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Monday, February 19, 2018

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Cool as a cucumber

Dazz Switalla
Flavour Secrets
No.1 The Strand Chef

There is still plenty of heat in the sun at this time of the year and we often eat vegetables like watermelon and cucumber, which have more than 90 per cent water content that seem to help us cool down.

There are many ways to use cucumber and many varieties in this country; we mostly see short green telegraph and apple cucumber.

You can easily transform the simple vegetable into something quite sublime by adding dill, garlic, mint and yoghurt to shredded well-drained cucumber.

You can make the addictive Tzatziki dip. Or you could try combining thinly-sliced cucumber, dill seeds, finely sliced onion and a small amount of rice vinegar and oil and cracked pepper to make a tasty salad.

For this week dish I’ll use potato and chicken stock as a base for a delicious chilled soup flavoured with loads of dill, mint and cucumber, then finished with yoghurt.

And what is it about cold soups? They’ve never really gained much of a following at restaurants, which seems a pity because at this time of the year sometimes it’s nice to pull a soup straight from the fridge and serve it on a hot summer evening.

There’s been gazpacho sent back for heating up in some restaurants I’ve worked in, so I’m guessing people just don’t get it even when there’s crushed ice floating in the soup!

So if you’re up for it, try this week’s simple chilled tzatziki-style soup one of these balmy evenings.

Tzatziki soup


 1kg waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
 1 cup dill, chopped
 ½ cup chopped mint
 1 medium white onion, chopped
 2 small garlic gloves, crushed
 50g butter
 1 large telegraph cucumber, sliced and
de-seeded and cut into half-moon shapes
 Cracked black pepper and sea salt flakes
 500ml chicken stock
 200ml plain Greek yoghurt


Place the potatoes, crushed garlic, chopped onion, chicken stock, mint and dill stalks in a pot and bring up to a simmer.

Cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft enough for mashing. Set pot aside to cool.

Whiz up the yoghurt and herbs and process until smooth and slightly green then set aside in fridge until later, leaving a little mix in the food processor.

Add potato mix to the processor with a slotted spoon, add butter and process until smooth scraping down the bowl as you go.

With the stock left in the pan, heat and add cucumber slices heat in the stock and discard any twiggy bits of herb.

Cook for just two minutes so the cucumber is still crisp.

Remove from the heat and stir in the potato mix and allow to cool. Add the yoghurt and season with cracked fresh black pepper and sea salt and chill well for
three-four hours.

Serve with sprigs of fresh dill and sliced cucumber – it’s delicious with crusty-style breads.


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