Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pimm's Cups and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

With the arrival of the royal baby this past week, I thought it would be fitting to go with a British theme for this week's Summer Fest focus on cucumbers.  The Brits know a bit about pomp and circumstance whilst keeping cool as a cucumber.  The first things that came to mind were Pimm's cup and cucumber tea sandwiches.  Only makes sense, no?  At least it does to me.  I find both super easy to make, light and refreshing, and so proper.

So you ask, what is a Pimm's cup?  Pimm's is an herb-infused gin that's been around since 1823, very low in alcohol (25%), making it easy to drink.  A Pimm's cup is a light, British version of a sangria - Pimm's No. 1 liqueur with a mixer (lemonade, gingerale, lemon-lime soda), cucumbers, strawberries, citrus (lemon or orange) and garnished with a sprig of mint.  It's the drink of choice for Wimbledon.  How proper.

One of my favorite cookbooks is Winnie-the-Pooh's Teatime Cookbook.  So easy, pragmatic, wry sense of humor and... British.  This cookbook contains many different tea sandwiches, all of which we made on a regular basis while growing up.  My mother was an anglophile- she loved all things English.  To me, they seemed so fancy and petite with the crust cut off and cut into finger-sized mini sandwiches.  I always found it surprising how flavorful these tea sandwiches were with such few ingredients, unlike the complicated American counterpart.

Pimm's Cup (per serving):
1 oz Pimm's No. 1
6 oz lemon-lime soda or gingerale
3 strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and cut into quarters
6 thin slices of cucumber (English/seedless, unpeeled)
4 thin slices of lemon
sprig of mint
ice cubes

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches (per serving):
2 slices of white bread (I used Udi's)
2 tablespoons of chive cream cheese
6 thin slices of cucumber (English/seedless, unpeeled)
2 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

Pimm's Cup:
In a highball glass, combine the Pimm's with the soda and cucumber, strawberries, lemon, and ice cubes. Top with a sprig of mint.  You can see I forgot to add the mint in my picture.  It was still phenomenal.

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches:
Thaw out bread (if applicable). Do not toast - we are going for soft and white here.  Spread a seasoned cream cheese of your choice on both slices of bread.  Top with a little bit of the parsley.  Followed by laying the cucumber down in two rows, overlapping them.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put both pieces together making a sandwich, cut off all four sides, and cut down the center.

Serve and enjoy immediately.  Goodies this fresh and proper wilt quickly.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The summer produce we're focusing on here is the cucumber. On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious cucumber recipes to try out:

Feed Me Phoebe: Fennel Tzatziki with Mint
The Lemon Bowl: Japanese Quick Pickled Cucumbers
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Burmese Cucumber Watermelon Composed Salad
Domesticate Me: California Salad with Roasted Chicken and Avocado Dressing
Taste With The Eyes: Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi with Shrimp and Minari
Devour: Cucumber and Mint Lemonade 
Haute Apple Pie: Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spicy Cucumber, Carrot and Onion Refrigerator Pickles
Red or Green: Spicy Cucumber Gazpacho
Virtually Homemade: Cucumber Tomato Bruschetta
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Neer Mor — Zested South Indian Buttermilk with Cucumber
Weelicious: Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwiches
Blue Apron Blog: Barley Salad with Heirloom Cucumbers & Golden Beets
The Sensitive Epicure: Pimm's Cups and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
FN Dish: Pickles Past the Jar

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Watermelon with Feta, Mint, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt

Watermelon seems like the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day. We I went to Greece, the locals preferred to eat it with feta cheese. They thought the saltiness of the feta brought out the sweet flavor of the watermelon. It does. I decided to take it up a couple of more levels with mint, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of sea salt. Try it. You may like it, too.

Fresh Mint Leaves
Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Cut the watermelon into large dice cubes, removing inedible seeds. Crumble feta on top. Cut the mint into very thin strips, sprinkle on top. Drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil on top. Follow with a light sprinkling of sea salt on top. Enjoy! A little taste of summer....

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The summer produce we're focusing on here is watermelon. On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious watermelon recipes to try out:

Dishing: Watermelon Agua Fresca
Made by Michelle: Watermelon Basil Lemonade
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Watermelon Popsicles with Mint, Basil and Lime
Red or Green: Spicy Watermelon Salad with Grilled Mahi Mahi
Weelicious: Watermelon Cinnamon Granita
Taste With The Eyes: Watermelon Carpaccio, Blistered Shishito, Mitsuba and Lime
Dishin & Dishes: Summer Mixed Melon Nachos with Mascarpone Cream 
Domesticate Me: Sparkling Watermelon Punch & Bowl 
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Sweet and Salty Greek Watermelon Feta Mint Salad
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Watermelon Vodka Rickey
Devour: Savory Watermelon Recipes
FN Dish: Cool Watermelon Drinks

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tiny Insalata Caprese

You know how much I appreciate simplicity in food. I see it as a testament to how good ingredients truly are. I went to the grocery the other day and found a perfectly imperfect tiny basket of tiny tomatoes of varying shades of red and yellow. The tiny fresh mozzarella cheese balls happen to be the same size of the tomatoes. I find that ratio is key for a successful insalata caprese and using tiny tomatoes and tiny mozzarella works perfectly.

1 basket of tiny tomatoes
1 container of tiny fresh mozzarella balls
4-6 basil leaves cut into very thin strips (chiffonaded)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut in half. If there are large ones, cut into fourths. Place in a medium/large bowl. Drain the fresh mozzarella balls. Cut those in half and add to the tomatoes. Add in the cut basil and olive oil. Gently toss until somewhat combined. Give a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The summer produce we're focusing on here are tomatoes. On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious tomato recipes to try out:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cilantro Rice with Corn, Black Beans, and Avocados

Over the years, I have taught myself how to like cilantro. I remember the first time I had it; it tasted like soap to me. Slowly, I started introducing it into my meals at restaurants. My favorite is the cilantro rice at Chipotle. I thought corn would compliment the cilantro rice well and add in some black beans and avocado to make it a complete meal (and a complete protein). Squeeze some lime on top to brighten it up. This is my way to feature fresh summer corn.

1 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth (or veggie or water)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ears of corn
3-4 stalks green onions, chopped
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stemmed and chopped fine
Adobo seasoning (optional), salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, chopped medium
1-2 limes cut into wedges

Cook rice according to package instructions in broth. Fluff and put aside uncovered.

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cut the corn off the cobs, as much as you can. Add it to the sauce pan and stir occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the chopped green onions, stir, and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the beans, stir, cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add in the cooked rice and toss completely. Add in the chopped cilantro, adobo seasoning, salt, pepper and thoroughly mix. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Carefully fold in the avocado. Serve with lime wedges and give a squeeze to wake it up. Makes about 4-servings.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The summer produce we're focusing on here is corn. On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious corn recipes to try out: