Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Trio of Mediterranean Inspired Dips

We were invited over to someone's house and asked to bring an appetizer along. Our host told us that the menu included shrimp and swordfish kabobs, couscous, and salad with feta. I wanted to make something to go along with the Mediterranean/Greek theme, so I looked online at the menus of my favorite Greek restaurants. A lot of the appetizers needed to be served right from the oven or seemed to heavy. Keeping in mind that our dinner hosts don't eat garlic, onions, or spicy foods - I decided to do a search of my cookbook collection and find something I could customize. After searching for a little while, I decided to whip a few dips to eat with pita chips.

These were quick and easy to pull together - perfect to make ahead and keep in the fridge until party time. Here's the line up:

Dip #1 - Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
Dip #2 - Olive Tapenade with Sundried Tomatoes
Dip #3 - Low-fat Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt dip)

All the dips can be served with pita chips, veggies, toasted baguettes, or crackers.

*Recipe note - I omitted garlic from all of the recipes.

Dip #1 - Red Pepper and Walnut Dip (adapted from Cooking Light)

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted (I forgot to toast them and it was still good)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 12-ounce bottle of roasted red peppers, drained (I used a 7 oz. jar)

Place all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth
Put into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

Dip #2 - Olive Tapenade with Sundried Tomatoes

This is a great idea when you have a lot of assorted leftovers in the fridge. It can be customized depending on your taste. Here's my version:

About 1 cup of assorted pitted olives (I got a few scoops from the olive/antipasto bar at the grocery store)
2 sundried tomatoes (from a jar of sundried tomatoes packed in oil)
Few sprigs of fresh parsley
Zest from half a lemon

Same instructions as dip #1:
Place all ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth
Put into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve

Dip #3 - Low-fat Tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt dip) (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 32-ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
1.5 cups shredded English cucumber (about 3/4 of a large cucumber)
3/4 teaspoon salt - divided into 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

This recipe has two steps. To prepare the yogurt, you need 12+ hours. The rest of the recipe takes about 20 minutes the next day (or later)

Place a colander into a large bowl
Line the colander with cheesecloth if you have it. I used basket coffee filters to lining the interior of the colander
Spoon the yogurt onto the filters
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12+ hours
After 12 hours, remove from the fridge and spoon the yogurt into a bowl and discard the excess liquid
Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the other ingredients

Shred the cucumber using a grater or mandoline with grater blade
Place it into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Toss well to combine and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes
After 15 minutes, pour the cucumber onto a large paper towel
Squeeze until almost all water is gone (you may need to transfer to a dry paper towel a few times and repeat)

Combine the yogurt, cucumber, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, chopped parsley, lemon juice and pepper in a serving bowl and mix well
Drizzle the olive on top just before serving

I'll post pictures from the party when we return!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Backyard BBQ Part 3 - Two Tasty Salads

Sometimes potato salad and coleslaw seem a little boring. To make our backyard BBQ a little more unique (and healthy), I substituted two tasty salads on the side. Both these salads are vegetarian and have vinaigrette dressing - so no need to worry about leaving them out for a few hours (no meat or mayo).

The first is a version of the sun dried tomato couscous salad that I've posted previously. You'll notice that this time I left out the salami to give the non-meat eaters another option. Other substitutions included basil (not parsley), baby arugula, and chopped kalamata olives.

I found the recipe for the second salad in a Cook's Country magazine at the book store. This magazine is published by the same people from America's Test Kitchen, so you know the recipe has to be good! This recipe for Tangy Apple-Cabbage Slaw sounded so light and different that I went home to find it online. I had to register for a free trial of the website to get it, but it was well worth it! Here it is:

Tangy Apple Cabbage Slaw
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and chopped into thin strips
2 teaspoons salt
3 granny smith apples (they called for 2), cored and cut into thin matchsticks (don't peel the apples)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I just used one shake from the jar)

Start this first step about an hour before you want to make the salad:
Toss the chopped cabbage and salt in a colander set over a bowl. I put a plate on top to weight it down
Let it stand for about an hour, until wilted
Rinse the cabbage well under cold water
Drain, dry with paper towels, and transfer it to a large bowl

