Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill in bowl

Beat the heat with this tangy starter

It’s cucumber season in our part of the world. We can’t seem to harvest them fast enough in our backyard garden. And every farmers’ market is overflowing with them.

So how about turning some of those cukes into a cool, refreshing first course? One that’s brimming with flavor, but not too heavy.

Chilled Cucumber Soup is the perfect summer starter. It’s also a versatile performer—you can change up ingredients to give it a different character every time you make it (more about this in the Notes). Best of all, it takes just minutes to prepare in the food processor.

You can make it ahead of time too. In fact, the flavor improves if you allow it to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight. So whip up this soup—and then head to the hammock for a summertime siesta. Because, hey, soup isn’t the only thing that improves with rest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Brandy Smash Cocktail

Brandy Smash Cocktail with orange and mint garnish

The Mint Julep’s little brother

Long ago, in a century far away, the Brandy Smash was America’s most popular mixed drink. During the 1850s and 60s, drinkers flocked to this mint-infused charmer. But then (as so often happens with cocktails), it fell from favor.

Well, it’s about time for a revival, don’t you think?

A Brandy Smash is basically a shorter, less elaborate version of a Mint Julep. It’s easier to make than a julep, and (usually) contains less booze. And because it’s a smaller drink, it’s perfect for times when you want a refreshing tipple, but don’t have all afternoon to enjoy a long, slow sipper.

You don’t even need to use brandy in this drink if you don’t want to. Just substitute whiskey or gin—or almost any spirit that catches your fancy.

And the flavor? Smashing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

White Bean, Tuna, and Swiss Chard Salad

White Bean, Tuna, and Swiss Chard Salad with cherry tomato garnish

Beat the heat with this savory no-cook summer dish

There comes a time every summer when the heat gets us down. And cooking sounds like no fun at all.

So what to do? Well, just raid the garden for greens and the pantry for a few staples. Then put together this quick no-cook dish. It’s satisfying but not heavy, with loads of healthy flavor.

This salad makes a great one-dish meal or a hearty side. It’s perfect for picnics too. And it takes only minutes to prepare, so you’ll be out of the kitchen in no time—and ready for some summer fun. Pool party, anyone?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Sherry Cobbler Cocktail

Sherry Cobbler Cocktail with fruit garnish

The drink that popularized ice and straws

Ever have a cobbler? The drink, that is, not the dessert?

Back in the 19th century, the cobbler was one of the most popular mixed drinks around, with sherry usually serving as the base spirit. It was among the first drinks to include ice as an integral component—and one of the first to be served with a straw. More on that later.

The Sherry Cobbler has been out of favor for a long time, but we think it’s due for a revival. It makes a particularly tasty and refreshing summer drink. Plus, sherry has a fairly low alcoholic quotient. That means you can have a couple of these on a lazy afternoon and still keep your wits about you.

So why not mix up one of these charmers and sip a little cocktail history? Your great, great, great grandparents would approve.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

No-Churn Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate

No-Churn Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate in bowl, with cherries and chocolate in background

Or adapt this easy no-churn recipe for any flavor you like

How often do you make ice cream at home? Until recently, our answer would have been “not very.”

Mostly, that was because we couldn’t get decent results with home ice cream makers. The smaller “pre-freeze” units (the ones where you need to freeze the bowl) only kinda sorta worked for us. The larger machines (the kind with built-in condensers) do a better job—or so we’ve heard. But our kitchen space is limited, so we’ve had to rule out that option. And no way are we going to bother with rock salt and hand cranks.

Which meant that for years, we just shrugged and bought Ben and Jerry’s.

No more, however. We’ve discovered a quick no-churn, no machine way to make ice cream that produces superior results. And it’s a lot cheaper than buying pints of Cherry Garcia® (our favorite flavor, for which this recipe is a credible alternative).

Anybody want to buy a used ice cream maker, cheap?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Queen's Park Swizzle Cocktail

Queen's Park Swizzle Cocktail in tall glass with mint garnish

Beat the heat with this tropical cooler

With hot summer days arriving in our part of the US, it’s time to dream of escaping to the shore or the mountains. Or at least the pool.

If you’re one of the lucky escapees, there’s no better way to spend a long afternoon than sipping a tall cool one. Like a Queen’s Park Swizzle Cocktail—a rum and mint delight named after an elegant hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

And if you’re not lucky enough to get away? Well, mix up one of these babies and treat yourself to a mini-vacation right at home. No airfare required.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chipotle Cherry Salsa

Chipotle Cherry Salsa with tortilla chips

Spicy and a bit sweet . . . great with chips or as a sauce on meat or fish

Fresh cherries? Yum! Their sweet flavor makes for such wonderful pies, tarts, and other dessert goodies.

But, hey, cherries can do savory too. As this recipe shows.

Just combine cherries with spicy chipotle and jalapeño chilies in a rich salsa. The result? A tasty and versatile dish that fits in anywhere. Serve it as a first course with chips. Or use it as a sauce to accompany pork, fish, or chicken.

Best of all, Chipotle Cherry Salsa is simple to prepare. And with peak cherry season upon us in much of the US, now is the perfect time to try it.