Showing posts with label Tzatziki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tzatziki. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dippety do dah!

dip (dp)
v. dippeddip·pingdips
1. To plunge briefly into a liquid, as in order to wet, coat, or saturate.

I'm very dippy. Many of you knew that anyway. But I do love a dip. I'm orally fixated (I suspect most food writers are, I wasn't breast-fed you see). The transportation of bread/pitta/vegetables scooped at rapid and repetitive intervals via a silken savoury thick purée into my mouth, is right up my street. 
Getting a fair amount of dip onto the receptacle without dropping it or worse, losing the dipping tool in the dip, is a skill in itself. Of course double dipping is a no-no amongst strangers but if I'm with mates, or drunk, I don't care. Dips are perfect with booze.
You need a blender for these. (I'm using a Vitamix which is like a really powerful blender for extra smoothness).

I make the best Babaghanoush in the world, here is the recipe:

3 large shiny aubergines, charred and skinned
1 large tablespoon of tahini,
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of ground cumin,
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
2 tablespoons of Maldon sea salt
Some pomegranate seeds or parsley to garnish.

I'm doing this on the Aga where I can char my aubergines on the hot plate, turning them as the skin gets black. On a normal gas hob, you can do the same thing, either directly on the flame or on a cast iron flat pan. Or, light a disposable bbq. If you don't have an aga, a gas hob, or a garden/outside space, then perch the disposable bbq on your window sill. Try not to drop it onto someone's head below.
I'm insisting upon this charring process because that's what this dish is all about really, the smoky burnt taste from the aubergines. Always include a little bit (a couple of inches) of the charred skin into the final dip.
When the aubergines look shrunken inside and the skin is all blackened, strip the skin off, discard the stems, and put the flesh into a blender.
Add all the other stuff, keep tasting and adjust it to your taste. That's fine, you can. I'm not a food deity. You can do what you like. You like less salt? Fine. You like more? Go ahead. 

Red pepper dip:

This is a bit like muhammara but even simpler. It takes minutes. I've only put one chilli in which gives you residual heat without blowing your head off.

4 red bell peppers or long red peppers, roasted, skinned
1 red chilli, roasted, skinned
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1-2 tablespoons of good olive oil
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt
Some nibbed pistachios to garnish (optional)

Roast the peppers and the chilli in an oiled oven tray. This takes about 20 minutes for the bell peppers and 10 for the chilli.
Then, ouchy ouchy, strip the skin off. I find it best to do it while it's hot and steamy, much quicker and easier. Discard the seeds and the stem.
Put the flesh into the blender along with the rest of the ingredients. Let it cool down.

Yellow pepper dip with walnut

2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, skinned
A handful of walnuts
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A tiny pinch of saffron
1-2 tablespoons of food sunflower or pumpkin seed oil
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt
Garnish with walnuts or parsley

Follow the roasting peppers instructions above. Blend the flesh with the rest of the ingredients.

Yoghurt dip

So many cultures have a refreshing yoghurty dip: raitha for the Indians, Tzatziki for the Greeks. Call it what you like, I love this stuff and can eat it for breakfast, in bed, lunch or dinner.

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if it's not good quality, chopped into thin slices.
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt or other good sea salt
300ml of greek style yoghurt
2 tablespoons of dried mint or, Indian trick this, mint sauce in a jar!
Or fresh herbs such as mint (traditional), but feel free to add coriander, dill, parsley, tarragon (very Georgian)
Juice of 1 lemon
More salt to taste

One you've prepped your cucumber slices, salt them. This is a tip I got in France for making the cucumber crunchy. Leave for half an hour or longer.
Then tip away the excess liquid.
Then add the yoghurt and the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with fresh mint.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Arabian nights

Was it a mistake to commit to making my own pitta bread from scratch? I made 75 in the end and I think it was worth the effort (recipe link). Dipped into dukkah and olive oil, we in the kitchen had to ration ourselves not to deprive my guests out in the living room.

The Menu

Cava, kir and pomegranate seed cocktail
Black and green olives marinated in lemon, thyme and garlic/pistachios
Dukkah and Olive oil
Home-made fresh pitta bread
Baba ganoush/hummus/tzaziki made with labneh yoghurt and cucumbers
Broad bean/feta cheese/artichoke heart/ mint salad
Home-made Falafel
Grilled halloumi cheese and roasted red/yellow pepper salad with pickled green peppercorn/chili peppers in balsamic.
Filo triangles stuffed with courgette/butternut squash/pine nuts/za'atar
Dish of dried labneh goats cheese in olive oil and mint
Tabouleh on a bed of Romaine lettuce
Dolmas stuffed with rice/preserved lemons/mint dried on the Aga 
Baklava made with apricots/sour cherrys drenched in orange and honey syrup
Fresh mint tea with sugar and pine nuts
Apricot/pistachio/cashew/sour cherry mix

Baste each layer of filo pastry with plenty of butter

I saw that weird shredded wheat stuff in a Lebanese supermarket and bunged that in too

 Making the honey and orange syrup

Drying my own mint

Balls of dried labneh goat yoghurt with mint

I'm afraid to say I made too much. People were clutching their stomachs at the end. No kidding. It was a real Arabian feast.
The lovely Lenny from Malmaison helped front of house. Dressed in acid lemon, turquoise and purple, with white blonde hair, she stylishly added humour and grace to service. She looks like a scene kid but knows her silver service. Loved her gritty Liverpudlian humour too.
I did say to her "This is a bit of a busman's holiday for you isn't it?"

 The wine bingo lottery, everyone a winner!
In the afternoon Helen who has cooked for the Bonnington café, another cooperative restaurant, like Pogo café, springing from the squat scene, came to help knead dough. Together we felt like 19th century housewives, doing things the old fashioned way.
 I added a little spelt flour to the mixture.

 Bowls of dough proving by the Aga, covered with tea towels.
 Stacks of pitta bread, waiting to go in the oven.
Later, oh yes my 'help' is top drawer, architect Mary Bowman, who helped design the technically advanced Princess Diana fountain amongst other projects, arrived with packets of vine leaves which I had found it almost impossible to find in North-West London. Having grown up around many Greek-Cypriot children, refugees from the war in the 1970s, I was surprised to realise that you can buy sushi nori almost everywhere but not vine leaves. Food fashion is fickle is it not?
Mary and her son Miles pressed tens of balls of pitta dough in the tortilla machine for me. Thank you!
My teen, her friend Saskia and Mary's older son Red did front of house while Eva, who came to film, ended up with her hands in the sink. With 24 people last night, it was all hands to the deck.
One guest asked me "Who are all these children? Are they all yours?"
"Yes" I replied "and every kid has a different father!"
I'm all for anti-right-wing press single mum chic! Yeah we are slappers, spending our child benefit on Silk Cut and gin while our kids run around bare-foot with no tea. 
Oops have vague recollection of discussing anal sex with a woman who has a penchant for Brazilian men....
And the traditional forgotten food in the Aga pic...