Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zucchini and Corn Tacos, and a
cocktail to serve with them

I decided to try the recipe for Zucchini and Corn Tacos (click for the recipe) because it looked like a great way to use two fresh veggies that are in season exactly now.
   And, as I am lucky to find to with many recipes I pick this way, they were delicious.
   But they were delicious in a sort of nondescript way – the tacos are mild in flavor, with all the ingredients complimenting each together and nothing standing out.
   The lack of meat is not at all disappointing. The vegetables and beans provide a “meaty” filling that is very satisfying.
   I have a suggestion for an ideal drink to serve with the tacos (if only adults are present): Michelada, a Mexican beer cocktail.
   I used a recipe from BBC Good Food magazine as a guide for the micheladas I made.
   I followed the direction of dipping the rims of the glasses into lime juice, then into sea salt.
   Ice and lime juice are put into glasses, then topped with Mexican lager beer (we used Corona).
   I liked a lot of lime juice in my cocktail; my husband, much less. This is a good recipe to leave a bit of room at the top of each glass to add more lime juice if people want it.
   The Zucchini and Corn Tacos, from the July 2009 issue of SELF magazine, are very easy to make.
   To get the corn ready for the recipe, I used our tried-and-true method for de-corning cobs. After the husk is pulled off, a cob is stood upright, nose down, into the opening in the tube in the middle of an angel cake pan. Using a sharp knife, the kernels are scraped off, from top to bottom, into the pan.
   The corn kernels are toasted in a skillet, then set aside. Onion, garlic, tomatoes, and zucchini are added to the skillet at different points and the mixture cooked until tender.
   The corn, canned black beans, epazote (I used the fresh oregano substitution) and pepper are added to the tomato and zucchini mixture and it is cooked a bit longer.
   The finished filling is put into corn tortillas (if you can’t find corn, flour tortillas can be substituted), then topped with tomatillo salsa (use tomato salsa if you can’t find tomatillo), and grated Monterey Jack or crumbled queso fresco cheese.
   We put our assembled tacos in the microwave for 15 seconds just to warm up the tortillas a bit.
   Then we gobbled them up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Get in some final grilling action
with these terrific chicken wings

With the final week of August here and Labour Day long weekend coming up shortly, many people are thinking of back-to-school activities, harvest, and the busy times that autumn brings.
   But if you’re determined to get in some more grilling action while the heat is still around, I’ve got a great recipe for you: Grilled Chicken Wings (click for the recipe) from Cook’s Country magazine.
   They’re very easy and very delicious, perfect for a barbecue this weekend to send off summer’s dog days.
   They’re quite family-friendly. Although they are on the salty side, I think most children above perhaps the age of eight or nine will give these a try.
   The wings are made without sauce, with just some very simple seasonings to bring home moist chicken.
   In fact, there are just four ingredients in the recipe – salt, wings, cornstarch and pepper. It’s putting the chicken in a salty brine in advance of grilling that coaxes out flavor.
   The recipe doesn’t say the wings need a dipping sauce; we didn’t use any and found it wasn’t needed. However, some people may appreciate some ranch salad dressing in which to dip the wings.
   Instead of buying chicken wings and needing to cut them in half and discard wingtips, I used drummettes instead.
   A half cup of salt is dissolved in two quarts of cold water in large container (I used a Ziploc freezer bag). Two pounds of chicken wings are pricked all over with a fork, then submerged in brine, covered or sealed and refrigerated for 30 minutes. (Don’t let the chicken sit in the brine for more than 30 minutes; it will result in chicken that’s too salty.)
   The chicken is removed from the brine, patted dry with paper towels, then tossed in a combination of cornstarch and pepper.
   The wings are grilled for 22 to 25 minutes, then transferred to a platter, tented with aluminum foil, and left to rest for five to 10 minutes.
   The wings are served.

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's a great time to make gazpacho

