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Eat With True Greek Spirit

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 to 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, or plenty of freshly ground black pepper

2 cups thick sheep's milk yogurt or drained yogurt* (recipe follows)

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1/2 cup finely chopped fennel fronds plus tender stalks, or fresh dill

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt

2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Cut the cucumber in half and use a teaspoon to remove the seeds. Grate the cucumber then squeeze it, pressing it hard between your hands to extract most of its juices.

In a medium bowl, mix the cucumber with the shredded fennel, garlic, chili or black pepper and yogurt. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped fennel or dill, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and salt to taste and stir well to mix. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper, if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 3 hours before serving. (If the cucumber sits longer, it will release more liquid.)

Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with some oil and sprinkle with the reserved fennel or dill.

* NOTE: Drained yogurt is a good approximation to sheep's milk yogurt, which is sweeter and creamier than cow's milk yogurt. To make drained yogurt, line a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. To make 2 cups of drained yogurt, add 3 1/3 cups (about 32 ounces) plain, whole-milk yogurt to the sieve, cover with plastic wrap and let drain overnight in the fridge.

Per serving (based on 8): 133 calories, 5 gm protein, 10 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 121 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Domatosalata Horiatiki

(Country Tomato Salad)

4 to 6 servings

"The salad tourists find in all Greek tavernas by the name horiatiki ('country or village salad', known in the United States as Greek salad), is a combination of tomatoes with various other things -- from salted sardines to olives -- of which only onion slices and feta are a must. From then on, every cook can improvise.

"Capers are my addition to horiatiki. From then on, I use whatever I can find in the house. But, of course, the tomatoes have to be of the right quality for this salad to be good."

From "The Foods of Greece," by Aglaia Kremezi (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1993):

3 large ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained


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