When I was sixteen, I went on a school trip to Europe. The highlight of that trip was our time in Greece. I remember being amazed by the beauty of the white buildings against the backdrop of the impossibly blue sea, by the sandy beaches and the ancient ruins. I also remember my introduction to the cuisine, and how spectacular and tasty the food was. I had never tasted anything like it before: creamy tzatiki drizzled on warm pita bread, alongside the freshest of vegetables. It was the start of a love affair with Greek cuisine that is still torridly alive to this day.
Mediterranean cuisine is among the healthiest in the world — and it is also incredibly delicious. This recipe is modelled after the Greek classic lemon chicken; I just love how the flavours of lemon and garlic work together to meld with crisp, fresh vegetables and chewy, soft pita. One bite of this and you'll be saying "Opa!"
It might just be the start of a love affair for you too.
The coconut milk is chilled in order to separate the liquid from the solid cream. Turn the can upside down, open it, and pour off the liquid (reserve for a smoothie). Scoop out the solid cream and place in a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt; allow to sit at room temperature for 5-6 hours. *SHORTCUT* Skip this step and instead use 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt.
Grate the cucumber and set on a paper or absorbent cloth towel. Sprinkle with salt, allow to sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze off excess liquid and add the cucumber to the coconut milk mixture.
Stir in the olive oil and garlic. *NOTE* This tzatiki is best if made the day before; the flavours meld together over time. Store in refrigerator until needed.
Greek Lemon Mushroom
Arrange mushroom slices in one layer in a baking pan or casserole dish.
Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour over mushroom slices and allow to marinate 1-2 hours.
Saute mushrooms, along with the marinade, in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed. *GRILL OPTION* Using a barbeque-safe griddle, cook on the barbeque over medium-high for about 20 minutes.
Arrange cooked mushrooms onto a warm pita, top with sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, and drizzle with the tzatiki sauce. Opa!
Yield: 4 servings
A few years ago, my husband and I took the kids to Disneyland; prior to that, my last visit to the Magic Kingdom was in 1987. Much had changed since then—the addition of the California Adventure park, the Indiana Jones ride, the plethora of Cars characters hanging out for photo opportunities.
To my delight, much that I had remembered with fondness about Disneyland had stayed the same. Main Street USA and It's A Small World were still charming, the Matterhorn was still thrilling, and the jokes about the characters in the Jungle Cruise were still delightfully corny (said about the man getting poked in the behind by a rhino horn—"He got the point").
I didn't remember much of my Disneyland culinary experience from 1987, but I did remember one thing—Dole Whip. Creamy, tartly sweet, light as foam Dole Whip. What a delicious dessert! Of course, I partook in it again during my last trip and it was as scrumptious as I remembered.
Sadly, we can't all jet off to Disneyland whenever the mood strikes or a craving for Dole Whip hits, but we can make this tasty and healthy knock-off in our very own kitchens! One bite of this and my kitchen transforms into the Happiest Place on Earth . . . minus all the princesses.
In a food processor, pulse together pineapple chunks, lemon juice, lime juice, and sugar.
Add milk in increments and process until desired creaminess is reached.
Scoop out and serve immediately. Mixture can be re-frozen for a later treat.
If you cannot find frozen pineapple chunks at your local grocery store, here's a DIY version: cut fresh pineapple into 1 inch chunks and arrange on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer. When chunks are frozen (4 hours or so), place them into ziploc bags and store until needed.
Using canned coconut milk will result in a richer, creamier frozen treat. For a lighter treat use coconut milk from a carton.
(Yield: 4 servings)
I love cooking. I really do. But when it's summertime, I find myself much less inclined to spend time in the kitchen—summer is so short and fleeting in my part of the world, I feel like I must carpe diem the hell out of it and spend every possible minute outside.
It's hard for a foodie to be inside when these beauties are in bloom!
The month of July, therefore, is dedicated to meals that can be prepared quickly or grilled. This grilled vegetable salad is absolutely scrumptious and so simple to prepare. Whip up the dressing and let the vegetables marinate while you happily stare at your flower garden, soaking up the Vitamin D. Toss the vegetables every twenty minutes or so when you need to go inside to refill your chilled glass of wine. Throw the veggies on the grill along with some burgers or "not dogs" for about the amount of time you need to drink another glass of wine, and voila! This amazing side dish is ready!
This salad is even better cold the next day, so I make a huge amount to enjoy later, which means even less time in the kitchen and more time in the garden.