Greek Tzatziki or Persian/Iranian Mast-o-Khiar

I understand the main difference between these two yogurt dishes is that the Iranian version is thicker, and may more often contain mint instead of (or with) the dill.  The Greek version often uses strained yogurt, but I decided not to do that — aiming for the overall flavor of the dish in a limited time frame.  The Greek version may also be made with mint, although I’ve only ever seen it here (in the US) with dill.  A small amount of white onion or shallot can be added to this dish, but I didn’t.

People who eschew dairy — use coconut yogurt instead.

Yogurt, Greek, Iranian, Persian, Tzatziki, mast-o-khiar

Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  Raw
“Rest” time:  At least a couple hours — you’ll want to taste after about an hour
Serves:  It’s a condiment so hard to say.  Enough for a small party anyway.

Greek Tzatziki or Persian/Iranian Mast-o-Khiar

  • 16 ounces whole plain yogurt, preferably goat if you can find it, but no worries if you don’t.
  • 1 cucumber, shredded and drained.  English cucumber is best (few seeds), but you can either cut out or leave the seeds in.  Peeling optional — although for waxed cukes I peel them.
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • approx 3 sprigs of fresh (or frozen) dill, chopped and de-stemmed.
  • a small handful of fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • half a minced shallot (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black (or white) pepper
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • If you wish the yogurt tart-er, add a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Mix everything up, refrigerate for an hour or two to allow the flavors to “marry”, then taste.  Adjust seasonings accordingly, and marinate a while longer before serving.  In my case I found that the initial yogurt was very tart, but once I let it marinate with the spices, suddenly a little lemon juice perked things up further.

Excellent served along with falafel, or as a dip for veggies or chips.  Or use on top of a salad filled with your favorite greens.  It would likely be tasty with a bona fide Greek salad, too. Gently mix before serving in case some of the garlic or shallot has settled to the bottom.

Next time I’m definitely adding in the shallot and a hint of mint… (What a great notion!)

Another Fiesta Friday Link Party — Enjoy!

Posted in Appetizers, Condiments, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Okra, Mediterranean Style

Okay, I LOVE okra.  I got a pound of it at my farmer’ market ten days ago, and another pound this past weekend.

This stuff is FRESH!  It will last a lot better and longer than the okra I see at my supermarket, which at least here, is already shot and inedible.

Mediterranean, Okra, Recipe, Bruschetta, Tomato

Fresh from the farmer’s market to me…

Soaking it in vinegar and salt, and then rinsing vigorously, is supposed to make okra less “slimy”.  I’m fine with okra in any form, but I decided to try the soaking method for this recipe, to help my readers out.

If you are interested, I also have a recent vegetarian okra recipe done Indian style.

Prep time:  1 hour to soak, 20 minutes for other preps.
Cook time: 45 minutes.
Rest time:  Not needed.
Serves: 2-3 main, 4 to 6 as sides.

Mediterranean, Okra, Recipe, Bruschetta, Tomato

One large serving

OKRA, MEDITERRANEAN STYLE

* 1 pound fresh okra (See below for prep…)
* approximately 1/4 cup red wine vinegar.
* about a couple teaspoons of salt.
* 1 large leek, sliced in 1/4 inch slivers, with an eye to remove any grit, or hard dried out outer leaves.
* about 1/8th of a mid-sized white or yellow onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slivers, then halved.
* 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil.
* 1 (12 ounces) jar of Trader Joe’s Bruschetta… see below for adaptations…
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence.
* 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.  White or otherwise.
* up to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional).
* handful of pitted olives, sliced in half if large (optional).

* the juice of 1 lemon, seeds extracted first.
* a few sprigs of cilantro, chopped (optional).

The Okra:  Cut off and discard the stems.  (Remove tips if they look brown.)  Cut the larger okra into half.  Soak the okra in the salt and vinegar for about an hour.  During that time, a couple of times, move the okra around in that bowl so as much can be absorbed as possible.  This is the stage that should draw out a lot of the slime that many object to.  At the end of the hour, rinse the okra vigorously in a colander, under cold water.  Again and again.  Yes, it will still feel slimy to the touch.  After cooking, a lot of this goes away, but I cannot promise 100% to you.  (I still love the stuff…)

Okay, now saute the leek and onion in the olive oil, wait until the oil begins to simmer slightly before adding the leek and onion.  Mix this around until the onions and leek begin to go translucent, and maybe a few of them are slightly carmelized.  About 10-15 minutes.

