Creamy Cucumber Herb Salad Dressing

Creamy Cucumber dressing 2

Smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious – this will make you crave a salad.

We used to love going to a small restaurant in Mexico City, no name on the building and just a few wooden chairs and tables on the sidewalk … but oh … the food!  For 99 pesos we received an amazing set menu with four courses and it was always fantastic.  The chef moved on … (we spotted him at another place finally).  If I could remember the name of his new spot I’d definitely give you a recommendation to try it!  Anyhow … what was I saying … oh of course … this is a salad dressing recipe.  He made this incredible creamy cucumber salad dressing that was divine.  I asked him the recipe and he gave me the basic idea but claimed the key was the sea salt he used.  We walked miles looking for the store he told us to go to, without success.  Eventually, on another trip we found the salt  (from Cuyutlan), and have continued to pick it up every time we go to Mexico City!  I’ve finally hit the right ingredients here and this is delicious.

  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, parsley and oregano)
  • 1 garlic scape
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Roughly chop the herbs and cucumber and place in blender, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Give it a really good whiz until smooth and creamy.  Depending on how juicy your cucumber is, if needed you can thin it out a bit with milk or buttermilk.

Creamy Cucumber dressing 3

My trusty little bullet whipped this up in no time.

Creamy cucumber dressing 4

My herbs are so happy this year!

Creamy cucumber dressing 5

Here it is, the infamous salt I had Grant, Wilson and Vivian trekking all over                              Mexico City looking for.  Was it worth the effort?  You bet.

 

 

 

 

 

Gazpacho, Morelia style

The gazpacho we encountered in Morelia was unlike anything we had tried before.  Certainly not cold tomato soup.  We loved that each bite hit all the notes we were looking for; sweet, sour, spicy, salty and refreshing.  Versatility is key here, and in my opinion, so is hand chopping the fruit and vegetables.  Sure, a food processor would make short work of it all, but you might not get such great flavour in every spoonful.

mercado-frutas

We first tasted this in Morelia, Mexico – where everything is fresh and delicious!  Even at home though, we have loved the refreshing dish.  Try serving it in small dishes as a palate cleanser for a Mexican fiesta ….

Everything finely diced:

2 cups jicama

2 cups cucumber

1 cup watermelon

1 cup mango

1/2 – 2/3 cup red or white onion

I say 1/2 – 2/3 cup of onion because it will depend on how pungent your onion is, and how much you love onion flavour, play with it.

1 tsp chile flakes

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 orange

Stir this all together, and taste!!!  Every little bit of fruit and vegetable should be in each bite and you should love the way it all comes together.  If not – adjust!

gazpacho-morelia-style

As you can tell, this is no small bite!  – Small version in the market in Morelia.

 

 

Asian Style Salad with Red Rice

I love salads that make a whole meal – perfect for hot summer nights that let you feel satisfied but not stuffed!

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Asian Style Salad with shredded chicken on a bed of cooled red rice

Tonights version included:

base – cooked red rice
mixed greens and fresh seasonal vegetables
poached shredded chicken (easily substitute prawns)
roasted peanuts and sesame seeds
slivered green onions

DRESSING
2 tbsp Thai sweet chile sauce
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 rounded tsp peanut butter
1 garlic clove

Blend all ingredients until smooth – gradually add in 1/4 cup peanut oil until well incorporated.

Every brand of these ingredients is different. Start from here and then taste it. I usually take a lettuce leaf and dip it in. If I don’t love it, keep adjusting! It should have a balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tangy ….

Corn Season! Summer Salad with fresh Basil Vinaigrette

I love fresh corn, and at this time of year it ends up in so many meals, even a bright summer salad.

Fresh Corn Summer Salad with Basil Dressing

Fresh Corn Summer Salad with Basil Dressing


Right now fresh corn, sweet peppers, cucumbers and green beans are all in season along with delicate greens.

Dress your favourite greens with:

Basil Dressing
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 rounded tsp grainy mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chile flakes (to your families taste)

Blend in food processor until smooth, and then gradually add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil.

I usually start with the 1/4 tsp chile flakes, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Taste once it is all smoothly blended. Add a little more chile flakes if you think you can handle it, and add olive oil as needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Tabouli Salad

This tabouli salad is made with quinoa, so a complete meal for a vegetarian option, or serve alongside a grilled chicken breast …. or tonight’s choice – chicken wings with a Pomegranate Molasses Barbecue Sauce …. yumminess.

Tabouli Salad

1 cup quinoa – rinse well
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in rustic pieces
1 small bunch kale, very finely chopped (remove stem)
1/2 English cucumber, cut into fine quarters
1 cup finely chopped assorted colored sweet peppers
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (pickling instructions below)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp orange zest and 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Pickling red onions: Thinly slice red onions and pour boiling water over for 10 seconds – drain off, and cover with fresh squeezed lime juice and a sprinkle of kosher salt. They turn such a great color.

Tabouli
Place the rinsed quinoa in a medium sauce pain, ccover with 1 3/4 cup cold water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook until water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 18-20 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and let it cool.

In a large bowl toss all prepared vegetables and the cooled quinoa.

Dressing
Combine zest and fruit juices, drizzle oil slowly in to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss with prepared Tabouli Salad and taste …season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Tonight tabouli salad was also made with some grilled zucchini and served on a fresh bed of spinach

Pork and Prawn Burgers

These delicious burgers have an Asian twist to them, and are absolutely oozing yumminess!  Tonight they were served on a slim style bun, but can be enjoyed on a regular bun as well.  For an appetizer, make the patties small and serve on individual lettuce leaves.

Pork & Prawn burger

The dipping sauce makes these burgers particularly delicious, make sure to have napkins handy, and lean over your plate.

1 pound (450 grams ish) lean ground pork

1 bag of frozen RAW prawns (around the same weight as the pork), chopped in small but identifiable pieces

2 eggs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tbsp fresh ginger, minced

2 tbsp. soya sauce

2 tbsp. sesame oil

1/4 cup finely sliced chives

In a large bowl mix up the eggs, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Gently toss in the pork, prawns and chives.

Form patties, and allow to rest in the fridge to set up.

Either grill or cook on hot griddle.  These are delicate, so make sure not to try and turn or rotate until they are well cooked on the first side.

Pork & Prawn burgers

Serve on a toasted bun with aioli on the bottom, and pickled cucumbers on top.  To take this on to the most delicious burger, be sure to serve with the dipping sauce.

Sweet Chili Sriracha Aoili

4 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. sriracha (or other Asian style hot sauce)

1 tbsp. sweet chili paste

Blend well and allow to sit in fridge for flavours to come together.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers

1 cup very thinly sliced cucumber – tossed with rice vinegar, and seasoned lightly with salt, pepper, and a few chili flakes

Dipping Sauce

For each person, use a little individual dipping bowl and in each:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

drizzle of chile oil or chile flakes (to taste)

a couple slices of fresh garlic, and fresh ginger

sprinkle of chives or spring onion

SUSHI – (deconstructed and in a bowl!)

deconstructed sushi 2

On a hot night like this it is hard to think of cooking, or even standing over a grill ….. in fact standing and rolling cold items like sushi seemed a bit of a stretch …. this was just perfect – so cold and refreshing and really hit the spot.  Give it a try with any of your favorite sushi ingredients.  Great for a family too – serve it the way I did – on a large platter and let each person make their own bowl up as they go.

SUSHI SAUCE

zest 1 lemon and 1 orange, and reserve

juice of each: 1 lemon, 1 orange

1 tbsp. brown sugar

On medium heat cook on a gentle boil for 2 minutes, stir in:

3 tbsp. soy sauce

3 tbsp. rice vinegar

Heat again on a gentle boil for about 3 minutes until it thickens slightly.

Taste!!!!  I can’t say this enough …. you need to make sure the flavours are balanced, playing with each of the simple ingredients above.  If you think it can stand a bit more citrus, add in the zest.  If you like your sushi spicy, add in either wasabi paste or a minced chili pepper.

Toast nori sheets lightly, just until crispy.  Slice in thin strips, and again dice if you like small pieces or leave it in strips. 

Cook some sushi rice according to directions on rice

Finely slice whatever ingredients you like in your sushi

For us today this included:

imitation crab meat

shrimp

cucumber

carrot

avocado

cabbage

green onions

toasted sesame seeds

But really – use whatever you like!  Put a little rice in the bottom of your bowl, assemble a few of each of the ingredients and lightly drizzle with the sushi sauce – have fun – you will love it!