Month: September 2019

Tzaziki (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)

Tzaziki is one of my favorite sauces/dips. I used to order it at a restaurant in Greektown in Chicago (along with saganaki, taramasalata, etc.). It’s a delicious, thick and creamy dip, with minced or grated cucumbers, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and a hint of garlic. I like to add some fresh dill weed, but it’s not necessary.

If you’ve ever had a gyros sandwich, a version of this sauce is drizzled on top.

Tzaziki is so versatile. You can serve it as a dip with celery, carrots and other raw vegetables, or pita bread/chips. I like to serve it alongside grilled chicken kebabs, fish, or a dish I like to make with ground turkey or lamb that has the flavor of gyros. I will share that recipe in the near future.

You start by peeling and seeding a large cucumber, then chopping it very finely. I add a bit of salt and place the cucumbers on some paper towels to drain.

After about 15 minutes, you can pick up the paper towels with the cucumbers inside and squeeze over the sink to release most of the liquid. This prevents your dip from becoming watery. Place the drained cucumbers into a medium bowl.

Next, add the yogurt and garlic.

Squeeze in your lemon juice, add some salt and fresh dill weed. Mix thoroughly. That’s all there is to it! Try some on a crisp stalk of celery.

Tzaziki (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)

Servings:  4-6

  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, preferably organic
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Place the minced cucumber on a double layer of paper towels in a medium bowl.  Add a sprinkle of salt and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Wrap the paper towels around the cucumbers and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Place the cucumbers back in the bowl.

Add yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and dill weed and stir to combine.  Taste and add more salt, lemon or dill if desired. 

Optional:  add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Vegetable Soup with Chicken

This is a hearty soup recipe from my mother-in-law, filled with lots of fresh, healthy vegetables. Though it has some chicken, the vegetables take center stage. I try to use organic vegetables whenever possible, especially celery, and I was also fortunate to get some tomatoes and parsley from a friend’s garden. If you have a farmer’s market nearby, this is a great way to use the wonderful, fresh produce before they close for the season.

First, make a flavorful stock using chicken legs, vegetables and spices. Note that you can use a whole chicken, or you can omit the chicken completely to make it vegetarian, but I’m following my mother-in-law’s instructions.

First, soak the chicken in cold water for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is soaking, take the onion halves, and place them directly on the grate of your gas burner to get them charred slightly. Only 2-3 minutes is all it takes.

After soaking the chicken, drain the water and add 4 quarts of fresh water and bring to a boil. Skim off all the foam that rises to the top, then add the charred onion, celery, carrots and spices, and let simmer for 45 minutes. Try not to let it boil after adding the vegetables, just a very slight simmer.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it and cool, then take the chicken off the bones and shred the meat. Strain the stock and discard all remaining ingredients.

Then increase the heat slightly, add celery and green beans, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, tomatoes and carrots. I know that I focus on recipes without starchy ingredients like potatoes, but with the huge amount of soup this recipe makes, there is only a very small amount of potatoes in each serving.

Continue cooking until everything is tender. Finally, add the chicken back to the pot. Garnish with fresh parsley and/or dill weed.

Vegetable Soup with Chicken

Servings:  12


  • 6 organic chicken legs
  • 4 quarts (16 cups) water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • A few sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base or bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


  • 4-5 celery stalks, sliced
  • A handful of fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced (approximately 2 cups)
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large, or 2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Fresh parsley and/or dill, minced, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


In a large soup pot, place chicken legs and cover with cold water.  Let soak for 30 minutes, changing water a couple of times.

Turn on the gas burner, and place the onion halves directly on the burner grate for 2-3 minutes, turning a couple of times to get a nice char.

Drain and add 4 quarts of fresh cold water to the pot with the chicken.  Bring to a boil, and skim off any white foam/fat that rises to the top.  Add the charred onion, carrots, celery and spices.  Simmer over very low heat for 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked.  Strain the broth and set the chicken aside to cool, then remove the meat and discard the skin and bones.  Discard all remaining stock components.

Add the celery and green beans to the stock, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the carrots, tomatoes and potato, and continue cooking until tender, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the pot, and taste to adjust seasonings.  Garnish with parsley or dill.

Variations:  Add cooked noodles or beans.  To make a vegetarian version, omit chicken.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

This recipe was provided by my Polish mother-in-law. Note that her version doesn’t include scallions, but I thought they made a nice garnish.

The salad is delicious…creamy, refreshing and slightly tart, with the main enhancement of fresh dill.

The key to this recipe is to slice the cucumbers very thinly, salt them, and let them stand for a half hour so that the water starts to come out. You don’t want a watery salad! I was lucky enough to have a cucumber from a friend’s garden. It had a lot of large seeds, so I just scooped them out with a spoon before slicing.

Next, after a half hour has passed, place the colander over the sink and take handfuls of cucumbers and squeeze them well, until they expel as much liquid as possible. Place the squeezed cucumbers into a bowl.

Then just add your sour cream, a bit of lemon juice, black pepper and fresh dill weed. You can adjust the seasonings as you like, adding a bit more salt or lemon juice, or a tiny pinch of sugar.

The salad can be served as a side dish with any meats, fish, poultry, or sandwiches.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

Servings:  2

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons organic sour cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill weed, minced
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sliced scallion greens, optional


Slice the cucumber very thinly and place in a colander.  Add a generous sprinkle of salt and toss.  Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

With your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible from the cucumbers, and place them in a bowl.

Add sour cream, lemon juice, dill and black pepper and toss to combine.  Taste to see if more salt is needed.  Garnish with scallions.

It’s best to make the salad at least 1 hour ahead so the flavors have time to develop.