Cucumber Bay Breeze

DSC_0848

DSC_0876

You can usually gauge how crazy I am by how often I actually update this blog.

When I’m relaxed and absolutely in love with life, you’ll see a few posts here a week. They might not always have a new recipe — especially with all the traveling I did this summer. I just always want to share the fun and beautiful people and places that are part of my life.

Mostly, the people. But I’m never really sure how they’d feel about their photos being posted here on the internet.

Today, you see, I’m recovering from a cold. Or the flu. Or whatever the difference is between those two words. So really, there’s not much to share today, aside from a mild addiction to Emergen-C packets and Zicam rapid melts. And chocolate chips (shh, don’t tell Shaeda).

DSC_0845

DSC_0878

DSC_0847

The past few weekends have been absolutely, positively, unquestionably magical. Last weekend, I spent a good 48 hours in New York City to attend the most beautiful wedding I’ll probably ever get to see in my entire life — a weekend dominated by my new obsession with everything black tie and interspersed with a wild Friday night out and a charming Sunday afternoon with my great aunt and uncle, who live in the apartment of my dreams at 97th and Central Park West. One of these weekends, I’ll take my camera with me and snap a photo of the view for you. They have quite the adorable story to go with that view, too.

Plus, Aunt Mary is another bourbon girl. I appreciate that.

I digress. Today, I have a cocktail recipe. While gin was once widely used medicinally, the gin will have little or no effect on today’s illness. Rather, various renditions of this cucumber cocktail has appeared so frequently in my hand this summer that you’d think I planned the whole thing.

Well, it all started during restaurant week here in DC, when I was dealing with clients from hell and juggling an unequivocal week of temporary insanity. Shaeda coerced me into drinks, which turned into dinner, which turned into just spending too much money on good food, which is something I’ve been so good at lately that I should list on my resume.

It started with this drink. We had two each at MXDC. Then we looked up the recipe and made our own versions, in my kitchen over dinner.

And then, in New York, April and I went out for bougie rooftop cocktails and asked the bartender for something cucumber-y. She made this, two or three times for us… before I embarked on my night-of-a-thousand-straight-bourbons.

I really can’t get enough of this. While I can’t drink it right now, you definitely should.

DSC_0864

DSC_0861

DSC_0874

Cucumber Bay Breeze, inspired by the Baja Breeze at MXDC

2-3 cucumbers
Juice from 2-3 limes (I had key limes, so we used several)
Tanqueray or Hendricks Gin
Simple Syrup
Ginger ale

First, juice the cucumbers. I don’t have a juicer, so I peeled, chopped, and pureed them using a food processor and a few splashes of water before straining them with cheesecloth. Get as much cucumber juice as you can.

In a shaker, combine about 1 cup cucumber juice with a few tablespoons lime juice, a few tablespoons syrup and about 1/2 cup of gin. Fill with ice cubes and shake vigorously. If you don’t have a mixer, use a mason jar.

Pour into cocktail glasses, and top with a splash or two of ginger ale. Garnish with a lime and a cucumber stick to stir with.

 

The Real Greek Salad

DSC_0825

When I was traveling in Norway with Silje, every now and then, we would stop in our sentences and say to ourselves: I can’t wait until we’re in Greece.

Something Silje always added on was how excited she was to have Greek salads, every day.

I kind of brushed it off, because I was more or less just looking forward to feta cheese, all day, every day.

DSC_0822

Upon arriving in Greece, I quickly learned that I did not full understand what she meant by Greek salads. I actually ended up having a Greek salad at almost every single meal. Generally, Silje and I would each have our own Greek salads, and then split whatever the entree of the night was.

You see, here in the States, “Greek salad” could mean one of a billion things. It usually means some sort of vegetable mixture with too much dressing and a scoop of crumbled feta cheese. I’m guessing that the addition of feta just makes a salad “Greek.”

It could not be farther from the truth. Anywhere in Greece, when you order a Greek salad, you get a bowl or plate filled with the freshest of the fresh, and simpler than I could ever ask for: cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, capers, feta. No more, no less. Don’t let the impostors fool you.

DSC_0819

DSC_0823

DSC_0828

DSC_0829

DSC_0821

The Real Greek Salad, from, well, Greece.

1 medium cucumber
2-3 smallish tomatoes
A few slices of red onion
Black olives (with pits)
Capers
Fresh feta cheese – get a block, not the crumbled.
A drizzle of olive oil
Dried oregano for garnish

This enough for one salad – multiply accordingly for how many you’re serving.

First, peel the cucumber, and then slice in half lengthwise. Cut into half-inch chunks, and set aside.

