CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!
Back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour this past Thursday morning! I feel so fortunate to be working with such a wonderful group of people at WTNH Channel 8 who make it so fun to share The Traveling Epicurean recipes with all of you.
My goal for this segment was to show you a couple of creative and really delicious ideas for all your summertime produce. Panzanella and Berries in Dreamy Cream came to mind.
One of the wonderful things about making these dishes is the abundance and variety you have to choose from at the farmers markets in the summer. The incredible flavors in this Panzanella recipe go without saying. All the aroma’s from the fresh herbs, basil, parsley, thyme & oregano to the fresh vegetables like the heirloom tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, red onions really get you salavating. The creaminess from the fresh mozzarella and the crunchy from the homemade croutons balance it all out.
As for the Berries in Dreamy Cream, you can whip this one up in a matter of minutes as well. I’ve been making this sauce for over 20 years and always get the same delightful response from guests after their first bite. You would never think that melting Fluff and cream cheese together could make such a delectable sauce on fresh berries. It’s a sensation you have to treat your self to and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Mediterranean layered dip is one of those dishes that you will love to have up your sleeve. It’s super easy, literally takes all of five minutes to make and tastes amazing! All you have to do is layer these wonderful Mediterranean ingredients in a clear serving dish. The reason it’s so quick to make is because you’re using prepared products from the market. It will not only wow your guests with the presentation but with the fresh flavors too!
This Mediterranean dip starts off with a layer of hummus, and continue’s on with layer’s of Tzatziki, crumbled sheep’s milk feta, chopped up European cucumber’s, and finally a layer of Tabouleh. Scoop up this delicious dip with cucumber slice’s, and, or pita chip’s. Granted, if you have a little extra time on your hands you could make one or two of the layers that go into the dip homemade like my best hummus ever, orTzatziki sauce. Since I’m such a big cheese head I definitely suggest getting decent feta from your local cheese shop, Madison Cheese. The creaminess of a good sheep’s milk feta really add’s a nice touch to the dip.
The first time I had this Mediterranean layered dip was three months ago at a friends tennis party celebrating our kids going to Nationals in South Carolina. My friend, Lisa, brought this Mediterranean layered dip to the party along with a buffalo chicken dip. Boy, did I make out like a bandit! I featured Lisa’s buffalo chicken dip recipe on my show not too long after the party and it has been a big hit, calling it“Best Buffalo Chicken Dip Ever!”. What can I say, I love a good dip!
I then phoned Lisa excited about having her come on my show to share the Mediterranean dip with all of you. Lisa was going to do the show but there was one caveat, she wanted her friend Christine to come too. You see this Mediterranean layered dip recipe wasn’t her recipe. She borrowed it from Christine. So we went directly to the source and had Christine come over to do the show also!
This homemade cold cucumber soup is out of this world! It has texture and flavors that won’t stop! Not one of the flavors in this soup over powers another, it’s the perfect balance. You actually find yourself trying to distinguish between them only because you are aware of all the fresh vegetables and herbs that went into this amazing cold soup.
Being a born and raised East Coaster I have to say I have never been a big “cold soup” kind of person. With our unbearably cold winters we have here I really appreciate a very hot bowl of soup to warm the bones. So when ever I’m making this cold cucumber soup I’m slightly biased going in, not willing to give merit where it is due, until I take my first spoonful and it all changes!
My cold cucumber soup completely stands on it’s own and is very satisfying not to mention the medicinal qualities that cucumbers offer. Cucumber’s can reduce puffiness, help to eliminate toxins in your body and we all know that slice’s of cucumber over your eyes can help to reduce dark circles! Some of the vitamin’s cucumber’s offer are A, C and folic acid and minerals of potassium and magnesium. All and all this homemade cold cucumber soup is a win win situation.
This homemade cold cucumber soup would be great for lunch with a side sandwich or grill up some shrimp like I did in the show. One of my favorite accents to this soup are seared scallops cut in half and placed right in the center on the soup. You can check out in my “Seared Scallop Show” to see exactly how to make the scallops.
