Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blueberry Mint Lemonade

If there's one thing I crave more than ice cream during the summer, it's lemonade. I'm not fancy with my lemonade, it usually comes out of a container of powder, isn't measured and usually becomes watered down. You would think that with a lemon love like mine, I would get it right. Well here's to getting it right!

I've had a lot of different lemonades over the summer-- ginger lemonade, rosemary lemonade, regular lemonade, blueberry basil lemonade. It's like the types of rain listed in Forrest Gump. After visiting Sweetgreen a couple of weeks ago with a blogger crew (fo' free to Boston Brunchers folk and I was not bribed or sponsored to make this post), I decided to branch out and make fresh lemonade. I didn't dare attempt their glorious salads, you'll have to try those in person!

I loved the idea of adding some antioxidant purple with blueberries and while I wasn't a huge fan of the basil, mint seemed like a good way to add some cool freshness to this beverage. You know the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"? Well, life is gonna need to give you a lotta lemons to make that lemonade and you best provide some sugar.

It took 7-8 lemons squeezed to a pulp to create a cup of lemon juice. According to Ina Garten, you then add 4 cups of water and 1/2-3/4 cups of sugar to make plain lemonade. I digressed after that and added a pint of crushed blueberries (a la Sweetgreen's recipe), some mint leaves and lemon verbena (because 7-8 lemons just isn't enough lemony goodness). The blueberries and herbs were crushed together before adding the lemon juice and straining it all together.

The final steps were adding the sugar. I skipped the honey and agave that was used in the blueberry lemonade recipe and just garnished with some cute straws and more herbs. Mason jars are a thing for everything so I used them as cups. Added flair and blogger bonus points!

This was literally consumed on a porch in the summer in a rocking chair, like it was meant to be. It doesn't take much time to make fresh lemonade but if you prefer, you can make the lemonade from concentrate and then add some blueberry juice. You can also check out this recipe from Shutterbean for a boozy alternative. Whatever floats your summer boat!

  • 6-8 lemons
  • 1 pint of fresh blueberries
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of sugar (depending on sweet preference)
  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • 1 sprig of lemon verbena 
  • 4 cups of water
  1. Using a juicer, squeeze the lemons to create 1 cup of lemon juice. 
  2. In a medium bowl, pour the washed blueberries, leaves from 1 sprig of mint and 3-4 leaves of lemon verbena. Using a flat spoon or mallet, gently crush the blueberries to create a stew.
  3. Add the lemon juice to the blueberry mixture and stir.
  4. Strain the mixture into a pitcher or bowl.
  5. Add 4 cups of water to the lemon-blueberry mixture. 
  6. Add 1/2 cup of sugar. If you prefer a sweeter lemonade, you can add another 1/4 cup. 
  7. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Serve over ice and garnish with remaining herbs (if desired). 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quick 'n Easy Marinade

If you're allergic to peanuts, I totally understand if you stop reading here. Or if you didn't even click on the post to begin with, I understand. My sister makes this amazing peanut butter shrimp that gets gobbled up in about two seconds at every barbecue I attend. Mostly because I'm gobbling up all the shrimp before anyone else gets any (and all the bacon, that's a story for another time). I finally stole the recipe from her aka remembered to write it down and here we are!

Possibly the simplest recipe on this blog, this requires heating a quarter cup of peanut butter, a quarter cup of soy sauce and a quarter cup of sugar together in a pan. Then we add a little vegetable oil and garlic once everything is mixed together, and you're golden to pour the marinade over the meat.  

Initially I used the marinade as intended, on shrimp. However, I didn't feel like putting all of the shrimp on kabobs and grilling them so I simply cooked the shrimp in a frying pan and served them over rice. For some extra flavor, reserve some marinade to pour over the rice as a sauce. 

I also decided to try this on chicken with rice as well. It would make a great sauce for improvised sesame noodles, it has that Thai peanut sauce flavor to it. For a little more heat, add some red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce. Sriracha sauce on everything!

Just a quick tip for today, these are pretty common ingredients for a kitchen to have so give it a whirl soon!

1) In a saucepan over low heat combine 1/4 of each: peanut butter, soy sauce and sugar 

2) Once the ingredients have melted together, add 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil and one clove of garlic (minced). For a spicier marinade, add some red pepper flakes. 

3) Pour mixture over desired meat/seafood/poultry and allow to marinade. Cook as desired. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream

I remember back in May how excited I was for summer and all the plans I had for farmer's markets, barbecues, fresh seafood, ice cold beverages and ice cream. There were so many recipes and dinners hosted in my brain space that now I'm wondering 'where did the time go?!'. Now, I'm thinking about sweaters and boots and apple cider. After such a harsh winter, I was so ready for summer and have been enjoying it quite a bit, but now I'm getting excited for fall and winter again. Most people have a favorite season and I thought I did too but if you love all of the seasons, does that mean you just love life? Is that how that works? Too many deep questions, not enough ice cream.

