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Zox Kitchen: July 31, 2014

Chilled Greek, Taratori Summer Soup

Several years ago I attended the wedding of a friend who was married in a Greek Orthodox church in Dallas. It was very festive and beautiful but it was blisteringly hot and the church didn’t have air conditioning. I had never attended a Greek wedding, so I was surprised to discover that the ceremony could run 2-3 hours in length regardless of the heat in the sanctuary. But the post-wedding festivities put a smile on everyone’s face—especially with the assistance of the champagne and a thirst-quenching soup called Taratori in Bulgaria and Greece where it’s also known as tzatziki.

Recently I was reminded of this soup at another wedding event I attended when a cousin shared a similar recipe which is a favorite of her family. It was so familiar to me that I wanted to run right on home and make it myself. Food does that to people especially when the recipe is manageable and not too long and elaborate.

In fact i am convinced that some of the most delicious dishes to make are the ones that require the least amount of attention—like a simple chicken or bean soup, or a lovely green salad with a delicious lemon vinaigrette and fried egg on top, or a burger made with chopped onions and 85% lean ground beef, or spaghetti tossed with no more than warm garlic and green extra virgin olive oil.

Another easy to make dish is the famous spaghetti of the Red Light district of Rome called spaghetti puttanesca. The core ingredients of this dish include garlic, fresh plum tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper. All these ingredients are brought to a boil over medium-low heat until thickened, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon for about 8 minutes. Then seasoned with salt and pepper. This last dish is to be eaten at room temperature and that’s it. It was popular with the Roman prostitutes because it was so quick and simple. But quick is insufficient if it’s not fresh and delicious at the same time. And many times fresh can mean raw.

Cooking with raw ingredients as is the case with Taratori Soup, also brings an additional freshness and exuberance to a dish that we too often miss when we season and sauce a dish to death.

Chilled Greek, Taratori Summer Soup

Serves 3-4 half cups of soup

Ingredients

2 cups plain yogurt

1 quart buttermilk

1 large European cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 garlic clove, diced

1-2 teaspoons Red wine vinegar

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Steps

1. Puree cleaned cucumber and garlic clove and pour into a medium bowl

2. Add the yogurt, buttermilk, red wine.

3. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.

4. Optional Seasoning and garnish include dill and mint leaves on top of each cup

Please send comments, questions or observations of interest to Chef Alan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For details about past columns, catering or Chef Zox’s blog, please visit www.zoxkitchen.com