Tandoori Style Chicken Drumsticks with Spinach in Yogurt

 

I made a deal with myself about food blogging. It goes like this: I will not blog everything I make just because I can and I will not recommend anything I create based on the sole reason that I made it.  A blogger code of ethics if you will. This deal means that the recipes I write about will hopefully come from real recommendation, not just so that I can provide filler content to keep my blog a truckin’. I’ll be honest, it gets hard sometimes when I’m not posting like a mad woman. I feel a like I’m neglecting something, or dare I say,  a bad blogger? Good thing I try not to take this food blogging so seriously these days.

This does mean that the everyday dishes aren’t often written about simply because they turn out as good things to eat, either fast or meditative in preparation, just another part of my daily life. But when a regular everyday recipe sticks with me, making rounds week in and week out, I start  jotting down the adjustments and notes in my low-tech mole skin notebook, knowing then that I feel inspired to write. Tandoori style chicken drumsticks are exactly that kind of everyday recipe turned noteworthy by the perfection of repetition. The recipe is from  America’s Test Kitchen recipe.    I’ve made DIY versions of tandoori style chicken with a free-styled yogurt marinade many times before. Yet what struck me as genius  about this recipe was the instruction to only add the yogurt prior to cooking, cutting down time, but keeping the flavor intact. This small step  improved the tang and juiciness of the chicken. The technique of browning the chicken parts under broiler for the last bit of cooking added that much needed char reminiscent of real tandoori cooked chicken.

These moist and deeply flavored tandoori-style chicken drumsticks were simply spot on, a new recipe to keep trying. So far I’ve used adjustments for both a whole chicken, deboned and cut into parts, as well as for whatever chicken parts I might have on hand. Since I’m still (slowly but surely) knocking off recipes in my pursuit of cooking all 102 Mark Bittman Essential recipes from How to Cook Everything in my personal challenge, I’m calling this a check for roasted chicken parts in olive oil or butter since it’s essentially the same idea.

To compliment the indian-inspired dish I adapted another Bittman recipe. I made a simple spinach in yogurt  based off of Bittman’s Cold Cooked Greens, Greek Style. It’s a perfect no-fuss greens recipe for the late summer since it can be served warm of cool. This dish also adds the right layering for tandoori chicken and basmati rice on your plate. The pairing was perfect.

 

Tandoori Style Chicken Drumsticks
from America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons minced ginger
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 red onion, cut into wedges
3 to 4 pounds chicken parts
2 teaspoons of salt

Directions:

1. Heat the canola oil over medium in skillet. Add garlic/ginger saute until lightly brown, about 1 minute until fragrant. Add cumin, chilli powder, and garam masala. Stir spices for 30 seconds, remove from heat and split spice mixture into 2 bowls.

2. Combine half of lemon and lime juice in one bowl of the spice mixture and add 2 teaspoons of salt. In the other bowl add the yogurt to the spice mixture plus the other half of lemon/lime juice.

3. Score the chicken. Rub the first mixture— lemon/lime, spice, and salt—into the chicken. Let marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

4. Heat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss the spice rubbed chicken and red onion chinks with the yogur/spice mixture.  Arrange on baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until the internal temp is around 125 (not fully cooked that is).

5. Remove the baking sheet, heat the broiler, and brown chicken for 8 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temp is 165.

 

Cooked Greens with Yogurt
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

Ingredients:
1 pound of spinach
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon
1 cup of plain yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Boil water and cook the greens for just a few minutes. Drain.

2. Chop the greens on a cutting board.

3. In a bowl combine the chopped + cooked greens, the olive oil, lemon juice, plain yogurt, and salt/pepper. Taste and adjust.

4. Can be served warmed up again (in a skillet), at room temperature, or cold.

 

 

 

 

White Bean, Butternut Squash and Kale Soup

Clearly I haven’t been blogging much lately. I have been still creating a lot good eats–like fig and cashew granola and apple-squash curry soup–but the blog has become a wee bit dusty in the meantime. Sometimes you just need a break from things though.

I learned something fundamental last night that inspired me to post: freshly grated Parmesan makes all vegetable soups better. See, I had the creative bug last night, urging me to make a gigantic mess in the kitchen. I wanted soup. I wanted to clean out tons of vegetables from the crisper bin to make a huge cast iron pot full of it. My second soup of the season. Since I didn’t have ham, bacon, or sausage to deepen the  flavor I turned to the Parmesan wedge. It did just the trick.