Add the okra, the bruscetta, and the rest of the spices…

Simmer on the cook top for about 40-45 minutes under low-moderate heat, covered loosely to allow a little steam to escape.

If you want to be a bit more Greek, add a small handful of pitted olives now.

Add the lemon juice.  Simmer another five minutes.

Optionally, add a few sprigs of cilantro as you are about to serve.

SUBSTITUTING FOR THE TJ BRUSCETTA:

  • Plan on a glass jar of 12-14 ounces chunky tomato sauce.  I make certain the tomato sauce has no added sugar, and the reason I don’t go with commercially metal canned, is that I don’t like the “tinny” taste of that.
  • Add in 2-3 cloves of well-minced garlic with the onion and leek step, towards the end of that step – garlic only needs about three minutes to saute here.
  • Add in a handful of fresh basil, chopped, at the point when you add in the lemon juice.  If you don’t have fresh, about a half teaspoon or so of dried will do.

Yet another Link party at Fiesta Friday!

Mediterranean, Okra, Recipe, Bruschetta, Tomato

Leeks and Onion, ready to cook

Posted in Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Shrimp, Mango and Pluot Salad

At my most recent pot luck, I brought a salad by request — a request I’d been given based on what I’d brought to the same event two years ago.  Apparently, it was remembered.

Shrimp and Mango Salad.  When I was building my recipe index, I remembered that salad, but lo and behold, I’d never written it up for this blog.

Shrimp, mango, pluot, salad, recipe

Even when you mix, a lot of the shrimp and fruit settles towards the bottom. It’s there.

I didn’t remember EXACTLY what I did then, but I’m recording this one for posterity.  Meanwhile, I discovered a fruit named “pluot”, which turns out to be 75% plum crossed with enough apricot to make 25% of the latter.  In this case, the pluot (there seem to be different varieties of pluot, probably mostly depending on which varieties of plums and/or apricots were crossed to make the offspring) was a large (for a plum) golden-yellow, with a yellow interior.  Its flavor owed a lot to plum, and it had a texture reminiscent of apricot.  No, the grocery did not say what variety of pluot it was that I took home with me.

For this recipe, I used Florida Gulf shrimp.  I’m still leery about Gulf shrimp, but in Florida we’re somewhat further away from Ground Zero BP Gulf.  (I try not to eat shrimp often.)

So, here we go!

Prep time:  1 hour
Cook time:  2 minutes MAX once the shrimp’s water comes to a boil
Rest time:  After the lettuce is added — as little as possible.
Serves:  I’m guessing 5-6 if not a pot-luck dish.

SHRIMP, MANGO AND PLUOT SALAD

* 1.5 pounds shrimp
* 2 ripe mangos
* 3 pluots (or a couple of large plums and an apricot)
* 5 3-4 inch stalks of hearts of palm
* 4 ounces mixed lettuce greens (some purple “greens” in there add interest as well as a touch of anti-oxidant…)
* 1 or 2 green onions/scallions

Bring a pot of water to boil, sufficient to submerge all the shrimp.

You can peel & de-vein the shrimp before or after cooking them.  (I did it prior.)   Or you can buy them already shelled, although those usually still have the tail shells on.  I do prefer to cook them myself — for some reason, a better flavor.  Most store-bought pre-cooked shrimp have sort of light funky aftertaste that I prefer not to taste.

Throw them into the boiling water, and simmer for a max of 2 minutes.  (If you luck into those wonderful Rhode Island red shrimp, simmer for a max of one minute.)  Any longer, and you run the real risk of mushy shrimp!

Immediately drain into a colander in your sink, and run lots of cold water over them to halt the cooking process.

For the mangos:  Peel them, chop around the core, make bite sized segments.  Set aside these segments in a large bowl, discard the rest.

For the pluots:  Leave the skin on, chop into bite sized and smaller pieces, discard the pit, and set aside, with the mango reserve, the edible parts.

Rinse and slice the hearts of palm, about 1/4 inch thicknesses, add to the mango and pluot bowl.

Toss in the shrimp.

Slice up the scallion(s) .  My new “Go To” scallion/green onion slicing method debuted with the recipe for Korean sesame bok choy salad, and I’m going to keep with it for most preparations.  In short:  slice the green parts about 1.5 inches long, on a bias.  Slice the white parts about 1.5 inches long, and finely slice those bits lengthwise, using a good paring knife.  You’ll get six to eight slivers out of each segment.

