Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Dip)

My take on Greek tzaztiki dip – it’s fantastic served with pitta or crusty bread and all kinds of dishes like gyros, souvlaki or part of a mezze. To make the best tzatziki you need to use thick and creamy Greek yoghurt and add lots of garlic!

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I’m finally sharing one of my favourite Greek recipes with you! I’ve been eating and making this dip for many years now and I decided this recipe deserved a place on the blog. If you were wondering, Tzatziki is a Greek cucumber and yoghurt dip and it’s traditionally served with grilled meats like beef, chicken or pork in Greece and Cyprus. I personally love it drizzled over fried halloumi cheese. Try it sometime, it’s delicious! 🙂

When we visited the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus last summer we enjoyed some of the best tzatziki we’d ever had before. Most days lunch at our villa consisted of platefuls of Greek salad and Lebanese pitta bread to dip into bowls of tzatziki and hummus. Ever since tasting the tzatziki in Cyprus I knew when I got home I needed to recreate my own recipe so I could continue reminiscing about my holiday and the tasty Cypriot food.

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I recently shared this roasted garlic hummus and sharing this family favourite tzatziki recipe was next on my list. It’s simply delicious and full of many light and beautiful flavours like tangy Greek yoghurt, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and dill. If you like Greek food or have had tzatziki at a Greek restaurant before, then I know you’ll enjoy this recipe a lot!

To make the tzatziki you will start by preparing the cucumber. I used a whole large cucumber for this recipe. You can choose whether you’d like to peel or leave the skin on the cucumber and whether you prefer it grated or finely diced. Next cut the cucumber lengthways and using a spoon scoop the watery centre out. You need to make sure you squeeze as much water out of the cucumber as you can as any excess water will alter the consistency of the tzatziki.

Also, I strongly recommend using full-fat Greek yoghurt. Don’t substitute with Greek-style or natural yoghurt because they won’t live up to quality of the proper Greek stuff! I always believe it’s better to spend a little extra on something like this once in a while rather than substituting with something that’s not quite up to the mark.

Tzatziki gets better with age so you will find after a day or so in the fridge it will taste even better than the day you made it. I don’t know about you but recipes that can be made in advance tick all the boxes for me!

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber

500g (2 cups) full-fat Greek yoghurt

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped dill (can be substituted with mint)

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (approx. half a lemon) or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Slice the cucumber lengthways and using a small spoon scoop out the watery centre and discard the seeds. Coarsely grate the cucumber or dice it. Place the cucumber in a sieve over a bowl and squeeze as much of the water out as you can. I always leave the peel on because it contains lots of flavour and texture, but this is just my personal preference.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine the cucumber, yoghurt, garlic, dill, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. The dip can be served straight away but it is best left to chill in the fridge for at least 2-4 hours in order for the flavours to develop and marry together.
  3. When ready to serve, place the tzatziki in a serving bowl or dish. It will keep fresh covered or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Give the tzatziki a good mix prior to serving.

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There are so many different ways of serving this tzaztiki, my favourite is with pitta bread and a drizzle of olive oil. Simple but seriously tasty. 

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Love Greek food? Try my Greek Orzo Salad next!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Roasted Garlic Hummus

Basic hummus recipe with roasted garlic, lemon and spices. A healthy and inexpensive crowd-pleasing dip! 

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I really love hummus. I think I have lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to make it myself and the hummus never seems to be smooth. I found a simple trick for getting ultra smooth hummus. All you have to do is squeeze the skins off the canned chickpeas (garbanzo). It’s a vital step in making the seriously smooth hummus. The only downfall is it does take quite a bit of time but it’s worth going the extra mile to make the best hummus.

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The second thing I changed about my hummus is I’ve used roasted garlic. It’s an underrated ingredient in savoury cooking and can transform any dish into something quite special. If you’d like to learn how to roast your own garlic I find this post helpful for tips. I’m not really a fan of the taste of raw garlic in hummus as I find it way too strong and overpowers other flavours whereas roasted garlic adds the right amount of flavour.