This is just the kind of no-frills soup that I can see transitioning from fall to winter. It is hearty with butternut squash roasted beforehand in olive oil and creamy white beans. The standard vegetable broth is heightened with Parmesan and dried herbs. Kale, usually a bitter green, is softened by all the other flavors.

I had a second dinner of soup last night. I could get used to ten o’clock bowls of soup, topped with cheese.

White Bean, Butternut Squash and Kale Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 cups of butternut squash, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 celery stick
1 carrot stick
1/2 white onion
4 cups vegetable stock and 2 cups water
1 can of white beans, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups of packed, chopped kale
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan, (more for serving)
1 tablespoon of pesto (more for serving)

Directions:

1. Toss butternut squash chunks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast on 350 for 18-20 minutes, tossing a few times to ensure even cooking/browning.

2. While squash is roasting, mince the celery, carrot, and onion. Prepare other ingredients to have ready.

3. Near end of roasting add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to big soup pot. Heat to medium high. Add in celery, carrot, onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft.

4. Add in white beans. Season with salt and pepper. Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf.

5. Add roasted butternut squash, broth, water and bring to a boil. Slowly add in cups of kale, wilting each in the boiling soup before adding the next. Squeeze lemon juice over pot.

6. Bring down to a low simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes, to let the flavors combine.

7. Remove bay leaf. Add parmesan and pesto after finishing simmering, swirling them into the soup. Salt and pepper now if more is needed. Serve with more parm and pesto with each bowl.The flavors of this soup improve after a day in the fridge!

Purple Basil Lemon Spritzer/Soda

I’m trying to get more into the farmer’s market this year. It’s part of my strategy to do more, think less. The farmer’s market is for me one of those live-by-the-seat-of-my-pants goals. I don’t mean that I’m cooking all of my meals with what I find there but just that diving into odd produce head on.

It helps that a great market is a few blocks away from work. Their biweekly schedule plus the Sunday Harvard Square market means I can indulge my whim, eat cherries on the bus, and buy purple basil because well, it is, purple.

 I chewed a few purple basil leaves to see if they tasted any different from regular basil. I think there is a hint of cinnamon in there, though don’t hold me to it. All in all I’d use purple basil just as I’d use regular old basil. I sprinkled a few sprigs on a fantastic pizza I made the other night.

The color is what sold me on buying a bunch, though. I knew that the leaves would give a beautiful deep red hue once steeped and strained. I made a simple syrup, squeezed all the color out, and mixed it with lemon juice and water.  I poured myself a glass with equal parts purple basil lemon mix and seltzer to make a spritzer or soda of sorts. After a few glasses I’m now sure that this would be great as a cocktail base too, with sprigs of purple basil muddled in the glass.

Purple Basil Lemon Spritzer/Soda

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed purple basil leaves
the juice of 3 lemons
4 cups cold water
1 liter of seltzer

Directions:

1. Make a simple syrup: In a saucepan add the 3/4 cup water and sugar. Turn the heat to medium high. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, add in the basil, and cover for 30 minutes to steep. When ready, strain the basil leaves with a fine mesh sieve. Pushout any excess liquid to get a vibrant red-purple simple syrup. Cool this simple syrup in the fridge/freezer before using.

2. In a larger pitcher or container, mix the juice of 3 lemons and the simple syrup. Add in 4 cups of cold water.

3. In glasses, add 3/4 cup of purple basil lemon mixture. Finish off the glass with seltzer. Ta-da!

 

Pasta with Fried Eggs, Arugula & Lemon

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 22nd. That is silly because It feels like summer now. It is humid. We have a rickety fan in the window so that we can deny it is time to haul the air conditioner up from the basement. Weird half mosquitos-half flies found their way into our bedroom.

But I’ve become close with two old friends though: fried eggs and pasta. My summer best friends.

the ingredients

This recipe for fried eggs + pasta is inspired by a recipe in reliable cookbook in my collection: Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express. The recipes here are bare bones and organized only by season. No measurements are even given, just general instructions that work with for time pressed but discerning cook. Pasta with fried eggs stuck out immediately as a spring recipe well suited to become a summer dish too.

