by Erik A. Cosselmon, Kokkari, San Francisco, California
Makes 1-1/2 cups
A shy, soft-spoken man, Erik A. Casselman makes the rounds greeting regulars in Kokkari's dining room, but you get the sense he's most comfortable watching from behind the counter of the open kitchen or checking on the spit roast in the open fireplace. Before attending the Culinary Institute of America, he worked the line at Tavern on the Green, where his initiation test was to chop a huge bucket of onions. Upon graduation, he worked in many of New York's top restaurants, including Le Bernardin, Daniel, Montrachet, and Tribeca Grill. He is now using his vast culinary expertise to elevate Greek food from the expected feta salad to more sophisticated dishes fit for the gods—or at least San Francisco's cosmopolitan diners.
America loves dips of all varieties—sour cream, ranch dressing, salsa, guacamole, artichoke, cheese—or a mixture of any of these. Served with potato chips, corn chips, bread sticks, or crudites, dips are a party staple. Here we have a twist on the typical chip accompaniment with Greek Taramosalata. The Greeks are big on dips for their meze—tzatziki being perhaps the most well-known. A Greek yia yia (grandmother) would make this with a mortar and pestle; today being the era of the kitchen appliance, however, taramosalata is one for the food processor. Don't be put off by the tarama (salted carp roe): the resulting dip is lemony and fluffy rather than fishy; even though this is a caviar dish of sorts, the flavor is subtle—briny, creamy, and smooth.
1. Break or cut the bread into smaller chunks, remove the crusts, and put in a bowl.
2. Cover with cold water and let the bread soak until thoroughly moistened, about 15 minutes. Lift the bread out of the water and squeeze firmly to remove excess moisture. You should have about 1/2 cup.
3. Put the bread in a small food processor along with the tarama, lemon juice, onion, and vinegar. Process until smooth.
4. Combine the canola and olive oils, and with the food processor running, add them in a slow, steady stream, as if making mayonnaise. If the mixture gets too stiff, add a small amount of water; the consistency should be thick and spreadable.
5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. This spread tastes best the day it is made.
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This page created December 2011
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