King crab meat is also a lovely topping to this cold cucumber soup and was a big hit when I presented this soup this way to the tasting judges at my second MasterChef open casting call in NYC this past March (2016)! All of the MasterChef casting call judges didn’t have any critique for my soup during the tasting phase…they just said “they really, really loved it!” When I made my cucumber soup for the MasterChef casting call I added fresh fennel to the recipe to change it up and give it that je ne sais qua…that extra special something!
Wow, this gourmet yogurt marinated chicken kabob recipe is the most scrumptious marinade I have ever had on chicken. It will be my new favorite marinade for summer grilling! There is really nothing to putting together this marinade and the results are outstanding. The grilling goes really quickly here too because you cube up the chicken into small pieces so it only takes about 7-8 minutes for each side on high heat. I know I will be baking my chicken with this marinade over the winter months. Maria got this yogurt-marinated chicken kabob recipe from epicurious.com and of course making a couple of adjustments as I go through my own test kitchen adding in the fresh ground coriander and the “smoked” Spanish paprika giving it that hint of something extra that I was looking for.
The combination of these three gourmet recipes together are packed full of flavor! My favorite is actually having this dynamic combo on some warmed or toasted naan adding in a chewy soft texture to this heavenly dish. Using the toum, the garlic Lebanese sauce as a baster for the breads and vegetables when you are grilling in a no brainer.
This homemade gourmet sauce called toum is such an unusual sauce because it’s hard to initially imagine how such a thick and creamy texture can come about from peeled garlic cloves and vegetable oil! You must be patient with this recipe as the slow drizzling of the vegetable oil is crucial in the emulsification of this garlic-oil combo but the efforts are well worth it. Watching the show to see how I get the sauce thick and foamy I hope will help clarify the “how to’s” of it. This toum sauce will last up to 2-3 weeks in your frig and who’s better than you with this little hidden gem just waiting to put a flavor punch of silky garlic on your sauteed veggies, garlic breads, meats, fish, chicken… the options are really endless.
Maria’s homemade tzatziki sauce is a recipe I’m sure you will love and want to add to your go to recipes for summer. The way she has you drain the whole fat Greek Yogurt makes this sauce even creamier and gives your mouth a smooth silky texture yet refreshing at the same time with the grated cucumber, and vinegars and fresh lemon juice. This sauce can easily be used as an amazing dip with pita chips. It’s similar to my cucumber & Vadalia onion saladbut definitely different. So nice to have a couple different styles to choose from.
This Mediterranean night of exotic spices and flavorful recipes will not be easily forgotten. You just may start to crave these homemade dishes sooner than you think. I hope you enjoy the show and the gourmet yogurt marinated chicken kaobs, tzatziki and toum recipes.
INGREDIENTS for Yogurt Chicken Kabobs:
1 tsp ground red pepper flakes
1 tsp (Spanish) smoked paprika
1 tsp (Hungarian) sweet paprika
2 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 tsp fine ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
2 whole lemons thinly sliced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole milk Greek Yogurt
2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs
1 package extra-long wooden skewers (Can find these right at Stop & Shop)
1 package cherry or grape tomatoes
1 or Vadalia sweet onion sliced into 1″ pieces
Mediterranean Yogurt Chicken Kabobs DIRECTIONS:
Soak wooden skewers in water for 1/2 hour
Add paprika spices and ground red pepper to a small bowl with 1-2 tbsp warm water (to soften) 5 minutes
Take next 9 ingredients in above list and add to large mixing bowl
Add in spices when they have softened
Mix everything with a spatula then add in chicken pieces and toss to coat
Cover with saran and pop into the frig for 24 hours
Take out and skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken onto each skewer
OPTIONAL: Skewer cherry tomatoes and onion alternating pieces
You can also alternate chicken, tomato, onion, chicken and repeat
Grill on high for 7-8 minutes on each side (even with veggies in the mix)
Serve grilled chicken and tomato/onion on naan or pita bread with tzatziki, and hummus or rice ….YUM!
