Thai Beef Salad

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Recently, I came across a Christopher Kimball recipe that caught my attention. It’s a Thai-inspired salad with skirt steak. Nothing terribly unique, except that when I make salads, they tend to be of the Southwestern ilk, with greens, beans, vegetables, and goat cheese.

Kimball’s Recipe has grilled steak, vegetables, shallots, cilantro,and a flavorful fish sauce-based dressing. Fabulous flavors.

The only thing I did differently was to sous vide the skirt steak. I know how to cook just about any steak in my sleep, but if you’ve ever enjoyed skirt steak, flank steak, flatiron or hanger steak cooked sous vide, you know why there was no hesitation on my part.

If you’re not familiar with Christopher Kimball, I’m actually surprised (especially if you live in the U.S.) He has authored many cookbooks, but was also the editor of the wonderful Cook’s Illustrated magazine. He has a show on PBS, and also talks cooking on an NPR show.

What I like about this man is his somewhat old-fashioned demeanor, his bow tie, his aw-shucks attitude but in Vermont style. He’s the opposite of loud, abrasive, show-offy, and arrogant.

My favorite book of his isn’t a cookbook, it’s called Dear Charlie, a collection of letters he wrote to his son, that appeared in the introduction of every publication of Cook’s Illustrated.


I loved these down-home letters about sunrises, apple pies, tractors, and so forth that my endorsement was printed on the book cover.

His latest cookbook is Milk Street, shown below, and a classic photo of Mr. Bowtie as well.

And now to his Thai Beef Salad.

Thai Beef Salad

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 large shallot, sliced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
Rice or cellophane noodles, optional

Dry off the skirt steak if necessary with paper towels. Mix the salt, black pepper and brown sugar together, and rub onto the steak on both sides.


Vacuum seal the steak, and cook at 131 degrees F for 12 hours. This can be done the previous day. Refrigerate the steak immediately.

Just when you’re ready to start preparing the salad, remove the steak from the plastic and dry off; set aside.

Combine the shallots and lime juice in a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fish sauce and cayenne flakes to the shallot mixture.

Heat a skillet over high heat with the canola oil, and sear the steak quickly on both sides. Transfer to a cutting board. Thinly slice the stead against the grain, and add the slices and accumulated juices to the large bowl.


Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint. Toss to combine.

I wanted to add some noodles for fun, but it wasn’t part of Mr. Kimball’s recipe.

Transfer everything to a platter, and garnish with more cilantro.

This salad is fabulous. Refreshing, spicy, and full of flavor.

I did add a second shallot, more fish sauce, and a little rice wine vinegar.

I can’t stop thinking about how good this salad would be with grilled octopus or shrimp….

Lime Ice Cream

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This post was originally published in 2015. I don’t think the photos are terrible, which is typically why I’ll repost a recipe. I’m reposting this because it’s something I’ve not seen of any other blog in the 6 years I’ve been blogging. So here you go – a uniquely fabulous ice cream. You’re welcome!

When it comes to home cooking, I rarely make the same thing twice, let alone multiple times. It’s just how I roll, thus my motto, “so much food, so little time!” There’s just too much out there to try!

But this ice cream is one major exception. I’ve been making it for years. My kids always got mad that I wasn’t making chocolate ice cream when they were little, but instead one lime-flavored. However, they loved it, too!

Here’s the recipe I cut out of a magazine so many years ago.


One doesn’t expect lime ice cream, perhaps a sorbet instead. So it’s unique in that sense. Hope you like it as much as we do!


Lime Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup filtered water
Zest from 5 limes
Juice from 5 limes, about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
2 c superfine sugar
Pinch of salt

Pour the cream and water into a large blender jar. Add the zest and lime juice.


Add the sugar and salt, and give it a good blend.

Place the blender jar in the refrigerator and leave it there overnight. You really want to get the limey flavor dispersed into the cream.

When it’s time to make the ice cream, follow the directions for your machine.

Freeze the container until ready to serve.


I love to serve this ice cream with piroline cookies.


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If you love lime, you will adore this ice cream!


It’s limey, but it’s also creamy. Fabulous!

This ice cream is perfect after a Mexican meal, or a traditional summer barbecue.

And just in case you’re still thinking this is not a creamy ice cream, take a look at this!

Chinese Cucumber Salad

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When my mother went through her Chinese cooking phase, which began when we moved Seattle, Washington, she was a whirling dervish in the kitchen.

