I hate heat and humidity, and yet I live in Houston, Texas.
I must be insane.
Or I must have a husband whose job ties him to the area.
Definitely the latter, and possibly both. I digress.
With summer comes my near-total disinterest in cooking anything. Ordinarily the sort of girl who loves roasted this, baked that, and broiled something-or-another, I shun the kitchen as much as possible. Who wants to turn the oven on and have it fight the AC for an hour? Not I.
Thus, my lunches have tended to consist of cold leftovers, or something similar. These can be tasty, but can also be a bit repetitious. Which is why I learned this week how to make both hummus and tzatziki.
Back when The Accountant and I were dating and then engaged, I lived in Dallas for six months due to a job. I can't say that Dallas ever felt much like home. Perhaps I didn't spend enough time there, though I felt at home in Fort Worth the first time I ever set foot in it. There's a theory in north Texas that a person is either a Dallas person or a Fort Worth person; if that's the case, put me down as a Fort Worthian through and through.
Aside from living just ten minutes from my best friend and twenty from my other best friend, though, Dallas did have certain merits. High on the list was this hole-in-the-wall place down the street from my apartment. It's called Pizzarella, and, yes, their primary specialty is pizza. It's the sort of pizza place you walk into and see paper placemats, complete with pizza trivia questions, on the tables. It also, somewhat more unusually for a pizza place, has a full bar, and The Accountant's heart was won even before he tasted their (according to him, excellent) pepperoni pizza by the TVs which are tuned to sports channels. I, however, liked that the TVs don't generally have the volume on, so it's still a pretty quiet place, though if you're interested in a game they'll be happy to turn the volume on for you. And how cool is it that rather than just a couple of beaten-up high chairs, they also have a selection of baby swings for their smallest customers?!
Bar and baby swings aside, this place doesn't sound much different from your average indie pizza place. It was, however, distinguished by a very important menu item: their gyros.
Yes, gyros in a pizza parlor. It may sound odd, but it works. Does it work. Think perfect, soft-yet-chewy warm flatbread wrapped around some of the most fragrantly herby, tender lamb ever, with some fresh tomatoes and lettuce thrown in. Don't get me started on those homemade potato wedges that accompany the gyros. And oh, that tzatziki sauce, which I'd never had before I went there: tart, redolent of herbs...just perfect. Seriously, if any of you are ever in the north Dallas area, go there. They aren't far from the tollway or from I-35, and are just over the border in Carrollton. For ten bucks, you'll leave stuffed and insanely happy.
Great, now I'm drooling.
I miss that place. The Accountant and I used to go there fairly often when he'd come up for a weekend, and it was my go-to spot if I wanted to treat myself to a dinner out. The service was casual, but it was the exact type of casual that would be appreciated by a person who'd take herself out to dinner with a book: they'd stop by to make sure everything tasted good, and then just refill a drink or condiments as necessary without interrupting the reader. Awesome!
To make a long story short, I have been badly craving their tzatziki lately, and have wanted some hummus, too. (I've also wanted cheesecake for a while, but we shan't discuss that because The Accountant doesn't like cheesecake, so if I make my aunt's perfect, rich, decadent, not-too-sweet cheesecake recipe I shall eat the entire cheesecake myself. Which tasty as it sounds right now, would probably be a Bad Thing. I digress again.)
So, hummus and tzatziki. A few internet searches led to this recipe for hummus and this for tzatziki. On the latter: use a quarter teaspoon of salt at the most, NOT a full teaspoon, and I'd stick with dill rather than mint, perhaps with a pinch or two of thyme. I used the full teaspoon once and had to throw the batch away, as it was so salty as to be totally inedible.
The tzatziki tastes best the day after you make it, as the flavors have had time to meld. These really are the perfect summer foods: fresh, honest, herb-y, garlicky, and ideal when paired with cold sliced vegetables, or on a flatbread with some chopped chicken and diced bell peppers. Mmmm---mm! No cooking required! On evenings when The Accountant has to work late and eats at the office, I'll skip cooking dinner and have instead cucumbers, peppers and carrots sliced up with a generous dollop of hummus and perhaps a bit of cheese on the side, and be in food heaven.
What are your go-to summer foods?