Tag Archives: tzatziki

Home-made yoghurt

I have an ongoing obsession with yoghurt. I love the tangy, twangyiness of it, but I miss the creamy versions that I used to be able to get from the food courts back in Sydney.  There, you get thick dollops of creamy yoghurt, topped with a variety of fruit/pulp of your choice – passionfruit, blueberries, fruit salad – you name it.  You can get semi-decent store-bought yoghurt here, but the ones that aren’t full of sugar or that use organic ingredients can be a bit pricey.

A recent visit to Blu Kouzina inspired me to make my own yoghurt (to make tzatziki).  Their tzatziki was thick and creamy and just the right side of sour.  Worked so well with their home-made pita bread.

I did go out an buy a yoghurt maker just because it makes keeping a steady warm temperature easier, but if you go online there are ways of doing this in your oven etc.

For me, all I had to do was to bring a litre of milk up to 85C.  This process kills off the bad bacteria that makes milk go bad. If you don’t want to burn your milk, you can do this over a double boiler – otherwise, keep stirring the milk in the pan.

Once that’s done, take the pan off the heat, and place into a water bath to bring the temperature to 25C.  I have a thermometer so this makes it easy.  Be patient, it can take some time.

Take a small amount of the cooled milk and either add 5g of yoghurt starter culture (bought from a health food store) or you can take a small portion of ready made yoghurt, mix well, and add back to the rest of the milk.

Pour the milk into the jars, cover, and place undisturbed in the yoghurt maker.  I used starter culture and followed the instructions on the packet and left it overnight for 12 hours.  It was like magic – milk goes in, and when I woke up, the jars had yoghurt !

I saved a few jars to have as breakfast – I am going to stew some strawberries with sugar to top the yoghurt with.

The rest I strained in a clean teatowel over a bowl for 3 hours and I have the thickest, creamiest yoghurt with which to make my tzatziki with.

I even used half a cup of my freshly made yoghurt to make healthy banana bread.

Call me odd but this has just made my Sunday !


Dolmades with tzatziki

After a week of eating out with my parents while they’ve been visiting, I felt like I needed to a) eat something home-cooked and b) spend some time fiddling around in the kitchen.  The answer: make dolmades.

Healthy and time consuming, it’s the perfect panacea for me, and adding that my office is closed between Christmas and New Year, meant that I had all the necessary ingredients to make them – food as well as time.

Dolmades – Greek stuffed vine leaves are delicious and adaptable to what you feel like on the day.  Tonight I felt like pork in the stuffing.  You can substitute that for any other kind of meat (it’s traditionally made with beef or lamb mince) or take it vegetarian and leave the meat out altogether.  Serve with a good dollop (or bowl!) of tangy tzatziki.

Ingredients (to make around a dozen average sized dolmades)

  • 1/2 cup of uncooked shortgrain rice – you can use white or brown (I used brown tonight)
  • 1 cup water for white rice, 1 1/2 cups water for brown rice
  • Handful pinenuts
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 150g pork mince (or more if you prefer a meatier version.  Leave out for a vegetarian option)
  • Handful dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vine leaves x 12 plus a few extra to line the bottom of the saucepan
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Tzatziki to serve (recipe below)

Method (for stuffing):

  1. Cook the rice by simmering the rice in the water for 10-15 mins for white rice, 40 mins for brown rice
  2. Toast the pinenuts in a frying pan.  Set aside
  3. Brown mince.  Set aside
  4. Gently sweat the onions
  5. Add the browned mince, rice, pinenuts and dill and season lightly

Method (for wrapping):

  1. Line a heavy-based saucepan with a few vine leaves
  2. Take a vine leaf and place on a large plate with the raised veins of the leaf underneath and the stalk away from you.
  3. Place a spoonful of the stuffing in the middle across the leaf
  4. Fold the bottom part of the leaf up first, then roll, wrapping the parcel with the left and right sides of the leaf, until you have a little parcel
  5. Place on top of the vine leaves in the saucepan.
  6. Continue to pack them snugly in the base of the saucepan as you make them
  7. Once you have wrapped them all, pour over the olive oil and lemon juice – you can also add some of the brine from the jar of vine leaves (which will add salt, hence seasoning the stuffing lightly)
  8. Weigh down with a plate
  9. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for an hour
  10. Once the hour is up, turn off the heat and let them cool in the saucepan with the lid on
  11. Store in the fridge with a generous drizzle of olive oil

Tzatziki – mix in a large bowl:

  1. 1 x 500g tub natural yoghurt – look for the ones which are naturally set in the tub as they are thicker – strain out excess liquid
  2. 3 medium lebanese cucumbers (or equivalent), skin and seeds removed and then grated – sprinkle salt over to draw excess liquid out and then squeeze the grated cucumber to get rid of as much liquid as possible
  3. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
  5. 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 – 4 tbs finely chopped mint or dill
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. Cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to develop