25 years ago I watched a movie called “Summer Lovers”. Before I say more, this is not a movie review or recommendation (although I should add it was little racy). I mention it only because the movie was set in picturesque Santorini, Greece, with its gleaming white buildings, capped with bright blue roofs, built into the side of a cliff, and overlooking crystal clear waters. This was the start of my obsession with Greece. And although I have traveled extensively in the US and the Caribbean, my dream of going to Santorini with the intention of being ”Greek for a Week” still eludes me. On my 40th birthday, I made a pact with my best friend Kim that for our 45th birthdays, in 2015; we would go together and immerse ourselves in all things Greek! Until then we remain Athena and Aphrodite wannabees, staying focused on our goal by sharing Grecian finds. So I was not surprised to hear that while strolling the Port Jefferson Farmers Market, near our hometown on Long Island, Kim stumbled upon a Greek yogurt vendor and just had to share the experience with me.
Now I can honestly say, I LOVE Greek yogurt. It’s a staple in my diet, mixed every morning with fresh berries, almonds, and cinnamon. I could probably live on this combination…at least for a while. Kim on the other hand is not a huge fan, but what caught her eye as she passed the Kalypso Yogurt booth was the adorable, terra cotta pots that come with each of their homemade yogurt flavors. Kim’s a foodie and a great cook, and the pots which resemble ramekins were right up her alley. What she didn’t know was that terra cotta is a traditional packaging in the Mediterranean. Known for its therapeutic and healing properties, clay has been used for centuries as a way to keep food cool and fresh, before modern refrigeration was available. Taking the leap of faith, Kim purchased the Tahitian Vanilla and Fig flavored yogurts. She was immediately hooked. So much so, that she went back to the market the following week and purchased the Wild Blueberry and Mango flavors as well!
Kalypso Yogurt is a family business, founded by Nikolas Trastelis with the goal of offering New Yorkers authentically crafted premium Greek yogurt, made the old fashioned way, using the highest quality ingredients. Kalypso Yogurt uses only hormone and antibiotic free Grade A milk. It’s then pasteurized and blended with active probiotic cultures, which are known for their health benefits (see link below for more on that). Using a centuries old method, the yogurt is strained until it achieves a creamy thickness. Now considering you are getting a super, high quality product, in a reusable terra cotta pot that is oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe, and can be up-cycled in a million ways, this is a great buy at 3 for $10. Nikolas says on his web site, “Our yogurt was developed around the relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle consisting of good food, sun and most importantly good company, we call this parea.” Say no more, my bags are packed!
Ironically, I recently made a new friend, Tina who moved to the US from Greece when she was 13. Linked through Facebook, I am the benefactor of her interesting posts and pictures (some written in Greek) about the food, travel, music, family, and friends of her homeland. She laughs at my passion for all things Greek and continues to feed my obsession. Now, I’m not known for my culinary skills. In fact, my favorite cookbook is called “Six Ingredients or Less”. But a recent craving for Tzatziki sauce, a cucumber and yogurt based dip had me playing with a couple of recipes that were close enough to my ingredient limits. Once I had my version perfected, I invited Tina over for a little κρασί, (Greek for wine) and to get her authentic opinion on my Tzatziki. She is either a great liar or was totally impressed! Since she asked to take some home, I’m going with the latter. So with her 2 thumbs up approval, I’m sharing my super easy recipe with you.
Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients:
2 cucumbers – peeled, seeded and quartered
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced (use fresh, not the jar stuff)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (jar is fine)
1 ½ cups of plain Greek Yogurt, Kalyspo is preferred, but not required
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Place quartered cucumbers in a small colander and sprinkle evenly with salt. Let sit and drain for 30 minutes.
2. Pat dry with paper towels and chop coarsely in a food processer. I’m a fan of Pampered Chef’s Manual Food Chopper.
3. Drain cucumbers again in the colander for another 30 minutes to get rid of excess water
4. Place the cucumbers back in your food processor and add in garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, vinegar and olive oil. Chop a bit more until it’s well blended.
5. Chill in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Cut up some pita into small triangles and serve them with Tzatziki sauce as an appetizer.
Pour some on top of grilled chicken for a fresh flavor.
Check out the Kalypso Yogurt web site for a full list of farmers markets and retail outlets where you can find their artisanal yogurt. And while you are there, be sure to read more about the health benefits of Greek yogurt and the story behind their success. Eat up! Your body will thank you!
More on the Benefits of Greek Yogurt