With farmer’s markets and supermarkets brimming with the best of summer produce, and the heat still upon us, it’s great time to make a batch of gazpacho, a cold vegetable soup.
   Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions and red bell peppers join with garlic, vinegar and tomato juice to produce magic in America’s Test Kitchen’s brilliant version of Gazpacho (click for the recipe).
   I made a batch of it for supper one night while on vacation recently. I was happy there was a lot left over, because it was so delicious. I ate a bowl for lunch each day for the rest of the week, stopping to completely rest each time to savor the wonderful experience.
   When my mother gave me some cucumbers from her garden and I told her I was going to make gazpacho with them, she admitted the concept of cold soup freaked her out a little.
   There is no need to be freaked out about cold soup – making gazpacho is like making a salad with some liquid added. And eating cold soup is practically as good as having an icy cold drink to cool down on a hot day.
   With the exception of some labor-intensive chopping, this Gazpacho is easy to make.
   The recipe I linked to above on a website is exactly the same one I used from America’s Test Kitchen.
   Chopped tomatoes, red bell peppers, cucumbers, sweet onions, garlic, sherry vinegar (I substituted white-wine vinegar) and table salt are combined in a non-reactive bowl and left to stand for about five minutes.
   Tomato juice, optional hot pepper sauce and ice cubes are added, and the soup is covered and refrigerated to blend flavors, at least four hours.
   Any unmelted ice cubes are removed before serving.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nectarines put to delicious work
in addictive summer potion

Nectarines are at their glorious best right now, and I’ve got a recipe that puts them to delicious work.
   Nectarine-Basil Lemonade (click for the recipe) is an addictive potion that first appeared in the pages of Gourmet magazine in July 1993.
   Since I first discovered the recipe a few years ago, I’ve made it several times, and been amazed every single time at how terrific it is. It’s also a favorite of my husband’s.
   It’s not too sweet; rather, it’s a fine tribute to the refreshment properties of nectarines.
   The non-alcoholic drink is family-friendly and would do very well at a backyard barbecue. But it’s also super for weeknights, too, and perks up any suppertime.
   I always substitute an equal amount of Splenda for sugar in the recipe, and the result is pleasing.
   Nectarine-Basil Lemonade is astonishingly easy to make.
   In a small saucepan, water, one cup of fresh basil, one coarsely-chopped nectarine and the sugar or Splenda are brought to a boil, then simmered for five minutes (I turned the burner down all the way to low for simmering).
   The mixture is cooled, then strained through a fine sieve into a pitcher. Water, a thinly-sliced nectarine, and one cup of fresh lemon juice is added and the mixture stirred.
   At this point, I always refrigerate the drink for at least three hours.
   The lemonade is served over ice.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Giada sorbet again --
this time it's Pomegranate and Mint

In less than two weeks, I’m writing about another recipe from Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis.
   Posting two entries about recipes by the same chef, magazine or cookbook in such a short time frame wouldn’t normally be unusual for me, but this time it is because it’s the second time I’m writing about one of her sorbets.
   Tropical Watermelon Sorbet is what I wrote about on Aug. 12, and now it’s Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet (click for the recipe).
   Giada really knows her sorbets – both of these are very delicious.
   With Tropical Watermelon Sorbet, the lovely taste of watermelon was amplified by dark rum and pineapple juice.
   In Pomegranate and Mint Sorbet, a mint syrup and orange juice are combined with pomegranate juice to produce an elegant, dinner-party worthy dessert that’s truly refreshing and delicious. (It's also the type of sorbet you pull out of the freezer and eat out of the container for a few precious minutes -- I did that a couple of times.)
   One commenter on this recipe on the Food Network website complained that the mint flavor is too overwhelming.
   This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Both my husband and I agreed the mint flavor was absolutely perfect.
   The mint flavor comes from a mint simple syrup, made by boiling and simmering sugar (I used Splenda), fresh mint leaves and water, then letting the mixture cool. It can be refrigerated before using, though it will come out of the fridge much thicker than when it was put in. Stirring it up will get it back to full thick-liquid form again.
   The syrup is then mixed with pomegranate juice (often found in the produce section of the supermarket) and orange juice. Make sure the pomegranate and orange juices are chilled before mixing – it will make the next step, processing it in the ice cream maker, work better.
   I processed the mixture in my ice cream maker for 20 minutes, adding mini semisweet chocolate chips during the last 10 minutes as directed in the recipe.
   After 20 minutes, the mixture was just slush, not a sorbet, but I knew all it needed was to be put in the freezer to become a sorbet. I poured the icy liquid into an airtight container, then put the mixture in the freezer to harden completely, which takes about eight hours.
   A lot of the chocolate chips landed up at the bottom of the ice cream maker in a clump, so I simply scooped them out and stirred them into the mixture in the freezer. However, most of the chocolate chips ended up on the bottom of the container anyway. My advice: Dig deep when serving this sorbet!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sangria-making craving greatly satisfied
by White Zinfandel Sangria