Just before serving — you can do the rest of this hours before — add in rinsed salad greens, and mix gently.

Salad dressing is not needed.

By the way — the verdict on this version of the salad was also a resounding success.

We’re joining the Link Party at Tell ‘Em Tuesday, and at Fiesta Friday

Posted in Cooking, Salads | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cucamelon!!

I’ve just discovered a brand new veggie at my farmer’s market!

cukamelon, salad

A neat grape-sized discovery!

Meet the deceptively lowly cucamelon!  (And it’s technically a fruit.)

It hails from Mexico and other areas of Central America, and is related to the cucumber (same taxonomic family).  It also goes by the name of Mexican sour gherkin, because it is just a touch sour, almost with a hint of lime.  Probably because of its shape it also goes by sandita (little watermelon).  Scientifically, it is known as Melothria scabra, but fortunately we don’t have to call it that.

Cucamelon, salad

I was hoping to find them red inside, like a watermelon…

I bought a half-pint, and was hard-pressed to avoid treating the entire container of this grape-sized yummy treat like popcorn — definitely I wanted to add some to a salad for this blog.  (Btw, they’re a lot tastier than popcorn — not a hard bar as far as I’m concerned, but anyway.)

There are many ways to make salads, and if I’d had the ingredients to hand, I would have added cucumber and a bit of watermelon, to see how the cucamelon works with them. The tomatoes at this time of year – Northern hemisphere anyway – are required in any salad I make — those who can’t eat nightshades, substitute with oh, maybe small sliced salad turnips?

Prep time:  15 minutes, much of which is rooting around in a too-small fridge.
Cook time:  Zilch.
Rest time:  Add dressing just before serving.
Serves 1 as a main.

SIMPLE SUMMER SALAD FEATURING CUCAMELON

* 3 leaves of butter lettuce (2 of iceberg or romaine
* 2 slices of cabbage, red is good for the color
* 1 medium farm fresh tomato, sliced
* 10-12 cucamelons, sliced lengthwise in half.
* your choice of salad dressing – I recommend something light in the way of a vinaigrette.  I used just a drizzle of EVOO and a drizzle of rice vinegar.  You could use my Dijon Vinaigrette if you like.
* fresh-cracked ground pepper to taste.

Preparation:  

Layer on the lettuce, top with cabbage, top that with tomato, top that once again with the cucamelons, drizzle on the dressing, and add the ground pepper.  I bet a sprinkle of cilantro would work wonders on this, too.  And maybe half a green onion, chopped.

There’s a second cucamelon-based salad coming up for tomorrow’s lunch!   (Similar enough to this one that I won’t be posting it.)  And, if the farmer’s market still has these next week, I’ll be making salsa or bruscietta out of some of  them.

Cucamelon, salad

Cucamelon in a full-plate salad.

Closing notes:   The cucamelons are poised on my probable future floor “wood look” kitchen tile sample, along with the two quartz counter top samples I want to use.  (Silestone Olive Green and Eco Luna.)  

Cucamelon, salad

Cucamelon posing on elements for my future kitchen.

(The rest of the kitchen – south wall facing outdoors – medium tone hand peeled log, west wall – Sherwin Williams Natural Choice (warm off-white); north wall – Sherwin Williams Meadow Trail (sage); east wall – open to dining room over a peninsula.  Major appliances – black.  Fixtures, pulls, and hinges – aged bronze. Cabinets:  pine, just slightly darker than logs.  Ceiling – log to match the south wall.)

cucamelon, salad

Cucamelon simply posing.

Linked at: Tell ‘Em Tuesday, Hey Momma, & Fiesta Friday

Posted in Salads, South of the Border, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Korean Bok Choy Salad

korean, recipe, bok choy, sesame, vegetarian, vegan

Korean sesame bok choy, ready to serve.

Two of the three most recent cook books to cross my threshold have been:

Maangchi, Real Korean Cooking:  Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook (2015)

Russ Crandall, Paleo Take Out: Restaurant Favorites without the Junk (2015)

(The third was a seafood cook book.)

I’ve put a moratorium on purchasing any more cookbooks until I move.  But I had to order the top two because I love both their blogs (Maangchi, and The Domestic Man, respectively).

