Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blackberry Rum Shrub

(Printable Recipe)
Trust me, this tastes nothing like a piney green shrub from the garden; it's actually a refreshingly fruity cocktail that just happens to have an odd name. Shrubs were quite the popular drink of the 17th century. Today's version skips the fruit-soaked-in-vinegar in favor of fruit crushed with sugar to produce plenty of juice with a dash of balsamic, which has its own degree of sweetness that really tempers that vinegary edge. I was surprised how tasty shrubs can be when I had a chance to sample some recently at Napa Valley Distillery while traveling.  In 2012 Saveur featured this drink and it does seem to be trending now, in addition to being a tasty revival of a very old drink.
Use half as much sugar as fruit.
I had about 1 cup of blackberries. Using 1/2 as much sugar to fruit ratio, I added 1/2 cup sugar and crushed all together until it exuded plenty of juice. Reserve a few berries for garnish!

Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic and let this mixture rest for an hour or so as the sugar completely dissolves and the berries give up a little more juice. You will then have your "shrub."
Save a few whole berries for garnish.
I also like the idea of using a brandied Blackberry as garnish, hence the little jar you see above, but this requires some planning ahead. About a month or two ahead, unfortunately! Right now, while you have fresh blackberries on hand, fill a jar and top them with warmed brandy. In a month or two, make yourself another Blackberry Rum Shrub and luxuriate in a brandied garnish, my friend.
So, here's what it takes to assemble your cocktail. Spoon up 1 Tbs of the blackberry shrub into the bottom of a stemmed flute (you may strain the seeds out by pressing it through a sieve, but I like the bits of seedy fruit so I leave them in). Top this with 2 oz (2 jiggers) of rum, light or dark, and top up the glass with club soda or other bubbly water such as San Pellegrino. Garnish with a few whole blackberries, fresh or brandied. Cheers! Take yourself out to the garden and toast the setting sun.

SummerSoiree is on at the Food Network blogsite! Stay tuned each week for fresh ideas for your finds at the Farmer's Market or delicious dishes for picnics and parties all summer long. Get more recipes here from friends and family:

Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Strawberry-Mint Bellinis
The Lemon Bowl: Raspberry-Ginger Bellini
Jeanette's Healthy Living: White Peach Sangria
The Heritage Cook: Refreshing Lime Coolers
The Cultural Dish: Pimm's Cup
Virtually Homemade: Frozen Lime Margaritas with a Sangria Swirl
Weelicious: Strawberry Lemonade
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Strawberry Gimlets with Homemade Strawberry Vodka
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumber and Sage Cocktail
Red or Green: Frozen Tri-Melon Cocktail
Dishing With Divya: Caipirinha
In Jennie's Kitchen: Cantaloupe Lillet Sparkler
Poet in the Pantry: Pirate's Booty Call
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Watermelon Malibu Surf
Sweet Life Bake: Boozy Affogato
Devour: 5 Boozy Summer Coolers
Domesticate Me: Blueberry Mojito Royale
Haute Apple Pie: Classic Mojito
Taste With The Eyes: Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary
FN Dish: Sip Your Way Through Summer (Recipes)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Thyme Corn Cobbettes

These little corn cobbettes are cooked entirely in the microwave, first in the husk for just 2-3 minutes (so that they can be quickly and cleanly popped out of the husk), then finished with some fresh thyme and buttery olive oil and given another minute or two in the wave to steam. The result is sweet, fresh and juicy corn that's ready fast and isn't the least bit waterlogged from a vat of boiling water. And 6 ears served this way will stretch to feed 7-9 people easily, without waste.
Use fresh thyme of any kind; this one is lemon thyme.
To begin, do nothing at all to the corn, just give it 3 minutes in the microwave, husk and all. If your wave is powerful enough, heat 5 or 6 ears at once, otherwise do only 2 or 3 at a time. This is the secret to clean easy removal of the husks.
Cut away the stalk end, cutting just above the base of the cob.
Make a 1" slit through the husk in several places around the base.
Grab the tassel end and tap out the corn cob, completely silk-free.
If you've seen any of the YouTube demonstrations for this perfect method for cleanly shucked corn, you may not have realized that the initial microwaving is critical to success! There is no shaking that corn free if you try this method on a raw piece of corn; unfortunately some instructionals leave out the essential microwave step.
To produce cobbettes without crushing any of the kernels, it's best to use a serrated knife and saw a little way into the cob wherever you want it to break. It will easily pop apart. I remove the tip end as well where the kernels are sparse. 
For a healthier alternative to butter, look for butter infused olive oil in larger groceries or specialty shops such as Flavored Oil and Vinegar stores which are prevalent these days in most cities. If you can't find the buttery flavored EVOO, use a mild one with a flavor you like and drizzle just enough to very lightly coat the corn when tossed together. 

Finally, add the fresh thyme, as much as you like. Unlike the dried version, these little leaves are bright and light flavored and you can use plenty. The leaves strip away easiest if you pull the stem through your fingers backward, that is in the opposite direction that the leaves grow. (Discard the stems.)
Now, to the microwave one more time, just 2 minutes more sealed under a tight wrap to create a little steam chamber. You can save this step until the last minute if you've done the rest ahead of time and serve these babies up hot and steamy. 