A couple of weeks ago I was seized with the notion that I must make some sangria.
   I’d never made sangria, a wine punch originating in Spain and Portugal, and I wondered to myself exactly why this was.
   Sangria, after all, can be found at many a backyard party in summer, and rightly so – it’s refreshing, sweet, sultry, enchanting and lovely to look at. It also makes great use of seasonal fruits and berries.
   I went in search of sangria recipes on and, my two most-trusted sources of great recipes on the Internet, and settled on White Zinfandel Sangria (click for the recipe). The recipe was originally published in Bon Appetit magazine 10 years ago.
   I wasn’t disappointed with the result – it was sweet, sultry and enchanting, just as I expected it would be.
   The recipe calls for white zinfandel, a type of blush wine that can easily be found in liquor stores. Many major wine labels will have a white zinfandel.
   The recipe says the sangria should be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. I refrigerated mine for several hours before serving, but did strain the fruit and cinnamon sticks out of the leftover sangria before refrigerating it to enjoy again the next day.
   White Zinfandel Sangria is very easy to make.
   A 750-ml bottle of chilled white zinfandel, peach schnapps (I used Dr. McGillicuddy’s, a brand which is apparently only available in Canada), Cointreau or other orange liqueur, sugar, two cinnamon sticks, one sliced lemon, one sliced orange, and one peach cut into wedges are combined in a tall pitcher.
   After refrigerating for at least 30 minutes, club soda is mixed in, and the sangria is served over ice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Classic Sweet Tea throws boiling water
out the window for fantastic results

It’s the most unusual way I’d ever seen to prepare iced tea: Putting tea bags in room temperature water.
   Usually iced tea recipes call for boiling water, adding tea bags and cooling the liquid down.
   But Cali Rich, a writer for America’s Test Kitchen, found the best way to make Classic Sweet Tea (click for the recipe)* was to forget the boiling water and look to another way of making the drink – sun tea.
   Her mother would make sun tea by filling a pitcher with cool water, adding tea bags, then setting the pitcher outside on the deck to steep all day.
   Rich wanted to find out if she could get the same results as her mother’s delicious sun tea, but inside and at a fraction of the time.
   Rich succeeded.
   Her Classic Sweet Tea recipe is fantastic. It’s perfectly sweet and completely refreshing.
   It’s now my go-to quick iced tea recipe.
   *Besides the America’s Test Kitchen paid-access site, the only other place on the Internet that I could find Rich’s recipe, along with its variations, was in a discussion thread on a cooking magazine website. This is the recipe I linked to above, and it is exactly the same as the one I used. You just need to scroll down a bit to find it.
   The simple syrup that sweetens the tea is make by heating sugar (I used Splenda instead) and water together until the sugar dissolves. The syrup is cooled to room temperature and can be refrigerated.
   To make the tea itself, 10 tea bags (I used Tetley Orange Pekoe) are submerged in four cups of room temperature water for 45 minutes.
   The tea bags are removed, and six-nine tablespoons of simple syrup are stirred in according to desired sweetness (I used seven.)
   At this point, I refrigerated the tea for several hours then served it over ice.
   I also made the Orangeade Iced Tea variety of Classic Sweet Tea, which required adding one tablespoon grated orange zest (orange peel) to the sugar and water when making the simple syrup. The zest is strained out and the syrup cooled.
   The orange citrus syrup is added to the sweet tea, along with two cups of lemonade (I simply used storebought lemonade).
   It was delicious, and has made me want to try a couple of the other varieties of Classic Sweet Tea: Cherry-Lime Rickey (lime citrus syrup and cherry juice) and Nantucket (lime citrus syrup and cranberry juice).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Peaches are right at home with crabmeat and orange syrup in fresh summer salad

