Sunday, July 26, 2009



Cheryl Harvey Hill with Duke, the Bush bean dog

Recently, I reconnected with my childhood friend, Cheryl Harvey Hill, through Facebook. Cheryl and I, along with Karen Gulakowski Price and Virginia Negy Hall, sang together in a group we named The Four Melodies. We went on “tour,” singing at family reunions, company Christmas parties, and on stage at West Junior High School, in Warren, Ohio. It was the 50’s and our songs reflected the music of the pre-rock and roll era. We sang songs such as “Catch a Falling Star” by Perry Como.

Three of The Four Melodies, Karen Gulakowski, Cheryl Harvey and Cheryl Galloway

After several weeks of conversing by e-mail, Cheryl and I re-established our friendship and I discovered what a remarkable person she has become. She is a journalist and a photographer and still the spunky, witty and humorous gal I remember. She has surprised me, however, with her cooking expertise.

Cheryl and her husband, Christopher, lived in Europe for two three-year tours of duty while they were in the military. They lived in southern Bavaria and in the central German town of Griesheim in the state of Hesson. It was in Greisheim that Cheryl’s gracious prodding earned her the recipe for tzitziki from her friend, the owner of an excellent Greek restaurant named Vater John’s.

Here is what Cheryl has to say about this particular recipe and her method of cooking:

Irish Tzitziki

“I jokingly call this recipe 'Irish Tzitziki' because I don’t think any self-respecting Greek would make tzitziki with cream cheese. Real tzitziki is made with Greek yogurt, but finding Greek yogurt is not easy so, out of desperation (which as you may know, is often the source of true inspiration), I decided to substitute cream cheese for Greek yogurt and -- wha-la! -- my Irish Tziziki was born. Everyone loves it, but I must confess that I’ve never served it to a real Greek. I’ve also never written the recipe down before, so let me practice on you and you can tell me if it makes sense. Here goes:

Irish Tziziki

1-8oz. pkg. cream cheese

1 medium sized cucumber

1 clove fresh garlic

1 T lemon pepper

pinch of sea salt

Peel, seed and finely shred cucumber.

Place shredded cucumber in cheese cloth and twist to remove all liquid.

Place all ingredients in food processor and whip until creamy.

Serve on pita bread, crackers (my favorite), warm garlic bread or garlic bagels ... I definitely believe you cannot have too much garlic."

(I must interject here, I promised Cheryl I would try her recipe even though I have never liked cucumbers. For some reason I develop hiccups when eating them, so I avoid them like the plague. I decided that since I am posting this recipe, I needed first to taste the tziziki and face the consequences. Guess what? I found it to be delicious and no hiccups!)

Craisin "Let Her Whip"

“I am a huge fan of easy spreads that begin with 8 oz. cream cheese. I have another easy spread that you might like better; although I really do hope you will try the tzitziki.

"Anyway, in this one, you simply put 8 oz. of cream cheese in the food processor with ½ cup of 'Craisins' (the cranberry raisins, or you can use plain ol’ raisins), ½ cup walnuts or pecans and let her whip!! That’s all. It’s so easy and delicious. This is only one of my “let her whip” spreads. Another uses several different types of olives and still another uses a variety of peppers and olives mixed: bottom line is that my “let it whip” spreads are only limited by your imagination and what you may have available in your pantry or fridge. Also, any of these spreads can be spread over a large flour tortilla, rolled up, and cut into pinwheel slices to serve for more festive occasions. Oh so pretty and oh so delicious and I promise you that I’ve made all of these many times.

"Just FYI: The yogurt version of tzitziki is a Greek staple and we actually learned to love Greek food while we lived in Germany; we never made it to Greece, although we would have liked to go. As you know, the European countries are so close together and they seem to run across borders and blend cultures and menus. There are many Greek restaurants in Germany but I also love the German foods, especially their Beef Rollladen (Bavarian version). It’s delicious, easy, and therefore, I make it often, too. Who would have thought that rolling a dill pickle and a piece of onion up in a slice of beef painted with mustard could be so yummy! As you can probably tell, I love to cook and I love taking traditional recipes and changing them to make them my own.”

Beef Rolladen (Bavarian version)

I hope you have enjoyed this multi-national cooking lesson given by my friend, Cheryl. If she allows, in future posts I hope to share other recipes she brought home from Europe. Until then, "bon appetit," or should I say, "genieBen!"

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