Looks can be deceiving, this is bittersweet!
Well, it's August (whaaaat??) and I did a pretty good job of keeping to my summer resolutions, or at least some of them, the important ones. Whenever I gear up to visit my mom, I come equipped with laundry, magazines and ice cream recipes. I always leave with clean clothes, ice cream and a box full of new kitchen props. Her kitchen is way fancier than mine and she has all the gadgets like an ice cream maker attachment for her KitchenAid (which I also don't have). And thus, I came armed with a chocolate ice cream recipe. A decadent chocolate ice cream recipe and lust for cherries.

Anyone else play Hi-Ho Cherry-O as a kid?
Equipment that will make this process much easier: an ice cream maker and a cherry pitter. The cherry pitter is like a cherry guillatine, even if the process is more like a firing squad. A press is used to punch the cherry pit out, leaving just the fruit to be consumed immediately or added to chocolate ice cream for cherry chocolate bliss.

Just ignore the Cheez-Its...
This is a multi-step recipe. It involves heating your cream, cocoa powder, espresso, sugar and salt in a saucepan before adding cornstarch, more cream, and bittersweet chocolate. We're up to two different chocolates so where's the third to make it triple? A little bit of chocolate liquor makes this a triple crown dessert. Personally, I can't taste it but you can skip it if you want to or you're serving to children.

The cherry guts and pitless cherries

The whole mixture is chilled in the fridge, thoroughly chilled. This was my downfall. I thought it was chilled enough but I would recommend refrigerating overnight just to be safe. Once the mixture is cold, it is added to the ice cream maker. At this point, I stirred in the pitted cherries. In theory, the mixture should congeal into ice cream and be served immediately.

However, in my experience, I had some trouble with the ice creaming part so froze the pseudo-soupy chocolate ice cream until it was solid. It was still scoopable and delicious, just required some extra time to thaw. It's really hard to mess up chocolate!

Who do I think I am, a blogger??
Another bonus to cooking in my mom's kitchen is I can use her fancy camera and have fancy photos, complete with antique ice cream scoops. Maybe I got carried away....

Shut the front door, this ice cream was amazing

adapted from Food52
  • 3 cups of half-and-half, divided
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cups Dutch cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate liqueur (optional)
  • Cherries (optional)
  1. Combine 1.5 cups of half and half, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt into a pan. 
  2. Heat and mix until the liquid is warmed. 
  3. Meanwhile, mix the remaining half and half and corn starch together. Pour into the pan with the chocolate mixture.
  4. Allow the mixture to heat until it comes to a soft boil. Stir in the chopped chocolate and liqueur. 
  5. Once the chopped chocolate is melted, place wax paper against the mixture. The paper should be as flush to the mixture as possible so a skin doesn't form on the chocolate.
  6. Allow the mixture to chill thoroughly in the fridge, preferable overnight.
  7. Once the mixture is chilled, add to your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions.
  8. While the ice cream is churning, add the cherries or raspberries or chocolate chips or anything else your heart desires (or nothing).
  9. Serve and consumer immediately! 

Action shot, taken by my handy sous chef/chocolate chopper

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rhubarb + Gin

I am terrible at making cocktails. When I'm at home, I have wine mostly because I don't know how to make anything fun or fancy on my own and without the skilled knowledge of a bartender. Case in point: I ordered a whiskey smash the other night and the bartender didn't know how to make it. So I explained what was in it: whiskey, mint leaves, and lemon, thinking it would jog is memory. In reality, there's also simple syrup which serves as the non-alcoholic component of this drink. So I ended up with a glass of whiskey on the rocks with some mint leaves in the bottom. Not my forte.

Stewing the rhubarb
However, I would like to be able to wow my guests with a signature drink here and there. Continuing with our rhubarb theme, I made some rhubarb syrup which is surprisingly versatile. It can be used in cocktails, as a dessert topping, or even to flavor ice cream or sorbet. First things first: how to make the syrup.

The perfect lighting for rhubarb sauce
Similar to when we made the coffee cake and pie, rhubarb is chopped into pieces and added to a pot of hot water that has equal parts water and sugar. Once the rhubarb is cooked and squishy, it is strained into a jar with the rhubarb compote saved for future consumption on its own.

Happy Hour starts now
Taking equal parts rhubarb syrup and gin, combined with lemon juice, lime juice and one egg white in a cocktail shaker. I know the egg white sounds strange but it gives the drink a nice foamy texture and a hint of meringue flavor. Many cocktails with a layer of foam on top are a result of egg white usage. Vigorously shake the ingredients and then pour into a glass with ice. Garnish with a stalk of rhubarb if desired. Ideally the rhubarb syrup will be a nice pink color but as we learned in Rhubarb 101, not all rhubarb is pink so you can end up with a greener syrup (which is okay).