I regret none of these purchases!

Crandall’s book is largely focused on Asian cuisine, and he’s got a Korean section.  He’s traveled extensively, and has had some chef training, and a good sense of taste.  While I don’t believe Korean food has been Americanized to the extent that Chinese food here has, he basically creates gluten-free, and more healthily-sweetened recipes from items which are often associated with “take-out”.

Maangchi was born in South Korea, and now lives in New York City, and has an engaging You Tube presence with many videos, which is great for watching techniques.  Her book brings out many ideas for a wide range of food possibilities.

Both Russ Crandall and Maangchi tackle Korean Spinach Salad, with a few minor differences.  Maangchi mentioned in her write-up that the salad prep method is effective with other vegetables, such as bok choy.  The dish is a very common Korean side.

Korean, bok choy, recipe, sesame

bok choy stems, chopped

Bok choy was in my fridge.  So… here we go, basing this on a combinations of ideas from both chefs!

Korean, bok choy, recipe, sesame

Bok choy, greens.

One note before we get started — sesame oil (toasted or otherwise) is a MUST if you want this to taste right.  No other oil brings in the same flavor profile.

Prep Time:  20 minutes.  (I am counting blanching time in here.)
Rest Time:  Eat immediately or serve after refrigeration — it lasts several days in the fridge.
Serves 4 as a side.

KOREAN SESAME BOK CHOY SALAD

* About 1 pound bok choy (this is about two full-sized bok choy plants)
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
* 2 scallions/green onions, peeled and de-rooted
* 1 tablespoon tamari (or coconut aminos)
* 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon (toasted or not toasted), divided.
* 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds (toasting is optional, see below)
* optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes  (Russ uses Korean red pepper powder, or he uses togarashi powder, neither of which I had.  Maangchi leaves out the heat; her mains often have the heat!)

Preparation: 

Get everything chopped up ahead of time.  The garlic is as above.

For the bok choy:  pull off any bad bits, chop off the stems, and for the thicker white part, chop in about 1  1/2 inch segments and set aside.  This will cook longer than the leafy greens, which you will quickly blanch.  Chop up the greens separately, and set aside.

For the scallions:  cut the white bulb parts into 2 inch lengths, then cut them lengthwise about 3 times, holding each of these lengths together while cutting.  Then, rotate 90 degrees, and cut them again, leaving you with nice slivers.  For the leafy green tops, cut on a bias of 1   1/2 – 2 inches in length, then slice those in half lengthwise.

Boil water in a large enough pan to cook/blanch the bok choy.

When it is boiling, add the bok choy stems, make sure everything gets submerged.

Wait 40-45 seconds, add the bok choy greens, make sure everything gets submerged.

Wait 30 seconds, drain and run cold water over them in a colander to stop them cooking.  Keep running the water and mix around with your hands.  Then, drain thoroughly.  Set aside.

Traditionally and authentically, now you add the tablespoon of oil, tamari, garlic, scallions and the optional red pepper flakes to a bowl, mix quickly, and then add all that well-drained bok choy.  I opted however to saute the garlic in that other half-teaspoon of sesame oil, over medium high heat for 1.5 minutes before using — I figured this might mitigate a bit of “garlic breath”.  If you do the latter, don’t let it even begin to brown, even if your minute and a half isn’t up.

Mixing is best accomplished with the hands.

At the end, add the sesame seeds over the top.

Korean, sesame, recipe, bok choy, vegetarian, vegan

Mission accomplished!

For toasted sesame seeds:  Heat up a dry skillet to medium heat.  Add in the seeds and watch carefully — they will turn brown fast.  A nice tan is fine, black is not.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside the seeds until use.

For Spinach:  If you do choose to use spinach instead of bok choy, do everything as above, but blanch the leafy greens for 30 seconds total. I’d recommend fresh over frozen in this dish.  

 Linked at Tell ‘Em Tuesday, Hey Momma!Fiesta Friday

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Korean Grilled Scallops (Garibi Gui)

Korean foods are fascinating — from kimchee to japchae to gimbap rolls to spicy seafood soup.   I’ve been wanting to try or to make more foods from Korea.

Korean, Scallops, Grill, Ginger, Orange, recipe

Korean Grilled Scallops

The concept for this recipe came from a website:  Korean Barbecued Scallops.  Sea scallops were on a big whopping sale here, and I bought two pounds, and froze most of them in packets.  I was eager to break out the grill again — and I’d never done scallops on the grill before.