The process is second nature now that I’ve made the dish a few times: Boil pasta in salted water. Right before the pasta is ready quickly fry eggs just until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Toss the egg on the pasta with a dash of pasta cooking liquid and generous amounts of grated Parmesan cheese, cutting the fried egg with a knife and fork so that it is mixed into the pasta. Salt and pepper finish it off.

I decided to add peppery arugula and lemon juice to add some color and fresh flavor. The result is a refreshing take on pasta without tomatoes, lots of garlic, or olive oil.  The lemon, arugula, the richness of the yolk melding with the Parmesan is all pasta really needs in the summer in my opinion.

recipe note:

I’m providing approximate ingredients to serve four. Realistically, I make this dish for one or two most of the time, just feeling out the ingredients as I go. So in the spirit of Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express take this recipe as a guide. To make for one just scale back to 1-2 eggs and using less of everything else.

Pasta with Fried Eggs and Arugula
Adapted from Kitchen Express

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound pasta
4 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2-3 cups arugula
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Boil pasta in salted water.

2. Right before the pasta is ready, quickly fry the eggs until the whites are set but the egg yolks are still runny. Set aside.

3.  Drain pasta reserving a bit of the cooking liquid. Toss the eggs into the pasta. Cover with Parmesan and cooking liquid. Cut the egg, releasing the runny yolk, with a fork and knife. The eggs with be evenly distributed in the pasta and the yolk will make a sauce of sorts.

4. Toss in arugula and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 

 

Black Bean Tacos & Slaw

I love non-recipe recipes. The great thing about knowing what flavors and ingredients you like is that it makes creating fast, good meals without recipes easy. Black bean tacos are just that kind of thing. So while I’m sharing a recipe here technically, you don’t really need one. My recipe for black bean tacos & slaw really means mashed + seasoned black beans, tortillas, and whatever I can find to top the tacos with, which is usually a slaw of some variety.

The black bean part of these tacos is so easy you are free to laugh at the simplicity: two cans of black beans, drained and washed, quickly fried and mashed with a little onion,  garlic, olive oil, and a mix of salt/chili/cayenne/cumin in a skillet. Packaged coleslaw (yup, packaged, I’m not ashamed) is opened. I toss the coleslaw with fresh lime & lemon juice, a little bit of canola oil, a whole seeded and chopped jalapeño, and scallions. If you like cilantro like I do,  toss in a handful of the roughly chopped leaves. I usually let this slaw hang out in the fridge for a bit if possible as the flavors blend over time.

Avocado chunks and thin slices of red onion tossed in lime juice and salt are insanely addictive (to me), so they become a topping of sorts. Corn or flour tortillas are fried crisp on a skillet or warmed in the oven. On the side goes chunks of cheese if you are into that (like cheddar, feta, farm cheese, queso blanco, etc), a salsa of choice, and naturally hot sauce.

The tacos go like this: take warmed tortilla, add a scoop of mashed-seasoned black beans, top with slaw and avocado-red onion salsa. Add the extras.  Eat with the pleasure of a quick, cheap, good meal.

Black Beans Tacos & Slaw

serves at least 4

ingredients:

2 cans of drained, rinsed black beans

seasonings for the beans, like:

1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder,
salt & pepper to tast
a squeeze of lime juice

slaw of any kind, like this one:
1 package of packaged coleslaw mix
2 tablespoons of canola oil
the juice of 1 lime & 1 lemon
1 jalapeno, seeded, and minced
2 scallions, sliced
handful of roughly chopped cilantro or even parsley
salt and pepper

extras like, Avocado-Onion Salsa:
1 ripe avocado, diced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
the juice from one lime
salt and pepper

sides:
corn or flour tortilla
hot sauce
salsa
cheese (like cheddar, feta, farm cheese, queso blanco)

Directions:

1. In a skillet add the beans and seasonings. Cook, mashing a bit with a spatula, until the beans are warmed and fragrant. Mash everything a few more times with the back of a spoon. Keep the beans warm while you prepare the rest.

2. Add all ingredients of the slaw together.Let mingle for a while. If using the extras, like avocado-onion salsa mix the avocado-onion-juice-salt  together and set aside.

3. Warm tortillas in the oven or fry them until crisp.

4. Make tacos: beans, slaw, toppings. Eat with glee.

Ginger Lemonade

Wow, getting featured on WordPress Freshly Pressed this past weekend was awesome. Thanks to WordPress and all the fun people who found my humble recipe blog. I hope you found something useful here (and didn’t mind all my snarky comments.)

