Savory Yogurt

Yogurt. I don’t really remember eating it much until I studied abroad in Australia and found the creamiest of creamy yogurt. Seriously, why is Australian yogurt so creamy? I think it’s the bacteria profile. I’ve tried to find similar varieties in the US but haven’t been successful. Those so-called Australian-style brands don’t replicate my memories.

It was also in Australia that I discovered Greek yogurt covered in fruit, muesli or granola, and honey. In 2006, the Aussies were eating that stuff like crazy. At least, they were in the little coffee shop and cafe that I worked in. Quick shout out to the Aussies that pay a livable minimum wage. As a barista and occasional sandwich maker, in 2006 I was making $17/hour. Seriously.

Anyway, it was only a couple years ago that I started eating yogurt of the savory variety. I don’t even know why. One day, instead of adding honey, I threw in a little salt, and I’ve never turned back.

Savory Yogurt

My most recent iteration of savory yogurt includes truffle salt, but I’ve eaten varieties covered in za’atar, sprinkled with sumac, aleppo pepper, and dried mint, or others that are reminiscent of tzatziki. Sometimes just a dusting of cumin and ground coriander do the trick. For texture, add roasted nuts or seeds. I’ve even used edamame before. Think of yogurt as a blank canvas and you’ll start to see the possibilities.

Savory Yogurt (2)

In other news, Eric and I went to Idaho for the 4th of July and my birthday and had a blast backpacking in the Sawtooth Wilderness, visiting the little towns of Stanley and Ketchum, and exploring Boise via breweries. It was a really fun and affordable trip thanks yet again to our Southwest Companion Pass. The full set is here, but below are a couple favorite pics.

Idaho (34)

Idaho (45)

Now, go eat some savory yogurt.

Savory Yogurt (3)

Savory Yogurt

*Vary amounts of each based on how much yogurt you want to eat! This makes the perfect mid-morning snack.

Plain, full-fat Greek or regular yogurt
High-quality sheep’s milk feta, cubed
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Fresh herbs, chopped (I used cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, and mint)
Fresh cracked pepper (I had some tellicherry peppercorns on hand)
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Truffle salt (you could also use truffle oil and add salt to taste)

Put the yogurt in a bowl, top it with everything, stir, eat. Always add the salt to taste – a little bit, stir, taste, add more if needed.

Advertisements

Sikil Pak – Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip

We have had an extravaganza of food inspired by our travels recently. I ate a boatload and a half of ceviche in Central America, so I made a really simple (and great!) ceviche inspired by those great meals. And in Mexico, we ate this Mayan dish called Sikil Pak (in Maya) after a strenuous day of floating down a natural canal through mangroves. The dip, almost like hummus in its consistency, is really simple – our guide told us it was made of just pumpkin seeds (pepitas en español), cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and water.

The canal I mentioned is in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve in the Yucatan, Mexico, a short drive from Tulum. We based ourselves in a nice hostel in Tulum town (as opposed to staying on the pricier beach road) and were able to explore Sian Ka’an, Mayan ruins, and the numerous cenotes from this central point. To gain entrance to Sian Ka’an, you must go with a guide. We booked a tour through our hostel for $75 per person, which, after the tour, seemed really, really expensive. Either way, it was my birthday, and we wanted to see some nature. We also learned that the best way to float down a canal is to put a life jacket on like a diaper.

Sian Ka'an Collage


Ever wonder why you see so much of Eric on this blog? It’s because I’m always behind the camera!

Anyway, I recreated this dip this morning with only a tiny bit of experimentation. I had thought that tomatoes would provide enough water to provide the right consistency, but in the end I needed to add additional liquid. Instead of water, I added a bit of lime juice and some vegetable stock I had in my freezer, though water will work in a pinch (and should be more traditional). Oh, and of course I added garlic. Nothing is made in my kitchen without garlic.

This dip is traditionally made using a molcajete, of course, but in my lazy modern kitchen, we used a food processor.

Sikil Pak

3 cups raw pumpkin seeds, or pepitas
3 large tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic
1 onion
cilantro, to taste
salt

Put the pumpkin seeds and garlic in a food processor and grind until you have a fine, sand-like consistency. Add in the onion, 2 tomatoes, stock, and a bit of cilantro and salt and process until the mixture turns creamy. Taste and add more salt and/or cilantro if necessary.

Chop the last tomato into a dice and chop some extra cilantro finely. Mix the diced tomatoes and cilantro with the dip. Optionally, you could process everything together for a very smooth dip, but I liked the added texture and color of the chunks of tomato and cilantro.

Serve with chips or crackers.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

Oh, the holidays. Just yesterday, a messenger delivered two cheesecakes to our office. Tomorrow, I’m expecting our first fruit cake. This is always a tough time of year for healthy eating.

_MG_4022

Fortunately for me, I hate fruit cake – no temptation there. Pumpkin mousse cheesecake? Yeah, that’s a different story. Two things have kept me from digging in so far this week:

1) I checked the nutrition label immediately – at 420 calories for one tiny slice, that cheesecake doesn’t look so enticing anymore, and

2) I stocked up on veggies at work. Lots of veggies. And to keep them enticing, I have been bringing in this bean dip.

I’m pretty much obsessed with this bean dip right now. It’s so good, so easy, and unlike other bean dips (ahem, hummus), it tastes better with veggies than it does with, say, pita, so it’s healthy to boot. Yeeeah.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

2 cans Great Northern or white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 stalks of rosemary, stripped from the stalk
juice and zest of one lemon
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a food processor, combine the beans, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, and lemon juice and zest. As it is processing, pour in the olive oil. Serve with red peppers, cucumbers, and mushrooms.

_MG_4016

Eggplant Caviar

Is it just me, or do certain recipes or ideas circle the blogosphere (NOT Blagosphere tehehe) every couple months? For a while it was kale chips, then I saw a billion recipes for eggs poached in tomato sauce (which I’m still trying to find the time to make), and lately, I’ve seen quite a few recipes for Eggplant Caviar.

Say what?

_MG_3329

Really, this is just a fancy name for an eggplant dip that is not baba ghanoush (though really, it’s not that much different). It’s great because roasting the eggplant over a flame imparts this real smoky flavor into the dish. I personally love eggplant, but I think this might be a good recipe for those of you who are skeptical about this giant purple vegetable. It works with any variety of eggplant, so scoop up whichever one looks the coolest at the market.

_MG_3391

Eggplant Caviar

3-4 medium size eggplants, any variety works
juice of one lemon
lemon zest from said lemon
handful of Italian parsley
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
handful of fresh tarragon leaves
salt and pepper

Cut the eggplant into manageable slices – about an inch thick. Over a grill or gas flame, char the eggplant slices until slightly blackened. (If you don’t have a grill or gas stovetop, just pop them in the oven.) Place the charred eggplant slices on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 425 for ~25 minutes or until very soft. Let cool, then remove the charred skins like you would on peppers or tomatoes. Place the soft innards in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse until you get a smooth consistency. If you want it to actually look like caviar, let the mixture remain a little chunky so that the seeds remain in tact. Serve with crusty bread and a nice soft goat cheese.