It was steamed buns, sea cucumbers, fried dumplings, whole baked fish, fermented bean sauce, dried shark’s fins, wintermelon soup, hotpots, and a lot of unidentifiable ingredients.

Our kitchen smelled like dried fish, just like the Chinese grocery store we would frequent at Pike Place market. If you want to read more about my mother’s crazy eccentric phase cooking for an uninspired husband and tweens with limited palates and even less patience, read Growing up Foodie.

I wasn’t much for vinegar or cucumbers when I was young. But I always remembered a Chinese cucumber salad my mother made. And I’m talking real cucumbers, not sea cucumbers.

When I married, I was gifted the set of Time Life Foods of the World cookbooks by my mother. At that point I had an improved palate. I made the cucumber out of this book, and have been making it ever since.

I love the salad because it’s a little salty, a little sweet, and it is rounded out with hot sauce and sesame oil. So many wonderful layers of flavor!

Because of my mother’s time working closely to her Chinese friend, Mrs. Chin, from whom she took Chinese cooking lessons, she learned lots of tricks, like this one.

Mrs. Chin always de-seeded cucumbers before using them by halving cucumbers lengthwise, and either cutting out or scooping out the seeds with a spoon or melon baller. To this day I do it without thinking. I have nothing against cucumber seeds, but they’re watery.

It looks like I’m destroying the poor cucumber in the photo where I’m scraping the seeds out with a spoon. Definitely use a melon baller.

Then I salt the cucumber slices on the inside, turn them over on paper towels, and let them drip dry for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have the time, just wipe the insides with a paper towel after you’ve removed the seeds.

Here’s the recipe from the Chinese cookbook.

Cucumber Salad with Spicy Dressing
Liang-pan-huang-kua
printable recipe below

2 medium cucumbers
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (or a little less)
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco (or a little more)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Peel the cucumbers and cut them lengthwise in two. With a melon baller, scrape the seeds out of each half, leaving hollow boats.

Cut the cucumbers crosswise into 1/4” thick slices.

In a small glass bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame seed oil, Tabasco, and salt, and mix well.


Add the cucumber. With a large spoon, toss to coat each slice thoroughly with the dressing.

Chill slightly before serving.

And yes, I love hot sauce!

As a cold side dish at a Chinese meal, it will serve 4 to 6.

I sprinkled some black sesame seeds over the cucumber salad just for fun, even though they look like seed ticks. They are not.

My friend had recently gifted me with fresh tuna steaks, so I served them with the cucumber salad. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal.


 

 

Midori Fizz

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If you’re not familiar with Midori, it is a melon-flavored, grass-green liqueur. What I didn’t know, is that Midori is the Japanese word for green, and it was manufactured only in Japan until 1987, according to Wikipedia.


It’s a sweet liqueur, so it needs to be diluted with fizzy liquids, which can include club soda, Prosecco, tonic water or, my favorite – Fresca!

If you’re a martini lover, midori can be mixed with lemon juice and vodka, shaken with ice and strained.

Sweet and sour mix can also be used as a mixer, but something like lime juice is required to cut the sweetness. And lastly, Midori can be turned into an adult slushy for a seriously refreshing summer drink. So many options.

All I’m doing today is mixing Midori with Fresca. It’s a bubbly grapefruit soda that I use a lot, even in sangria. So it didn’t take much brainpower to or the skills of a mixologist to create this combination, but just in case you haven’t discovered Midori, I wanted to post on it.

And that’s it! I do about a 50-50 mixture of Midori and Fresca, but that can be adjusted of course.

Of course ice cubes can also be added to the Midori Fizz.

If you love the taste of sweet melon, you will love Midori!

I posted on a Pimm’s float before, and now I’m thinking about a Midori float!!! Yes!!!

Ceviche

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My son-in-law has promised to make me ceviche for a while – it’s one of his specialties.

So recently he lived up to his promise and made ceviche on a night when they were visiting. And, he was kind enough to allow me to document his cooking session for my blog!

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My daughter’s husband, who I’ll call “B,” first had ceviche when his family traveled to Costa Rica, and he’s been making it ever since. B refers to his version as a more Tex-Mex style, rather than Latin American. Whatever it is, it was wonderful, and worth the wait!

B has a recipe, but every time he makes it he judges the ceviche “finished product” on the amount of liquid and also the ratio of red and green. He refers to that as the colors of Christmas. Here is the “recipe.”

