We try to share a staff lunch once a week here in the studio. It gives everyone a chance to sit down together, laugh, and share ideas. We are, after all, a family of sorts. This week we had hoped to entertain and enjoy time with our friend and collaborator Anna Maria Horner, to whom this week’s journal theme is dedicated. But sometimes life gets in the way, and we were unable to coordinate our time; however, we decided to have a Greek lunch in her honor anyway.
Anna Maria’s family comes from Greece and her grandmother passed down many Greek traditions and treasures to her, including hand-loomed wool blankets and recipes. I love tzatziki, and even though cucumbers are not technically in season yet, we fortunately have a local organic farmer with a solar powered greenhouse – Jack-O-Lantern Farms – and were able to acquire some Alabama cucumbers for the tangy, yogurt dip, as well as greenhouse-grown tomatoes and south Alabama eggplants (still beats vegetables trucked in from Mexico).
1 pound Greek yogurt
2 large cucumbers
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dill, finely chopped
2 teaspoon Kosher salt plus more to taste
Peel and grate cucumbers. Using a piece of cheese cloth and working in batches, squeeze out as much water as possible from the grated cucumber. Mix into yogurt in a medium bowl. Stir in chopped dill and lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed.
Peel the garlic and mash, with salt, into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add garlic paste to yogurt mixture and blend well. Add more salt if desired and refrigerate for at least an hour but preferably overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Serve with pita bread.
EGGPLANT WITH TOMATOES AND GARLIC
This dish is a translation of a recipe from a traditional Greek cookbook purchased on a trip to Athens, Greece by a friend. Olive oil is measured in tea cups, weights are in kilos, and eggplant is called aubergine. Here is our version:
4 medium eggplants
4 medium tomatoes
4 green onions, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Feta cheese for sprinkling liberally
Heat the oven to 350°F. Slice eggplants and tomatoes about a quarter inch thick and layer in a casserole dish, tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, onions and garlic, pour olive oil over vegetables and cover. Bake in oven until eggplants are tender – about an hour. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes to caramelize and color the tomatoes.
Serve warm or cold and sprinkle generously with feta cheese.
*Tzatziki photographed in Heath Ceramics Cocoa/Fawn Cereal Bowl on our Stenciled Felt Placemat. Close-up of eggplant and tomatoes photographed on Heath Ceramics Cocoa/Eyelet Salad plate.