INGREDIENTS for Tzatziki Sauce:
1 16 oz. container of whole fat Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber
1 garlic clove put thru garlic press
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil in sauce and some to drizzle on top at the end
DIRECTIONS for Tzatziki:
Slice cucumber in half-length wise, then in half crosswise
Scoop out middle seeds and discard
Grate cucumber halves into a large bowl
Put cucumber gratings into a Ziploc baggie and add 1/2 tsp salt, let sit for 1 hour or over night
Unseal a small corner of the Ziploc & drain water from baggie squeezing the grated cucumber
Add grated cucumber to a medium bowl, and pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess water
Add fresh dill, garlic, s&p, cumin, lemon juice and Greek yogurt to grated cucumber, mix til creamy texture
Drizzle 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil on top and voilà you have tzatziki
INGREDIENTS for TOUM – Lebanese Garlic Sauce:
1 cup peeled white garlic
2 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
DIRECTIONS for Toum: Approx Time 12 minutes
Add 1 cup peeled garlic and salt to food processor and pulse 3 times
Scrape down sides
Begin the garlic-vegetable oil emulsion by SLOWLY beginning to drizzle in the oil – This will take about 12 minutes to slowly drizzle in all of the oil
When you have reached adding in 1/2 cup of oil you will need to stop and scrap sides one last time then start up processor again and resume adding in oil, at about 1 cup of oil mark begin to add 2 tsp of lemon juice – KEEP food processor going the WHOLE TIME
Go back and forth from oil to lemon juice until it’s finished (I begin to add 3 tbsp of lemon juice at a time after about 1 1/2 cup of oil mark)
You should see the volume doubling then quadrupling
At this point the toum will be thick and foamy
Since the food processor has been running for a while now you will need to let it COOL and put into a container but DO NOT seal at this point because any condensation will ruin the texture of the toum and all your hard work
Just loosely cover with a paper towel til COMPLETELY COOLED
At this point you can seal with a top
It will last in the frig for a couple of weeks
Serve with the yogurt marinated chicken kabobs, sauté vegetables, brush on grill items, naan, pita bread, ciabatta for garlic bread … the options are endless ENJOY 🙂
This homemade cucumber salad is my version of tzatziki sauce which is a Greek cucumber yogurt dip except I use 1/2 Greek yogurt and 1/2 sour cream. My mother has been making this dish since I was little although mine is a somewhat different version. You can have it as a side with lunch or dinner or even jazz up chicken and steak sandwiches or vegetarian dishes with humus and mango salsaand or guacamole…YUM! . It’s really refreshing and bright on your palate. The Vadalia onion, which is the sweetest, is a wonderful addition to a Tzatziki sauce and fresh dill is always best. The cucumber and onion can be grated instead of sliced to make it more of a sauce then a side dish.
I use thinly sliced cucumbers instead of grating here, garlic, onion and cumin granules in this gourmet sauce which really develop nicely in flavor as you let them sit for a bit. This homemade cucumber salad is certainly not for summer only! I promise you will be delighted with my cucumber salad recipe…let me know what you think. Enjoy.
2 cucumbers peeled with thin stripes left on them (only 3 – 1/4 ” stripes) AND sliced PAPER thin on Mandolin or carefully with a knife
1 lg Vadalia onion sliced paper thin with mandolin or sharp knife
1/2 c. Greek yugurt
1/2 c. sour cream
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt to release water from cucumbers and onions
s&p to taste at the end
Put sliced cucumbers and onion into a lg Ziploc with 1/2 tsp salt and let sit for 1-2 hrs. or over night
Gently squeeze cucumber-onion mixture and drain liquid from Ziploc
Put into a lg mixing bowl with the next 8 ingredients like in photos
Mix with spatula
Add desired s&p
Can chill and serve or serve immediately …mangia mangia