Cut your tomatoes into quarters, and slice the red onion into wedges or slivers (I forgot the red onions in the photos. Don’t hate).

Slice about a half-inch sheet off of the block of feta. Toss the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber in a pretty bowl. Throw a few capers and olives on there, and arrange your slice of feta in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with some dried oregano for garnish.

Enjoy the simplicity.

Roasted Veggie Gazpacho

DSC_8816

 

Whenever I visit my family in California, I try to take advantage of the outdoor grill they have. It’s always entertaining to think of the days before my dad learned to cook — a couple of the stories came up over breakfast this morning. The sloppy joe fiasco, the hilarious lunches he made for Sean and me, and the items that his bachelor fridge was filled with: Trader Joe’s taquitos, Hoffy hot dogs, individual packages of lunch meat, and string cheese.

That was our diet when we visited Dad.

DSC_8794

DSC_8798

DSC_8799

These days, he is quite the chef. His outdoor grill was a pretty good investment. At the moment, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Ridgecrest, California — Dad’s truck had car trouble at the Indian Wells Brewing Company (Dad’s favorite brewery), so Sean and I have been carting the family around in the second car. Thankfully, we decided to take two cars!

While I’d much rather be somewhere in the high Sierras already, taking a moment to edit photos and schedule some blogs is relatively therapeutic.

Anyway, I made this gazpacho before we left for our Eastern Sierra road trip. It should make a good lunch on a lake, while in a canoe. I’m hoping I get to meet some puppies. Or cowboys. That would be nice, too.

DSC_8800

DSC_8812

DSC_8815

Hoping you had a lovely July Fourth holiday!

DSC_8817

DSC_8819DSC_8823

DSC_8827

Roasted Veggie Gazpacho, adapted from Food & Wine

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium cucumber (the weird cucumber in my photo is a Syrian cucumber from my dad’s garden)
2 green bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup cold water
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wrap your garlic cloves in a piece of aluminum or tin foil. Heat a grill on high, and grill the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion, and garlic, turning so that the skin of each piece is completely charred — it should take about 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have access to a grill, just use the broiler in your oven, and keep an eye on the vegetable skin. You want them charred.

Set the vegetables in a bowl, and cover with saran wrap to let them steam and cool.

Once you can touch them, peel away and discard the charred skins, and slice the vegetables into chunks that fit into your food processor. Go ahead and pulse grind them until you have a vegetable puree with a consistency that you desire — I wanted a finer ground salsa consistency. With the machine on, gradually add the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until cool. Serve with salt and pepper, and a good piece of toast.

Spicy Pickled Cucumber

pickles3

There’s a charm that I fell in love with when I first started exploring the East Coast. I’m currently sitting on a train, traveling somewhere through Maryland. And although I’m not actually traveling while you’re reading this (because I’ve gotten into the good habit of scheduling posts in advance!) some of you might share my love for winter.

I love the muted colors, the bare trees, and the grayish-brown that takes over Maryland every year.

As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t any point in hating any particular season if you live in a place that has seasons. If you hate winters so much, move to southern California. If you hate the humid summers so much, move anywhere in California. If you hate either one more than you love the fall and the spring, well… move to California. Do it for yourself. You’ll be happy there.

pickles5

pickes2

pickles1

I can’t pinpoint why I’m drawn to winter so much. I love knee-length coats so thick that you don’t need to layer anything under them. I get a few butterflies when I cross the street in boots and a heavy coat and a scarf, and I relish in the feeling when every part of my body is toasty and warm, but my cheeks are ironically singed with a chill. Perhaps I like that, in cold weather, everyone is forced to put themselves together before going outside. So naturally, people just look nicer. Or perhaps just less sloppy.

And I love that there is always something to look forward to. Summer is exciting because I usually let myself get away for a little bit. Winter is great because I’m not suffering through months of humidity and unnecessary heat.

I booked impromptu tickets to Miami to visit a friend I’ve known so long that we once got busted by high school chaperones for boys being in the wrong hotel rooms during a debate conference (nerd alert!).

As much as I love winter, the 19 degree weather has me longing for some bikini time. I just ordered a new pair of white shorts from J. Crew. And, the good news is that packing for a warm weekend requires very little packing at all.

In heat or even a frigid cold, some snacks help bring you back to whatever season you’re dreaming up. The process of making pickles makes me think of winter — storing something for later. But the taste of cucumbers brings me back to a hot summer evening in our backyard — the more I reminisce, the stronger the scent of citronella and dwindling charcoal.

pickles4

pickles6

Continue reading “Spicy Pickled Cucumber”