Cucumber, Basil & Lime Gimlet

This refreshing summer cocktail was another way to use my beautiful basil and special homegrown cucumbers from a friend. There is still time to enjoy one! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from liquor.com. It is an adaptation of a classic gin gimlet which is composed of gin, lime juice and simple syrup.

Yield: One cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin
  • 2 1/4-inch slices cucumber, peeled
  • 2 fresh basil leaves. plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce lemonade
  • 1/4 to 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
  1. Muddle the basil and cucumber in a shaker.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a basil leaf. Serve.

Watermelon Margaritas

I am a major fan of this pretty pink cocktail. It was very light, refreshing, and minimally sweet. Puréed watermelon is the only source of sweetness. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from 3-Ingredient Cocktails by Robert Simonson, via The New York Times.  I did not strain the purĂ©ed watermelon and omitted the jalapeño slices. We tried it with both the cayenne and salt on the rim, and salt alone. Both were delicious. 😉

The original recipe recommends to taste and add more watermelon juice if your margarita is too boozy, and extra lime juice or even a pinch of salt if it’s too sweet.

Yield: 2 drinks

For the (optional) Salted Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon TajĂ­n or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

For the Cocktail:

  • ice, as needed
  • 6 ounces fresh watermelon juice (from about 1 1/2 cups chopped seedless watermelon)(I used cubes from a mini watermelon)
  • 2 ounces tequila, preferably blanco
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 large limes), rinds reserved (I used 1 1/2 limes)
  • 2 to 3 thinly sliced jalapeño rounds, optional
  • small slices of watermelon, for garnish, optional
  1. Prepare the salted rim, if using: In a small shallow bowl or plate, combine the sea salt and TajĂ­n or cayenne. Set aside.
  2. Blend the watermelon in a Vitamix or blender; strain if desired. (I left it puréed.)
  3. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the watermelon juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and jalapeño (if using). Shake to combine. (Note: The watermelon flavor shines brighter without the Cointreau, but the liqueur takes the drink into more traditional margarita territory. If you’d like to compare, first try the mixture without, the liqueur, then add 1 ounce of it per serving.)
  4. Using one of the squeezed lime halves, run it along the rim of two margarita or rocks glasses, then dip the rims into the salt mixture.
  5. Fill the glasses with ice, then strain the margaritas into the glasses. Garnish with additional jalapeño slices and/or watermelon slices. Enjoy immediately.

Key Lime Bars with Vanilla Wafer Crust

These sweet-tart bars are a wonderful summer dessert. They transport well and are perfect for sharing.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. The dollop of lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream was essential.

Yield: 16 bars

For the Crust:

  • 1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 1 Ÿ cup/420 milliliters condensed milk (1 14-ounce can plus 1/2 cup)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Ÿ cup/180 milliliters Key lime or conventional lime juice (from 5 to 6 conventional limes or 12 Key limes)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup/240 milliliters cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
  3. In a food processor, combine vanilla wafers and sugar, and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process until evenly moistened.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  5. Bake until fragrant and a shade darker, 14 to 17 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lime zest.
  7. Pour filling over crust (it’s okay if it’s still warm) and bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Use a sharp knife to release edges. Using the parchment overhang, carefully lift and transfer the bar to a cutting board.
  10. Just before serving, whip heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. (I use a chilled bowl.)
  11. Cut bars into 16 squares. Top each bar with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.

Creamy Cucumber-Avocado Salad

This fabulously easy salad was creamy and delicious. We ate it as a side with grilled vegetable and fresh ricotta sandwiches, but it could also be served as a light summertime main dish.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.com. I used avocado mayonnaise, chipotle Cholula hot sauce, and cilantro. My kids thought that it tasted like guacamole. 🙂 Great.

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 1 seedless cucumber (about 3/4 to 1 pound), washed and chopped into chunks
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used avocado mayonnaise)
  • juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • hot sauce, such as Sriracha or Chipotle Cholula, to taste
  • chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce; adjust to taste.
  3. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with chopped herbs.

BLT Tacos

Why have I never thought of making a BLT taco before? Genius.

This quick and delicious weeknight dinner recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I cooked the bacon at a lower temperature, increasing the cooking time. I think that this method isn’t as messy. 🙂 I added avocado slices, used corn-flour hybrid tortillas, a Serrano instead of jalapeño chile, increased the lime juice, and used chipotle Tabasco in the mayonnaise. I also warmed the tortillas with steam in the microwave.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, about 10 slices
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
  • 1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Âœ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Âœ teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas (I used corn-flour hybrid tortillas)
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced into eighths
  • refried beans and rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Lay bacon in an even layer in 2 9-13″ glass pyrex dishes or on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and let cool. (Keep rendered fat for another use.)
  2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, chopped chile, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  4. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or medium bowl. Top with a damp paper towel and seal with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute to warm.  (Alternatively, the tortillas can be warmed on the stove top: Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.)
  5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.

