one appetizer dish i especially like is the greek tzadziki sauce — a cool and creamy mixture of cucumbers, garlic and rich yogurt. making it is a breeze and the flavours seem to improve over the next day or two. i have found over many trials of different versions over the years that the best way to make this is to use seedless [english] cucumbers, a very thick mediterranean yogurt if available, and garlic which has been worked to a paste, enabling you to use less and still get a very strong garlic flavour.
if you cannot get the mediterranean style thick yogurt (8.5% MF), then the next best option is to use a full fat one and drain it for a few hours until it is thick and use as is, or add sour cream. i like the addition of sour cream as it adds a lot to the finished tzadziki.
garlic-laced cucumber & yogurt appetizer
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 c mediterranean style (very thick) yogurt or,
2 1/4 c regular yogurt, drained & 1/3 - 1/2 c sour cream added later
1 large cucumber, peeled and finely grated* (all hard seeds removed)
1 large clove garlic or 2 small ones, worked to a paste with some salt
salt and sugar to taste
final (optional) seasonings:
1 -2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
1 tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar) and 1/8 tsp black pepper
before starting: if not using the mediterranean yogurt, drain the regular yogurt for about about 3 to 4 hours until it has reduced considerably and is very thick. once drained place in a bowl and add the sour cream and refrigerate or leave it as is. the cucumbers will add moisture and loosen it up if you aren't adding any. (it really is better with!)
peel cucumbers and seed them if necessary. the small gelatinous ones are fine to keep. *some versions include unpeeled cucumbers or coarsely grated ones. you'll have to decide how you prefer it — mine is for finely grated and peeled.
grate the cucumbers finely into a bowl. add 1/2 tsp salt and mix it together. place the mixture in a fine sieve and let it drain for about 1/2 hour.
notice that a ton of cucumber juice will be released. discard it.
in the meantime, make a paste of the garlic with a little bit of salt to help break it down. this is best done in with a mortar and pestle.
once the cucumber has drained, rinse it under cold water to get rid of the salt and press it with a spoon to get as much water out as possible.
in a bowl, place the garlic and cucumber and mix together. add the yogurt and mix well.
add salt to taste and a bit of sugar. finally, season with some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar and pepper. this is optional as not all versions contain it.
refrigerate it for at least 2 to 3 hours but overnight is best.