I love to try ingredients in dishes where you don’t often see them, and that’s why the recipe for Peach and Crab Salad with Mesclun and Herbs (click for the recipe) attracted my attention in Martha Stewart Living magazine.
   While most everyone likes to eat peaches out-of-hand or in desserts, the fruit doesn’t often show up in main dishes.
   And here was a recipe that was not only offering peaches in a main dish, but was pairing it with crab. It was not a combination I immediately recall seeing before. There was also an unusual syrup-dressing of orange juice, coriander and lime juice.
   Assembled together, the peaches, crab and light syrup resulted in a lovely, refreshing summer salad.
   With peach season in full swing, it was easy to get one of the key ingredients for the salad at its finest hour.
   The other key ingredient, crabmeat, posed more trouble.
   Lately I’ve been unable to find fresh jumbo lump crabmeat at the supermarket.
   Since I don’t want to put in the time and effort to take crabmeat out of crab legs, I have found a quite reasonable substitution: Lump crabmeat in a can.
   This is opposed to flaked or shredded crabmeat from the can, which can easily dry out and be unappetizing.
   Lump crabmeat, however, maintains enough of its moisture that it’s a reasonable replacement for fresh crabmeat from the seafood section of the supermarket.
   The mesclun the recipe calls for is simply pre-mixed salad greens that can be found in the prepared salads section of the supermarket. It’s sometimes labeled mesclun, but most often “baby greens” or “spring mix.”
   The syrup is made by bringing orange juice, sugar and coarsely-ground coriander to a boil, allowing the mixture to cool, straining it, and stirring in lime juice.
   One cup of the syrup is combined with sliced peaches, minced shallot, fresh mint and a thinly-sliced chile in a bowl (the recipe calls for a Thai red chile, but I used half of a jalapeno pepper instead. I also minced it instead of slicing it.)
   The crabmeat is mixed with the peach mixture, then mesclun, fresh basil and mint are added and the bowl of ingredients tossed together. More syrup is drizzled on top.
   The salad is served.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tropical Watermelon Sorbet is latest
in a string of delish celeb recipes

This week on Recipes That Worked, it seems I’m a bit celebrity-crazy.
   Monday’s post was about Gwyneth Paltrow's Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce, Wednesday was Bobby Flay's Grilled Corn with Garlic Butter, Fresh Lime and Queso Fresco, and today’s post is Tropical Watermelon Sorbet (click for the recipe) from Giada De Laurentiis.
   I’m not sure why these celebrity recipes have suddenly clumped up like this. But I do know the results of all these famous people recipes are delicious.
   De Laurentiis, a Food Network host, celebrity chef and cookbook author, has created a refreshing, perfectly-sweetened dessert with Tropical Watermelon Sorbet.
   The recipe offers the option of using ginger ale or dark rum. I used dark rum, and I think that was a good choice – it amplified and complimented the fresh watermelon taste.
   Pineapple juice, lime juice and ginger ale round out the sorbet’s complimentary ingredients.
   The recipe says after the sorbet’s ingredients are combined, they are put in an ice cream maker and processed, according to manufacturer’s instructions, for about 35 minutes. It then says the “sorbet” can be served.
   I found 35 minutes only produced watermelon slush, not sorbet. Even at 45 minutes of processing in the ice cream maker, it was still just icy slush.
   Obviously, the slush needed to be frozen to become a sorbet. In fact, all sorbet recipes I’ve ever seen until this one call for freezing a mixture for at least two hours after being processed in an ice cream maker.
   I poured the slushy mixture from the ice cream maker into an airtight plastic container and put it in the freezer. It seemed that at least 10 hours of freezing time was required for this sorbet to reach its perfect icy-yet-creamy stage.
   To make the sorbet, cubes of seedless watermelon with the rind removed are blended with chilled pineapple juice, chilled ginger ale or dark rum, fresh lime juice and grenadine in a blender (I needed to do this in two batches.)
   The mixture is processed in an ice cream maker, frozen, then spooned into bowls and served.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bobby Flay's Grilled Corn with Garlic Butter, Fresh Lime and Queso Fresco wows and amazes

On Sunday, I tried a Bobby Flay recipe for the first time.
   It was sensational.
   Grilled Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter, Fresh Lime and Queso Fresco (click for the recipe) is a definite winner. It will impress and please everyone.
   My husband ate it with such extreme relish it would have been entertaining just to sit back and watch him.
   But I didn’t, because I was too busy eating it, too. There’s a reason why Flay is so famous, I decided the minute I sunk my teeth into the corn – his food is terrific!
   The technique of grilling the corn with the husks left on after they’ve been soaked in water is a masterful stroke. It yields crisp-yet-tender corn, perfect for eating right off the cob.
   And the toppings are sublime – a trio of tastes that were made to go together. Garlic butter is brushed on a just-grilled cob, then fresh lime juice is squeezed on it followed by a sprinkle of crumbled queso fresco.
   It was the quesco fresco, a type of Mexican cheese, that prompted me to try the recipe in the first place.
   I had seen quesco fresco listed as an ingredient in some recipes I’ve come across, but I’ve never been able to find the cheese anywhere.
   That changed one day when I was in the local Sobeys store. There they lay – blocks of queso fresco.
   I grabbed a block and went in search of quesco fresco recipes, luckily surfacing with this one.
   This recipe says mild feta can be substituted for the quesco fresco.
   Despite the grilling of the corn and the presence of three toppings, this recipe is easy to make.
   The garlic butter is made by combining softened unsalted butter and minced garlic in a food processor or by hand. The butter can be made up to two days in advance.
   Cobs of corn, with the silks removed but the husks left on, are soaked in water for at least 10 minutes.
   The cobs are then cooked on a grill set on high for 15 to 20 minutes, until steamed through and hot.
   The husks are then taken off the corn. My husband and I worked as a team for this step. He pulled the husks off using oven mitts and I stood with an open garbage bag that the husks were thrown in. This is a task best done outside!
   The corn is immediately spread or brushed with the garlic butter. People can then use fresh quartered limes to squeeze juice all over their cobs, and then sprinkle on their own queso fresco.
   It may be easier to sprinkle on the cheese as you eat, ensuring it’s always on the top of the cob and not falling off.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What does Gwyneth Paltrow feed her family? Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce!