About 15 minutes before the cabbage ready to be drained, start to prepare the rest of the salad
Put the oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard and pepper flakes into a saucepan over medium heat
Bring to a boil, stir well, remove from the heat and set aside

Core and cut apples into thin 1/4 inch matchsticks
Slice the scallions

After the cabbage is rinsed and put in a large bowl, add the apples and scallions and toss to combine
Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat
Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour before serving (you can refrigerate it up to 1 day)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Backyard BBQ Part 2 - Smoked Ribs

**Special note - Good Cook Doris is moving! Update your bookmarks and favorites to If you go to you will be redirected to the new address. Thanks for reading!

First up in the Backyard BBQ series is smoked ribs. My brother in Indy has a smoker and is always turning out things like brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and more. I decided that just because I don't own a smoker doesn't mean I can't do it too! After consulting numerous cookbooks and barbecue expert websites, I was all set for a great rack of ribs.

According to the BBQ gurus - the preferred equipment is obviously a dedicated smoker. Next on the list is a charcoal grill, and last on the list is a gas grill (that's what we own). The basic premise for smoking meat is to cook over indirect heat. In order to set up the grill, a few new accessories were needed. I bought some hickory wood chips, a small cast iron smoker box, and some shallow disposable aluminum pans. Instead of buying a fancy rib rack to cook the ribs in, I used the roasting rack from my turkey pan. Turning it upside down worked perfectly.

Next, for the type of ribs. There are many different kinds out there. The most popular summer ribs are typically pork ribs, something we don't cook at home. We set out to find beef ribs and were pleasantly surprised to find them on sale at the regular grocery store. We used 3.5 racks, each with 4-5 ribs per rack. They were split into half racks (there are 7 half-racks in the photo above). Note - these are not short ribs.

There are quite a few different opinions on the way to prepare ribs for cooking. Some profess that the only way to go is with sauce, some swear by a combination of a rub and a mop sauce. I decided to stick with a dry rub and let everyone decide if they wanted to add sauce.

On one of my frequent trips to Whole Foods, I picked up a summer recipe booklet along with my usual free samples. There was a recipe for "Chef Lou Lambert's Famous Coffee Dry Rub". It's written up as a rub for smoked brisket, but sounded so good that I had to try it. A few notes - this made more than enough for the ribs we made. We have plenty of rub leftover to add to other dishes. I added it to some burgers tonight and they turned out great.

Without further delay - the rub recipe and cooking instructions:

Coffee Dry Rub (courtesy of Whole Foods Fire Up the Grill flyer)
2 cups light brown sugar (I used dark brown, it's all we had)
1 cup chili powder
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup medium ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee

Dump all ingredients in a medium bowl
Stir to combine well
Rub over all surfaces of the ribs and place ribs in a large disposable aluminum pan
Refrigerate for up to 24 hours (I only put them in the fridge for about an hour)

Cooking Instructions
Soak a few handfuls of wood chips in water for 15 minutes or more
Open up the grill and remove the grill grate
Place the smoker box over the burner you plan to turn on for cooking
Place two shallow aluminum trays over the burner(s) that you do not plan to turn on and fill them with water
Replace the grill grate on the top
Light the grill and turn all the burners to high
Close the lid and wait for about 10-15 minutes or until a lot of smoke is visible from the grill
Turn off all the burners except the one under the wood chips - turning that to medium (about 275-300 degrees)
Open the grill and place the roasting rack on the grate over the pans of water
Place the ribs into the rack
Close the lid and let cook for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure nothing is on fire

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
Turn off the burners on the grill and remove the ribs (still on the roasting rack) and place into the roasting pan
Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for about 1.5 - 2 hours or until tender
Transfer to a serving platter, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, recipe previously posted. I used maple syrup (not honey) and threw in a roasted jalapeno for some heat. The ribs were really tasty as is, so hardly any sauce was used.

Sadly, we didn't have any leftovers of this for the next day. Guess I'll have to fire up the grill again soon!


Related Posts with Thumbnails