SummerSoiree is on at the Food Network blogsite! Stay tuned each week for fresh ideas for your finds at the Farmer's Market or delicious dishes for picnics and parties all summer long. Get more recipes here from friends and family:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pineapple Jalapeño Coleslaw

(Printable Recipe)
If you like your coleslaw a little sweet and creamy, you'll probably love this cold-sweet-hot twist on the classic version. I've also switched up the basic dressing by using rice vinegar which is milder and sweeter than white.
For 4 cups of shredded cabbage, use 2 small jalapeños, 1 sweet red pepper like this one or 1/2 a sweet red bell pepper, 1/3 whole pineapple, and 2 or 3 chopped scallions (green onions).  I prefer the flavor and firmness of a fresh pineapple, but canned could be substituted. Use a small can of tidbits, chopped a bit more, rather than crushed which would be too mushy. 
Seed the jalapeño if you can't take the heat!
Finely dice the peppers by making long narrow slices, then cutting crosswise into small bits. But cut the pineapple into thin, larger pieces that will be juicier to bite into. *NOTE: I wear surgical gloves to work with jalapeños; if you're immune to their heat on your skin then go ahead and live dangerously with the bare-handed handling of them.
Now toss it all together and go make some dressing.

1/2 Cup Miracle Whip, 1 Tbs Rice Vinegar, 1 tsp Sugar
Don't feel tempted to substitute regular mayo for the Miracle Whip; its tangy-sweet balance will be completely off. I love real mayo but this is not the time for it. Whisk in the vinegar and sugar and then fold into the above ingredients. It may not look wet enough at first but the slaw will exude some its own juices after sitting a few hours and should be just right when ready to serve. Use a rubber spatula to blend well just before serving and bring the dressing up from the bottom. Delish!

SummerSoiree is on at the Food Network blogsite! Stay tuned each week for fresh ideas for your finds at the Farmer's Market or delicious dishes for picnics and parties all summer long. Get more recipes here from friends and family:

The Heritage Cook: Ranch-Flavored Cole Slaw (Gluten-Free)
Virtually Homemade: Sweet and Spicy Mexican Slaw
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Apple Cider Coleslaw
Sweet Life Bake: Cumin-Lime Coleslaw
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Vegan Coleslaw
Swing Eats: Thai Coleslaw
Taste With The Eyes: Spicy Rainbow Slaw

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dilly Potato Salad

(Printable Recipe)

Two things make this potato salad prep unusual, but account for it being one of the best I've ever tasted. First, the potatoes are not boiled, they're baked just long enough to keep them firm but dry enough to soak up the flavorful dressing. Second, that flavorful dressing gets its flavor from dill pickle juice and chopped baby dills instead of relish. There are other winning elements to this recipe, but I think those are the two biggies. I must give credit to my sister-in-law, Gigi, for teaching me this method. At least once, try this recipe exactly as it's written and then, hey, have at it and experiment with alterations all you'd like! 
Use Idaho baking potatoes only. 
Wash 6 large potatoes, not the monsters the size of a huge zucchnini, just good sized bakers. Dry the, but don't peel them yet. Wrap each one tightly in foil to hold in the steam and bake at 350. Don't skip this part because unwrapped potatoes get too dry and mealy and will fall apart. Set the timer for about 40 minutes to check their doneness and at the same time,  put on a pan of 6 eggs to boil.
Just barely cover eggs with water.
For perfectly cooked boiled eggs, just barely cover cold eggs with water, top with a lid and bring to a boil. Check closely after 10 minutes or so and remove from the heat as soon as the water boils. Leave them covered and set a timer for 20 minutes. And let's make the dressing now while everything cooks. I like to put it together ahead of time to sit and meld flavors for a little while.
Add 3 TBS Dill Pickle Juice to 1/2 Jar Real Mayo 
In your largest bowl, whisk together the mayo and dill pickle juice. Or if you happen to have only 1/2 jar of mayo left you can do the whisking and mixing right in the jar. Chop 6 baby dills and add these to the dressing also. I use the baby dills because they're usually more crisp and firm than larger pickles, and are virtually seedless.
6 baby dills or 1/2 cup chopped dill pickle (NOT relish)
At this point, if the eggs have been sitting for 20 minutes in the hot water, drain them and stop the cooking by refilling the pan with cold water. You should be rewarded with lovely yellow perfectly done eggs devoid of that ugly green ring around the yoke. They will peel fairly easily if the eggs were at least 2 weeks old, otherwise, get those peels off however you can and chop into fine dice.
Boiled eggs will peel easily if they're at least 1 or 2 weeks old. 
Careful! Peel the foil with tongs so they can cool enough to handle.
Check the potatoes after 30-40 minutes. It's important to get them out while they're still firm enough to be cut into squares. Test this by sticking a sharp knife in and lifting.  If the potato slides off the knife slowly or barely slides at all it's probably done enough. When cooled about 30 minutes, the skins will scrape right off with a small knife.
Cube them in 1 inch squares so they will hold together better. Dicing too small may leave you with crumbles. While the potatoes are still warm, add to your largest bowl along with the eggs and fold the dressing in gently with a rubber spatula. No vigorous metal spoon stirring here so you don't end up with some weird mashed potato mess!

If you have fresh dill, snip the dill over all, salt well, and fold again. Garlic chives are another excellent addition to snip in with scissors, or you could use finely chopped sweet onion instead, preferably Vidalia. (If you don't grow your own dill the cheapest way to buy it in the store in summer is NOT in those expensive little fresh herb plastic packages. Look for big bunches of it near the parsley or pickling cucumbers and it's often just $1 or so.)

SummerSoiree is on at the Food Network blogsite! Stay tuned each week for fresh ideas for your finds at the Farmer's Market or delicious dishes for picnics and parties all summer long. Get more recipes here from friends and family:

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