Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
The month of Mary: A Marian Month
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of soldiers; Squillace; Guardavalle; invoked against headache
Saint Agathius’s Story
A Greek Christian centurion in the imperial Roman army stationed in Thrace. Tortured and executed in the persecutions of Diocletian. Several churches in Constantinople dedicated to him, including one dedicated by Constantine the Great. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
Skordalia: Greek Garlic and Potato Dip
What is Skordalia? Skordalia, may be a compound of the Greek [ˈskorðo] 'garlic' and Italian agliata [aʎˈʎaːta] 'garlicky'. So, clearly, garlic is the star here. Skordalia is basically a Greek garlic dip or spread made by combining crushed garlic with a thick base such as day-old bread or pureed potatoes, lots of olive oil and citrus--either a wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Some skordalia recipes call for the addition of nuts such as walnut or almonds.
1 lb gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 ounces blanched almonds (or shelled walnuts)
3 to 6 garlic cloves or roasted garlic
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Zest of 1 lemon, for garnish
Prepare and cook the potatoes. Place cubed potatoes in a big colander and rinse with cold water until the water is clear. Transfer to a saucepan and add water to cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches. Salt the water well. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are well cooked through (test by inserting a knife, it should break the potatoes with no resistance). Drain the potatoes in the same colander and rinse again, this time with hot water, for 30 seconds. Set the potatoes aside for 5 to 7 minutes to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
Make the garlic and almond paste. While potatoes are cooling, combine almonds, garlic, large pinch of kosher salt, and lemon juice in the small bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Run processor until the garlic and almonds turn into a paste (as smooth as you can get it).
Mash the potatoes. Using a potato masher or a food mill (do not use food processor), mash the potatoes thoroughly.
Combine mashed potatoes with extra virgin olive oil and garlic-almond paste. To the mashed potatoes, add about ½ of the olive oil, a little bit at a time, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and almond paste and mix well. Then add the remaining olive oil, again a little bit at a time, mixing well with your wooden spoon. Taste and add more kosher salt if needed. Mix well to combine. (At this point, if you're not serving the skordalia, you can let it cool then chill in the fridge until later).
Add garnish and serve. Transfer the mashed potato dip into a serving bowl or dish. Add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and top with chopped green onions, parsley and lemon zest. Serve at room temperature or chilled (if you had chilled it before adding garnish).
Note: Make sure to rinse the potatoes with water before and after boiling, this will help remove surface starch and reduce the gumminess of the mashed potatoes.
Also: Skordalia is meant to be very garlicy using about 6 garlic cloves or so. Blending the garlic with the acid helps reduce its its pungency, while keeping the flavor. But if you're unsure about using this much garlic to start, you can use less (it won't be the same). You can also use roasted garlic, which is milder and sweeter. Once you chill skordalia, the flavors will settle some more and intensify.