My first Greek cookbook–Athens 1974!!

Hummus, tzatziki, tomato and potato salad with crisp bacon

Fondant potatoes in all their glory

 

This week three sides from last week’s main course.

After 15 trips to Greece in 40 years I have eaten plenty of tzatziki and hummus all over that wonderful country. These two staples of Southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking are marvellous and so easy to make—perfect summer time dips to go with anything from pita bread, crisp fresh vegetables, even meat, fish or chicken. One of the reasons they are to be found all over the Middle East is probably because Alexander the Great’s army brought back a lot of that style of cooking to mainland Greece, but whatever the reason, they are essential to the cooking of that area. One thing let us get straight right from the beginning—humus is what plants grow in—manure—and hummus is what we eat. Show you know what you are talking about to the unenlightened. Here’s how to make them— a piece of old tackie—or as my French friends say—un morceau de vieux tackie!

TZATZIKI

The most important thing apart from the freshest ingredients—is to make the cucumber as dry as possible after grating. You don’t want to spoil that ultra-creamy texture—do you? Some people don’t like dill so leave it out or replace with mint. Don’t use too much garlic—never thought I would say that—but can overpower.

INGREDIENTS

English cucumber

500mls Greek yoghurt

3 tbsps. White wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Small clove of fresh garlic

2 tbsps. Olive oil

Teaspoon fresh chopped dill

Method

Peel and grate the cucumber on a hand grater using the large blade side.

Place in a bowl with a teaspoon of salt and 1tbsp white wine vinegar. Let rest for 15 minutes

Mix the yoghurt with two tbsps. of vinegar, mash the garlic and the olive oil in a mortar and pestle or blender. Add to the yoghurt with the dill

Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the cucumber as you can using a serviette or your hands if you are strong enough.

Mix with the yoghurt till creamy.

Add salt and pepper to taste

Splash some olive oil onto the tzatziki when serving.

Heaven with chips.

 

HUMMUS

Some recipes call for peeling the chick peas!! Really? Life is too short to be doing that. You can of

course make your own chick peas but the tinned ones work very well. Do not rinse them and do not

use the brine in the cans. Just remember this is the BASIC recipe—the taste can be adjusted as

you prefer, some even use chilli flakes but I never tasted that in Crete!

INGREDIENTS

Can chickpeas drained.

2 tbsp. tahini. Some recipes use peanut butter unsweetened of course, but not the same. Try health shops.

2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice

4 tbsps. olive oil

2 cloves fresh garlic.

Salt and pepper

3 tbsps. Cold water

METHOD

Blend everything till smooth and creamy. If you want it creamier add more cold water. That simple.

Add salt and pepper to taste, even some smoked paprika if you like. Serve cold as a dip with fresh

veg like carrot sticks, with black olives and a splash of olive oil.

 

FONDANT POTATOES

Totally fulfilling to make– the result is potatoes with a crunch on either side and incredibly soft and

creamy insides. They are roasted in the oven in chicken stock and herbs—irresistible! A fabulous

accompaniment to meat dishes obviously. The only thing you will definitely need is a pair of tongs

and a pan or pot that you can use on the stove as well as in the oven. Get these and you are ready to

go.

If you want clarity –Check out Chef John’s recipe video—so easy

INGREDIENTS

3 Baking potatoes,

3 tbsp. hi heat cooking oil like grapeseed

3 generous tbsps. Butter

Rosemary or thyme sprigs about 6

½ cup chicken stock

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

 

Cut the potatoes into cylinders by cutting off each end so they have something to stand on.

Peel them by slicing down, making little barrel shapes.

Cut them in half, making six portions.

Place in cold water for 5 minutes to drain off some starch.

Remove them and dry very well.

Heat the oil till very hot

Place the potatoes into the oil flat sides down and immediately turn down the heat to medium—use a splatter screen

After 5 minutes or so, turn them over—this is where you will need the tongs.

After 5 minutes more drain off the oil using kitchen paper held in tongs.

Or just take them out the oil and drain off the excess oil.

Put the butter in the pan as well as the herb sprigs and sauté the potatoes till the butter turns golden.

Use a herb sprig in a tong to butter the top of the potatoes. I just used a spoon.

Add the stock and place into a 220 degree oven uncovered.

Bake for about 30 minutes. If they need more time add some more stock.

KALI OREXI!!