Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I finally broke down and made my first ever batch of tzatziki sauce, the well-known Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce that dresses any decent souvlaki or gyro sandwich. And the recipe wasn't exactly what I expected, but it wasn't really that difficult either.

What motivated me to make this addictive condiment was the discovery of some frozen homemade lamb burgers in the freezer, burgers I had made near the tail end of the summer, seasoned with some nutmeg, parsley, cinnamon and cumin, really tasty stuff as I recalled.
So I bought a quart of plain yogurt, some lemons, fresh dill, two cucumbers and went to work. Now the recipe that I use recommends Greek yogurt, a staple not easily found in Lawrenceville, Princeton or Trenton. And frankly, I just didnt have the time to source it out. So here's the recipe:

32 oz Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt, strained)
juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped, to taste
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

If you don't have Greek yogurt, strain plain yogurt for 2-3 hours; using two coffee filters inside a small colander or strainer; spoon yogurt onto filter paper, place strainer/colander inside or atop a bowl to catch the liquid. Discard liquid. Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. Dice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel. In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend.

I grilled the lamb burgers this past Saturday evening, along with some marinated chicken breasts (for the Queen, who does not care for lamb; I'll get to her later). Good friend Mike Lazar showed up with some stellar bakery rolls for the burgers, from Leonardo's Bakery in Feasterville, PA (183 Bustleton Pike, 215-357-0357--- this place cranks out some outstanding breads, rolls and especially-----pizzas!). I sliced up some nice red tomatoes, big sweet onion slices, tore up some red leaf lettuce, and we were ready: medium-grilled burger, aromatic from its seasonings, toasted roll, big dollop of tzatziki, then the onion, tomato and lettuce---Greek Burgers, baby! Made a pot of rice pilaf, steamed some carrots and broccoli from the last picking of the organic farm we belong to (Honeybrook Organic Farm in Pennington, NJ), and it was a homey good feast. My 3 yr old twins, Ben and Sophie, ate a little bit of everything, slivers of grilled chicken, rice, carrots, broccoli, and yes, bites of the burgers too. Sophie, the adventurous one, wanted some tztaziki on her plate, and she dipped her chicken and carrots into it, and loved it. The sauce did taste pretty damn good with the grilled chicken too.

1 comment:

Lew Bryson said...

Better cough up that bakery name, food boy!