt Dressing

Served on salmon this simple dressing was delicious.  It would also be great as a veggie dip.   I found the recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.  I only made half of this recipe for a salmon dinner because Bittman said it doesn’t keep well . . . and he was right.  It tastes fine the next day, but it turns a little brownish, so it’s probably a good idea to make a half recipe unless you’ve got a big crowd to eat it up for you.

What you need:

1 large ripe avocado

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons minced shallot or sweet onion

1/2 cup plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

1.  Scoop the avocado flesh along with the lemon and orange juices into a food processor or blender.  Puree.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and puree again, tasting to see if you need to correct the seasonings.

How to Make a Beautiful Veggie Platter

Okay, so you’ve agreed to bring veggies and dip to the potluck . . . but it sound so boring.  Here’s how I like to make my platter look more interesting.

The main things to keep in mind are colour and layout.  I like to separate the colours, so I this time I started  with the green, laying down a few sections of cucumbers and peas.  Then I filled the sections in with the other colours.  I kept most of the veggies the same length, so they all fit on the platter.

I had some radishes, so I placed them around the centre to make it more interesting, and added a few nasturtiums.  Click for links to sites about edible flowers here and here.

I like to make yogurt dips because the veggie platter is supposed to be one of the healthy dishes.  I just add some herbs or spices and a touch of salt.  My favourite is fresh dill.  I keep it chopped up in the freezer so I can just grab a little when I need it.  I also like to add a little curry powder to yogurt – really simple!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Yogurt Dill Sauce

A branch, heavy with green tomatoes, fell off my plant the other day.  I took it as a sign that I was to make fried green tomatoes.  Now that I’ve tried them, I want to go pick some more tomatoes before they ripen so I can make some more.

What you need:

a few green tomatoes

1/4 cup fine bread crumbs

salt

pepper

egg

olive oil

For the sauce:

plain yogurt

fresh dill

What you do:

1.  Slice tomatoes about 1 & 1/2 to 2 cm wide.

2.  Crack the egg into a medium-sized bowl and mix with a fork.  In another bowl, place the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

3.  Coat each tomato slice in egg, then breadcrumbs.  You’ll need to turn them over a few times, and press the breadcrumbs down a little to get a thicker coating on.

4.  Heat a frying pan to medium, then add a little olive oil.  When it’s hot, add the tomatoes.  Cook them for a few minutes on each side.

5.  While they are frying, mix up the yogurt and a little dill in a small bowl. I prefer yogurt that isn’t low-fat; the flavour is better, and I don’t feel the need to add sugar.

Enjoy them hot with a little sauce on the side.