The Union Square Strawberry Cocktail

I have so many delicious recipes just waiting to be shared. Before strawberry season is over, I must share new recipes that I tried with my fresh-picked berries this season.

This cocktail was the very first thing we prepared with our fresh strawberries. My husband made it for me on my birthday! ❀ The recipe was adapted from cocktails that New Amsterdam Gin named to honor modern-day landmarks in New York City, via The Spruce Eats.com. I plan to also try it using vodka instead of gin. Happy birthday to me! 😉

Yield: 1 cocktail

  1. Muddle strawberries with the basil until fully mashed in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add all other ingredients.
  3. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (We chilled the glass by filling it with ice while the cocktail was being prepared.)
  5. Garnish with half a strawberry, as desired.

Chicken Biryani, Hyderbadi style

I have another wonderful Indian dish to share. I first spotted this mouth-watering dish on Safari of the Mind– the site of my like-minded blog friend, Loretta. I had to make it. 🙂

I doubled the amount of chicken in the original recipe -thinking it would be the highlight- but I was obsessed with the rice! I didn’t cut the chicken into pieces, but may opt to next time. I used 1 tablespoon of prepared Garam Masala powder but included the ingredients to prepare it below- I do think it would be even more delicious if it was prepared with the fresh spice blend. I also omitted the water in the marinade and the mint in the tempering. I baked the biryani rather than cooking it on the stove.

The recipe was adapted from Yummefy.com, via Loretta @Safari of the Mind. We ate it sautéed greens with garlic and cumin. Yum!

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Marinade:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (about 150 grams)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped (about 1 T)
  • 2-inch piece ginger root, very finely chopped (about 2 T)
  • 4 to 8 green chillies, fresh, chopped, de-seeded and minced, to taste (I used jalapeños)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from 1 large lime
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp coarse salt, or to taste
  • 8 to 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 in pieces, if desired

For the Masala Powder:

  • 4 cloves
  • 1 piece cinnamon, 1 inch
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups basmati rice, or any other long-grain rice
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 piece cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

For Tempering:

  • 4 tsp plus 1 T ghee, divided
  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk for 30 minutes
  • 14 fresh mint leaves, for garnish, as desired
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish, as desired
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds, blanched and toasted

Method

  1. Place yogurt in a large bowl and whisk, using a fork until smooth.  Add onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies to a bowl and combine with yogurt, turmeric, lime juice, coriander leaves and salt.
  2. Place masala powder ingredients in an electric grinder and process to a fine powder.  Add to yogurt mixture.
  3. Add chicken and massage with your hands for the marinade to coat and penetrate the chicken.  Marinate, covered for 2 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Wash rice at least 3 times until the water runs clear.  Soak rice in water to cover by at least 1 inch for 15 minutes.  Drain.
  5. Place a large pan on high heat and pour in 2 liters (8 cups) water. (I used a 4 quart pan.)  Bring to a boil and then add drained rice, stirring gently.  Toss in cloves, green cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaf and salt.  Stir to mix, then cover with a lid.  Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat or until half-cooked.  Drain the rice.  Set aside and allow to cool.
  6. Heat 4 teaspoons ghee and tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions till caramelized and crisp.  Set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (200 degrees C)
  8. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil onto the bottom of a heavy saucepan and place the marinated chicken at the bottom, spreading it out in one layer. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  9. Spoon half the rice in a layer over the chicken.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons saffron milk, 1/2 tablespoon ghee, and 1/2 tablespoon coriander leaves over the layered rice.  Top with 1/2 the onions.
  10. Repeat one more layer with the remaining rice, saffron milk, ghee, coriander leaves, and onions.
  11. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and then with a fitted lid.
  12. Place biryani in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is 165 degrees.  Remove from the oven.  Let the biryani rest, covered for 10 minutes. (Because the chicken pieces were whole, I baked it for 45 minutes.)
  13. Remove lid and foil, and garnish with mint and/or cilantro leaves and slivered almonds, as desired.  Serve hot.

One Year Ago: Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

Three Years Ago: Jerk Chicken with Spicy Pineapple Sauce & West Indies Roti

Four Years Ago: Indian-Spiced Chicken Stew

Five Years Ago: Indian-Spiced Chicken & Spinach

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