So, ginger lemonade makes one mean mixed drink as well as a great twist on regular old lemonade. I didn’t mean to turn it into my rainy Saturday night drink, but it seemed so perfectly matched for vodka and frozen blackberries in my favorite mason jar drinking mug. I was right.

This lemonade is ridiculously simple. The ginger is as strong as you want it to be. The technique is to steep the honey and ginger in boiling water for around 30 minutes, but this time is up to you depending on the depth of ginger you want. The resulting simple syrup is infused nicely with ginger and honey; lemon juice and water to taste round it all out. The original recipe uses mint leaves too. I would totally get behind that in the future.

What else can I steep in a honey simple syrup to make some great homemade summer drinks? Rosemary lemonade? Is that crazy? I might just try it.

p.s. frozen raspberries make good ice cubes

Ginger Lemonade
From Epicurious

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

1/3 cup peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup honey
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
about 2 cups cold water

Directions:

1. In a large heat proof bowl add the chopped ginger and honey. Add the boiling water. Let this simple syrup steep for around 30 minutes.

2. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the simple syrup to a large pitcher. Add the lemon juice. Begin adding the water to taste.

3. Serve with ice cubes.

Not Your Average Tuna and White Bean Burgers

Cooking on a budget.

That is a hard thing to fess up to, with the craft beer and charcuterie plates of the world calling my name, but my food budget is paltry. Welcome to the world of publishing, friends. But does budget necessarily mean not fancy?

I watch a lot of Anthony Bourdain episodes these days. He often makes fun of Rachel Ray by saying something like: “well she just throws some tuna in some tomato sauce and calls it gourmet.” I mostly agree with him on the criticism. A lot of the food celebrity hype is just dolled up packaged food from big-brand-this and big-brand that. But Rachel Ray aside, I actually think there can be something tasty and maybe even a bit gourmet about budget friendly cooking at home. When you start shopping with purpose and away from packaged foods, a well stocked pantry can and will produce fancy meals. I also must admit that I don’t think good taste and canned tuna need to be mutually exclusive.

Does saying that make me Rachel Ray? I hope not.

Tonight I experimented in budget cooking to much success:  First, I mashed some white beans that I cooked from dried and store in easy portions in the freezer. I added olive oil I brought back from France, aromatics like celery, carrot, and green onion, the zest of a lemon, fresh ground black pepper and sea salt. Next came a can of tuna (if it had been oil packed it would have been even better.) Fresh bread crumbs from one of the best bakeries I’ve ever been to and a single egg finished it off. Then everthing was shaped into six patties. I coated each burger in medium grind cornmeal before pan frying in olive until crispy on each side. I topped each burger with a secret love of mine, something I am both excited and afraid to admit to, which is  mayo + Siracha mixed to taste. Yes, even less fancy than tuna, but don’t knock it until you try it.  It is a secret sauce of champions.

And you know what? I’m not afraid to say that these tuna and white bean burgers are good, even really good. They are cheap, easy to make, and dare I say kind of fancy.

(Not Your Average) Tuna and White Bean Burgers

Makes 6 burgers (which really feeds 2 for a main course so double to feed 4)

Ingredients

2 cups white beans
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced carrot
2 green onions minced
the zest of one lemon plus a squirt of lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 can of tuna drained (if using oil packed don’t drain and use less or no extra olive oil)
1 cup of bread crumbs, freshly made are even better
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork in a bowl before adding
1/2 cup (or more) cornmeal or extra bread crumbs
extra oil for pan frying
lemon wedges

Extras: 2 tablespoons of mayo (store bought or homemade) mixed with Siracha or chili garlic sauce to taste

Directions:

1. Mash white beans in a bowl until a thick paste forms, with only a few beans retaining their shape. Add in the olive oil, celery, carrot, green onion, and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. Before adding the canned tuna use a fork to gently break apart the pieces in the can, making smaller tuna flakes. Add and mix.

3. Add the bread crumbs and egg. Mix thorougly.

4. Shape into 6 patties. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Pan fry each patty until brown, flipping a few times, around 12 minutes.

5. Serve with lemon wedges. If using Siracha mayo, add a big dollop on each burger.

Lemon Focaccia

Hello, blog! I’ve been away for a bit. I am back now. I am ready to cook.

