Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

Who doesn’t love latkes?  Well maybe you are not a fan, but we especially love potato pancakes when they are hot, crispy and dipped in sour cream and/or applesauce.  Something about zucchini replacing potato convinced me that these are a healthier version of the beloved potato pancake.  However, this is a lie since they are also fried in oil, and there is some potato still involved. 

I revised Ms. Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, removing the baking powder, replacing red onion with shallots, and adding feta cheese, which melts into the pancake and adds a salty kick.  These were definitely lighter than the potato version, but be sure to squeeze out any extra liquid from each patty before cooking so that they will stay together better.



Zucchini and Feta Latkes (adapted and revised from Barefoot Contessa)  

3 medium zucchini

1 small potato

1 shallot

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup feta cheese crumbles

5-6 tablespoons vegetable oil  

Peel zucchini, potato, and shallots.  Shred zucchini, potato, and shallots against the large grating side of a box grater into a large bowl.  Stir in eggs. Then stir in flour, salt and pepper. Stir in feta cheese.

Roll vegetable mixture into small patties.  Add vegetable oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat..  Once the vegetable oil is hot, carefully place in latkes and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until brown and crispy.  Remove latkes from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Serve hot with sour cream or applesauce.


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My husband found an article on a variation of the traditional cucumber yogurt sauce using beets instead of cucumber.  Beets?  I would have never thought to interchange cucumber for beets, but I was very interested in this new concept.  What really sold me what the color of the tzatziki sauce-bright purple!  Since we are trying to incorporate beets in more of our dishes (chicken with beets), I thought this would be a great way to do it. 

I have to admit that I was skeptical to change my classic tzatziki sauce that has been working out pretty well, but I was excited to see if the beet tzatziki could beat it.  (ha!)  So here we go.  First, you roast the beets and then let them cool.  This process can take about 2 hours, so you may want to prepare the beets the day before.  Then you shred the roasted beets and stain your hands purple in the process.  Then you combine all the rest of your ingredients, and watch as the color changes from light pink, to purple to bright purple (or “hot purple” as I thought to name it while snapping photos of this jazzy sauce). 

Although it looks wonderful, and I was eager to dip a piece of broccoli in to taste this colorful sauce, we found it necessary to add more ingredients.  This recipe leaves out some essential pieces that I think add that extra zing to my traditional tzatziki sauce, and the lack of these ingredients really decreases the flavor of the sauce.  So a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of wine vinegar, and an extra clove of garlic should find their way into the sauce  I was especially happy to use the dill I have been growing in a planter in a third floor window of our house.  The delicate green color looked great against the purple, but as I stirred it into the sauce, the color got lost amidst all the purple. 


Beet tzatziki sauce is its own thing.  It is not the cucumber yogurt sauce that we are familiar with, but it definitely has flavor.  The minute you taste it you will identify that there are beets in there.  The beet flavor establishes itself in the yogurt.  Next time I may try half beets and half cucumber just to see which flavor will stand out more, and see more variations in color.  This dip will definitely be a conversation piece as you place the purple yogurt sauce onto a plate, and watch as your guests try to figure out what it is.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. (Later this week, we’ll show you how to sauté the greens.) Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish (or lidded ovenproof casserole dish). Add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily penetrated with the tip of a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins.

Beet Tzatziki Sauce (adapted and revised from the New York Times)

3 medium beets

3 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 container low-fat Greek style yogurt (or full fat)

Black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  First, roast the beets.  To do this, cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Wash and scrub the beets, removing any dirt.  Place beets in a baking dish with lid, and add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets (three ounces or less) for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets (four to six ounces) for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets (eight ounces or more) for 50 to 60 minutes.  Test to see if the beets are done by piercing with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, then they are done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the covered baking dish. Once cooled, cut the ends of each beet and pull off the skins.Then, grate the roasted beets on the large holes of a grater. Chop garlic cloves finely, and place in large bowl with salt and lemon juice.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add the yogurt and stir the garlic into it.  Add black pepper, olive oil and wine vinegar.  Then stir in the beets and dill.  Watch as the color explodes.

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Sweet potatoes, no matter how simple, how complex, or in what form they come, are delicious.  Baked, fried, mashed-all wonderful.  Sweet potatoes are especially versatile in that with or without spice or sugar they are full of flavor.  I make baked sweet potato fries at home using olive oil, salt and pepper.  I decided to literally spice up this recipe by trying different spices.  I thought wedges because the spices could coat the potatoes better if the potatoes were in wedge form.


The recipe I found called for the following spices: coriander seeds, fennel seeds, dried oregano, and dried hot red pepper.  I had to revise this list.  First, I do not like fennel, just not my thing.  Second, no dried hot red pepper in the house.  So I removed the fennel seeds and added paprika.


Some wedges came out crisp and some soggy.  I suppose it is from the amount of vegetable oil coating each one.  The wedges had a peppery taste to them, but no one spice really stood out among the others.  In fact, if I didn’t know what I added, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what was on those potatoes.  Although the spices were indiscernible, we enjoyed our little wedges, especially the crispy ones.


Sweet Potato Wedges (revised from Gourmet, January 2002)

1 very large sweet potato

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Although the recipe request that you grind the coriander, oregano  and paprika together, I did not have that capability.  Feel free to do so if you have a an electric coffee/spice grinder.  To improvise, I put the spices on a flat surface, and using the back of a large spoon, crushed the coriander.  Then I stirred the spices together with the salt. 

Cut the potato lengthwise into 1-inch wedges. First toss wedges with oil, and then toss with the spices.  Place wedges on a baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes.  Then, turn the wedges over using tongs, and let roast for another 20 minutes, or until golden brown. 


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I have never really experimented with greens.  I have to admit that I do not know the differences between most greens.  When visitng farmer’s markets, I have been tempted to buy them, but I am never sure what they will taste like or how to cook them.  Everyone says that they are good for you because they contain tons of vitamins and are high in calcium.  So, adventurously I picked up some greens at the grocery store during my lunch break.  Looking  through the leafy piles, I had trouble deciding what to choose.  Swiss chard, kale, collards.   I did not come prepared with any idea of what to cook, so i chose what looked best.  Collard greens.  The healthy, sturdy, dark greens leaves looked appealing.

Quite honestly, I have only had collard grees a few times, usually while eating barbecue, and I skipped over them. From what I remember, they were cooked with  smoked meat and the greens took the smoky flavor from the meat.  I am told that collard greens have a subtle smoky flavor themselves, but I am not really sure how collards taste by themselves, without the addition of the meat. 

I decided that for my first attempt at cooking collard greens, I would keep it simple.

What you need…

1 bunch collard greens

3/4 cup olive oil

1 lemon

1/4 salt

1/4 pepper

First, wash the greens very well because the leaves tend to collect soil and sand.  Then cut leaves in half, away from the vein.  The vein in the middle of the is a little hard, so I laid each leaf flat, and I cut down the side of the vein, so that you only have the leafy part remaining.  Cut the leaves into squares, about 1 to 1.5 inches in width.  Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Then place the cut up leaves on a baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the leaves get crispy.

The result…the greens were crunchy and definently had a smokey flavor.  I would suggest adding more lemon because the pieces that add extra lemon on them were more flavorful.  I liked the crispness of the greens, but I think I would have also enjoy them sauteed in olive oil and lemon.

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