I’m in Switzerland teaching for the next two weeks. It is lovely here,
and I really shouldn’t complain, but…The only knives I’ve found in my temporary Swiss kitchen are two bread knives and a paring knife no longer than one of my pinkie fingers. The one and only cutting board is the size of a small dinner plate.
Wait, pause, time out: I promised someone that my next post would include my recipe for jumped up skordalia.
Okay, V., here you go with the jumped up skordalia: The original is a Greek garlic dip (I’m Greek on my mom’s side). It is one of my grandmother’s favorites, and something I always make for her birthdays. Here’s my basic version:
Boil peeled potatoes until soft. Add one clove finely minced garlic per medium sized potato (don’t panic—the garlic mellows in translation, and it is a garlic dip after all), plus extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt to taste. Mash together. You can also add some of the potato cooking water to thin the mixture if desired. Serve as a spread on crackers or crudités.
Note: moistened breadcrumbs are often cited as an alternative to the potatoes. They are undoubtedly more authentic, since Greeks wouldn’t have had potatoes until just a few centuries ago (potatoes come from South America—some of my Irish friends still don’t believe me about that). But authenticity aside, my family always makes the potato version.
Okay, well that basic version is lovely, and I recently made it as one of two appetizers for a party. The other was a Melted Balsamic Pepper dip.
To make the pepper dip, take some chopped bell pepper (I used some of what I have stashed in the freezer) and sautee it s…l…o…w…l…y over low heat in a little olive oil until the peppers completely surrender to softening without burning. This will take about an hour. Add a little minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salt to taste. Cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and transfer to blender. Blend into a puree.
Both the skordalia and the melted pepper dip are lovely on their own, but combining them resulted in a yummy new spread that I will definitely make again. For my Grandma’s next birthday party, I will offer her my new hybrid concoction, but also have the more traditional skordalia on hand in case she thinks I’ve lost my greekness.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Clearly, I could survive for two more weeks with just a paring knife, bread knife, and postage stamp-sized cutting board, but I don’t want to. Nor am I willing to fork over the dough (multiple puns intended) for a really good chef’s knife like I have at home. The secondhand stores here have cutlery and kitchen gear. I’ll visit them on Monday.
My new Swiss pal Samson at my desk in Rorschach
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