Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When It's Too Hot to Cook

When the days are sweltering, the idea of heating up your kitchen to make dinner is about as appealing as taking a sauna. So what's the ingenious homemaker to do?
Toss together a main dish salad.
Like this one: lettuce, orange segments, precooked shrimp.

And this tangy cilantro-flavored dressing with a lime bite, whipped together in the blender with dollops of yogurt and mayonnaise.
1 large lime (you'll use both the peel, grated, and the juice)
1 c. loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. plain yogurt
In blender, place grated lime peel, lime juice, cilantro leaves that you've washed, mayonnaise, sugar, and salt. Blend at medium speed until well blended, about 30 seconds. Add the yogurt and blend until smooth. Serve over salad of lettuce, orange segments, and cooked shrimp.
What are your dinner favorites for when it's too hot to cook?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Butter-steamed Artichoke Hearts

I'm not sure how many cooks in blogland would be interested in making this dish. It's one I make two or three times a year at the end of artichoke season, which lasts about a month -- May/June, where we are. It's the perfect buttery way to use those

eeny little artichokes that signal the end of the harvest --

the ones that are too small to steam and eat with mayonnaise.
The prep takes about 45 minutes. But if you have the time -- and the eeny little artichokes -- it is a dish that, in its simplicity, is absolute perfection.

Set aside any larger artichokes you're planning to eat in the traditional manner.

Next, pull off tough outer leaves of small artichokes. Keep going until you've reached the center, where the leaves are soft and pliable.

With sharp knife, cut off top half of artichoke and discard. Trim off stems, and cut each artichoke into quarters, lengthwise.

At this point, pull out your glasses as you will need them to see the eeny little chokes in the eeny little vegetables.
Use your eeny little paring knife to pare out the fuzzy little center choke part.

Repeat for 45 minutes, at which time you should have a small bowl of hearts and a large sinkful of refuse.

This concludes the time-consuming portion of our program; the rest is a matter of melting 2 T. butter over medium-high heat in a 10-inch skillet that has a lid. As butter is just starting to brown,

add the hearts,

pour in 1/2 c. water, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If water evaporates before the time is up, add a bit more so you don't fry the bottom of your pan. When done, the base of the hearts should be tender when poked with a fork. Season with sea salt and pop into your mouth. Mmmm mmmm good.

The recipe is from this book, by the way, which instructs that you can use frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, if you don't have fresh. I have never tried that, though.
Any other artichoke heart fans out there? Do you have a favorite way of serving them?


Friday, June 18, 2010

Graduation Cupcakes

. . . because graduation is just one more excuse to play with your food . . .
Aren't these cupcakes the cutest? You just make regular old cupcakes, add food coloring to frosting to match school colors, then top off with mortarboard hats made of candy

(mini Reese's peanut butter cups turned upside down, small squares of Ghirardelli dark chocolate, the top of a Dots candy, and sour candy that comes in rainbow strips that I forgot the name of ; "glue" them all together with a mixture of powdered sugar and water).
Voila! Oh so cute cupcakes. A big thank you to Mimi of Mimi's Kitchen for the inspiration.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smoky Hard-Boiled Eggs

If you're looking for a fun summertime snack, perfect for taking on a picnic, look no further. These hard-boiled eggs, marinated overnight in a soy sauce/sesame oil mixture, are fun and different and quite yummy -- if I do say so myself. I got the recipe from one of those cute little community cookbooks from about 30 years ago.
Don't those community cookbooks have the best recipes ever?
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 T. sugar
1 t. sesame oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. liquid smoke
4-6 hard-boiled eggs
Mix all ingredients but the eggs. (I mix everything right in the measuring cup.) Put the eggs in a small bowl (lidded is good, if you have one) and pour marinade over. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Check out more Wordless Wednesday posts here.