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B’s Ceviche

6 lemons
6 limes
4 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 jalapenos, diced
1/2 large white onion
Cilantro, finely chopped
1 pound cod, rinsed and dried
Tapatio sauce
Seasoning salt

B first squeezed the lemons and limes into a large baking dish.

He then chopped up the tomatoes and the jalapenos and added them to the juice in the dish.

Afterwards it looked like this:

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He then added the onions and cilantro.

Then B cut up the cod in to 1/2″ pieces and stirred it into the tomato mixture.

He added Tapatio sauce and seasoning salt, stirred, and tested it. The baking dish got covered up with plastic wrap and the ceviche was refrigerated overnight.

In the morning B drained most of the liquid from the ceviche so the vegetables don’t soften up. We had it for lunch that day.

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It’s so incredible how the citrus juices cook the fish.

I really love the jalapeno and the Tapatio sauce in B’s ceviche.

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B also served the ceviche with chips, so it was almost like a cod salsa!

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What a lovely lunch, and a fabulous time. You all know how much I love being cooked for!

Pimm’s Float

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This recipe is brought to you by Food Network chef Sunny Anderson. I wish I could claim it as my own, because it’s fabulous! Every summer I swear I’m going to make it, stack it with other recipe cards, and promptly forget about it. But not this summer.

If you love Pimm’s, and you love ice cream, then you’ll love this treat!
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I didn’t follow Sunny’s recipe to the T – hers included strawberries, and being passed strawberry season, I instead decided on blackberries and raspberries. So here’s what I did.

Sunny’s Pimm and Proper Ice Cream Float
Serves 4 or 2, depending on the serving size

1 pound raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water

First place the berries in a small pot. Add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Put the lid on, and lower the heat.

After about 5-6 minutes, remove the lid, and cook about 1 minute more. Place the pot in the refrigerator and let the berries and syrup cool completely.
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To complete the ice cream floats, you will need:
Pimm’s
Vanilla ice Cream
Fresca

To prepare the floats, but about 2 heaping tablespoons of the berries and syrup in the bottoms of ice cream glasses. Add an equal volume of Pimm’s to both. Scoop out the ice cream and place it in the glasses.


Right before serving, add the Fresca.

I also served a skewer of blackberries, just for fun.
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Sunny not only made a strawberry syrup in her original recipe, she also used strawberry ice cream. I chose vanilla because I wanted to taste the other flavors.

After tasting these, I’d still opt for vanilla. But I’m sure you could come up with many different ideas for these floats!
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They’re really refreshing, and would make a fun dessert after a summer dinner party as well!


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A Summer Refresher

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I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am a terrible bartender. Even when I follow cocktail recipes, they turn out horrible. My husband says it’s only because I pick out terrible recipes, but I’m not completely sure that’s the problem. But I have given up on trying to make drinks containing herbaceous liqueurs, like Saint Germain, Pernod, Chartreuse, and Galliano. I guess I’m not hip enough to enjoy those flavors!

During the summer months, I make a lot of sangria, and I’m actually pretty good at sangria. Or, at least I think I am. When my older daughter is at my house, she always needs to “fix” it. And she always makes it better. Must be something about that summer she lived in Spain…


Because I don’t love strong alcohol flavor, I don’t ever use brandy in sangria, which is traditional. I like to use sweet wines instead.

I’ve mentioned Quady Vineyards in a post before, because they make fabulous moscatos. I am aware that sweet wines are not terribly popular. In fact, they’re probably drunk by white Zinfandel fans. But their moscatos are superb!

I used an orange moscato, called Electra, in my Strawberry Tiramisu recently, and for the sangria I made today, shown above, I used Quady’s Red Electra. (The sangria turned out fabulous!)

On the Quady Winery website, they write that Red Electra was “first released in 1993, is garnet red, tastes of succulent cherry, berry, and peach, and has a slight sparkle. Try it with all kinds of desserts and cheeses including chocolate bon-bons, truffles, spiced holiday cookies, vanilla, and fruit. Red Electra is made by combining Orange and Black Muscat grapes, and fermenting them very slowly at a low temperature so they keep their delicious flavors. That’s why Red Electra tastes like a bowl full of cherries.

Just to make sure it would work well in the sangria, my husband and I taste-tested the Red Electra. It was like nectar of the gods.
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Then I had an idea. I poured some Red Electra in a bigger glass and added some Fresca, which I had on hand because I always use it in sangria. Typically I don’t create cocktails, and it’s not surprising that my alcoholic “invention” consists of only two ingredients. But it got me thinking. Besides Fresca, what would Red Electra be like paired with Champagne, or Prosecco? I had some experimentation ahead of me!!!

So here’s my offering for a refreshing summer drink. I suggest three varieties depending if you like sweeter, less sweet, or unsweet. You could even add sparkling or soda water for two more varieties. I’m just so creative!!!

Red Electra Sparkler

3 ounces Quady Red Electra, chilled
4 ounces Prosecco, chilled, or
4 ounces Champagne, chilled, or
4 ounces Fresca, chilled

On the day this cocktail was “created” daughter happened to be visiting, and we did the taste test together. We began with 3 ounces of Red Electra, and added equal amounts of Prosecco, Fresca, and Champagne.


The drinks were on the sweet side with this ratio.

So that’s when we came up with the ratio of 3 ounces of Red Electra to 4 ounces of mixer. Plus, we added ice. Even though all of the above ingredients were fully chilled, the drinks needed ice for them to stay cold and refreshing.
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We both picked our favorite combination, and it was the Prosecco version. The Fresca version was good, but it was “sweet” and still tasted like Fresca. The Champagne variety was good, but the Champagne seemed to disappear in the drink.

The Prosecco and Red Electra was a perfect match!


It was also the most refreshing – even without ice!

We made this cocktail on the first day of summer, and it topped out at 99 degrees that day!
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I’m stocking up on Red Electra. It is quite versatile!

Summer Cup

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Last month when we were in London, we stayed at a lovely hotel called The Orange. There are only four rooms, and they are above the public house and restaurant of the same name, located on Pimlico road.

It’s a very old building, but being one of the many Thomas Cubitt businesses, it has a different look to it from typical, dark pubs in England and the UK. I personally have never met a pub I didn’t like – especially the ones with stuff like swords and giant keys and old paintings on the walls. But The Orange has its own updated beauty to it.


Right after our daughter moved to London, she taught me to mind my own business in pubs. She knows me well. I love to talk to strangers, and she taught me that in neighborhood pubs, people typically stop by for a pint or two after work. Unless they’re chatting with co-workers, they want to be left alone.

But on this one day at The Orange, I just couldn’t help myself. I had been staring at this lovely pitcher of something that looked similar to Pimm’s, but was too pale to be Pimm’s.

I told my husband, “I don’t care what Emma says, I’m talking to these guys.” She hadn’t arrived yet.

There were four young men at the table next to us, enjoying their mystery drinks, and I politely asked them what it was. The answer? Summer Cup! And then they poured both my husband and myself a drink to sample. I just love British people!!! And they certainly didn’t seem bothered by my inquiry. Take that, Em !
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My husband didn’t like it as much as I did because there was a definite cucumber taste to the drink, but it was really good to me. And refreshing. Since it was 30 degrees Centigrade in London on that day, it’s probably why those young men chose Summer Cup to imbibe.

I’d never heard of Summer Cup, even though I’ve learned that it’s a popular drink in England. Not so much as Pimm’s, which we did enjoy while in St. Ives, enjoying a gorgeous summer day.

After a little research, I learned that Summer Cup, like Pimm’s, is a gin-based drink. And just like you can buy Pimm’s, you can buy Summer Cup. Except that I can’t where I live. Here is a link to Sipsmith Summer Cup. Beautiful bottle, isn’t it?

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So I searched for recipes that would mimic, possibly the actual punch.

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So this is what I found, from House and Garden, the UK version. Was it just like the Summer Cup I had in London? Nah, but it was also really good. I altered the recipe slightly, so the following recipe is what I made.

Jubilee Summer Cup

16 ounces gin
8 ounces Dubonnet
4 ounces sloe gin
4 ounces peach liqueur (instead of apricot, because I couldn’t find any)
Fresca (instead of ginger ale, lemonade* or champagne/prosecco)

I simply added all of the liquor to a pitcher to make it easy, poured the mixture about 1/4 way in each glass, and topped things off with fresca.

Don’t be shy with the fresca – unless you prefer a sweeter cocktail over a punch-like drink, you really need the fizz.

I served the “Summer Cup” with a slice of white peach and lime. What I didn’t do was cut up a bunch of fruit and cucumber and place it in the pitcher. That might have actually made the drink taste more similar. Now I have to make it again. darn.

* In England, at least, lemonade means Sprite or something similar. So watch out if you think you’re ordering something with real lemon lemonade.