Sunday, September 6, 2009
Feta and Cucumber Dip
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Contact Noah. We really need the ark. We've had a day of heavy rain and what was to be a barbecue is now a buffet. We Oregonians are a hearty lot and normally a little rain doesn't phase us. I grill in January for heavens sake. However, when it rains this furiously it's impossible to keep the fire going and cooks, looking even briefly toward the heavens, have been known to drown. Factor in accidents caused by flatlanders attempting navigation of a muddy hillside and you have the makings of a disaster. The good news is that the guests and everything on the menu can be moved indoors. Better still is the knowledge that the drought that turned our valley brown is over. I have three hors d' oeuvres in the kitchen that you might enjoy. They're fast and easy and require no last minute fussing. We'll get to them all this week, but we'll concentrate on the feta cucumber dip today. You all know that an hors d' oeuvre is a small hand-held item that's served before and separate from a meal. An appetizer, which could actually be the same food, is the starting point, the first course, of a meal and is served at the table. The real difference between the two is the time at which they're served. While this is a Martha Stewart recipe, its origins are Italian and a recipe similar to this one appeared in The New York Times Cookbook decades ago. Here the cucumbers are grated rather than diced and heavy cream and feta cheese are added to yogurt to make a smooth and tangy dip for pita chips or crudites. Try to get thick Greek yogurt. If it's not available, drain the yogurt through a sieve to extract as much liquid as you can. The cucumbers, too, should be as dry as possible. While the dip can be made early in the day, it becomes watery if allowed to sit over night. Any leftover dip makes a marvelous low-fat salad dressing. Here's the recipe.
Feta and Cucumber Dip...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
4 medium cucumbers, peeled
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (16 ounces), preferably Greek
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Freshly ground pepper
Sliced Cucumbers for lining the bowl for lining bowl (optional)
Crudites, for serving
1) Halve cucumbers, and scoop out seeds using a melon baller or small spoon. Grate cucumbers using large holes of a box greater. Transfer grated cucumbers to a colander; set over a bowl to drain. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt; let cucumber mixture stand 15 minutes to drain.
2) Rinse cucumbers; shake out excess liquid. Wrap in a clean kitchen towel; squeeze out as much liquid as possible. A potato ricer may also be used to extract liquid.
3) Stir together cucumbers, yogurt, feta, chopped mint, garlic, cream, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, transfer dip to a bowl lined with cucumber slices. Garnish dip with mint sprig if desired. Serve with pita chips or crudites. Yield: 3-1/2 cups.