Tahini is also a super important ingredient to add to hummus. It’s a sesame seed paste commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking and recipes. I highly recommend it for authentic flavour and texture.

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I make this hummus all the time and I always find it great to have a bowl aside in my fridge ready for snacking on. The hummus is great and it can be served with vegetable crudités, spread in tortilla wraps with chicken and salad or served as part of a mezze. My favourite way to eat it is with toasted pitta or crunchy pitta chips alongside tzaztiki (Greek cucumber dip).

After tasting this hummus my taste buds were transported back to Cyprus and the summer. It’s my favourite hummus recipe and is super easy and quick to prepare and hardly costs anything to make – which means this recipe is particularly great for those on a budget and for busy students like myself. 🙂

Ingredients:

240g chickpeas (this is usually 400g/14 ounce can before draining)

1 lemon, juiced (approx. 2 tablespoons of juice)

2-4 cloves roasted garlic, adjust to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

100ml tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

Method:

1. Drain the chickpeas. Squeeze the chickpeas to release the skins – discard the skins.

2. Tip the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, tahini, oil along with a generous pinch of salt into a food processor. Process until smooth, add 4 tablespoons of water to loosen the hummus.

3. Adjust seasoning. Spread out into serving bowl or dish. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: The hummus will keep for up to 1 week. But it is best eaten fresh. I leave my hummus in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight before serving as this allows the flavours to develop. Before serving drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds, freshly chopped parsley and spices like smoked paprika or zaatar.

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I was making this hummus again and decided on adding some Moroccan inspired spices. Just up the cumin to a full teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Delicious!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Spicy Thai Crab Cakes with Lemon and Lime Aiöli

Spicy and sweet Thai-style crab cakes. Crisp and delicious on the outside with a flavourful and aromatic filling. Great served with homemade lemon and lime aiöli to cool down the heat!

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These spicy crab cakes make a great appetiser, lunch or light bite for dinner. The perfect plate consists of a refreshing Asian-inspired salad and a drizzle of Sriracha to compliment the cakes! 

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As part of a collaboration with Wynn Las Vegas resort and restaurants, the famous Vegan chef Tal Ronnen has created a speciality menu offering a menu full of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Tal Ronnen is famous for cooking for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. The brief was to pick a dish from the menu and give it your own twist. This blogging project is really fun because it’s a good chance to experience some food flavours available on US and Las Vegas menus.

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The menu had so much choice! So deciding what to pick and blog about was definitely the hardest part! I was stuck between many dishes like the mushroom risotto (one of my favourite dishes to cook at home), peach pancakes and the pot pie! But I decided on the crab cakes from the Lakeside restaurant because I was really love seafood. I’ve put an Oriental twist on the crab cakes as Old Bay seasoning is not available in the supermarkets here so I decided to just add some Asian flavour and influence to these gorgeous crispy cakes – ingredients that are accessible for everyone.

These crab cakes are packed full of flavour! With fresh ginger and chilli, garlic, chopped coriander and parsley, lemon zest and garlic all incased in each beautiful patty. Delicious, spicy and a great mix of taste – they’re definitely restaurant worthy and will wow anyone who tastes them! You can read some more about the Lakeside restaurant here.

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(Makes 6)

Ingredients:

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

250g can of white crab meat, drained well – you can swap crab for salmon or tuna, if preferred

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1 tbsp chopped parsley

2 spring onions, roughly chopped

8 tbsp of breadcrumbs

Plain flour

2 large free-range eggs

Vegetable or olive oil oil

Lemon Lime Aiöli –

4-5 tbsp mayonnaise

Zest from 1/2 lime + a squeeze of the juice

Zest 1/2 lemon plus a squeeze of the juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

Method: 

1. To make the crab cakes: In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the ginger, chilli, crab meat, coriander, parsley and chopped spring onions. Crack in one of the eggs and add 4 tbsp of the breadcrumbs. Mix to combine.

