Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Haydari, What's For Supper?

It's hot out. I mean, really hot. Really, really hot.

I know, you've noticed this, too. But without air conditioning at home, I've found that plenty of strategically placed fans and repeated applications of cold water (internally and externally) have saved me from wilting too badly.

But when it's this hot, I don't want to eat much, and I surely don't want to cook.

I've been very thankful for that bag of organic mixed salad greens that the Original Organic Farmer pressed on me at Saturday's market, because I've been nibbling the leaves straight out of the bag.

But lettuce alone, though a great idea for a honeymoon, doesn't quite cut it for a meal. So I've also pulled out a recipe for a delicious and easy yogurt based dip that I've eaten with crackers and cucumber slices.

After visiting the Turkish restaurant in the Big City a couple of times, I've gotten absolutely hooked on their haydari, drained yogurt combined with white cheese, fresh herbs, and walnuts. I found a similar recipe in A Taste of Turkish Cuisine (though it lacks the nuts), and I found it so satisfying last night that I made it again tonight.

Draining yogurt is wonderfully easy: place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, line the strainer with cheesecloth, spoon in plain nonfat yogurt, and allow the whey to drain out. If you're thinking ahead, you can start this in the morning, let the bowl sit in the fridge all day, and have a thick paste left. But if the thought doesn't occur to you until after work, half an hour should allow enough whey to drain off and thicken the yogurt to the consistency of sour cream.

Once you've drained the yogurt, you're set to make any number of yogurt dips, including raita, borani, or tzatziki, something a friend reminded me when sending me a recent online article about these dishes.

Right now, though, I'm going to stick with the haydari until the feta runs out.

And I'm hoping for cooler weather soon.


Though I have another recipe from A Taste of Turkish Cuisine that looks similar and includes the walnuts, thus making it more like the haydari served at Anatolia Cafe, this is the one labeled "haydari." I'm not going to be picky, because this is really, really good. I've modified it only slightly, but it's still very easy to throw together on a hot evening. Serve with pita wedges, crackers, and/or fresh vegetables (I like cucumber slices).

2 c drained plain nonfat yogurt (see above)
1/4 c plain feta cheese, crumbled
1 to 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly or minced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
1 tsp dried mint
1/4 tsp ground cumin
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything together. Serve as noted above. It's hot, and I don't think you need me to tell you any more than that.

Leftovers (if any) will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days (but not in my household).

Makes 2 cups


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