This is yum!

Korean, Grill, recipe, Scallops, Ginger, Orange

Marinating

Prep time:  A little over an hour
Cook time:  Five to seven minutes
Rest time:  None
Serves:  2.

Korean Grilled Scallops

* 2/3 pounds of sea scallops
* 3 teaspoons low sodium tamari sauce (San-J is recommended, and it’s gluten free – you want a tamari that isn’t heavy)
* 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil — toasted or regular
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded fresh ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon mirin – a Chinese rice wine
* 1/2 teaspoon or so orange juice (I squeezed it fresh since  I don’t normally buy OJ)
* 1 teaspoon cane sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Get your grill going.

Mix all the ingredients together except the scallops in a  bowl.

Add the scallops and mix them in.  Hands are fine.

Let marinate in the fridge for an hour, once or twice going back to mix them.

Grill them — use one of those pans that has the holes on the bottom surface, otherwise you will lose them or if you do them in a regular pan, they will be swimming in a sea of liquid when you are done.  I used direct heat, on a covered grill, then moved the pan for indirect after two  minutes.  Flip them after five minutes from original cooking time, then allow them to cook another two – three minutes.  (Times may vary by how hot your grill is — stay with them!)

Serve hot over a bed of lettuce, or as the protein topping to whatever salad you concoct.

Korean, recipe, scallops, grill, ginger, orange

The seasonings are mild but definitely an asset.

Or serve them with a steamed side of bok choy.

(In this case, I ate a few on the spot, with the other stuff I’d grilled at the time, and reserved the rest to nuke lightly before putting over one of those aforementioned salads at work the next day.)

 

 

AND!!!  this is now Posted at Fiesta Friday # 78 July 2015!

Go check out the other recipes and items there, and have fun…

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Seafood | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dining Out: Yokohama Sushi, New Milford, CT

Dining out at Yokohama

I have to say they had a few dodgy moments a few years ago, but everything I’ve had in the past year or two or more has been superb — fish quality is excellent, and they do make the welcome effort to bring in less-typical seafood for their sushi bar.   Which of course, I oftimes feel obligated to try, but that’s on me!

Yokohama, restaurant, review, sushi, Japanese

Okasame, Sashimi from Heaven…  A recent special.  This was 18 pieces of fish — and I really wanted to take that fish head upper left home with me for seafood bone broth!  I’m sure if I’d asked… At any rate, I ate about all the veggies and apple slices on the plate, too.  Some, such as daikon strips, were buried under.  

Other than their sushi/sashimi, the only things I have tried at this restaurant have been the miso soup (standard), the edamame appetizer (extremely large serving – don’t get it just for yourself), seaweed salad (also about standard), and the age dashi tofu (I definitely like it).  Well, if it matters to you, the hot tea comes with a green tea bag.  They serve a variety of chilled saki beverages as well as Japanese beers, but I’m not really a connoisseur.

Heaven appears to be their head sushi chef, and he’s a very engaging fellow, and does his best to source great tasting and FRESH raw fish for the sushi bar, and yes, that’s the name he goes by here in the States.  I do try to avoid the mayo-laden items — and the “spicy” items that have all that mayo aren’t really spicy anyway, so I’m very much less tempted.  A little bit of coloring, but no real heat.  That’s just as well — I don’t need the extra mayo!  The eel sauce is a bit too sweet (much as I otherwise love eel).  But, hey, I could do without that, too, yes?  And them eels can do without me eating them more than once a year…   I’m quite happy with the rest of the menu, and with the specials that crop up, especially on weekends.  And, it is fresh, yes!  Heaven gets very creative with his presentations.  And if they have ama ebi (sweet shrimp) in-house — the head gets rapidly fried in a very light tempura batter, while the body is served shell-less and raw. And both are excellent!

One of my favorite low-carb rolls here is the Naruto Roll.  Wrap is cucumber “paper” garnered by shredding carefully, and center it  around your various fishes, cucumber, avocado, radishes,etc. ..

Rating:  4.75 – 4.8.  The freshness is not an issue these days; it is the sugary eel sauce and the tasteless “spicy” mayo sauces — and I really shouldn’t be eating those anyway!

Posted in Cooking, Dining Out, Seafood | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment