A Dish That Will Give Your Oscar Spread Real Star Power

by Jill Bernardini
Wednesday, Feb 1, 2017



Generous amounts of garlic and bright lemon zest give this skordalia a Mediterranean punch of flavor. (Photo: Jill Bernardini)

Chef Dave Becker doesn’t have much time to watch awards shows. Between his restaurants, Sweet Basil and Juniper, brainstorming his third cookbook, and somehow finding time to create pottery for the restaurants, he is busy enough. But he certainly enjoys creating food for gathering and entertaining.

With Juniper near the two year mark, we asked Chef Dave to share a few of his Mediterranean-inspired recipes that are perfect for a party crowd:

Chef Dave's Almond Skordalia

Skordalia, a traditional Greek dip or spread, has a base of potatoes, almonds, and plenty of garlic. “For a rough estimate, think one garlic clove per person when serving,” Chef Dave says. It's all about "really good ingredients with enough seasoning.” He adds that the cumin and coriander are optional — taste as you go.


Ingredients

  • 4 medium, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, 5 whole and 1 minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserved
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • salt and pepper, to taste
     

Notes
Chef Dave prefers a rustic preparation, which is why he recommends the paddle attachment. Allowing the potatoes to cool slightly prevents them from becoming too gummy or pasty when blending.

Directions

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot, and add enough water to cover and submerge them, about 5 cups. Place the pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small pan over low heat, combine 5 whole garlic cloves and the olive oil. Slowly cook the garlic in the pan until it begins to caramelize and turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the garlic from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Reserve 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
  3. Once the potatoes are fork tender, about 6 minutes, remove from the heat and strain them. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate small pot, add the almonds and cover with enough water to submerge them, about 3/4 cup, then place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook the almonds for about 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the almonds to a dish, reserving the cooking liquid.
  5. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the potatoes, almonds, and the 1/4 cup of reserved almond water. With the machine on, add the roasted garlic, the additional raw minced garlic, reserved olive oil, and the lemon juice until a smooth consistency begins to form. If the mixture is too thick, slowly add more almond water until the skordalia combines and emulsifies.
  6. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the cumin and coriander. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and garnish with the lemon zest. Serve with Greek flatbread (recipe follows).

 

Chef Dave's Griddled Greek Flatbread

For the flatbread, a little whole wheat flour gives it, “a darker color and more flavor. You want that extra char when the flatbread’s on the griddle.” Cutting individual flatbreads into triangles makes for the perfect bite to share at a party.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour salt and pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl and griddling flatbreads

Notes

Preparing the dough the night before and letting it rise in the fridge overnight yields the best texture and flavor. The flatbreads can also be par-cooked and placed in the freezer to have on hand for your next lavish soiree.

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the two flours, salt, and pepper. In a separate small bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and honey. Set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom.
  2. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture, stirring to combine, and pour into the bowl with the flours. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a dough ball begins to form.
  3. Dust the counter or other work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Working with floured hands, knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into four, orange-sized balls, kneading until smooth.
  5. Coat the inside of the four bowls with a little olive oil, and place each dough ball into individual bowls. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm place, or until doubled in size.
  6. Set the griddle top or a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. On a lightly floured surface, working with one flatbread dough at a time, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and the diameter of your cooking surface.
  7. Brush one side with olive oil and cook the flatbread oil-side down for about 3 minutes. Brush the top surface, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  8. Transfer the flatbread to a cutting board, and slice into triangles. Repeat with the remaining flatbread dough, and serve with skordalia or your favorite dip.

About the Author

Originally from the rural region of southern New Jersey, Craving Boston's Jill has been working, learning, and eating her way through Boston for the past five years. She holds her M.A. in gastronomy from Boston University, works at the award-winning Island Creek Oyster Bar, and writes on her personal blog, Jill Eats. Jill is constantly dreaming up recipes, reading Food52, and roaming around the city’s farmers’ markets. Ice cream is her weakness.

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