Thursday, July 19, 2012

crisp, cool and crunchy

I have to confess here. I am currently sitting in a Starbucks ticky tapping away on my laptop while I’m writing this. I’m even drinking a green tea. It’s like I hardly even recognize myself any more. I swore on all that is holy that I would never be a Laptop Loiterer working sucking up all the wifi and the best seat (on the couch next to the outlet with the footstool-score!) but truth be told this is Dickens multitasking at its most ridiculous.

I feel as though I am living in a time warp right now. Where I wake up on Monday morning wondering how I will possibly get All The Things done this week and by the time I’m done scratching the sleep out of my eyes it’s Thursday night and I’m like “Say wait a sec., did I post a blog this week? Did I cook anything this week?” So bear with me on my timing this summer. It’s not you, it’s me and it’s the time warp that happens when you need more time but none is forthcoming.

But you know what? It’s sooooo boring to talk about being busy and it’s even boring-er to talk about the weather but hey, speaking of the weather, hot enough for ya?? (I needed a segue) Cooking is for the birds in this kind of heat wave and summer in general is a season that more lends itself more to simple assembly rather than actually cooking. Fortunately, the food of the season cooperates. As I drove home for lunch yesterday afternoon I knew that I needed food and that I needed said food to be crisp, cool and crunchy. But also healthy, because it’s Tuesday and I should at least try to be healthy on Tuesdays, so that I can take down burgers and ice creams on Sundays. This is what’s called a balanced diet.

(inspired by this salad)

1 cucumber 
1 bunch radishes
1 or 2 ears fresh corn
Approx. ½ - ¾ cup mixed fresh herbs, I used: basil, chives and mint
½ cup Feta cheese
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Salt and pepper

Multigrain bread, large slices, or a baguette cut into ½ inch slices* 
1 or 2 peeled garlic cloves 

Store bought hummus (optional)

Peel, quarter lengthwise and slice your cucumber into thin slices. Wash the radishes thoroughly, trim the ends and thinly slice into tiny circles. Cook the corn however you choose and once cooled, cut the kernels from the cob. As always, I choose to char it over an open flame because it takes the least amount of time and tastes great.

Combine all of your veggies in a medium-sized bowl. Trim and chop the herbs and add to bowl as well. I used equal parts chives and basil and then a little bit of mint but really any fresh herbs would work well here and scallions would stand in perfectly for the chives if that happens to be what you have on hand. Likewise, any crisp, fresh raw vegetable would work here, I just happened to want cukes, radish and corn, but you could use fresh green beans, snap peas or carrots even.

Crumble feta on top and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. Grind in a good amount of fresh cracked pepper and toss together to combine. Taste and add a bit more seasoning or lemon juice if necessary.

Cut a multigrain baguette into slices, or use sliced bread that you have on hand. Toast until well browned and while it’s nice and hot rub a clove of garlic over. If you’d like to use the hummus, spread a thin layer on the toast after it’s been rubbed with garlic and spoon the salad on top. If not using, skip this step and spoon the vegetables right onto your garlic toasts. Serve immediately.

Truthfully, I could take or leave the hummus and I’m the type of person that will ALWAYS take the hummus. Seriously, hummus is like currency in our house and we mainline hummus like it’s some sort of serum of eternal youth. And truth be told we DO always get ID’d when we’re together even though we are both at least ten years over the legal age, so maybe there’s something to that. Hummus= eternal youth. The Dickens’ scoop: you heard it here first. ANYWAYS, I’m off track, so I thought maybe this salad would need a little jazzing up, hence, I added hummus to one of my toasts and left the other unhummused. Verdict: it’s seriously delicious either way. The hummus adds a little texture and tang, but without it, the taste of lemon juice and bright herbs really stand out, so it’s totally your call.

*This would make a phenomenal summer appetizer. If I were making it for a crowd I would make small bruschetta toasts. In this case for a lunch main course, I used larger slices of multigrain bread. 

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

red, white and rosé


I am, admittedly, a wee bit obsessed with rosé. I will talk about it passionately with anyone who will listen because I am determined that the world know how refreshing and delicious it is (in addition to being so very pretty). Rosé is refreshing and easy to drink but has a touch more complexity than your typical white wine. Not that I don’t like a cold glass of white, I am a Caucasian female: we’re pretty much programmed to pound the stuff. But my warm weather weekends almost always involve a chilled bottle of pretty pink wine (or two).


I knew for 4th of July that I wanted to make a punch to: a) use our radical new punch bowl; b) use up the delicious Sweet Cherry Simple Syrup I made last week; and, c) have enough hooch in it to make us sufficiently warm and fuzzy because nothing to me says “Happy Birthday America” like a cool buzz, some smoked meats and some mother loving fireworks. Tonight I plan on having all three and I wish you the same. Happy 4th.



(for one)

½-¾ cup chilled rose wine
Juice from half a lemon
1-2 oz. Sweet Cherry Simple Syrup

Frozen cherries
Slicced lemons

Fill a rocks glass or stem less wine glass with ice. Drizzle in Cherry Syrup, add the lemon juice and rose; stir together to combine well. Top off with seltzer. Garnish with frozen cherries or any other fruit (peaches or strawberries would also taste great). Serve immediately and repeat until feeling sufficiently patriotic.


(for a crowd)

2 bottles chilled rose wine
Juice from 2 lemons
½ - ¾ cup* Sweet Cherry Simple Syrup
1/3 container frozen lemonade concentrate (like Minute Maid)
1 ½ liters seltzer
Frozen cherries, lemon slices, or any other fresh cut fruit for color and garnish

Combine Cherry Syrup, lemon juice, frozen lemonade and rose in a large pitcher or punch bowl; stir together to combine well, add the cherries and any other fruit. Set in the fridge until ready to serve, anywhere from an hour to overnight. When ready, fill pitcher or bowl with ice and top off with seltzer. You can also use less seltzer for a more concentrated punch; or, if you’re a real boozehound use a bottle of Prosecco or Cava instead (no judgment here, I think it’s a swell idea).

*(the amount depends on how sweet you want your finished punch, add it to taste)


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