Monday, August 19, 2013

Vacation Recipes

It's rare, but every once and awhile I find myself with some quiet time on a weekend afternoon. The house is clean, dinner is planned, and I have a chance to read a few chapters of an engaging novel, peruse the stack of magazines that have piled up next to the couch, or find something mindless to watch on TV.

Almost every moment of a week at the beach feels just that way, without any obligations aside from enjoying yourself and making delicious dinners to share with everyone in the house. Thankfully, Davy's family likes eating just as much as mine, and cooking is taken very seriously.

Aside from the traditional mid-week lobster night (always a treat), we enjoyed pasta with red sauce and sausage made by Davy's Aunt Jan in New Jersey, which was transported to the Outer Banks and then carefully prepared by his Uncle Bruce. Dinner included garlic bread to die for, and a giant, crunchy salad.

Cary and Brian put together an extensive taco feast, complete with grilled chicken, pan-fried tilapia, corn and flour tortillas, homemade cole slaw, kale salad, and pico de gallo. The picture of my plate doesn't really do it justice - everything was exceptional.

Taco night was a tough act to follow, but my parents made a fabulous meal with a variety of fresh seafood, ciabatta, and roasted vegetables. Davy discovered a hidden talent for oyster shucking that night, and I found a small pearl in one of the beauties below. 

When it was our turn to cook, we decided on a Greek-inspired spread, including chicken and pork souvlaki, Greek salad, tzatziki sauce, pita, and baked feta (an appetizer we'd ordered two days in a row from the same little restaurant in Oia). I've included a recipe for our version below. We made it again when we got back to Richmond to try to bring back some vacation magic during the work week. 

For the salad and the souvlaki, we adapted parts of this method, which I love because the dressing and marinade are composed of the same ingredients. My tzatziki, which I learned how to make on a boat tour around Santorini, is slightly different from the Serious Eats recipe in the link above, so I've included instructions below. It pairs beautifully with many different types of foods and can be made in advance, allowing you to soak up even more of that precious, precious down time.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 big clove garlic, grated
1 medium cucumber, peeled and grated
1 cup yogurt (preferably full-fat Fage, but if you can't get full-fat, let the yogurt drain over paper towels in a colander)
a few teaspoons red wine vinegar (to taste)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon salt for cucumbers, plus some to taste

1. Toss the cucumber with salt in a colander, and allow it to sit for 20-40 minutes.
2. Drain the cucumber - I rinse it, then squeeze out as much moisture as I can.
3. Combine the yogurt, garlic, and cucumber, then add vinegar and olive oil. At this point I just sort of play around with the olive oil, vinegar and salt until it tastes right to me. It also helps to let everything rest together for an hour or so, and then taste again. 
4. Scoop that deliciousness up with some yummy pita, serve with grilled fish, dip veggies in it, or anything else you can think of!

Baked Feta

1 lb feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
half of a big green pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
chopped parsley
black pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the feta in an oven-proof dish.
3. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook until it starts to soften and turn clear.
4. Add the green pepper and let it soften a bit, then add the tomato and garlic.
5. Saute until the tomato has broken down a fair amount, and add the vegetables to baking dish with the cheese.
6. Stir ingredients until they're well mixed, and bake for 10-15 minutes until the feta is melted and mixture is bubbling. 
7. Serve with chips, crackers, or pita.

1 comment:

john said...

Thanks for your recipe!!