When I saw the June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, actress Gwyneth Paltrow was smiling back at me as she twirled spaghetti on a fork.
   It is the only time I can remember seeing a person on the cover of the magazine since I started reading it every month about 10 years ago. The cover is usually always a picture of a delicious-looking dish.
   I didn’t take any offense to this tactic, just surprise. The magazine must have felt it was a way to sell issues. (Gwyneth in the kitchen - what does she make? I must buy that!)
   The story was about Paltrow’s life as an adventurous home cook who relies on a love of good food instiled in her by her late father, Bruce Paltrow. Her new cookbook, My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, celebrates this love of food and family.
   The story also featured some of the summer-style recipes she has developed.
   I set my sights on a couple of them: Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce (click for the recipe) and Peach Cooler.
   Last week, my husband and I tried the grilled chicken, and really enjoyed it.
   It was a simple, comforting recipe that produced tender grilled chicken.
   The sauce is a blended combination of peaches, ketchup, fresh lemon juice and garlic, and adobo sauce or soy sauce.
   The recipe’s introduction explains the version using soy sauce is the one Paltrow serves to her children, and the one with adobo is the one she shares with her husband, Chris Martin (lead singer of the band Coldplay.)
   I made the soy sauce version, as we don’t like our food too spicy. I think Paltrow’s right in saying it’s kid-friendly.
   So kid-friendly, in fact, my husband likened the sauce to baby food when I told him the ingredients included peaches and ketchup.
   But it’s not a babyish dish – it will please many, young and old.
   Chopped peaches, ketchup, lemon juice, garlic and adobo sauce or soy sauce are combined in a small saucepan and brought to a boil. The heat is reduced to low and the mixture is simmered for about 10 minutes, then the pan is taken off the heat and the sauce left to cool (I gave it about five minutes.) The sauce is puréed in a blender.
   Half the sauce is placed in a medium bowl, then boneless, skinless chicken breasts are added and tossed to coat. The chicken is left to marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes or in the fridge for up to eight hours.
   The other half of the sauce is covered and refrigerated.
   After marinating, the chicken is grilled until cooked through (don’t shake off marinade before grilling). The chicken is brushed on all sides with just a bit of the reserved sauce – you won’t come anywhere near to using all of it, and that’s good. You’ll see why in just a second.
   The chicken is grilled a bit more, then sliced crosswise.
   The slices are served with the last of the sauce. The approximately ¼ cup of sauce that was left after marinating and brushing was grilling is plenty to dip the chicken slices in.

