Santorini is a member of the Cyclades group of islands located in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km southeast from Greece’s mainland. It, along with islands Naxos and Paros, holds very fond memories for us from our month long trip to Greece back in the late 80’s.

And so when BBQ season hits, it is inevitable that a request will go out for the full Greek experience. That request was ‘delivered’ yesterday when I realized that the ‘soon to expire’ plain yogurt was best transformed into ‘we can’t stop dipping’ Tzatziki. And so last evening’s grocery run incorporated the ingredients we needed to go Aegean. [Yikes, I forgot to get olives, though.]

Shortly after our return from Greece I decided to try my hand at Tzatziki. I found a great recipe in The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook by Anita Stewart. The authors Pat, Effie, and Alex Stroutzas were from Alex’s Cheese at the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto. Google tells me that Alex Stroutzas is still in the market and the place is now called ‘The Adventures in Cheese’.

TZATZIKI

2 cups Plain Yogurt
1/2 Cucumber, peeled, finely grated and drained
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt

Line a colander or a sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Pour in the yogurt and allow it to drip for 2 hours or overnight.

After the yogurt has drained, combine it in a small bowl with cucumber and the garlic. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until just before serving.

While the meat is barbequing, drizzle the olive oil over the surface and without stirring, sprinkle on the salt. It needs no mixing – your guests will do that when they dollop it into their souvlaki.

The recipe makes about 1 cup.

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I have no idea where I found the recipe for the Pork Souvlaki Kabobs. But it too has been with us since shortly after our trip. I prefer to use fresh herbs over the dried.

PORK SOUVLAKI KABOBS

1 1/2 lbs pork loins, lean, boneless, Shoulder Butt Loin
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Mint Leaves, Dried
1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Hot Pepper Flakes

In a glass bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, mint, pepper and hot pepper flakes. Mix well. Add pork cubes and toss to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature 1 to 2 hours or overnight in refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Thread pork onto 6 or 7 skewers. Place skewers on greased grill over medium hot coals; grill 6 minutes each side, turning once. Serves 4.

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And what is Greek dining without the traditional Greek Salad. There are so many good recipes out there to give you inspiration. But don’t forget the olives!

The Lemon Roast Potatoes recipe was an unusual find. I was flipping through the newly published Canadian Living Country Living cookbook in 1995, fully expecting every rural recipe known to farming to be bound together. When I read the ingredients for these potatoes, I realized that I could relive my Greek culinary experience one more time.

LEMON ROAST POTATOES

Lemon juice and oregano make these melt-in-your-mouth potatoes the perfect accompaniment to roast lamb or chicken.

4 lbs Potatoes (8 – 10) peeled
1 cups Water
1/2 cups Lemon Juice
1/3 cups Olive Oil
3 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Pepper

Cut potatoes lengthwise into thick wedges; place in 13 x 9 inch (3 litre) baking dish. Whisk together water, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, oregano and pepper; pour over potatoes, turning to coat evenly.

Bake in 325ºF (160ºC) oven, gently turning occasionally to keep potatoes well moistened, forabout 2 hours or until potatoes are very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. 8 generous portions.

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As the souvlaki is coming close to completing its grilling, we like to heat up some Greek pita bread to complete the meal. A light brush of olive oil gives flavour and keeps it moist. A quick turn on each side and that is enough to wake it up.

It was so nice to return to the islands tonight.

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