2. Divide the mixture into 6 equally sized portions. Now mould into patties. Place on a lined tray and pop into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

3. One chilled and firm, remove the crab cakes from the fridge. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water in a separate bowl. Dust each patty with a little of the plain flour, then dip and coat in the beaten egg. Finish by tossing in the breadcrumbs to coat and shaking off the excess breadcrumbs.

4. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200 degrees Fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Heat approx. 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot enough, fry the crab cakes 2-3 minutes each side. Then transfer to a large baking dish and finish cooking in the oven for 10 minutes or until piping hot in the centre.

5. To make the aiöli: Combine the mayonnaise with the zest, lime and lemon juice and minced garlic until combined. Serve the crab cakes hot with salad and the aiöli dipping sauce and some extra sweet chilli or a drizzle of Sriracha. I also love to garnish with lime or lemon wedges and a scattering of extra chopped herbs.

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So here’s my recipe. These are crispy, spicy and really delicious. We enjoyed these for dinner served with steamed rice and stir-fried veggies, but they are also great served with a simple watercress salad with chopped tomatoes, sliced radishes, cucumber ribbons and a drizzle of olive oil. I hope you do give these a go, they’re exceptionally tasty and really easy to make! #MyVegasRecipe

Enjoy!

jess

Mozzarella Arancini with Spicy Marinara Sauce

I’m visiting Italy again this summer and absolutely love the food, so today I’m showing you how to make these delicious risotto balls. These are perfect to make if you have some leftover risotto bianco (white risotto) on hand. Arancini are becoming ever so popular on many restaurant menus lately and they really transform day old leftover risotto. Traditionally deep-fried, for this recipe I like to bake them instead. I serve these crispy, crunchy risotto balls with my favourite and own recipe for spicy tomato sauce. The cheesiness and spicy tomato flavour works really well together.

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Ingredients –

Arancini – 

300g day-old leftover white risotto (risotto bianco)

4 tablespoons parmesan cheese, freshly grated

250g fine breadcrumbs

2 medium free-range eggs

Snall bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

10-12 small cubes mozzarella

Spicy Marinara Sauce –

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small white onion, finely diced

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Good sprinkle of each, dried oregano, basil, parsley and thyme

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 x 400g can chopped Italian tomatoes+ half the can of water

Juice of 1 small lemon

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To make Arancini you will need to prepare a risotto base. The above picture shows the risotto base cooling on a tray before shaping into the balls. The cooling process is really important because the risotto needs to be really dry to shape and hold its shape.

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Before and after baking…look how crispy these Arancini are! 

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Method:

1. Place the risotto in a large bowl. Add 150g of the breadcrumbs, the egg, season and then add the parmesan and parsley. Mix to just combine.

2. Take approx. a golf-ball size amount of the risotto mix and shape. Make a deep groove in the ball and then place a piece of mozzarella inside the centre. Shape the risotto round the mozzarella, making sure you completely incase it! Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have 10-12 large risotto balls in total.

2. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and place the remaining breadcrumbs into another bowl. Dip the risotto balls into the eggs, then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat. Place straight onto a lined baking tray, then put in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Fan/200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. After the risotto balls have chilled bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until crispy and nice and golden. These are best served warm with the dipping sauce, and I like to add some lemon wedges for an extra touch.

To make the sauce: Gently heat the oil in a pan. Sautee the onion for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Then add the garlic, chilli and all the herbs. Cook for 2 minutes until all the spices smell fragrant. Then add the puree and mix into the onion and herb mixture. Now add the chopped tomatoes, water and lemon juice and stir in completely. Bring up to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for an hour. After an hour the sauce should be glossy and quite thick. The sauce will keep for up to week in an airtight container.

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Enjoy!

jess

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