Veggie Monday: Experimental Concoctions with Cucs and Figs
I will admit freely here, in my safe place, to occasional viewings of Hoda and Kathie Lee. Not daily, rest assured, but on those vacation days away from the reality of work. It is like watching a twelve car pileup when you are sure no one will be injured but many vehicles will need towing away from the scene.
On the nutty morning show last week Chef Ryan DePersio created his version of a cucumber margarita, and it inspired our Happy Hour cocktails Friday evening. After checking out the Today show website I see that his recipe is surprisingly similar to the one I threw together.
I love cucumbers, especially the way they smell so fresh and clean. I would bathe in cucumber water if I could. To make cucumber water, juice cucumbers (whole if they are organic, peeled if not). No juicer? No problem; use your blender or processor to puree the cucs then push through a fine sieve to separate solids.
To make cucumber water combine juice of 2 cucumbers with juice of 1/2 lime.
To prepare margarita, combine 2 parts cucumber/lime juice with 2 parts tequila (100% agave is preferred) and 1 part sour or prepared margarita mix. Shake well with ice. Pour into glasses rimmed with cayenne pepper and celery salt. Garnish with cilantro, cucumber slices, or lime wedges.
In bottom of serving glass, muddle handful of cilantro and basil leaves with 1 teaspoon sugar. Add ice and 1 shot each cucumber water and tequila. Use cocktail shaker to blend, pour back into glass and fill with lime flavored sparkling water. Garnish with cucumber slice or lime wedge.
Note: you can also freeze the juice in ice cube trays for fantastic additions to sparkling water or your Bloody Mary.
Fig Mostarda Sandwich with basil, mozzarella, and prosciutto
and Dilled Potato "Fries"
And since cucumbers and tequila are not technically vegetables, I am adding another recipe to make today's fruit-filled posting complete. This weekend I made a light version of fig mostarda, and added it to some crusty bread layered with lots of fresh basil, mozzarella, and prosciutto. It could have used some peppery arugula or spinach.
For the fries I sliced potatoes, rinsed them in cool water, then tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and LOTS of dill. Bake in 400 degree oven until crisp outside and tender inside. To make the fries healthier use root vegetables such as squash, yams, and beets and lower the oven to 350.
1 cup dried figs, halved and stems removed
1/4 cup whiskey
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (use your favorite)
1/4 cup prepared grain mustard
Several tablespoons sugar
Bring all ingredients to boil in small saucepan and simmer until liquid is reduced to a thick syrup. Cool and puree to spreadable consistency. Adjust with salt, pepper, and water to taste.
A note about dill: my favorite Swedish caterer told me that mixing one part fresh dill with one part dry dill is the best way to get lots of flavor when you use this herb. I've been using her technique ever since her lesson and love the result.