Tag Archives: garlic

Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce

Tzatziki is an incredibly refreshing (and healthy) Greek yogurt sauce that is excellent for dipping pita slices or fresh-cut vegetables.  My favorite use for the sauce is alongside Dolmades, or on top of a pita stuffed with vegetables (tomatoes, onions, mushrooms & green peppers).

I prefer a chunkier texture, which is what I’ve recorded here–however some recipes call for a seeded, almost shredded cucumber.  I’ve also adapted my own recipe so that I can make it in under 5 minutes.  It chills well in the fridge for a couple of days, but it usually doesn’t last that long!

INGREDIENTS:
8 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 small cucumber, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 T fresh dill, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Mix ingredients together in a bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with Dolmades, Pita, or as a vegetable dip.

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Tostones

The ripeness and color of any plantain you choose at the market has a huge impact on the taste of your intended meal.  Green plantains are fantastic as a savory dish, as they are only slightly sweet; yellow and black plantains are more suited for sweet caramelized dishes.  

When I make tostones I choose a green plantain with almost no black spots.  When I make platanos maduros, I prefer a ripeness somewhere between yellow and black, although many traditional Latin-American dishes suggest using a completely black plantain.  Generally, I buy them green and store in a bowl on the counter for future use.  A green plantain can take up to a month to turn black, so its an easy fruit to perpetually have on hand.

INGREDIENTS:
1 green plantain
1/4 inch corn oil in a cast iron skillet
1 small dinner plate
Sea salt to taste
Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS:
Peel the plantain by cutting off each edge and then slicing lengthwise on both sides. Peel away the remaining peel. Slice the fruit at an angle into 1 1/2 inch chunks–slicing at an angle (rather than creating a flat surface) will help with smashing later in the process.

Heat 1/4-1/2 inch of corn oil in a cast iron frying pan. When a small drop of water sizzles in the pan, the oil is ready for frying. Carefully add plantain chunks to pan and fry both sides for approximately 3-5 minutes–until tostones just begin to brown.

Remove chunks and drain oil on a paper towel.  Using a small plate, flatten the tostones one at a time. The idea is not to make them super-flat, but just mash them down.

Return to oil and fry an additional minute or two flipping halfway through, until tostones are golden brown.

Remove from frying pan and drain oil once more onto paper towels.  Sea salt to taste, and serve with Lime-Garlic Mayonnaise and some extra lime wedges.


Lime-Garlic Mayonnaise

I absolutely adore homemade mayonnaise because its nothing like the store-bought stuff.  Its really fun to make, and its totally customizable.  All you really need is an egg, some oil, and an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar; experimenting is really cool.

One tip if you’ve never made mayo before: really, really take your time when emulsifying the oil and egg.  If you pour too quickly, the ingredients will not bind.  Further suggestions are in the recipe directions below.

Since you will not be adding any preservatives (yay!) to this awesomely homemade mayonnaise, be especially attentive to its life outside the refrigerator.  Also, I always throw mine out after a week.  Any longer might be compromising the food-safety integrity of the mayo.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe does use raw eggs so if you are unsure about whether you are “at risk” when consuming raw eggs, check out the USDA Egg Fact Sheet.

INGREDIENTS:
1 egg
1 C vegetable oil, divided in half
1 T Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Juice of one small lime
1/2 tsp salt

In a food processor, add the egg and mustard. Turn the food processor on. Through the feeder tube, add a drop (and I do–literally–mean 1 exact drop) of oil. Add another drop, and then another, until you have the thinnest, slowest possible stream of oil going through the feeder tube. This process of adding the oil will take several minutes. You will begin to notice when the oil and egg emulsify as the texture will suddenly “come together” and you’ll recognize the creamy consistency you are used to seeing. The reason I divide the oil in half is to ensure I don’t pour too fast; having a smaller volume to pour ensures maximum concentration each time.

When the oil is completely incorporated, and your mayonnaise is creamy, turn off the food processor. Add garlic, lime juice, and salt. Pulse several additional seconds, taste, and adjust flavor.  If you want to make an aioli garlic spread, try substituting olive oil for the vegetable oil–delicious!  Serve with Tostones, Tuna Burgers, or your favorite sandwich.


Tuna Burgers

This is one of my favorite childhood meals that I continue to make when I want a quick home-cooked meal.  My mom used crushed saltines instead of the breadcrumbs, and she also added relish to the mix–which is definitely reminiscent of 1980’s food culture–but this is my own updated recipe.  

You’ll only be able to make 2 average-sized burgers from this, so just double or triple the recipe if you are cooking for more than two people.  If you use homemade breadcrumbs, as I do when I have them on hand, then add 1/2 tsp or more of salt, and your choice of Italian seasonings to taste.  Store-bought breadcrumbs already contain all that good stuff–and some bad stuff too, but they are a nice staple to have on hand in the pantry for emergencies.  

Serve on a toasted bun, or wrapped in romaine leaves with avocado and sprouts.

INGREDIENTS:
1 can tuna, drained
1 egg
1/4 C finely chopped onions
1/2 C Italian-style breadcrumbs (homemade or store-bought)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T olive oil, for pan-frying

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the egg into the tuna with a fork.  Add onions and garlic.  Mix again.  Add breadcrumbs and mix with hands until moist and evenly distributed.  Split the mix into two evenly-sized balls, and mold into patties.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes so the breadcrumbs become completely absorbed.

