The Great Tzatziki


It started in the spring, with snap peas. Raw. Dipped in tzatziki. I couldn’t get enough.

I love how the earthy, grassy crunch of the pods gives way to the sweet peas, possibly better than I like the peas by themselves (also, I’m usually too lazy to shell them). I also love fresh dill and always struggled a bit to use up the huge bunches from the store. Tzatziki, made with strained (Greek) yogurt and flavored with dill, also includes ingredients I usually have on hand–cucumbers, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt.

It’s just a little bit magical: put a bowl of tzatziki next to a plate of raw vegetables–peas, celery, carrot sticks, sliced peppers, broccoli, whatever–and watch those vegetables disappear. You can also use it as a sauce for kebabs or fish or dip bread in it. When my daughter had some friends over recently, I put out vegetables along with tzatziki and some ranch dressing. I don’t think anyone touched the ranch dressing.

My recipe is adapted from one by The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

The Great Tzatziki

1-2 c plain Greek yogurt (I prefer full fat, but use low fat if you like it better). To make your own Greek yogurt, instead of paying a premium for it, strain regular yogurt. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and let it sit over a bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours.
1 medium cucumber, or half an English cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and finely chopped
1-2 tbl chopped fresh dill
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed in a press
1 tbl lemon juice
3 tbl olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Wrap the chopped cucumber in cheesecloth or a couple of layered paper towels and squeeze out as much water as you can. Mix everything together in a bowl. Taste to adjust seasonings. You may like it more or less garlicky, or lemony, or salty. This version is fairly thick and chunky. To make it a little thinner,  add some regular (unstrained) yogurt. To make it less chunky, dial back the cucumber.

Time to Break Some Eggs


When I was six, my family ate breakfast together on weekend mornings, and the highlight, for me, was a soft-boiled egg, served in an egg cup with the shell still on it. I learned to slice off the top with a knife, scoop out the runny yolk, then scrape out the white. Now I sometimes think that, as long as I have eggs (OK, and chocolate), I’ll be happy.

Eggs are also great in a hurry. Recently, friends from Texas, in town to run the Boston Marathon, came for lunch. Though we knew a day ahead that they’d be over, I really only had about an hour to pull off a meal. So, eggs to the rescue: in this case a frittata with asparagus and potatoes, along with a plate of smoked salmon and some matzah (it was Passover, otherwise we’d have served bagels) and a fruit salad.

I had been making Tortilla Española for years before I realized it’s a potato frittata and started adding (or substituting) other ingredients. Asparagus this time because it’s spring, and we all like it. Plus a little smoked Gouda cheese. The exact quantities of fillings and eggs are not crucial. You want a sufficient ratio of fillings to eggs so that the fillings sort of float in the eggs with some space between the pieces and the egg binds it all together. The mixture should fill the pan, too.

Asparagus and Potato Frittata for Eight

1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (I used russet)
Half a bunch of asparagus, woody stem ends broken off and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (about 10-12 spears)
1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used smoked Gouda)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. On the stove, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a 10-inch, ovenproof skillet on medium heat Add potatoes and asparagus, and cook until potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a fork and asparagus is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent potatoes from sticking to the pan (you may need to add a bit more oil). While potatoes and asparagus are cooking, break eggs into a bowl and whisk together.

When the potatoes and asparagus are cooked, scrape any browned bits from the pan and add oil enough to coat the bottom (2 Tbl ought to do it, but use your judgement. You want enough oil so the eggs won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.). Pour the beaten eggs over the vegetables, sprinkle the cheese on top and stir very gently so the fillings are spread evenly in the pan. When the edges start to set, stick a silicone spatula between the eggs and the side of the pan and lift carefully, tipping the pan so some of the uncooked egg runs underneath. Repeat in another one or two spots around the edges of the pan, as you would do when making a plain omlette. Now place the pan in the oven and cook until the top is set (it may get a little bit brown).

Remove the pan from the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes, then slice into serving pieces. I find squares are easiest to lift out without breaking.