Dips ‘n Spreads


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A juicy lamb patty, simply seasoned with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, is delicious in its own right. But when I have a vote, I prefer mine with a homemade sauce to take it a level up in flavor.

When I first started making lamburgers , tzatziki was my go-to sauce–that creamy cucumber, lemon and dill sauce you find on a gyro. It had been so long since I made it, I was scanning recipes to refresh my memory how I put it together, when it hit me–most of these recipes are made for more than just two people. The Yankee in me hates to waste food, so I scaled it down and added parsley instead of dill. The traditional sauce is definitely Greek, but in this very Italian kitchen, as Frank sang, I did it my way. There was more than enough for two lamb patties with some leftover to spread crackers or to use a a dip for vegetables.

Not a big tzatziki fan? My other sauce of choice is salsa verde. Not a lamb eater? This would be delicious on fresh, warm pitas.

KATTY’S TZATZIKI

3/4 cup Fage full-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 a lemon, squeezed
2 mini English cucumbers, grated; then squeeze in a paper towel to remove excess water
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil (I love my Seven Barrels oils and balsamic vinegars)
handful of parsley, chopped

Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice and Meyer lemon olive oil. Add pressed clove of garlic and salt. Add some black pepper, too, if you like. Grate two mini English cucumbers, then squeeze in a paper towel or colander to remove excess water. Coarsely chop a handful of parsley and stir in. In just a half hour or so, the flavors will meld nicely enough, but if you prep it ahead of time, it will mellow out the garlic a bit more.

We had our lamburgers with mashed sweet potatoes and spinach sauteed with garlic. Told you they were juicy!

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I’m not sure native corn is digging the weather any more than most of us have been, here in the Land of Steady Habits. First it was too cold. Then it wouldn’t stop raining. Then we had a week-long heatwave, during which I had no ambition to boil water for corn. But, finally, it’s no longer oppressively hot. And it seems native corn is here and lookin’ good. In fact, my mom tipped me off to some delicious local corn just this past week.

Ma: I bought this great corn at Tri-Town from Ferrari Farm in Glastonbury.
Me: Really, where is that?
Ma: It’s on 17 heading north. It’s near a house.
Me: ? ? ? ? It’s not near anything specifically?
Ma: No, there’s just a sign there. I saw it today. Ferrari. Or Fieri. Or something.
Me: Great. Now you don’t even have the name right.
Ma: Hey, Hopey, guess what kind of car I saw today?
Me: A Ferrari?
Ma: An Alpha Omega!
Me: An Alfa Romeo?!
Ma: Yeah, that’s it!

You can find Ferrari corn at Whole Foods in Glastonbury, too. And I was feeling so flush yesterday, I bought four Ferraris! So sad the only Ferraris I can afford have husks and are best eaten rather than driven at warp speed. 😛

So, now that great corn is available, why not take it to the casino with compound butter? If you’ve never made compound butter, you’re in for a treat. When my friend Pat told me she had made one with garlic and basil for corn on the cob, that was so good it started spinning the wheels in my head. Then I thought, what if I made a compound butter with all the flavors of clams casino (except the clams, of course!)? What is not to love about getting bacon in the mix? Let’s do it!

KATTY’S CASINO BUTTER

1 stick butter (salted), softened
1 slice red pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
1/2 a lemon, zested
1 piece of cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper

Pulse softened butter with ingredients in your food processor. Once blended, transfer compound butter to parchment paper. Form a log of butter, then roll the parchment around it as if you’re making a party favor (or firecracker!) and tie off the ends.
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And, of course, you can schmear it on toast…
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It’s fab in a BLT (yup!) or you can use it to top steak, chicken or veggies (or even sea creatures). Your luck won’t run out when you take your favorite foods to the casino. So, let’s get lucky, shall we? This is such the song of summer 2013 in my mind!
Here’s hopin’ you’ll find casino butter to be the alpha and omega of native corn as you know it! HA HA, sorry, Ma! 😀

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Parlez-vous a homemade hummus? It’s so easy to make at home if you have a blender or mini food processor. If you haven’t already given it a whirl (HA!), you’ll kick yourself for not trying it sooner. So, don’t delay–let’s make hummus today. And off to the kitchen we go to play!

HUMMUS

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
1 15-20 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
finely chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

In a small skillet, toast sesame seeds over medium heat until golden, shaking the pan often. Set aside.

Place chick peas, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in blender or mini food processor and blend till smooth. Add sesame seeds. Blend. Chill. I told you it was easy!

Serve with your favorite veggies, tortillas or crackers for dipping.

Chappy outside

And hey! Did you remember your rabbits today? On the first day of each new month, when first you wake, these words you say: RABBIT, RABBIT, RABBIT! If those are the first words you spoke this day, good luck will be yours for the month of May. You forgot? That’s OK. There’s always next month. Happy May Day, amici! 😀


It’s been hot in my neck of the woods–and is on its way to hotter. Not that it ever stops me from baking. Are you kidding–I’m onto my third round of Mounds brownies already! But seems like time for a cool change. Let’s go Greek and make some tzatziki and lamburgers!

Rocky Hill’s West Side Market is my usual lamburger purveyor of choice, but this time I tried New Zealand lamb patties from Whole Foods. Both are delicious–I always season simply with salt, pepper and crushed rosemary. But they’re even better served with tzatziki, so let’s whip some up!

TZATZIKI
adapted ever so slightly from a very tasty recipe on About.com

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
7 oz. Fage Total Greek yogurt
½ cup sour cream
½ English cucumber, grated (don’t peel!)
2 teaspoons chopped dill

Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl.


Add yogurt and sour cream.
Shred cucumber. Dig my handy shredding box!


Add dill and shredded cuke to the rest of the ingredients.


Cool as a cucumber and oh so creamy! No vampires anywhere in sight, either!


Tzatziki loves a lamburger.

Sad to say, that’s not Connecti-corn hiding behind the main attraction (shhh, I made this more than a month ago). But, of course, native corn, outstanding in its field, is now available! Berruti’s in South Glastonbury had Providence butter and sugar last week–and their “even better” Montauk variety should be out now. May require another ride across the river this afternoon.

My goal for today, and for the next few of increasing heat, humidity and haze: to be a cool cat. You stay cool, too!

How about a different twist on tapenade? I originally wanted to try to recreate a sun-dried tomato dip we had with lunch recently. Along the way, I found a recipe from Bon Appétit that I used to adapt this recipe. It goes so beautifully on no-knead bread.

You may already have figured out the goodness and simplicity of this recipe when it ran in the New York Times five years ago, but it was new to me. Hey, better late than never!

Back to the tapenade…two thumbs up so far besides my own. Don’t forget to let it come up to room temperature when you serve it. Boy, oh boy, this is a very tasty snack!

SUN-DRIED TOMATO TAPENADE

½ cup pitted Kalamatas
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil (I used some of the oil from the tomatoes and topped off the rest with regular OO)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
handful of fresh parsley, snapped in thirds
1 clove garlic
half a lemon, squeezed

Add ingredients to food processor bowl. A mini processor is just the right size for projects like this!

Use the chop button to process till ingredients are finely minced. That’s it! It is that easy and that delicious, I promise you. What are you waiting for? Chop-chop!