A Cool Dish for a Hot Day

Posted: May 5, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s the beginning of May and it is unseasonably hot! While I love Summer, I’m not ready for sweltering subway rides, humid apartments or blazing sun yet. Is Spring really over?

To decide what to cook for the week, over the weekend I flipped through recipes I’ve collected over the years from farmers markets; most of them here in New York distribute fliers to give people ideas on how to prepare the fresh veggies they sell. Genius idea. (For example, what does one do with ramps? I still don’t know but I suppose I can easily find out at the next farmers market I browse through.) Nothing really caught my eye until I spotted a cucumber-purslane-yogurt salad dish — purslane being another vegetable that I have no idea how to prepare. However, the description for this recipe said it was a lot like tzatziki, and inspiration flashed.

A long while back, I had made a beet tzatziki and I could have sworn I had the recipe somewhere in one of my binders but I could not find it for the life of me. So, I made it up. Using the “yogurt salad” recipe as a template, I went to the grocery store and purchased two bunches of organic golden beets, a tub of Total 0% Fage Greek Yogurt, a few other ingredients and was good to go. Normally I love, love, love their 2% but I figured I’d cut the calories a bit and go with the 0%. For it to be less runny, however, go with the whole milk or 2%.

Anyway, tzatziki is a great accompaniment on most dishes on a hot day. It’s a Greek yogurt sauce that you can dollop on grains, greens or I guess meat, not that I’d do that, haha. It’s refreshing, especially since I added cucumber and mint. Also, it’s super easy to make!

Preferably whenever you cook with beets you are roasting them yourself, because buying them pre-sliced in a can has tons of sodium! Check it out. Just know that prep time will be at least an hour if doing so.

Golden Beet Tzatziki with Cucumber and Mint
- 1 bunch roasted golden beets (about 4) or you can use regular red beets if preferred
- 1 to 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
- 2 cups Greek yogurt, whole preferred but can use non-fat if desired
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Separate beet from greens, which can be cleaned thoroughly and put to another use. Scrub beets and slice off the roots, then place in pan and bake until a knife can easily poke through the skin, about an hour and a half or less. When finished, they should be easy to peel. Let cool until you are able to handle, then remove the skin. Slice into thin strips.

Place beets, cucumber and mint into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and coriander and season to taste with salt. Add the vegetables and mint to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Add a pinch of pepper. Taste, then season further if necessary. Serve chilled as a condiment or a side. Serves 4.

Tada! So refreshing on those unseasonably warm days.

Fish With a Kick

Posted: August 2, 2009 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Normally I’m not one to prepare spicy foods. Flavorful foods, yes, but hot sauces and jalapenos are ingredients not in my repertoire. So when Johanna posted the other day about sriracha it inspired me to venture outside my comfort zone and thus a giant bottle of the red stuff is now sitting in my pantry. Now what the hell do I do with it?

Part of my weekend was spent staring bug-eyed at all the piles of produce at the farmer’s market, so later this week I’ll figure out what to do with the Black Tuscan kale, rainbow chard and white beets (and their leaves). When I got home though, I forgot I had a bunch of organic spinach sitting in my fridge. It was still fresh but I figured it’s best to use that first. The chard, etc can wait a day or two. Luckily, when I purchased the sriracha I impulsively bought some tilapia too — Johanna is very inspiring — and an idea for dinner was born.

I like balance in my meals. Well, who doesn’t? Too much of one flavor doesn’t satisfy anyone’s palate. Here’s what I came up with. Spinach, check. Fish, check. Got some spicy stuff I want to use, but I want to balance it out. Aha, let’s make a yogurt dill sauce for the tilapia and flavor the spinach with the sriracha; refreshing and eye-opening all on the same plate. Yogurt sauce pairs better with salmon but tilapia works just as well. For breakfast nearly every morning I eat Fage greek yogurt with fruit and cinnamon and there was enough left over to make a sauce out of that. I mixed it with chopped dill from the farmer’s market; add the juice of a whole lemon and it’s complete.

The tilapia I didn’t do much to. Its lack of flavor is seen as a plus by some who don’t like “fishy” fish but my response to that is: IT’S FISH. But anyway. This time I just sauteed it with a little onion and garlic and spiced it slightly with ground ginger and black pepper. The spinach I sauteed with crimini mushrooms and garlic, then when cooked I squirted in a little sriracha,, just enough to give it a kick. Plated, I topped off the fish with the yogurt dill sauce and voila, my dinner.

Dessert was a peach, fresh from the farm.

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.