I went to Paris for seven really great days, then took some more time off from the internet after I got back. Paris was a lot like what I imagined. I did a lot of the touristy activities, including walking the entire length of the Seine river and eating crepes from various street vendors. I saw the Mona Lisa. I had a view of the Eiffel Tower at night from our window. We ate bread for breakfast. I know, so cliché, but so darn pleasurable. The little top floor apartment at the edge of the Latin Quarter we stayed in secluded us from some of the overbearing tourist stuff though. We observed a lot of regular Parisians eating at the cafe below our building and sure enough waiting in line when when the bread was ready at the bakery across the street. I blindly followed those people in line  because I quickly learned that it meant good bread was on the way. I loved the sheer awesomeness of Parisian baguettes. No matter what area we were in, there was good bread.

One of the few gifts I bought while in Paris was sea salt. I knew it would be easy to get by customs as well as a good buy since American stores mark up that stuff like crazy. For all things culinary we went to Le Bon Marche’s Gran Epicerie, which was like a fancy grocery store on steroids. We went back twice just to look around. The sea salt selection was gigantic. So was the olive oil selection. I especially enjoyed trying a sample of olive oil only to find myself stuck in a conversation with an Italian man speaking French to me when I know no French. I can’t pass up on free samples. Just nod and chew, then flee for the macaron case.

The weather in Paris was great too. The first day was the coldest but the rest were sunny and warm. I was totally expecting the weather in Boston to be the same when we returned. For a few days after we came back the temperatures did reach into the upper 40s. We even peaked at 60 last Friday. But today large, slow moving snow flakes starting springing from the sky midday. I cringed.

So this week, to cheer myself up, I made a spring inspired bread: lemon, rosemary, and sea salt focaccia. I used the same focaccia recipe I’ve been making for over two years but I tweaked it after seeing the images from this Kitchn post for lemon focaccia from last year. The bright lemon slices! The rosemary! The sea salt! How fancy.

I get really excited about food.

The only thing I was worried about was if the lemons would end up too bitter. I blanched them quickly before topping the bread to solve that. This may or may not be required but I realized subduing the lemons might make for a more versatile bread. I also didn’t use Meyer lemons or a mandolin. The former are sweeter and the later produces those paper thin slices. A regular lemon, scrubbed well, and sliced with precision works well enough for me.

I loved the tang of the lemons. A good olive tapenade or a tuna sandwich, the kind with just olive oil, pepper, capers, and tuna, worked so well with this bread.  The loaf was bright both in taste and look. It convinced me spring could be lurking behind the random snow showers.

There is one piece left but the weird wintry mix persists. I tried.

Lemon, Rosemary, and Sea Salt Focaccia

Inspired by The Kitchn

makes one loaf, about 10-12 inches long

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp fast-acting yeast OR 1 3/4 tsp of instant yeast
1 1/2 cups of water (that is about 90 degrees or just the temperature of your skin)
some cornmeal for dusting the pan

For the topping:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon, scrubbed, and sliced thinly into rounds
1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary OR 2-3 sprigs of fresh
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or a large kosher salt

Directions:

1. Mix the bread flour, yeast, and salt together.

2. Add the water to the dry ingredients. Make sure this water is not too hot as it will kill the yeast if it is. It should feel a bit warmer than your skin. Add the water a bit by bit. Combine everything in the bowl while kneading with your hands or a spoon.

3. When the water and the dry ingredients are completely mixed, check the stickiness of the dough. To check, stick a dry finger in. The dough should stick to your finger but not be overly tacky.

4. Lightly flour a work surface. Knead the dough for 8 minutes, adding flour and/or water to keep the consistency of the dough just right. OR use your stand mixer for 5 minutes on level 3, and then knead for a few minutes by hand.

5. Lightly oil a bow and put the dough in. Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth. Let this stand in a warm place for 30 minutes to an hour. The dough must double in size during this time

6. Once it has doubled, oil the bottom of the desired baking dish. Dust the bottom with cormeal (or flour) too.

7. Place the dough in the pan. It will deflate, so do not fret. Shape the dough in the pan but do not worry about getting it anywhere close to exact. Remember, focaccia is rustic appearing. Stretch it a bit to take a flat long shape.

8. Cover the dough with the dishcloth to rise in the pan for 30 or so minutes. It must double in size. Heat the oven to 425 while the dough rises for the second time.

9. If blanching, boil some water and drop in the lemon slices for 2 minutes. Quickly drain and set in cold water. Dry with paper towels.

