We’re getting to that time of year. Store windows flaunt fall fashions and home good stores have nothing but the dregs of patio furniture and are now hawking dorm room apparel and locker adornments (do kids really buy this stuff to decorate their lockers? When I was in school, I tried to spend as little time as possible at my locker, although I still have nightmares that I’m back in school and have forgotten the lock combination). But summer is not over! It is not time to put away the shorts and deck chairs! It is not time for apple and squash recipes, as much as I love them. I say raise your forks and reclaim summer!
If you’re as ready as I am to enjoy every last drop of summer that we have left, then I think you’ll really enjoy this shrimp, pea, and rice salad with mango chutney vinaigrette from The Feed, bought to us by none other than America’s Test Kitchen. Joseph and I first made this last summer and were instantly hooked. It’s everything you want out of summer. Bright, light, fresh, and most of all, a whole lot of fun. Oh yeah, and so, super easy that you’ll be out on the porch sipping your sauvignon blanc in no time.
Happy Lunar New Year! The lunar new year may have started on Monday, but the Chinese celebrate for 15 days, so why shouldn’t you? You have plenty of time to kick off the year of the dragon with this lychee martini appropriately named Eye of the Dragon.
When a rep from Bulldog Gin sent me this recipe and offered to send a sample of their gin, I could hardly say no. I had never had (or even heard of, to be fair) Bulldog Gin, but the very morning that I got an e-mail Bulldog, a coworker mentioned that she had to find some for her sister’s cocktail party because it was her boyfriend’s favorite gin. My interest was piqued, so I was pretty excited by the time I got the package from Bulldog with my sample.
Bulldog Gin is distilled with dragon eye (also known as longan, a tropical fruit found in South and Southeast Asia) along with the traditional juniper and other botanicals and is without a doubt the smoothest gin I’ve ever tried. It can easily be drunk neat, but if this drink is any indication, it’s also delicious in mixed drinks. It’s perfect in this lychee martini, with its citrus and floral notes layered with the dragon eye and juniper.
Lychees, if you’re not familiar with them, are a popular tropical fruit in Southeast Asia with a fresh, perfumy flavor that is hard to describe. They’re larger and slightly firmer than grapes with a reddish rind and a marble-sized seed inside. I’ve never had the pleasure of having fresh lychee (I hope to change that in May when they’re in season in North America), but even canned, lychees are delicious, refreshing morsels.
Well, it’s August now and it’s gonna be a hot one. I grew up in Washington, D.C., a city where all the locals know enough to flee for as much of August as they can to avoid the sickeningly hot, sticky days (and nights). Did you know that D.C. was actually built on a swamp? Most tourists don’t seem to know, because they all flock to the city in August, the hottest, stickiest most miserable month you could spend there. You’d think that growing up with such humid summers that I would be used to humidity, but I’m not. I hate it. I’d take a 105 degree day in the desert over 95 degrees in 90% humidity. For just that reason, growing up I spent my summers at an amazing wilderness expedition camp based out of Thoreau, NM.
Now that I’m older, things are considerably more complicated. I keep hoping some grant will pop up that will pay me to go on vacation for all of August, but until then, I have bills to pay, which means a job to work. To make matters worse, I’ve been working from home since my knee surgery because I can sit more comfortably and don’t have to walk as much. The problem is that, unlike the office, we don’t have air conditioning. This is inevitably the point when Joseph would interject to say we do have AC, so I will clarify. We have one window unit that we have literally used twice all summer (as in two consecutive nights during that heat wave a couple weeks ago) because it’s so expensive to run. Sigh. How I miss you, AC.
Meet my new favorite salad: the Chinese chicken salad from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. It’s a stunning salad bursting with vibrant purple, green, and orange and it’s got all the right textures going on with juicy mandarin oranges, crispy napa and red cabbage, and crunchy water chestnuts. The tangy soy ginger Chinese/Pan-Asian inspired dressing has the perfect blend of spiciness and sweetness that ties the whole salad together perfectly.
This is the salad that we made over Memorial Day weekend to try to balance out all the ice cream, strawberry rhubarb crumble, garlic fries with garlic aioli, and dim sum we had over the weekend (because frankly, it is completely impossible not to overorder and overeat when you order dim sum). Salads are one of those things that often seem like they should be healthy, but then you find out how many calories are in the Cosi Signature Salad (627!!) which first horrifies you, then leads you to wonder if anything is actually healthy. Continue reading