My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness on

Friday, August 5, 2011

Portobello & Blue Cheese Melts

My husband and I usually make supper together, but occasionally there’s a recipe that’s so easy and quick to make that it’s almost silly for two sets of hands to get involved.
   This week I made Portobello & Blue Cheese Melts (click for the recipe) from BBC GoodFood magazine on my own while my husband took a well-deserved break from making supper (although he did wash the dishes afterward.)
   The delicious melts took about half an hour to make, start to finish, without a single bit of hurry or worry on my part.
   “So easy, even your wife can make it!” My husband joked later on. He thought the melts were “awesome.”
   With its quick and easy prep, this recipe is obviously ideal for a weeknight supper.
   The portobello mushrooms provide a meaty middle to the melts, with the sticky red onions and blue cheese perfect toppings. Ciabatta buns are the perfect recommendation for the melts.
   The recipe makes just one serving. Obviously, with two people we needed to make more. For the one serving, the recipe asks for two portobello mushrooms.
   I doubled the number of mushrooms to four, and increased the number of ciabatta buns to four from one. I suspected, rightly as it turned out, that one large portobello mushroom would comfortably fit into one ciabatta bun.
   I also doubled the amount of thyme leaves required, and the amount of blue cheese.
   I stuck to the same amount of red onion though – just one was called for in the recipe, although it wouldn’t have hurt to have baked two along with the increase in ingredients of the rest of the recipe.
   The recipe calls for rocket leaves, which is the British term for arugula. I used prepared mixed salad greens instead, which are also sometimes labelled “mesclun” or “spring mix.”
   The recipe directs bake the onions and mushrooms in an oven heated to 220 C – this is nearly 430 F.
   A red onion, cut into wedges, is mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and spread on a baking sheet. Portobello mushrooms are put on top of the onions, stem-side up. Fresh thyme leaves are scattered on top, and the onions and mushrooms are baked in the oven for 15 minutes.
   Blue cheese is crumbled onto each of the mushrooms, which are then baked five minutes more.
   To serve, mixed greens are put on the bottom half of a lightly-toasted ciabatta bun, then some sticky onions and a portobello mushroom follow. The top half of the bun crowns this gorgeous melt.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My go-to lemonade recipe --
it's perfect for a party!

Lemonade – this drink and iced tea go head-to-head for the title of iconic summer refresher.
   I love my go-to summer lemonade recipe, Basil Lemonade (click for the recipe) from Gourmet magazine. It has a twist, as it’s made with basil, which adds to its ability to cut through the heat of a blistering day.
   The recipe is terrific for a summer party because it has two sensational versions – non-alcoholic lemonade, or gimlets made with the addition of vodka. You can please guests of either preference.
   The drink’s base is a basil lemon syrup. It’s made by combining fresh basil, water, sugar (I used Splenda) and strips of lemon zest (lemon peel) in a saucepan, bringing the mixture to a boil, then letting it cool at room temperature for an hour and then in the fridge for an hour. The syrup is strained through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
   The basil lemon syrup recipe yields five cups of syrup. For a batch of six cups of basil lemonade, just two cups of basil lemon syrup is needed, while for six basil vodka gimlets just one cup of syrup is required.
   Five cups of basil lemon syrup, then, will comfortably make a batch each of gimlets and lemonade.
   Although the syrup keeps well in the fridge for five days and can be used more than once, if you think you need less than the five cups you can halve the basil lemon syrup recipe ingredients to make half a batch.
   The basil lemonade is made by combining basil lemon syrup, cold water, ice cubes and fresh lemon juice in a large pitcher. Though the recipe doesn’t say to do this, I always let the lemonade chill for at least three hours before serving. The lemonade is served in tall glasses half-filled with ice.
   The basil vodka gimlets are made by combining basil lemon syrup, vodka, fresh lemon juice and ice cubes in a pitcher, and then chilling until cold. The mixture is strained into 8- to 10-ounce glasses half-filled with ice. If you don’t feel like straining, don’t bother – I usually don’t.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perogies and kubasa take a
delicious turn on the barbecue

I’m nuts about perogies (pierogies).
   I’m of Ukrainian heritage, and grew up eating these yummy dumplings that are most commonly filled with potatoes or cheese.
   To this day, one of my most favorite dishes is a plate of my Baba’s boiled perogies, slathered in butter or fried onions, or her fried perogies with a pile of sour cream on the side.
   I also like a good feed of kubasa (kielbasa) now and then, a type of Ukrainian sausage.
   When I saw a recipe that put perogies and kubasa together and had them cooked on a barbecue, I knew I had to try it.
   That’s right, grilling perogies.
   And you know what? It worked like a charm.
   Grilled Pierogies and Kielbasa (click for the recipe) from Food Network Magazine was an absolutely delicious dish.
   The grilled kubasa and perogies were terrific in their own right, but the tossing of those two in a dressing of grilled onions, whole-grain mustard, apple-cider vinegar and fresh parsley is a stroke of absolute genius.
   Leftovers warmed up beautifully in the microwave.
   The kubasa is cut into four pieces, grilled, then transferred to a baking sheet or platter.
   One large white onion, cut into six wedges, and a pound of frozen potato-and-cheddar perogies are tossed with olive oil. The onions and potatoes are grilled and transferred to the baking sheet or platter.
   The kubasa is cut into pieces, and put into a large bowl with a dressing of whole-grain mustard, apple-cider vinegar (sometimes labeled cider vinegar) and olive oil.
   The onion is chopped, and added to the bowl along with the perogies and chopped fresh parsley.
   The dish is served. (I put a little bit of sour cream on the side so I could dip the perogies in it.)