11. Once it has risen, poke holes across the bread, scatter rosemary, drizzle olive, sprinkle with sea salt, and top with lemon slices. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, watching closely to make sure the color is not getting too dark.  Drizzle extra olive oil and/or salt when it is finished. Let the bread cool for a few minutes before eating.

Do It Yourself Italian Soda

The idea for making my own Italian sodas started late friday when I finally made it to the food truck Clover Food Lab in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Their cheap but delicious menu feature interesting vegetarian fair with strong flavors. Chickpea fritters, rosemary fries, and homemade ginger and brown sugar soda made up my first meal from the truck, and everything was stellar. If only I did not work in the suburbs then making daily trips to food trucks wouldn’t be completely impossible. I can only dream.

The ease of do it yourself soda struck me as genius as I gobbled down my chickpea fritter sandwich and drank the delicious homemade fizzy drink from Clover. What a great lazy weekend project, I thought.

So this afternoon I set about making my own version.  I settled on the old standbys in terms of flavor– raspberry, lemon, and mint. However simple the combination, the end result was very satisfying. The mint stood out in a light and refreshing way. The sweet syrup was mixed with bubbling seltzer and ice, creating the fizzy goodness of familiar Italian sodas.

I’m planning so many variations of this technique that I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities. The good thing is that this recipe is so very basic that it can be made any which way one desires. It all starts with a basic simple syrup of equal parts sugar and water. The flavor of the syrup is entirely up to the cook. You can steep just about anything in the hot syrup and then strain it away before cooling down.

Do It Yourself Italian Soda

Ingredients:
homemade syrup that is equal parts sugar and water (my recipe below)
seltzer or club soda
ice

Directions:
1. Mix syrup and seltzer/club soda with ice to taste. It is that easy!

Raspberry, Lemon and Mint Syrup


Makes around 2 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
3/4 cup of raspberries (I used frozen)

2-3 sprig of mint
the juice of two lemons
Directions:

1. Mix water, sugar, raspberries, and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil.  Immediately turn off the heat when the sugar has dissolved.

2. Place mint sprigs in mixture to steep for 10 minutes with lid on saucepan.

4. Strain the syrup in a fine mesh strainer. Lining the strainer with a paper towel helps in the process.

5. Pour syrup into a covered jar. Cool in the fridge. The syrup will last for at least a month.

Lemon Cornmeal Crepes

I’m no good at flipping a crepe. My crepes end up as delicious blobs on my plate. This time I had Brian flip mine. After eating several he made, I tried again. I am getting better because only a few became distorted edibles but still no luck. I eat my crepes, perfect or not. But what I’m saying is I may have picked out this recipe but Brian is essential to the execution. I can make pancakes, just not crepes. I don’t have steady hands.

The summer means I’m always ready to eat breakfast for dinner. I dislike the oven. I love the frying pan and eggs. Yogurt with honey and granola is a close second. A grittier crepe with the tang of lemon, my favorite citrus, is a welcome change to the more buttery crepe I’m used to. A thrown together blueberry sauce (water, lemon juice, blueberries, sugar, you get the picture) was delicious on it’s own. I ate spoonfuls of it while it simmered on the stove top.

This meal felt like a a tribute to how much I love lemons.  I walk around the grocery store with handfuls of lemons. I always get sad when I run out during the week. Iced water + lemon is a enough to love them, especially during this heat wave. I’m on a roll with the lemon inspired edibles. A blueberry infused lemonade is in the works.

Now that I think about it, I bet you could make this a savory crepe. No sugar, more cornmeal and maybe some spices mixed right into the batter could switch things entirely. I can imagine a mix of wilted greens, caramelized onions, and feta stuffed inside that version. I want a second dinner after writing that.

Lemon Cornmeal Crepes
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

Makes 10-12 crepes

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
the zest of two lemons
3 eggs, beaten lightly with a fork
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon of almond extract (or vanilla extract)
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

1. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, lemon zest and salt together.

2. Whisk in the eggs.

3. Slowly whisk in the milk, a bit at a time, until the batter is the right consistency.

4. Refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes. Thin the batter with a bit of water.

5. Using 1/4 cup of batter, cook on medium high in a buttered skillet. Make sure to tilt the pan and slide the batter around evenly. Flip when the edges have set and slightly browned. Or, have someone with more skill make your crepes!