Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday - Jadda's Tzatziki

Polski: Tzatziki, tzadziki lub tsatsiki - najp...
Polski: Tzatziki, tzadziki lub tsatsiki - najpopularniejsza przystawka w kuchni greckiej English: Tzatziki, tzadziki, or tsatsiki - Greek meze or appetizer, also used as a sauce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            Outside of Jadda’s  sliding glass door was the not-so-Secret Garden for our apartment building. While its existence irritated the manager to no end, it delighted us neighbors. The bright fruits and vegetables overwhelmed Jadda’s ability to cook and consume, and so she generously offered them around.

             I know that several of the single moms, like, Mrs. Agnew, the lady for whom I babysat, depended on this generosity to feed their kids nutritiously.  My mother swore that the herbs that Jadda made into medicinal concoctions did more for her than the pharmacopeia that lay beside her bed.

            Jadda loved making people happy with her abundant produce. She even planted cucumbers for Mrs. Drinkwater’s afternoon tea sandwiches and for her husband’s tzatziki, though she wouldn’t touch it  -  cucumbers made her burp.

Tzatziki is a creamy sauce made from Greek yoghurt and grated cucumbers.

I love tzatziki. I love it not just as a dipping sauce to cool the heat from the kebabs but for some unconventional things too. For example, I like to slather it on a piece of pumpernickel and slice a radish over the top with a sprinkle of salt and a twist of freshly ground pepper. I will dollop it on slices of eggplant or zucchini that I have crisped on the grill (or dredged in egg then flour and fried). I serve this as before dinner snack. Sometimes I will skip the draining step so the tzatziki is more liquid-y, and I can use it as a salad dressing (over a salad of Jadda’s veggies).

It’s easy-peezy to make.

Polski: Tzatziki, tzadziki lub tsatsiki - najp...
Polski: Tzatziki, tzadziki lub tsatsiki - najpopularniejsza przystawka w kuchni greckiej (składniki) English: Tzatziki, tzadziki, or tsatsiki - Greek meze or appetizer, also used as a sauce (components) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 cups of Greek yoghurt (plain)

1 English cucumber

4 cloves of garlic

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

1T red wine vinegar

4T minced fresh dill

Salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Slice an English cucumber and put it in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with salt to pull out the excess liquid. Take another colander and line it with a cheesecloth (or piece of fabric) and put the Greek yoghurt in to drain. After about a half-hour rinse the cucumber and squeeze. From this point, you can grate or chop the cucumber into tiny pieces.

In a plastic storage bowl, add all of your ingredients EXCEPT the salt and pepper. Cover and place in the fridge. Let it mature for at least a half-hour. Before serving give it a stir and now add your salt and pepper. PLEASE do this addition in small quantities because it is such a delicate flavor that it can quickly become over powered. It looks pretty with a sprig of dill on top.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday - Nona Sophia's Pappa Al Pomodoro

The ingredients to make a Pesto - pecorino che...
The ingredients to make a Pesto - pecorino cheese, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and basil. For this recipe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


           If I were to describe my Nona Sophia’s family, I would say that they always had a burner on high, and a pot at the boil. Whether they were angry or happy, loving or grieved, the display of sentiment was passionate. Loud voices. Big gestures. Eyes ablaze or weeping with joy. The spectacle of their household made visible the spectrum of human emotion. Sometimes I thought it was good to have a day of emotional fasting with Nana Kate, to prepare me for the rich drama at Nona Sophia’s.

The pot at the boil on the back of Nona’s stove was often full of  
Pappa Al Pomodoro


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 carrots (scraped and chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic – either put through garlic press or crushed with the side of a knife and finely diced
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta bread – remove the crust and dice into one inch cubes.
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes. Nona uses Muir Glen
  • 4 cups chicken stock (Nona uses homemade; I use organic stock from the store)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves + a few leaves for each bowl as garnish
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Stockpot Français : Une marmine
Stockpot Français : Une marmine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Start with a stockpot. Pour the olive oil in and heat on a medium low heat.  Add onions, carrots and garlic. Heat these together for about ten minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the bread cubes and cook for another five minutes. Pour in the canned tomatoes, the stock, and the red wine. Add the basil, salt and pepper and give it a stir. Bring this to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot by tipping the lid slightly and cook for forty minutes. Remove the lid and use a whisk to stir the soup briskly and break up the bread cubes.

ricetta/recipe sul mio Blog Il Mondo di Luvi i...
ricetta/recipe sul mio Blog Il Mondo di Luvi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pour into bowls, sprinkle with parmesan shavings, float a leaf or two of fresh basil and a twist of fresh pepper.

I know it's not beautiful; it is delicious! (and the addition of the garnishes helps.)


       This is particularly nice with a fresh green salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, a lovely glass of red wine, and a piece of fruit with dark chocolate for desert.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Wednesday - Nana Kate's Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles. Falmouth MaineSnickerdoodles. Falmouth Maine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      I have two memories when you say snickerdoodles. Mary Lisa Twist, one of my best friends growing up, had a labradoodle named Snickerdoodle. He was a total love bug.

And then there was Nana Kate's snickerdoodles in my plastic Halloween jack o' lantern.
Jack-o-lantern Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Oddly enough, Nana Kate will only make snickerdoodles for Halloween.

When she was a child, her family made the cookies up by the dozens and handed them out to the kids trick-or-treating in her neighborhood.  Nana Kate said that no one handed out candy, it was far too expensive a luxury.  Most times she would get apples; sometimes it was a piece of cornbread. Nana Kate was proud that her family was able to hand out such a fabulous treat. It gave her a lot of street cred. The Kids were all friendly with Nana Kate in October.  Nana Kate grew up and moved to D.C. where she handed out snickerdoodles  to the trick-or-treaters at our apartment building. She had a lot of street cred with our neighborhood, too.

                I, on the other hand, do not sequester snickerdoodles in the Halloween-only-corner. No. I equate snickerdoodles with just about any celebration –even if I’m  celebrating Tuesday night. Or that I’m reading a good book. Or rain…

                The thing that I like about snickerdoodles is they’re quick to put together, quick to cook, and quick to satisfy. This is Nana Kate’s secret family recipe that she passed down to me and has given me permission to pass on to you – since she saw the exact same recipe printed in the newspaper last week.


1 c buter
1 ½ c sugar (I’ve tried to substitute Splenda and some others and it’s just not the same)
2 large eggs
Butter and a butter knifeButter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 2 ¾ cups of flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
4 T sugar
2 T cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees on bake (not convection bake).

Cream butter with 1 ½ c sugar when fluffy add eggs one at a time.

Blend your dry ingredients in a separate bowl , slowly incorporate into the butter mixture.  Put this in an air tight container in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.  While it’s chilling mix the 4T of sugar and cinnamon together.  Take the chilled dough out and form into one inch balls. Roll the balls into the cinnamon sugar mixture . Place on an ungreased cookie sheet  and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove immediately to a wire rack.

Deutsch: Ein Glas Milch English: A glass of mi...Deutsch: Ein Glas Milch English: A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)                Once they are cooled you can package them up and share them with the neighbors to spread the smiles – and maybe even develop a little of Nana Kate’s street cred.
Enjoy (with a glass of ice cold milk)!  

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