Heat the olive oil in a no-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the burgers, and pan-fry until golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve on a toasted bun, or wrapped in romaine leaves with avocado and sprouts.

Garlic Basil Grilled Cheese

There are sooo many things that can be done with grilled cheese, but THE BEST combination is garlic, basil, & muenster cheese.  When muenster melts, it becomes super stringy–one of the defining features of a magnificent grilled cheese.  Some tomato slices or a few caramelized onions and mushrooms are also a nice addition, if you have them on hand.

INGREDIENTS:

1 T butter
2 slices Buttery Beer Bread (or any bread)
1 T minced garlic (I use jar garlic–I know, how faux pas!)
3 basil leaves, depending on size
2 slices muenster cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a non-stick skillet, melt 1/2 T butter over medium heat.  Roll it around in the pan so it covers the same area your bread will.  Atop this buttery goodness, proceed to construct the following masterpiece:

LAYER 1: Buttery Beer Bread (bottom slice)
LAYER 2: 1 slice cheddar cheese
LAYER 3: 1 T minced garlic–spread it over the cheese with a spoon
LAYER 4: basil leaves
LAYER 5: 1 slice muenster cheese
LAYER 6: Buttery Beer Bread slice (top slice)

Apply a lid to the skillet, so the cheese melts as desired.  When the first side approaches a crispy golden brown, toss in the remaining 1/2 T of butter.  When it melts completely, scoop up the sandwich with a spatula, distribute the melted butter as described in the first step, and plop the sandwich back into the buttery delight–uncooked side down, of course.  Replace the lid, if cheese needs more melting urgency.

Cook until bread becomes a crispy golden-brown.  Remove from heat and transfer to plate.  Slice at an angle.

Have a beer, and serve sandwich with Vegetarian Chili, tomato soup, or your favorite salad.

Olive Oil Sesame Crackers

I really enjoy the challenge of making every part of a meal from scratch:  homemade crackers and freshly blended hummus are some of my favorites because they are such a simple standby snack–but knowing I did everything aside from picking the beans and grinding the flour (no gardening here in New York City!) is a cool feeling whenever I sit down to eat.  The experience means so much more.  I love baking all sorts of crackers, but this is my favorite standby.

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 C olive oil, plus extra for pan coating
1 C room temperature water
1/2 T garlic powder
1 T mixed italian herbs (I like to use rosemary and thyme)
2 T sesame seeds (for sprinkling)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of olive oil.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, garlic powder, italian herbs) in a large mixing bowl.   Stir lightly to distribute ingredients within the mix.  Add water and oil.  Mix with spoon until absorbed.

Move dough to a clean surface–no need to flour.  Knead until wet ingredients are completely combined and distributed.  Break dough in to 3 or 4 sections.  You can bake all sections at once, or store dough in fridge for 2-3 days.  (They also keep in the freezer for about a month).

Roll out one section of dough to no thicker than 1/8 inch.  It is important to roll as thinly as possible, as this will ensure a crispier cracker.  Sprinkle a layer of sesame seeds and light sea salt over the rolled out dough.  Run a rolling pin over the dough once more to press the seeds and salt into the dough.

Using a pizza cutter, slice dough into 1×1 or 2×2 inch squares, depending on your preferred size.  One at a time, place squares on olive oil coated baking sheet.  Bake 15-20 minutes, flipping the squares at least once when they begin to brown on the bottom to ensure an even crispiness.  I also rotate the pan when I flip the crackers.

Serve with hummus, cheese, Vegetarian Chili, olives, fruit–whatever you use crackers for!  Store  in an airtight container for up to a week.

Vegetarian Chili

I’m a fan of spicy chili, so this recipe tends to be on the spicier side (according to my roommate).  If you’d like to tone it down, halve (or omit) the crushed red pepper.  Additionally, you can stir in a spoonful of sugar at a time until the spiciness is adjusted to your liking.

INGREDIENTS:

1 15 oz. can black beans (with sauce)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans (rinsed)
1 15 oz. can chick peas (rinsed)
1 C uncooked lentils
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 medium yellow squash (grated or chopped)
1 medium zucchini (grated or chopped)
1 medium onion (grated or chopped)
2 T minced garlic
2 T chili powder
1 T crushed red peppers
1 T ground cumin
1 T oregano
1 tsp sea salt
3 T olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare vegetables and set aside.  I like to use the grating plate on my food processor, but if you like a chunkier texture in your chili, then you might like your vegetables chopped or slivered.  A grated texture tends to mask the vegetable flavor, if you are cooking for someone who prefers a meatier chili.

In a large stovetop pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, squash, and garlic.  Sautee 4-5 minutes, until vegetables are soft, but not browned.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add chili powder, crushed red pepper, cumin, sea salt, and oregano.  Stir into mix, and continue to heat until fragrant.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and lentils.  Cook for 30 minutes.  If chili begins to wildly sputter, then turn the heat down a bit.

Add kidney beans, chick peas, and black beans (remember to include the liquid from the black beans can).  Stir, and cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Taste, and adjust spices to your liking.  Garnish with sour cream, chives, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, or all of the above!