Ice cream maker all geared up
If you are making sorbet, you follow a similar process to making the syrup but you do not need to strain the rhubarb pieces out. You simply add the entire mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Once the ingredients are blended evenly, transfer the blender to the fridge to chill thoroughly. When the mixture is chilled, add it to an ice cream attachment and set it to the lowest stir setting. Add in two tablespoons of gin, if desired, to complete the rhubarb gin theme. I used an ice cream maker attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer to complete the sorbet process. The churning will solidify the mixture and slowly turn it from liquid to slush. Once the sorbet resembles a thick slushy, transfer the contents of the bowl into a container and place in the freezer until you're ready to serve.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for sorbet! 
Recipes adapted from Food52

Gin Rhubarb Fizz

Rhubarb Syrup
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 2 ounces of rhubarb syrup
  • 1/2 ounce each of lemon and lime juice
  • Soda water
  • Ice
  1. To make the simple syrup, boil 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups of chopped rhubarb and cook until tender and slightly squishy. Fit a strainer over a jar to catch the syrup but leave the rhubarb pieces to the side.
  2. Combine 2 ounces of gin, 2 ounces of rhubarb syrup, 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, 1/2 ounce of lime juice and one egg white in a cocktail shaker (or mason jar). Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  3. Add ice and continue to shake for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the mixture into a glass and top off with soda water.
  5. Garnish with stalk of rhubarb, if desired.

Gin Rhubarb Sorbet
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar (a little less than a full cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons of lime juice
  • 2 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 2 Tablespoons of gin
  1. Follow the steps to make rhubarb syrup but retain the rhubarb pieces at the end. Instead of straining the mixture, add the rhubarb, water and sugar to a blender. 
  2. Add 2 Tablespoons of light corn syrup and blend until smooth.
  3. Place the mixture in the fridge until it has cooled completely.
  4. Following the instructions on your ice cream maker, mix the rhubarb mixture with 2 Tablespoons of gin. If you add too much gin, the mixture won't solidify.
  5. Freeze the slushy mixture for 3 hours before serving (continuing to follow the instructions for your ice cream maker).
  6. Serve cold with fresh berries or plain. 
  7. Enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Coconut Shrimp

Until a couple of years ago, the extent of my shrimp knowledge was to remove the tail and dip directly in cocktail sauce. Oh how far we've come. I have since had peanut shrimp, coconut shrimp, jumbo shrimp, all the shrimps! Coconut is a favorite though so that along with the coconut oil frosting success inspired me to try making healthier coconut shrimp.

Melting coconut oil
Instead of using vegetable or canola oil to fry these puppies, I used the ever-abundant tub of coconut oil. The rest of the process remains the same with the thawing and de-tailing of the shrimp. I keep frozen shrimp in my freezer for quick dinners but it requires defrosting them which means they are ice cold when you remove the tails. Riddle me this: why would you leave the tails on when you're putting the shrimp into a bowl of pasta, for example? This is my new pet peeve: getting shrimp at a restaurant in a mixture of hot goodness but then having to take off the tails myself. Why yes, I would love to stick my hands in my curry soup to remove the shells of my shellfish. Rant over. No it's not, I also don't want to de-tail shrimp in my fajita.

Stop, in the name of shrimp!
Okay, now I'm done. The de-tailed (deveined?) shrimp are placed in flour and then bathed in egg before being covered in bread crumbs. I used panko bread crumbs for an extra crispy result. Panko bread crumbs are often used in sushi or other Asian cuisines. They're much lighter than straight up bread crumbs. The shrimp are then gently placed in the heated oil (avoid splashing!) and turned over when golden brown.

Close up of panko
One thing I learned from this process is once the oil is heated, it's best to reduce the heat. Otherwise you end up with golden brown shrimps on the outside and not so cooked shrimp on the inside (or cooked shrimp on the inside and burned panko on the outside).

Bubble, bubble, boil and bubble
I was hoping there would be a stronger coconut flavor to these, resembling coconut shrimp without the coconut mixture. But there was really only a hint. So if you don't like coconut, this would be a healthy alternative to vegetable oil but if you dooo like coconut shrimp, I feel that mixing coconut with the bread crumbs would give it more flavor. 

This is definitely not the end of my shrimp experimenting. Nor is it the beginning, pineapple shrimp kabobs weren't so great so not very blog worthy. Overall, shrimp on the barby is a great idea though!

With a side of chipotle mustard, this was delicious

  • Shrimp (uncooked, de-tailed)
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Panko bread crumbs (or regular ones)
  • Coconut Oil
  1. Once the shrimp have been thawed, carefully remove the shells and tails. Set raw shrimp aside and discard the shells.
  2. In three small bowls, add flour, eggs and bread crumbs to each (separately). The amount you use will vary depending on how many shrimp you make but you can always add more if you run out.
  3. Add a lump of coconut oil to a skillet and begin to heat until the oil has melted. Again, the amount you need will depend on how much shrimp you make and can always be increased.
  4. While the oil is melting and heating, dip one shrimp at a time in the flour. Once coated, transfer to the egg wash to completely coat. Allow any excess egg to run off into the bowl before dipping in bread crumbs.
  5. Once coated in bread crumbs, carefully add the shrimp to the oil. Avoid splashing the oil as it will be very hot. Allow to cook until golden brown.
  6. Using tongs, remove the cooked shrimp from the pan and lay on a plate covered in a paper towel to absorb any extra oil.
  7. Repeat with each shrimp. You may need to lower your burner heat as the oil becomes hot to prevent the bread crumbs from burning before the shrimp is cooked.
  8. Serve with your desired sauce-- tartar sauce, mustard, cocktail sauce, etc.